December, 2008 browsing by month


Officially The Tembas

Monday, December 29th, 2008

Can you tell where someone is from by their name? In America it helps us tell where people’s ancestors came from – Anderson, Andersen, O’Malley, Nguyen, Chang, Lee, Smith, Sanchez. Both Julius and I had names that don’t give away where we are from. My last name – Bloom – was bestowed onto my family when my great-grandfather came over from Norway and the clerk at Ellis Island felt that there were too many Andersons. Since he was from the village of Blom, the clerk changed his name to Bloom. Bloom is actually more common as a Jewish name.

Jacob is not technically Julius’ family name, it is the first name of his Grandfather. In Tanzania last names can be more fluid. Many people use their father or grandfather’s first name as a last name. However, it seems most also have a family name they can use. Julius’¬†family name is Temba. Just like Nguyen or O’Malley in the States, the name Temba lets Tanzanians know that Julius’ father is from the Chagga tribe. Even more impressive to me is that people who grew up in Kilimanjaro region (where the Chagga tribe is based) would know that his family is from the village of Kibosho, just by the last name. Does anyone know if this is true in other countries?

One Tanzanian we knew in America said that he made sure his children had their family name as a last name. He felt that it would give them that Tanzanian identity even though they lived in another country. We also thought this was a good idea. When Esther came along we gave her the last name Temba. I learned at my job that you can give your child any last name you want on their birth certificate – even one that is made up or one from a deadbeat dad who denied it was his kid (one thing I saw at my job).

This week Julius and I finally got around to legally changing our name to match hers. With a short visit to the county courts it was done. So, we are officially The Tembas! Julius is lucky in that his signature is illegible and he can keep using the same one. I will have to get used to Sara B Temba instead of Sara A Bloom.

Two Years Ago Today

Sunday, December 21st, 2008

While traveling in Italy we stopped by the city of Bologna to visit Lucia and Valerio, a couple we befriended at the Hofbrauhaus in Munich. Here we are in November of 2006 after one too many large beers

Beers with Valerio and Lucia

Beers with Valerio and Lucia

Julius told her that his favorite Italian dish was Spaghetti Bolognese and Lucia promised to make it if we visited them when we were in Italy the next month. Here we are in their dining room

Julius with Lucia and Valerio

Julius with Lucia and Valerio

The dish was, of course, fantastic! We still remember the meal as one of the best on our trip. We are still in touch with them and they now have a son, Marco, about a year older than Esther. We sent him a shirt for his first birthday. We received this photo this week.

Marco's Obama Shirt

Marco's Obama Shirt


Saturday, December 20th, 2008

Winter weather has hit Seattle! We have managed to get out a few times but have mostly laid around the apartment. There has been plenty of snow and ice. Seattleites are big wimps when it comes to winter weather. No one knows how to drive in it. It does not help that most of the neighborhoods in Seattle are hills – Capitol Hill, Beacon Hill, Queen Anne Hill, Crown Hill, First Hill (aka Pill Hill for all the hospitals there), etc. Queen Anne Hill is incredibly steep with old maze-like mostly dead end streets obviously laid out before cars. It is one of the richest neighborhoods in the city which means that the streets are lined with very expensive luxury cars.

Why Queen Anne has rich people living there

View from Queen Anne during nice weather

Julius was up there today and reported that all the streets still open (the few that are big enough for melting/sanding) were now lined with dented and scratched luxury cars. Moral? Don’t drive on Queen Anne right now. It can be expensive if they catch you.

On Wednesday schools were closed because there might be snow (there wasn’t). After that embarrassment we were redeemed when snow arrived on Thursday. It was bad. The incident that got the local news really hysterical was today when two buses that went down a steep, icy street on Capitol Hill and came thisclose to flying through a barrier and flying who knows how many feet to the freeway below. This better put us on national news. If Spokane can be mentioned on Morning Edition for breaking some 120 year old snow record, we should be featured for this.

This could have been baaaaaad

This could have been baaaaaad

Forecast for Sunday Рsnow followed by freezing rain and 70 mph winds. Stay tuned.  I just hope we keep power.

The Double Freezer Challenge

Monday, December 8th, 2008

After Esther was born my mom moved in for three weeks to help us transition into parenthood. It was great – a custom practiced around the world that has been often neglected in the States. On her first day in our home she quickly decided we did not have enough freezer space. She was right, of course. This problem was compounded by the fact that I cooked a huge pot of Mtori (a Tanzanian soup women eat post-delivery) and loaves of zucchini bread during my nesting phase. With a visit to she ordered us a half-chest freezer and Julius picked it up that day. It was fabulous. Relatives brought meals to stock it along with many trips to Costco and Trader Joes. By October we realized that things had gotten out of hand. Our freezers were both full and we were eating mostly out of the fridge! Thus, our freezer challenge.

Starting in October we decided that we would do no more grocery shopping until both freezers were emptied of food. The only things we were allowed to buy were condiments, milk, eggs, flour for bread and satsumas (they only come once a year and we need to eat them while they are in the stores). It turned out to be a lot more food than we thought. Now we are coming into mid-December and we have about a week and a half worth of food left. We have wittled it down to two packages of chicken, a severly freezer burned piece of salmon (hopefully no more than nine months old), a mexican dish from my cousin, vegetarian chili, shrimp scampi and tail-on shrimp. We also agreed to try and use all the dry goods in the cupboard so we have been eating a lot of beans, curry, coconut milk and rice. I even made a dessert out of the sweet sticky rice that I bought by mistake at the Asian grocery.

It has been a great challenge that has saved us a lot of money on groceries. I, however, am most looking forward to the shopping sprees that we will take to Cash and Carry, Costco and Trader Joes when it is finally over.