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How Time Flies!

January 31, 2013 — Leave a comment

As I begin my annual ritual of scouring the earth for the first tiny signs of spring (saw the first pussy willows yesterday!)… last January I was in South Africa. I can’t believe so much time has passed.

The trip was a major milestone in my ongoing life-changing journey with Mtuseni — enlightening, unsettling, heartwarming, frustrating, happy, sad, and fun. And I never imagined myself saying this, but I’m dying to take another 17-hour plane ride — to return to South Africa soon. Tight finances means it couldn’t happen this winter, but I’m aiming for a short visit during Mtuseni’s April break. I miss him and his squeaky, lilting voice and Wheel of Fortune moods. I want to spend more time with his sister Bongeka and brother Musa. And I want to discover more of Joburg and hang out with new friends.

Although it seems longer, I realized this blog only began in April, so I never discussed my visit. As I bask in sunny memories of South Africa while a brief Boston warm spell gets blown away by Montreal winds, I’ll share a few photos from that trip — and hope to have new ones to share soon.


Our first meeting. Major jet lag… but happy!

Meeting mom and the kids. Left the price tag on her flowers!

With mom and the kids at their one-room settlement shack.


Scene near Mtuseni’s settlement… a far cry from the wealth of his college town of Sandton.


Walking from Camps Bay to Clifton Beach, Cape Town. Breathtaking!


My clown in the clown fish tank at Cape Town Aquarium.


Getting my feet wet in Southern Hemisphere waters — and Mtuseni’s first time at the ocean — at Clifton Beach.


Lions Head Mountain over Camps Bay Beach — SA’s most expensive real estate!


At Victoria Wharf, Cape Town. No, I did not get on that wheel. I’m chicken and proud of it!

Fog -Table-Mountain-Cape-Town-South-Africa

Fog over Table Mountain in Cape Town… echoes of my days in San Francisco.

Personal fog... exhausted flying back from Cape Town to Joburg. To be followed by a 30-hour door-to-door return to Boston next day.

Personal fog! Exhausted flight back from Cape Town to Joburg. Next day… a 30-hour, door-to-door return to Boston.

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Help make a difference in the world with your holiday shopping this year. Share the riches of the season beyond your inner circle.

Nonprofit Tech 2.0 Blog :: A Social Media Guide for Nonprofits

November 27, 2012 is the first ever #GivingTuesday. Launched to inspire charitable giving and conscious consumerism throughout the giving season, the 11 nonprofit gift programs listed below are ideal holiday gifts for family members, friends and work colleagues who are committed to social good and would rather you donate and invest in a nonprofit than spend money on another candle, sweater, or bath gift set. 🙂

That said, if you prefer to wrap and present gifts this holiday season, please see a previous post entitled 22 Online Gift Stores That Benefit Nonprofits. However you choose to spend your money on holiday gifts, there are plenty of ways do it to benefit good causes and create change in communities that need it.

1. Defenders of Wildlife Adoptions
Wild animal adoptions are the perfect gift for holidays… for a friend or yourself. Your animal adoption helps save endangered species!

2. Heifer…

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Grown-up Kids

August 12, 2012 — Leave a comment

Sometimes Mtuseni drives me nuts… The cranky, sullen moods. The frustrating pushbacks as he lurches toward independence. The half-baked, way-off-the-mark (but still forming) opinions. The knuckleheaded decisions and forgetfulness that have been codified as a biological reality in late-teen males. Sometimes I just want to throw up my hands and take a break.

But then yesterday I went to a farmer’s market in one of Boston’s tonier suburbs. And among the colorful stands filled with just-picked peaches, super-sweet corn, pea tendrils and squash blossoms… were packs of small children in their J. Crew sundresses and tiny Tevas. They ricocheted like screaming electrons through the common as some dorky folksinger gamely played his ukulele to entertain them. A few just cried angrily and miserably… because there always has to be some of those kids at any public gathering.

The kicker was when a boy in front of me poked his finger into $4 a pound heirloom tomatoes while his supposedly evolved mom just watched… because American kids today are never wrong and never hear the word “no.” And because the boy’s intellectual curiosity about the cellular integrity of produce (or perhaps simply his desire to destroy things) has as much validity as my desire to buy glorious farm-fresh summer tomatoes in one piece.

Carrying my bags to the car, I looked back teen-in-South-Africa-settlementas the ragamuffins ran ragged. And life with Mtuseni didn’t seem that bad after all. Because despite the stuff that makes me crazy, he’ll tell me about an “awesome day” learning how to use formulas in Excel. And praise John Legend not only for his musical talent but also because he “knows how to look after himself as a brand.” And because he can still say “I love you” when we sign off a text chat and he goes to sleep in his unheated shack.

Yep, I’ll take my grown-up kid any day.

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July 11, 2012 — 1 Comment

Today I saw three separate kids have screaming, meltdown tantrums. From their tormented wails, it was clear that each one revolved around something they “wanted.” A few months ago, I remember seeing a boy going inconsolably ballistic in Target over a toy, saying “I need it.” Now they don’t just want things, they need things.

Maybe it’s my imagination or my low tolerance, but it seems like child tantrums are becoming more frequent in this country. And you can’t blame it on food additives or the other usual contemporary culprits. I grew up in the 60s… anything you ate was 50% additives. And cereal was 80% sugar. And kids didn’t lose their minds because they couldn’t have something.

Despite the sluggish economy, American kids have so much stuff. Too much. Perhaps it’s a function of a consumer-based economy where the government begs us to shop to keep the country afloat. Maybe it’s overworked parents feeling guilty. Maybe it’s the new era of never-say-no-to-your-child parenting… and if you do, it becomes a major scene. My nine-year-old niece just got an iPod Touch. I don’t even have one! My sister was against it at first, but “all the other kids have them.” That “toy” costs more than Mtuseni’s mother earns in a month.

Drummond kids I just wonder if child tantrums are a problem in Mtuseni’s settlement or similar South African communities and townships. If a key driver of a tantrum is “want,”  these kids comparatively live in a constant state of want. They probably want something every day… like new shoes or a book or breakfast. And often, this is where the “need” — expressed with such despair by that brat in Target — is authentic. But do settlement kids all scream bloody murder in an attempt to get what they want? I guess you don’t if it never comes.

American politicians talk about government entitlements causing problems for the country in the long term. We should start looking at what generations of entitled kids will mean for our future.

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