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 91 
 on: November 06, 2018, 03:36:46 PM 
Started by dvallett - Last post by dvallett
The Buck Hollers (www.buckhollers.com) bring their Americana roots style music back to El Toro in Morrisville this Sat., Nov. 10, 7-9. In addition to folk, bluegrass, country, and Irish classics, come check out some of our new tunes and enjoy great local and authentic Mexican cuisine. 

 92 
 on: November 05, 2018, 01:39:55 PM 
Started by Rev. Elizabeth - Last post by Rev. Elizabeth

 

Fairfax Community Library Board of Trustees Meeting
November 7, 2018
3:30 PM –  The Fairfax Room
AGENDA


•   Call to Order

•   Approval of minutes of October 18, 2018 meeting

•   Business
o   Executive Session:  Personnel
o    Budget
o   Strategic Planning

•   Adjourn



 93 
 on: October 23, 2018, 11:00:04 AM 
Started by Rev. Elizabeth - Last post by Rev. Elizabeth
Unapproved Minutes
FCL Trustees’ Meeting
October 18, 2018

The meeting was called to order at 6:30. Present were: Pat Gallant, Liz Griffin, Christina Fearon, Eric Foreman, Ellen Holmes-Henry.

There was neither correspondence nor public input.

The minutes of the previous trustees’ meeting were reviewed and approved after a motion to approve by Ellen.

Ellen raised several points.  Should the library have a ‘nut-free zone’ sign?  Should there be a policy concerning allergy provoking foods in the library space?

She had several thoughts regarding the expansive library windows. She wondered if a bullet proof film could be applied to the windows   what the cost of installation would be.  Or, could several of the windows be covered totally  to reduce the number available for access. Remotely controlled blinds was mentioned  at the Joint Board meeting and was reviewed.

On another note she  acknowledged  having a library item overdue for a long time and was impressed that she received a letter reminding her of her lapse. 

At 6:45 the trustees went into executive session to discuss personnel and budgetary concerns regarding personnel.
The trustees came out of executive session at 8:15.

The trustees selected three qualified candidates from the pool of applicants to call for interviews.  Liz and Ellen, along with John Tague and Brad Ducheff will conduct these initial  interviews.  For the next step, all Trustees will interview the final candidate(s) and make the final decision.  Trustees will submit possible interview questions to Chris. John and Brad and Joy Mercer  will be asked for their input in regard to the interview questions.  Chris will collate the questions and distribute them to the interviewers. Interviews will be held within the next three weeks, with a decision to be made mid-November.

Eric presented a  draft of the 2019-2020 budget for the trustees review, which was discussed and modified as a first draft.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:20.

Respectfully submitted

Elizabeth Griffin, Secretary

 94 
 on: October 22, 2018, 05:22:41 PM 
Started by LibraryPrograms - Last post by LibraryPrograms
Reminder: Wednesday, Oct. 24th at 5:30pm is the deadline to sign up for a share of Halloween Candy and/or to bring in donations. Thank you to everyone who has already donated.

To sign up for any programs at the Fairfax Community Library call 849-2420 or email Nicole at libraryprograms@fwsu.org

Tuesday, October 23, 9:30-10:30am: Preschool Story Hour: Special Music with Caitlin
Join us for themed stories, songs, and activities for ages 0-6. No registration necessary for Story Hour.

Wednesday, October 24, 3-4pm: STEM Club:Flying Tumbler
Kids age 6+ will create a “Flying Tumbler”, a gravity powered flying machine, with local inventor Ralph Lemnah. Must register.

Thursday, October 25, 3-4pm: Crafternoon: Pumpkin Decorating
Kids ages 6+ will decorate mini pumpkins, always a favorite craft. Space is limited.  Please register early.

Tuesday, October 30, 9:30-10:30am: Preschool Story Hour: Pumpkins
Join us for themed stories, songs, and activities for ages 0-6. No registration necessary for Story Hour.

Wednesday, October 31, 5-7pm: Trick-or-Treat at the Library
The Library will be open on Halloween for Trick-or-Treating, bathroom breaks, and a spot to warm up if it’s chilly. We will offer both candy and non-candy alternatives for those with food allergies. You can show off your costumes and have your picture taken too!


 95 
 on: October 19, 2018, 11:15:35 AM 
Started by Henry - Last post by Henry
Charles Emery Tilton, 86 passed away Monday October 15, 2018 at Copley Hospital in Morrisville, VT with his loving family by his side. He was born on March 30, 1932 in Waterville VT son of the late Howard and Marjorie (Eldred) Tilton.

Charles believed in preserving the family legacy of hard work, determination, and conservation.
He was proud of his military service during the Korean War. He was a member of American Legion Post 46, Johnson VT. He was a life member of the Fraternal Order of Eagles, Green Mountain Aerie #3210 Jeffersonville. He provided for his family by using the land for gardens, trees for wood / cedar & spruce oil / shingles, by his expertise as a heavy equipment operator. He learned his trade by working for G.W. Tatro Construction, H.A. Manosh, Pike Industries, Engelberth Construction, and Pizzagalli Construction and several others until his retirement. He was known to share his opinion about how things used to be done and how they’re done today. He was always telling parents of little children to let them be kids while visiting him, no rules at his home and the candy jar was always filled on the counter. He admired the talents of those who could write or play music; build things themselves, could live off the land. It didn’t matter to him if they were native Vermonter, or new to Vermont. He held Waterville close to his heart and was quick to remind anyone of the area’s history. Family reunions and family holiday meals were his favorite events so he could talk to one and all, and see the newest members of the ever expanding Tilton family.

He is survived by his son Orin Tilton and wife Deb; his son Jay Tilton and wife Lisa, his daughter Kitty Tilton and fiancé Randy Benson, Sr., his son Ron Tilton and friend Mary Cassidy; his brother Amos Tilton and wife Evelyn of Waterville, his sister Juanita Cutting and husband Dayton of Jeffersonville, his brother Lloyd “Pete” Tilton and wife Sandy of South Carolina; his grand children: Michelle Frennier and husband Scott, Michael Tilton and wife Elizabeth Collman, Jason Tilton and fiancé Billy-Jo Taylor, Chris Tilton and friend Jessica Hathaway, Joshua Tilton and fiancé Amanda Jette, Jennifer Tilton and friend, Jared Anderson and friend Tammy Salls, Chelsea Anderson, Amelia Tilton and friend Darren Silcock, Lyle Tilton and wife Shannon, Lydia Tilton and friend Jacob Fontaine, Ellabea Tilton, Nathanial “Nate” Tilton, Sadie Jane Tilton; 12 great grandchildren; several nieces, nephews, cousins, and special friends Dave Thompson, and his cat Pepper.

He was also predeceased by his wife Ellen Tilton, his son Scott Tilton, and his sister Theresa Tilton.

An overwhelming thank you to his sister Juanita Cutting and husband Dayton for their loving care and hospitality after Charles’ home fire in March 2018; to Home Health & Hospice of Lamoille County; to his compassionate care team at Copley Hospital, Morrisville VT.

Visiting hours will be held on Tuesday October 23, 2018 from 5:00 – 8:00 p.m. at the Waterville Union Church of Waterville. Service will be held 11 a.m. Wednesday October 24, 2018 at the Waterville Union Church of Waterville with Chaplain Alden Lunar and Pastor Devon Thomas officiating. Inurnment will be held later at the convenience of the family. Memorial contributions in Charles’s memory may be made to the: Waterville Cemetery Association, c/o Linda Ward, 1273 Lapland Road, Waterville, VT 05492 Waterville Union Church c/o Treasurer, 37 Church Street, Waterville VT 05492.
The family invites you to share your memories and online condolence by visiting www.awrfh.com.
To send flowers to the family of Charles Tilton, please visit our Heartfelt Sympathies Store.

 96 
 on: October 17, 2018, 04:45:02 PM 
Started by LibraryPrograms - Last post by LibraryPrograms
You are welcome at the Fairfax Community Library. Please join us for these upcoming events. To register for any events, or for more information, call the library at 849-2420 or email Nicole at libraryprograms@fwsu.org

Thursday, October 18, 6:30-7:30pm: Family STEAM Night- Rocks and Minerals
Join us for this great family program, where each month parents and children visit stations with Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and/or Math (STEAM) activities. This month's theme is Rocks and Minerals. We will be investigating the properties of different rocks with hands-on experiments. Please register.

Saturday, October 20, 9-11am: Tech Help
Get help with individual tech questions. You can ask any technological question and/or bring in a device with which you need help. You will be ably assisted by our techie, Josiah. Call to reserve a half hour time slot, or drop in.

Saturday, October 20, 11:30-12:30pm: Fall Recipe Swap and Potluck
Bring in your favorite fall recipe, the one that makes your house smell so good, the one that always reminds you of crisp mornings and warm sweaters. We can make copies of recipes here at the library to share with others. And, if you are able, bring in a dish to share and we will host a potluck style meal at the library for lunch. (We kindly ask that you avoid nuts/nut products.) We also encourage bringing your own plate-ware for a no-waste meal.

Tuesday, October 23, 9:30-10:30am: Preschool Story Hour: Special Music with Caitlin
Join us for themed stories, songs, and activities for ages 0-6. No registration necessary for Story Hour.

Wednesday, October 24, 3-4pm: STEM Club:Flying Tumbler
Kids age 6+ will create a "Flying Tumbler", a gravity powered flying machine, with local inventor Ralph Lemnah. Must register.

Thursday, October 25, 3-4pm: Crafternoon: Pumpkin Decorating
Kids ages 6+ will decorate mini pumpkins, always a favorite craft. Space is limited. Please register early.

 97 
 on: October 16, 2018, 09:39:01 AM 
Started by Rev. Elizabeth - Last post by Rev. Elizabeth
Unapproved Minutes
Joint Board Meeting, Fairfax Community Library
October 11, 2018
The meeting was called to order at 6:30. Present were: John Tague, Brad Ducheff, Kathy
Muehl, Joy Mercer, Emily Diguilo, Christina Fearon, Pat Gallant, Sandy Alexander and Liz
Griffin.
Voting members: Kathy Muehl, Liz Griffin, Pat Gallant and Sandy Alexander.
There was neither public input nor correspondence.
The minutes of the April 2018 meeting were reviewed and Kathy made a motion to accept them
as written, and the motion passed.
Library Safety Update
All library staff (school and community library) attended the recent ALICE workshop.
Emily reported that there is a library non school hours safety policy that was begun by Debbie
Landauer and Pat Gallant. When it is completed the School Resource Office and John Tague
will be asked to review it.
John reported that work on moving his office to the main lobby (and the area where the current
conference room is) will begin soon. A grant of $25000 for school safety improvements will be
used for this. Amy Plog will also use this office and will manage the buzzer for both the school
and the library. The library door will be open and buzzer not used after school.
What to do about the expanse of windows was discussed. Replacing the current window glass
with glass that reduces the ability to see the interior of the library was discussed. However, this
type of glass would need periodic replacement. Purchasing motorized shades is also being
considered. Although the cost is about $5000, they would be essentially permanent, which
might make a more cost effective investment. Perhaps the cost could be shared between school
and town. It will be further discussed as we prepare the budget.
School Policies Update
There were no new school policy updates to be discussed.
Facilities Committee
The Facilities Committee did not meet over the summer and held its first meeting at the end of
September. There is a plan to do some sort of community outreach to ascertain what the
community is interested vis a vis the development/improvement of the school buildings There
has been no new architectural involvement as of yet. A plan might perhaps be available in
11/2019. Eric Foreman plans to attend these meetings for the Library Trustees.
New Business
The library has hired an interim Library Director Emily Diguiglo, whose contract will last until
Thanksgiving. We have also rehired Nicole Vance as program director. She will work 10 hours
and her contract will end at Thanksgiving, but may be
In light of these changes, the assistant librarian’s hours have been increased to 25 hours.
These changes create the opportunity for the trustees to rethink how the library is staffed.
One thought is to make the Library Director a full time, 40 hour job, and perhaps have the
Director assume some programming responsibilities, collaborating with a Program Director.
Plans for the future of the program director’s position will be made once the Library Director has
been hired.
An advertisement for a permanent Director has been placed in Seven Days, along with the
Vermont Libraries website, and any applications are due no later than October 18.
Both town manager Brad Ducheff, and high school principal John Tague have agreed to be on
the interview committee.
Once we have hired a new Director, the strategic plan for the Community Library will be edited
and extended for another year.
Quarterly Reports
Joy Mercer reported a highly successful Dorothy Canfield Fisher event with both elementary
and middle school students. Both groups played a game which involved troubleshooting,
problem solving and collaboration, and Joy reported that the participants were fully engaged in
the game.
The volunteer who has been working in the library has been of great help to the library
performing a variety of tasks successfully.
The library now has software that is able to to do an audit of our collection. It can, for instance,
indicate which books had or had not been used over a period of years, thus facilitating weeding
the collection. It can also order the books by publication year, which is valuable information for
evaluating science books.
Emily Diguilo reported that she attended a workshop about writing the library’s annual report to
the state.
After school programs and evening/weekend programs are back in full swing. Story time
continues.
During September 43 new patrons joined the library.
The library’s new website is up and functioning and has a new look.
Next meeting dates
The next Trustees’ meeting will be October 18, at which time the applicants for Library Director
and the budget will be discussed.
The next Joint Board meeting will be April 11, 2019.
Brad noted that it is important for all of us on the various town committees be aware of each
other’s work as we all work together for the common goal of the good of the Fairfax community.
The meeting was adjourned at 7:15.
Respectfully submitted,
Elizabeth Griffin

 98 
 on: October 16, 2018, 08:27:37 AM 
Started by Rev. Elizabeth - Last post by Rev. Elizabeth

 

Fairfax Community Library Board of Trustees Meeting
October 18, 2018
6:30 PM –  The Fairfax Room
AGENDA


•   Call to Order

•   Approval of minutes of Sept. 13, 2018 meeting

•   New Business
o   Executive  Session:  Personnel
o   Launch Budget Drafting Process

•   Adjourn



 99 
 on: October 12, 2018, 04:03:57 PM 
Started by Henry - Last post by Henry

Fairfax - Pauline R. Mears, 70, passed away Wednesday October 10, 2018 at home, surrounded by her loved ones.

Pauline was born April 27, 1948 to the late James Sr and Rachel (Gauthier) Paquette.

In 1965, Pauline married her high school sweetheart, Pat Mears and together they raised their two sons, Jamie and Travis Mears.

In addition to her husband, Pauline is survived by her son Jamie Mears and wife Debbie, her son Travis Mears and wife Amy. Her brothers Pete Paquette Jr, Francis Paquette and Edward Paquette, her sister Marie Ashline and her husband Steve, her half brother Patrick Paquette and step brother Bernie Blouin and wife Cathy. Her grandchildren Katie Dorman and husband Zak, Danielle Mears, Cody Mears and Dylan Mears. Her great grandchildren, Grayson Dorman and Lucian Bessette. As well as numerous neices, nephews and cousins.

Pauline was predeceased by her brother Richard Paquette and sister Nila Paquette.

Pauline was well known in the community for her numerous charitable contributions, which included cooking dinner at the American Legion, volunteering at Milton Senior Center and making blankets for everyone, including the other patients at the cancer society. Pauline was well known for her crocheting, fudge, pickles, jams, relishes, baking and love of BINGO. Pauline enjoyed spending time with her family and friends, which included going to the car shows with her husband Pat, going to the casino with her brother Francis, shopping with her sister Marie and spending time with her dear friends Martha and Jeanette.

Pauline will be greatly missed by her family, friends and community.

Pauline's family will be holding a celebration of her life at the American Legion in St Albans on Tuesday October 16th from 5-8pm for anyone who would like to come pay their respects. Donations can be made in Pauline's honor to the Heart and Cancer societies.

The family wants to send a sincere "thank you" to the nurse, Carol Chevalier and social worker, CarrieRay Shamel from Bayada for supporting them during this difficult time. Please visit www.awrfh.com to share your memories and condolences.
 
To send flowers to the family of Pauline R. (Paquette) Mears, please visit our Heartfelt Sympathies Store.

 100 
 on: October 11, 2018, 06:10:57 AM 
Started by Rev. Elizabeth - Last post by Rev. Elizabeth

 A tune that lingers, an image that returns, questions with no answers; Kenya is on my mind
Twenty four hours after leaving Burlington, Vermont; after 4 airports, and three plane rides we arrived in Nairobi, Kenya for our journey, into a brave new world of virtual communication, a world  that would link our students in Fairfax with students in both rural and urban Kenya. No tourist trek,this was to be an adventure using technology to connect youth to youth, culture to culture, idea to idea, over space and time.
Ours was a trip of meetings.  I am not much of a meeting person, quickly losing attention and patience, but I have to admit that much was accomplished at these meetings, and the plans to create a virtual connection amongst various Vermont schools and several Kenyan schools blossomed into actuality. Like all trips, the ostensible purpose and the actuality were not quite the same.
I saw only a small part of Kenya, but nonetheless my impressions-- my sense of the country is  both powerful and subtle, tied to the people and landscape and small experiences that bear witness to large concerns.
I couldn’t quite understand the architecture of our hotel, TrippleO’s which is  in an area called Ruai, about 15 minutes from the airport and at least an hour from Nairobi proper, depending on the traffic.  There were stairs, stairs going here and there, for seemingly no reason. Stairs of marble and stairs of stones set in cement, somewhat like small cobblestones. Be careful! The risers for the stairs were not always the same; they varied from flight to flight, from stair to stair. It took me a day or two to remember that to get to breakfast I went down two flights of stairs, then up one!
 There were dining areas and playing fields that we chanced upon; there was a beautiful swimming pool that  was always full and burbling and empty of people.  Water fountains appeared in random  places. Parts were old, and parts were brand new. This was a magical building and I was in a castle in a fairy tale.  The food was very good and all the people were friendly and helpful. There  was a guard at the gate and  one couldn’t and shouldn’t go out alone.  This was no  place for an early morning walk. In fact the entire compound was fenced in.
Ruai, which is on the outskirts of Nairobi, though you couldn’t call it a suburb, seemed to be an industrial area, though this was perhaps because there was road construction and the attendant heavy machinery.  Along the ro was an assortment of buildings, some half built, with skeletal cementblock second floors waiting for completion; some new but shabby, and some the typical one story cement store with a door and a window and a handwritten sign above the door.  That this was the end of the dry season and dust was everywhere only contributed to the sense of disorder and general dishevelment. 
These excursions into a different culture and country are about standing in another world, listening, watching, feeling, reflecting.
It was getting late;we were at the end of a long day. We had met for three hours with representatives from Heifer International, and then went to try to  purchase the right SIM card for equipment we were going to use to connect schools. After an hour or so in an elegant mall complete with shops of imported French finery and security at the entrance, we finally left. The driver chose what he deemed a short cut so he could avoid end of the day traffic.
Was  it really a short cut to avoid traffic when our driver took us through the winding and crowded and narrow streets of Kibura, one of the largest slums in Kenya?  Or did he want  us  to see a side of Kenya and Nairobi that staying in a gated hotel or lingering in a high end mall would never reveal to  us. Row on row of Tin shacks tightly packed together. Crowded streets filled with people in all manner of dress.  Small shops of tin or concrete  with hand painted signs selling all manner of things, from cell phones to dresses.  Vendors selling things from kiosks made of tin and tarps or saplings and tin, occupied the space between the stores and the streets. The occasional Masaai  his red blanket draped over his shoulders,  carrying his herding stick following  a few cattle along the road, no one giving him any mind as his cattle meandered through the kiosks and vendors as though they knew where they were going.
Perhaps the driver  wanted us to know that this too, is Kenya, as much as is the elegant malls, and the towering glass buildings of Nairobi, or perhaps,  that it is closer to Kenya’s reality than those five star hotels and office buildings are.
But the people.  Women, if they were professionals, dressed with great class, and most had their hair done in sophisticated braids and buns. Many women regardless of their status,wore what we used to call sheaths,  though some young women wore typical tight pants. And of course, some women wore brightly colored traditional garments,wrapped around their bodies. Professional men wore jackets and ties.
 
I became  annoyed because my camera’s battery died, and I was left taking photos with an ipad, an awkward thing to do in the best of circumstances.  I convinced myself that the photos  I did have were adequate, and anyway, I had the images I had seen and wanted to capture on technology, firmly planted in my brain. And, did it really matter if I didn’t have pictures, anyway.  Wasn’t the  important thing was that I saw those grotesque vultures, stared after the Masaai herders,and was saddened by the vendor selling second hand clothes from Europe and America on tarps along the road?
There were some things I couldn’t photograph.  I felt it was rude to photograph the Kibura slums with its crowded streets; tin shacks packed together in abject squalor. Somehow it was a violation of the dignity the residents might have.
But I did photograph the animals in the Mara Masaai, despite the awkward nature of the ipad. Really, though, the photos can’t capture what it felt like to see that sturdy zebra grazing placidly whilst two birds busily pecked bugs off his back.  Seeing the grace and delicacy of the gazelle, the fine lines of its body, the smooth beauty of its movement couldn’t be captured by any photograph.  So, though I can only share mediocre photos of these creatures, I hold them in my minds eye.

Finally, though, it is about the young people.As always when we first arrived at the schools the youth attended, the young people gathered  in a large semicircle to greet us, and each of us spoke a few words to them.  At both St. Charles Lwanga and Rodi, the students we met who were to participate in this grand virtual adventure, came  from challenging circumstances at best, but were unfailingly bright, engaged and fun to watch and be with.  They all speak very softly, and with a curious accent, so one must be very attentive to catch everything they are saying.  They were interested in what we were doing, and ready to talk about the SDG’s and their meaning in their lives. And they were typical silly teens.Taking a break from work, the youth from St Charles were playing vigorous football on a field we had discovered in front of the hotel. But after a goal, or while taking a break they would  cluster together and dance; or hustle around me for a photo op!
My only chance to engage directly with the young people  taking thg SDG seminars was when I led stretching mid morning before tea.  It seemed that it was something totally alien to them, but they were all good sports and tried. There were some, of course, who got befuddled by cross body exercises, but they were good humored about it.
One thing of gentle intimacy and  youthful curiosity stays with me.  I was sitting with my back to the door as the students were arriving. Suddenly, a hand softly stroked by hair several times, and  then a smiling face bent in front of me.  I smiled back. Certainly, my hair was so very different than hers; she must have wondered what straight gray hair felt like! I was pleased that she felt sufficiently comfortable to stroke my hair.  The next morning she did  it again; it was a way to communicate with each other, and we shared smiles.
 
At Rodi, the school out in the countryside of Homa Bay county, we visited  the extensive gardens that Thomas, a young man who lives and works at the school as its resident gardener, has cultivated.  Hard work is evident everywhere.  Proudly he showed us the  corn and beans that he had grown. Enough food had be raised to meet half of the school’s food needs. He is the main reason why the Fairfax Farm to School is connecting with the Rodi: to support Thomas, share ideas, share experiences, and encourage each other in the sustainable production of food. The youth who will be participating in the virtual link with Fairfax spent time at the Homa Bay Tourist Hotel learning about the SDG’s and preparing for the internet connection. 
At the  Rodi school, deep in the countryside, we met with the woman’s group; some came late because they were getting ready for the market where they would sell, but they did manage to come despite the challenges they must have faced to do so. .  The group is very important to them; it has, over time, become a support and a community for them.  We had a great conversation about the role of their male partners in their lives.
 We went to visit a third school, new to Mary Lynn, which had a connection of some sort with someone she knew.  I  can’t tell you where the third school we visited was  as the town named isn’t on the map.(Nyagoko)  But it was a pleasant, well kept campus, and the teachers and principal greeted us warmly. The school, though a public school, gets some support from the Anglican church.On arrival,two little boys came running up to me, full of smiles and spirit.  As with the two other schools, the students in their uniforms stood in a circle and sang for us, and then a young woman performed a poem for us.  She was quite gifted and her presentation, though a bit overly dramatic, was powerful engaging, and when it came my turn to speak, I complimented her on her skill. We had planned on leaving after this, but the school staff had prepared a splendid luncheon for us of chicken and vegetables and ugali and fruit.  Their hospitality is always graciously given, and  a delight.
Let me  now tell you  about weaver birds. We were staying at the Homa Bay Tourist Hotel. Set away from the main road this hotel has spacious grounds, many meeting rooms, and a country ambiance.  Late afternoon it was pleasant to sit outside and look and listen.  By happenstance  one lat afternoon, I sat at a table under a tree laden with weaver bird nests.  I only knew they were weaver birds because Charlie Wolcott years ago had told me about them.  Anyway. 
They clamor; they are raucous; they all chirp and twitter at once, raising a rather pleasant din. And then, for about 30 seconds, they stop. It is silent. They the chirping starts all over again.  I could never determine what it was that made the stop-and then start again, in unison. I found it rather amusing.  No one else seemed especially interested.  As I looked up at the bottom of the nests, I noticed--- I could see sky! There was a hole in the nest! How could the baby weavers not fall out? From my seat it was hard to see how the nest was made and why this hole was there, though I assumed it was some sort of way for the parent birds to keep the nest clean,but still, what happened to the babies? Quite by chance I noticed a grass-like  mound on the parched lawn, and got up to look, and lo and behold a weaver bird  nest.  What an amazing work it is. Yes, it is actually woven. Upside down when I found it I turned it over and discovered that it was a two room nest.  One circular section was solid, with a nice soft woven bottom, and the other was open at the bottom, so I suppose, the parent bird could keep the nest clean.  It was indeed clean.  I marveled at the woven grasses that made the nest.  It was  a wondrous thing to that I held in my hands. I stopped being annoyed at the clamor of these birds, and continued to look up in wonder at the hanging nests, so beautifully made.
There were other birds, not as pretty.   In a field beyond the hotel’s fence stood a gathering of the most grotesque birds I have ever seen.  I think, from what I remember, comparing my memory with photos on the internet, they were Ruppell’s vultures. Large and grotesque.they were fearsome birds that looked as though they were put together from disparate and leftover parts.  I watched one high on a tree, trying to kept its balance, its broad wings fluttering as it stepped back and forth on the branch, managing to stay in place. Ugly as it was, there was a grace to its efforts to stay balanced.
And another bird.  It had the hop hop hop peck movements of a robin, had a body shape like a robin, but obviously it wasn’t a robin.  Its back was an electric blue, and its breast a vibrant red-orange.  A white collar circled its neck and there seemed to be a ring of white around its eyes.  They were numerous and unintimidated by the people walking about. It is called a supurb starling.
From my examination of the maps we drove to the Masaai Mara Reserve through the southwest of Kenya, through Narok towards the reserve. Some of the roads were newly paved, and some were dusty and filled with axle breaking potholes.  We passed fields of wheat and barley being harvested with giant John Deere combines.  At one point we were on the escarpment and looked over the vast and seemingly endless expanse of the Rift Valley as it stretched toward the horizon.  The land  was the gold of dried grass, but dotted darkly  with trees, and here and there  streaks of green indicated a stream bed or a swampy area.  The land cried out for rain.  We saw cattle and sheep and goats  with their Masaai herders foraging  for bits of greenery. The land waited for the small rains of October. The occasional hawk or vulture drifted overhead.
The Mara was parched; but there were many foraging animals. Wildebeest, zebras, gazelles, topi, warthogs all made an appearance.  We got glimpses of lions, and spotted elephants from a distance. The stop at the Masaai village with it attendant curio shop was a bit of an embarrassment.  A group of young men came out to dance for us, and then we were herded through the curio stalls, each of us with a Masaai who wanted to jolly us into buying more than we wanted.  I felt embarrassed for both of us.
Our last adventure was a visit to the Elephant Orphanage. Dust orange elephants were paraded out and announced as to age and name, and the attendents bottle fed them.  They were bright, amusing creatures; one young elephant seemed to know he had an audience and stood still on a small hill and flapped his ears, turned and looked at the audience and waggled his trunk.  And then we had one more meeting and we left.
I engage with people by sharing tasks and stories with them. I had little to do; did not feel that I could intrude myself into any of the activities that did involve the youth. The absence of real contact  with the children, with the people, has left me with a sense of detachment from the trip.  Engaging, interesting, strange, special. It was all those things, I lack emotional attachment to the place or the people, except on a very superficial level.  The things I remember: the girl stroking my head; the little boy running up to me; the animals on the mara; the graciousness of all the hotel workers; the young elephant performing for the visitors; the grace of the gazelle; the sturdiness of the zebra; the horrid ugliness of Kibera slum; buildings half built, skeletonlike with empty windows and walls that went nowhere. The little boy and girl, no more than eight ahd ten herding sheep along the road; these things shift and drift in my mind. None are Kenya; all are Kenya.




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