Places

Tanzanian Safari!

Cheetah resting on a rock, judging.

I’ve been a *little*busy recently (sigh!) but finally found a chance to post some of my favorites from Tanzania.

Few places could be more exotic than places like the Serengeti, Ngorongoro, Manyara, all which come with some fantastic names as well. We went on a grand camping safari through those places before we flew to Dar es Salaam and then to the magnificent Arabian island of Zanzibar. There was so much to see and too much to photograph, but I did my best. I also can’t remember the specific names of all the animals, so I’m not going to try to label them all here. You can read about how to safari in Tanzania on my other blog, www.MyTravelHats.com. Check back for pictures from Zanzibar next! Enjoy!

Quiet over the Serengeti

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Places

Kenya!

A car appears. Olmaroroi Village, Kenya.

What a long, strange trip it’s been. Jon and I went to Kenya in early August to do some volunteer work with the International Volunteer Headquarters and were assigned to the Olmaroroi Primary School (grades K-8) in the Maasai village of Olmaroroi, about an hour outside of Nairobi. Down the dustiest, bumpy pot-holed red dirt road we traveled precariously to spend a week with a Maasai family of 13 kids, two wives and one head of household, in a village that was seeing a swift transition from very old traditional Maasai way of life to a modern way of thinking in just one generation. They still didn’t have running water or electricity, so we grew fairly dusty and dirty by the end.

Where we stayed was like a step back in time, to a simpler way of life, I suppose. It was an extraordinary experience and a beautiful land barely touched by more than people, animals and an occasional bicycle. Three matatus (public mini-bus) traveled down the road a day to pick up passengers, and a motorbike or a taxi might swing by as well. We saw a lot more goats, cows and even giraffes than vehicles on any given day. Kenyans generally do not appreciate having photos taken of them without permission, but the Maasai are also very curious people who rarely see pictures of themselves, so showing them digital images was a treat they really enjoyed. Here are some of what I captured in Kenya.

The Great Rift Valley

Jon by the family compound

Olmaroroi Primary School

Some of the host family kids

Our host mama, Grace

Watching themselves on a digital camera

Giraffe at the Giraffe Centre (African Fund for Endangered Wildlife) with Nairobi cityscape in background

Medicinal tree outside family compound

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Places

Baltimore: A waterview walk

See, Baltimore’s not so bad. At least I tell myself that every day as I grip my pepper spray into position and hope nobody is trying to steal my lunch bag which looks like an Italian purse on my way to work. We chose this part of town, Fells Point, for its accessibility to the waterfront (sans tourists), length of restaurants serving oysters and entrees made of crab, and its cute skinny& tall townhouses that date back to 1850. There’s a nice little waterfront promenade that I like to run along, when my ankle’s not sprained. On one hot summer evening before sunset, Jon and I went out for a little stroll with my camera while he protected me from any villains, so I could capture a part of Baltimore that explains why people, like us, choose to live here (that and the cheap housing prices). Note: I refuse to watch The Wire if I ever want to leave my house in peace.

The ghost of Baltimore’s past: Voting against prohibition seemed to work well since there are a lot of bars in Fells Point.

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Special Events

Yifty’s and Janice’s wedding!

Whether the weather be mild or whether the weather be not

 It was only 100 degrees outside on the day of Janice’s and Yiftach’s wedding day, but what a wedding! With views of lower Manhattan across the Hudson River, Yifty and Janice were married by cousin Seth, an official rabbi, at the Liberty House in Jersey City. There were lots of tears and smiles, including a very sweet moment when Yifty hugged his dad so hard before leaving his parents back and stepping forward under the chuppah (such symbolism!). I believe the chuppah was hand-painted by his mother, Rebecca, as well.

There was dinner and dancing as the sun set over New York Harbor, the necessary Hava Nagila in which the bride and groom are tossed up and down in chairs while they hold on for dear life. There were many Jewish customs not always seen at other Jewish weddings, including one in which the guests congratulate Yifty’s parents for having finally sent off their last child into marriage and emptied the nest, once and for all. Congrats Yifty and Janice, and to David and Rebecca for marrying off their last!

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Places

Prideful.

There’s nothing quite like spending a morning in Union Square and unknowingly stumbling upon the Gay Pride parade before lunch. There’s a  New York moment for you. Hundreds, if not thousands, marched down Fifth Avenue last weekend on floats, bicycles, and on foot wearing anything from police uniforms to feather boas to stilettos to not much at all. In any case, one can’t help but start cheering on the people who came out to support the people who came out, and also cheering on those bold enough walk proudly for who they were. It was fantastic.  I was blocked by a number of much taller people, but I managed to capture a few photos.

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Kids and Families, Places

Take me out to the ballgame!

The White Sox (my husband Jon’s team) were in town playing the Washington Nationals this past weekend, and I had never seen him make such a thorough and quick turnaround in researching times, seats, prices and secure us five tickets for the game (it would be nice if he *cough* did that with a lot of other stuff around the house *cough*). We went with my sister and her little family out to the ballgame on Saturday. It was 96 degrees and we had seats around right field facing the blazing sun. For that reason I didn’t get to take many pictures of the game itself, although Jon used my zoom lens as binoculars for a while and ended up taking a handful of blinding photos.

Nationals Ballpark, as it’s formally called, is only three years old, as is the team itself. The park is very red, white and blue, more in a Disneyland kind of way than a patriotic way. Here’s a few pictures I snapped that day, including the metro ride to the stadium.

 

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Special Events

Zipporah and Jeff: married!

Let them eat cake!

Zipporah and Jeff were married last Sunday on a gloriously sunny day at the South Shore Cultural Center in Chicago, despite tornado threats dangling overhead from the night before. The South Shore Cultural Center – where I do believe President and First Lady Obama were married – was an amazing lakefront site with windows galore and old-style architecture. It felt like you were outside even though you were safely enclosed inside.

To say that Zipporah and Jeff are *obsessed* with Illini basketball is an understatement (Illini = University of Illinois at Champaign/ Urbana, for those of you not versed in college athletics). It does explain the many accents of orange throughout the wedding. However, the orange was also a nice, happy, dressy color complimented with greens in the flowers and tablecloths and bridesmaids’ dresses that made for a perfectly beautiful spring-summer wedding. It’s all very appropriate, considering the two met on an Illini basketball forum – online, that is – before they both moved to Chicago, became basketball-watching buddies at local bars, and the rest is history.

I was happy to spend some time with the bride as she was all made-up and her hair done in curls, and I even had a key role in the wedding as the ceremony pianist. For that reason it was difficult to shoot pictures and play the piano simultaneously, but I was able to get many shots of the happy couple afterwards. And look at the huge smile on Zipporah’s face – in every picture! – you can tell the months and months of hard work and planning paid off. Congrats Zip and Jeff!

 

I just love this photo of Zip passing the torch – er – bouquet – to the next bride-to-be.

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Kids and Families

Tiny toes

Another Chicago child: This little munchkin is the 2 1/2 year old of my dear friend Amy from college  She is an adorably squishy little kid who can sing the alphabet on command (without much coaxing), skipping a few non-important letters along the way. She’s currently enrolled at Tiny Toes, a ballet class for toddlers, and they have a ballet recital coming up. I think Tiny Toes is a hilarious name for a toddler ballet class, and if I stayed in town longer I would have made a point to see what a toddler ballet recital consisted of as well. In any case, she hung out on the window seat the whole time, giving her an angelic little halo background.

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Kids and Families

new beginnings.

Liying and Kit welcomed their first baby boy early last week! He was nine days after his due date, but just in time for me to meet him during my weekend in Chicago. He slept through most of my visit. He’s so little and so brand-new that you just want to protect and shield him from the big bad world, and tell him to watch out for strangers, dangerous weapons, Corporate America and people who text while driving. Liying and Kit are exhausted new parents, but oh-so-excited, super happy and positively beaming.

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Places

My kind of town! Chicago is.

Oh, Chicago! I had a love-hate relationship with this city when I was living there, getting my master’s degree at Northwestern. Chicago tried to trick me into believing its lake was an ocean. It tried to compensate for an exceedingly cold, windy winter with an exceedingly hot, humid summer. However, it does have amazing architecture, excellent food and it raised someone who became my future husband. 

I was back in Chicago this past weekend for a wedding and managed to squeeze in a couple of kiddo photo shoots. Here are some Chicago highlights I caught en route to various wedding activities. Stops include the Chicago River, this round sculpture by the NBC building (yes, that’s me and my sister, who was also in Chicago for a meeting!), an arts/ crafts fair, and most notable, the souvenir section of the Walgreens on Michigan Avenue .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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