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Showing posts from February, 2022

Ellie Love

  This photo is Africa! A breeding herd of female Elephants hanging around a river, bathing, frolicking, and relaxing, is an iconic scene that I could watch for hours. Never an animal to linger anywhere for too long, Ndlovus (Zulu) stealthily roam the veld, eating hundreds of pounds of food a day. Always on the move, an elephant can travel up to fifty miles a day, occasionally stopping by water to drink and cool themselves or perhaps to wait until a female gives birth. Sometimes the entire family unit circles around a female delivering a new calf to the herd, protecting her from all sides.  The matriarch, sometimes the oldest female, rules in an elephant community. She must have wisdom, have a proven record of leadership, protect her herd from all dangers, teach the young about proper elephant behavior, and have the experience and confidence to guide her herd through the dangerous life in the bush.  These powerful descendants of the wooly mammoth are also quite dangerous. I can’t tell

Esther Mahlangu - Ndebele Artist

  This beautiful woman is 92-years-old and lives in a small Ndebele village in Mpumalanga. Esther Mahlangu is an Outsider Artist, self-taught from the age of nine, who has achieved great success with her bold, colorful art reflecting traditional Ndebele culture. It’s not clear, but it seems she never went to school and can only write her name on her artwork. However, she has two honorary doctorates for her contributions to the art world. Her success was serendipitous. In 1986, researchers from France were roaming around looking for traditional art forms. One road led them to the artist’s village, where they became enthralled by Mahlangu’s uniquely painted houses. Right time, right road!  They invited her to create murals for an international contemporary art exhibition at the Magiciens de la Terre in France. Her obscurity was soon over and she quickly became a phenomenon in the Pan-African art world. Her resume is awe-inspiring. Look her up, here’s one link -

Honey Badger

  Our game driver spotted this bowlegged guy trotting down the road. He was coming straight for us, so with heart-thumping anticipation, it looked like he would walk right past us. But, dang, he eventually stopped, looked our way, sniffed the air, then turned on a dime and made a beeline for the bush where a couple of young lions were napping. The lions looked up and let him pass without so much as a muffled roar.  This badass is a Honey Badger, an animal with a reputation so fierce even lions avoid them because these little warriors go straight for the testicles. Faces and eyes are also fair game, their long claws and sharp teeth can shred skin to the bone. During my seven years in South Africa, this was only my second encounter with a Honey Badger; the first had only happened days before in The Kruger. My friend and I were sitting around a campfire one evening. Wine flowed, and the flames of the fire created a warm, safe feeling. Well, safe(ish) because the baboons that surrounded us


  Is this giant hippopotamus mama the model for the Hungry Hungry Hippo game where four plastic hippos chomp on marbles? Or the friendly little hippo who stomps around looking for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in the “The Hungry Hippo.” Or maybe that cute stuffed animal you bought at the zoo for the little one in your life.  I DON’T THINK SO! This female is more like the hippo that chased my son and me down the Okavango Delta in Botswana. Luckily our guide had the good sense to take us in a boat with more horsepower than hippo power.  Hippos are fierce territorialists, fast runners, especially in the water where they glide off of rocks, and they won’t be chomping on marbles if they get ahold of a trespasser traipsing around in their waters. They are huge, females weigh in at about 3000lbs, and males can weigh up to 9000lbs. These beasts have tusks and teeth and can crush a human in half. In fact, statistically, hippos kill more humans than any other animal in Sub-Saharan Africa.


  "Military children are like dandelions. They can put down roots and bloom anywhere the wind carries them, standing ready to fly into new adventures, new lands, and new friends." I came across this passage while explaining to a friend why the dandelion is the symbol of military brats. I don't know if this conversation was a serendipitous reminder of where I come from or if my subconscious mind was looking for something that might save me from the stress and anxiety I am experiencing about moving back to the US without a job or a permanent place to live. Maybe both? This move is a challenge for me because of my life as a military brat and an international teacher. I went to 16 schools before graduating high school and 5 different colleges/universities before achieving an MFA. I have lived in 7 states, 8 countries, and I have had the key to 68 front doors, 68 homes - that's more than my age. Scary? You bet! Where is home is the worse question anyone can ask me because