Sunset from the Lesotho Sun yesterday.

Sunset from the Lesotho Sun yesterday.

I try to write these around the middle of the month, but now I’m almost a week late and I realized today that October is basically finished at this point. I have no idea how that happened … On to my ramblings. Right now I am:

Watching: Four movies during my 10 day trip to South Africa. Phew! The movies I saw were: Gone Girl (we talked about this for HOURS after watching it), Maze Runner, This Is Where I Leave You and If I Stay.

Anticipating: Life as usual for the time being. The weather is warming up, weekend plans are being made weeks in advance and I am generally content with life.

Listening/Reading: The Golden Hour by Todd Moss. Fiction, but it involves a coup in an African country and a kidnapped Peace Corps Volunteer so how could I not enjoy it? Next on my reading list is the Maze Runner trilogy. Loved the movie, now must read the books!

Eating: Delicious food in the Cape Town area. I attended a work meeting in Franschoek last week and then stuck around for the weekend with girlfriends. A one-word description of our food and wine consumption? Gorged.

Working On: Catching up on work. Franschoek is gorgeous, but the hotel internet was horrendous so between that the extended weekends on either side of the meeting my inbox is pretty overwhelming at the moment.

Wanting: To get over my creative slump. I haven’t scrapbooked outside of my GIS CT assignments in AGES. I like to think that I’m living life and creating stories that I’ll document in the future and not putting too much pressure on myself to get over the slump.

Playing: Nothing right now. Just one of those gaming slumps, too, I guess.

This month the Get It Scrapped Creative Team is channeling Corrie Jones – a frequent contributor to Masterful Scrapbook Design. A few months ago I “channeled” Emily Pitts, but I was less familiar with Corrie’s work so this was a fun challenge. Here’s my page:

Right Now by Heather Awsumb | August Storyteller kit by Just Jaimee; Haunted Woods Solid Paper Pack, Artsy Layered Paints No 1, Away We Go Element Pack by Katie Pertiet; Forever Young, Day Tripper, Hopscotch by One Little Bird; Shadow Styles by Mommyish

Right Now by Heather Awsumb | August Storyteller kit by Just Jaimee; Haunted Woods Solid Paper Pack, Artsy Layered Paints No 1, Away We Go Element Pack by Katie Pertiet; Forever Young, Day Tripper, Hopscotch by One Little Bird; Shadow Styles by Mommyish

Some things that I noted from the inspiration about Corrie’s pages that I tried to replicate on my page:

1) the use of white/neutral background paper. This wasn’t difficult since kraft or white backgrounds are my go-to backgrounds.

2) using paint and layering to ground her pages. I used paint elements with layered patterned paper to replicate a similar look in digital.

3) white frames around her photos. I used the frame style by Mommyish, one of my favorites.

4) the use of scatters to add energy to the page. I can’t “scatter” for my life, but the August Storyteller kit by Just Jaimee had a really cute scatter element that I used instead.

I listened to the radio a lot while in S. Africa while driving my rental car. I don’t normally listen to the radio because 1) the FM bands on the radio in my car don’t go high enough and 2) I most commonly listen to books when driving to and from work. At first I found listening to the radio to be incredibly obnoxious because you have to listen to all the talking and the advertisements and songs that you don’t like … You get the picture. In the end, though, I did end up downloading a few songs that I heard

This one is number one on the S. Africa iTunes charts right now:

and this is just fun …

I loved another song by John Newman this year, so a collab with Calvin Harris was a must download

and I heard this so much that it’s just flat out stuck in my head now

Spring flowers in Pretoria last week.

Spring flowers in Pretoria last week.

Watching: Older movies on Netflix like Good Morning Vietnam, Shakespeare in Love and Ever After.

Anticipating: Continuing stalemate in Lesotho amongst the political parties with underlying tension thanks to the military commander who refuses to step down. As I write this the latest news is that elections will be moved up from 2017 to a yet to be decided but presumably near future date. This Tweet in response to that news, though, hits the nail on the head I think:

Listening/Reading: I have a backlog of books on my Kindle to read, plus an audiobook from the SL County Public Library System but I’m not actively reading any of them. Must get back on track.

Eating: Sushi. I ate SO MUCH sushi while staying in S. Africa. Yum.

Working On: Catching up on life. Saying no.

Wanting: To get back into my normal routines after being in S. Africa for the last two weeks. I have to leave the country again this weekend, but just knowing I can be in “my life” before and after makes me feel better.

Playing: Nothing recently. I had started playing Plague, Inc. again but then got distracted by the ongoings in Lesotho.

dog's diary (1)

Ha ha ha. Long time Smith family joke :)

7 random thoughts 7 days in to my “captivity” in Pretoria:

  1. I would describe the current situation in Lesotho as stable but unpredictable. There are still a lot of factors in play that have the potential to take things down hill very quickly.
  2. Over the weekend the military commander behind the “coup” that ignited this all reportedly stole weapons and is hiding in the mountains. The (supposed to be current) commander says military action is the “only option” to resolve the situation.
  3. Doesn’t the statement “rogue military commander hiding in the mountains” sound like something you’d read about in Afghanistan or some other notoriously war-torn country? It’s certainly not something I ever thought I’d say about Lesotho.
  4. The big news tomorrow is that Pres. Zuma of South Africa is coming to Lesotho since word on the street is that the PM is backing out of his agreement to reopen parliament.
  5. The Deputy Prime Minister also has a trial related to the charges against him for corruption scheduled for tomorrow. No word yet that it’s been canceled. Considering the measures he has gone to already to avoid those charges it seems like a potentially sensitive milestone.
  6. On a happier note I am thankful for beer festivals, spas and friends that helped pass the time over the weekend.
  7. Also, I have had sushi for dinner 6 times since I arrived and McD’s only once (sushi I can get delivered straight to my hotel room). Lunch has been more varied.


I spent all day Tuesday making arrangements for the expatriates on my team to leave Lesotho and ensuring procedures are in place to protect the safety of our host country national staff staying in Lesotho. It was surreal to drive around the city and see everyone going about their day as usual while we were making plans to leave. Then I remembered how loud the gunfire was Monday night (According to AFP it was automatic weapon fire at the Police Training College, which is across a small pond from my house), saw the increased LDF presence at the airbase near our office and noticed the lack of police around town. So although people were going on with their lives it was definitely not all business as usual.

For the last two mornings I’ve woken up in a hotel room in Pretoria, South Africa and will be working from here until this blows over. If Lesotho is a 3-star hotel – comfortable but not luxurious – then Pretoria is a 5-star resort. (Even if I don’t have a private bathroom or walk-in closet in the office ;)) Thankfully I have people on my team who are still in Lesotho to give me updates and everyone there remains safe. Regardless of how comfortable it is here, though, I am itching to get back home.

The good news is that there have been improvements in the last 24-48 hours including the police have going back to work, and the PM returning to the country (albeit guarded by the South African Police Service (SAPS)). That said, there are big questions that still need to be answered like: what’s happening with the military commander who refuses to step down? (<< Seriously, read that link.) What happens when SAPS are no longer guarding the PM and Police Commissioner? And when will the US Embassy go back to business as usual?

I hope that the answers to these questions get answered quickly and that everyone can get back to their lives in Lesotho.


Then the Lesotho Times releases four pretty damning stories and I see my life in Pretoria stretching out for the near future …

Metsing behind coup attempt: ‘Maseribane

Thabane to dissolve parliament

Tšooana implicates Metsing in army attack

Kamoli must surrender: New army boss

I wrote the below this afternoon. Then there was a citywide blackout with gunfire in my neighbourhood and possibly other parts of the city as well. All I know is that I heard gunfire and when the entire city is black it’s pretty damn freaky when guns go off. As I write this I don’t know who/what was targeted or what else is going on in the city especially because apparently the military have shut down the TV and radio stations.

What I can’t stop thinking, especially in light of what I wrote earlier is: Who the f*** do these people think they are? Who turns out the electricity across the capitol city of a country and then goes after someone/something with guns? Because I don’t believe it’s a coincidence that there was a citywide blackout in a place that almost never has electricity problems and where the political situation is a dicey as it’s been recently. I’m know that I don’t understand all the factors that are driving the current situation (corruption, scare mongering, power grabbing, whatever), but I do know that this is not okay.

Wishing Khotso, Pula, Nala (Peace, Rain and Prosperity) for Lesotho. We need all three as soon as possible, but especially peace.



For the most part I forget that I live in a developing country. I have access to water/electricity 95% of the time and we’re almost always given notice of planned outages; my internet is speedy enough to handle my needs; I can get almost anything I need (especially food wise) in Maseru and almost anything I want (especially entertainment wise) in South Africa. Altogether there is very little hardship in my life.

Then I was woken up on Saturday morning with news that the military had surrounded/taken over the police HQ, central police station and the State House where the Prime Minister lives in the early morning hours with gunfire.

Hello reality check.

My weekend went from lazy to hectic providing updates via phone calls/emails/SMS to HQ, my staff, CHAI colleagues, country directors from other NGOs, and friends near and afar. It wasn’t a rapidly changing situation, but it did take some time to get the full details of what happened. Twitter, surprisingly to me, has been a great source of information.

If you want to understand the political undertones to the events this weekend this article is a good overview while also being entertaining. At this point using the word “coup” to describe the events on Saturday is in dispute. What cannot be disputed, however, is that the political environment is unstable. The Lesotho Defense Force (LDF) and Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) don’t exactly like each other and, as I’m writing this, nobody knows who’s leading the LDF.

All of this reminded me of a conversation I had a few months ago when a friend asked me what would happen if Obama decided to run for another term. The conversation then went something like this:

Me: Uh, no. That would never happen.

Friend: Seriously, though, what would happen if he just decided to run?

Me: It wouldn’t ever happen.

Friend: But just consider “what if.”

Me: I can’t even conceive of a “what if” because it’s never going to happen.

I may or may not have used the words “rule of law” in the conversation, but in hindsight that’s basically what it boils down to, right? That in the U.S. people respect and observe the rule of law. Rule of law is what keeps Obama from flagrantly disregarding the constitution, keeps the head of the military from deciding he’s not going to step down after being dismissed and means you don’t worry whether the police or the military back one political party or another. (Okay, I guess point #1 depends on where you sit on the political spectrum but I would argue that whatever you say Obama has done against the constitution pales in comparison to what African “leaders” have done.)

What happens now? I have no idea. The latest news is that political leaders have promised to end the suspension of parliament, but that is potentially opening an entirely new can of worms. I have been well supported by our HQ team and we are taking extra precautions to ensure the safety of all our staff and will continue to work from home for now while we monitor the situation.


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