Archive for the ‘Everyday Life’ Category

Currently (February 2015)

Screenshot 2015-02-23 14.22.28

Watching: The Fall – from the BBC. I finished the first season before my sisters came and started up the second season last night. I’m enjoying it, but would understand if others found it too intense.

Detoxing (instead of Anticipating, since I’m a week late posting this): From my weeklong vacation for #smithsiswk 2015. As you can see in the image above we covered a lot of ground in just 7 days. My sisters are smart, talented, funny, insightful and just all-around fun to be around. This was the first time we’ve done a trip just the three of us and now we plan to do it every other year, assuming baby-making plans go as anticipated (…my sisters’ plans that is. ;))

Listening/Reading: I’m working on two books right now: The Long Way Home by Louise Penny – another Inspector Gamache book and Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer, which I’m listening to on audiobook.

Eating: Cheese and crackers with delicious wine I brought back from Stellenbosch.

Working On: Resolving a crisis at work that popped up while I was away. This year has already been overwhelmingly busy and is going to get even more so when we sign a contract for a new program at the end of the month (finger crossed); I don’t need bureaucratic crises.

Loving: That I’ll be attending my third Clarens Craft Beer Festival this weekend – even if the festival does mark the beginning of the end of summer.

Playing: Duolingo on my phone/iPad to work on my Spanish skills in anticipation of my trip to Mexico next month.

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Currently (January 2015)

Watching: Two shows from the BBC – Season 5 of Downton Abbey (of course) and “The Game”. The Game reminds me a little of MI-5, which I enjoyed watching a few years ago. I blew through the 6 episodes in one weekend.

Anticipating: My sisters visiting in February! I’ve seen both of them in the last 3 months, but this time it will just be the three of us. Super stoked.

Listening: To the new album by Meghan Trainor “Title”. I’ve loved all her singles to date so went ahead and bought the whole album. Fun, trashy pop music just how I like it.

Eating: Gazpacho, one of my favourite summer recipes.

Working On: Getting into the groove this year. I feel like I’ve been off my game both personally and professionally since I came back from the US and now it’s already the middle of the month!

Loving: Lesotho in summer. I say this every month we have warm weather, but it’s true. This is the best time to be here.

Playing: Elevate, a brain training app that was recommended by iTunes as one of the best apps of 2014. I’m a sucker for “Best of” lists. Three short games each morning to get my brain going.

(PS – I almost titled this Currently – January 2014. To say I’m behind on the year in general is an understatement.)

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Currently (December 2014)

Watching: Christmas movies! My faves are Arthur’s Christmas, Elf, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Love Actually and Christmas Story.

Anticipating: My trip to Utah for the holidays. It’s a complicated story, but I didn’t book my flights home until last Friday. Once I did I immediately knew I made the right decision about where to go. I am planning on watching lots of movies, crafting with my mom and sister, eating lots of delicious treats and just generally enjoying being at home.

Listening/Reading: Christmas music, of course! I’ve added albums by Pentatonix and Idina Menzel plus singles by A Great Big World and Meghan Trainor to my collection. I’ll do a follow-up “All YouTube” entry of my favorite songs.

Eating: Christmas treats! Okay, that’s not actually true, although I am baking sugar cookies with my friend Kim tonight. Outside of the random baking event tonight I really am just trying to use up the food around my house before I leave.

Working On: Wrapping things up at work. It’s almost eerily quiet in my office this week, which should be a good time for getting things done but I’m not finding that to be the case.

Loving: That tomorrow night I’ll be hosting my 3rd annual Christmas sing along. Yay for Christmas traditions!

Playing: Monument Valley. I’m a sucker for “best app” end of year awards and this was at the top of the list for iTunes. I played through all 18 levels in about 24 hours (thanks to a sick day) and am playing through again. Puzzle games like this are usually too hard for me, but I found this very intuitive. Plus the graphics are gorgeous.

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A favorite photo from earlier this month. (Supplies: pictures + words no. 16 by Paislee Press)

I’m going to be away on the 15th this month for a weekend at one of my most favourite places in Lesotho – Maliba Lodge – celebrating my birthday with some of my favourite people so I’m writing this a bit early and posting it on my actual birthday. On to the list:

Watching: “How To Get Away with Murder.” I binged on the first five episodes and now I’m stuck waiting week to week to find out what happens. It’s been a long time since I’ve watched a show week to week and the suspense is killing me!

Anticipating: My trip to Hong Kong and Beijing starting a week from tomorrow. This is going to be my first time in Asia and then I will only have the continents of Australia and Antarctica left on my 17 Before 2017 list. I’m excited to see my youngest sister, Lou and her husband Sebastian in Hong Kong; that friends I know from Lesotho are coming from Shanghai to sightsee together in Beijing and to be doing the whole trip together with a new friend.

Listening: To music on Spotify after a discussion with a friend last month. I’m still of the mindset that I want to OWN the music that I pay money for. I recognise, though, that this is largely outdated with the advent of Spotify, Pandora, etc. My friends’ argument was that she would be spending more than $10 a month on music so Spotify actually saves her money. As a result I decided to give it a try for a few months to see if I really do get $10 worth of entertainment from it. I’m still figuring out how to have the best listening experience. It’s hard to compete with my finely honed and well curated collection in iTunes …

Reading: The third book of the “Maze Runner” trilogy. I’m a sucker for post-apocolyptic young adults fiction, and these books have held up after getting excited about them from watching the movie. I also have quite a few books waiting to be read on my Kindle including the final book of the “Grave Mercy” series, the latest Louise Penny novel featuring Inspector Gamache and a few books I found from the Goodreads end of year voting.

Eating: Mexican quinoa – a recipe I found on Pinterest and actually followed through to make. It’s delicious. I want to eat it for every meal.

Working On: The usual work stuff, but with the end of the year quickly approaching it seems deadlines keep popping up. Lots to get done between now and mid-December when things die down significantly.

Loving: (I’ve decided to change “Wanting” to “Loving” since I want for so little.) Summer in Lesotho. It’s been raining a bunch here, but when it’s not raining the landscape is turning technicolor green. All the more reason to be looking forward to Maliba this weekend. This is my favourite time of year.

Playing: A rousing round of Settlers of Catan with colleagues last week. When I play Settlers it reminds me that I don’t play often enough, even if I never win. What a great game. I’m also packing Bohnanza and Cranium for this weekend.

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Currently (October 2014)

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.

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Currently (September 2014)

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.

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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.

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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

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A not so gentle reminder …

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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Watching: Dr Who. (That’s right, nerd alert!) I’m on a 1 week catch up plan thanks to a recent issue of Entertainment Weekly. After watching the first episode of Season 5, though, I wanted to just start right there and keep watching …

Anticipating: No big travel plans for the next 4 weeks. I think that’s the first time I can say that this year.

Listening/Reading:Spillover: Animal Infection and the Next Human Pandemic” by David Quammen. The Ebola chapter was particularly interesting and kind of scary given everything going on in West Africa right now.

Eating: Chicken salad made with the whole roasted chickens they sell at Pick n Pay. I pick all the meat off the bones, shred it up a bit, add almonds, grapes and mayo. Delicious!

Working On: A regular dog walking schedule now that it’s light until almost 6pm. It’s amazing what 30 more minutes of daylight can add to your productivity.

Wanting: To go camping just as soon as the overnight temperatures get to double digits around here.

Playing: Plants vs Zombies 2. Addicted.

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