It’s not every day I get a message with a picture of a blog review. I got one, and there was the blog name in the heading, and for a whole minute I thought it was a mistake! ^_^ After the surprise, a happy dance ensued, and I went out and bought the paper to make a clipping. I’m very grateful to Abigail Arunga for giving this blog a review, and mentioning it on such a huge platform. It’s absolutely made my month. Thank you so much.
August 31st is here and it is a mix of warm and cold. Our little corner in Nairobi is feeling dry-ish. Still waiting for decent rain. The month was filled with a voting week and the strange limbo that follows result week. Kenyans, we remain resilient. The business continues, and we march on. On the fun side, Netflix keeps on giving. I love the Sandman and hope they come through for a second season and a third. The Sandman comics are so much fun to read. My favorite episode remains the one with the cats and Calliope.
We made a trip to our national library, now labeled Maktaba Kuu. My sister and I went there to make a legal deposit for books we printed. It is always the most interesting activity to do. The government has recently revamped the national library and everything looks spanking new. There is so much space for books, which is awesome because when you buy an ISBN in Kenya you have to deposit two printed books with the ISBN to the library. This is the only to buy a new ISBN batch. I loved all the new reading spaces, and the librarians are all so friendly, that you just want to move in and stay. Hahaha.
The ISBN legal deposit of books is a great initiative in terms of contributing new titles to the national library. It also allows anyone to find the book and read it at no charge. So, if you want to read a book printed in Kenya and can’t find it or afford it for the moment, try visiting the Kenyan Library. Give it a read and leave it for the next person to check it out too.
I recently reviewed Murdering Romance by Kendi Karimi. Through her, I got to pick up her book from Nuria the Honest Store. I love the concept of this online bookstore. They stock a wide range of genres, and especially stock Kenyan writers. You purchase these books online through their website and have them delivered to your location. I got my package and a cute bookmark that I will definitely use often.
If you’re a writer, consider approaching Nuria to sell your books. If you’re a reader, check out the Nuria Online store and see if they work for you. You can also visit their location in town to get a look at the titles they carry.
This big book always excites me because it took some work to get through the editing process, the formatting, and the cover design. When the printed version comes home, I always have this moment of excitement going through the pages to make sure everything is as we planned. Yes, we do find a typo or a detail that should have been removed and it’s like…argh. But then, we shake it off and make notes to get it in the next edition. This is the journey, but nothing beats having the book in hand in printed form.
My reading list was done faster this month. I got through five books, which is awesome. I hope I do about the same in September if I’m to get to 52 Books for the reading challenge. Hahaha. The best book this month has been Wash Day Diaries. Just…the best thing I’ve seen in a graphic novel.
I’ve spent August in editing mode. Editing remains full of teachable moments, like keeping my writer self away from someone’s voice while insisting on rewrites.
September is coming. It is one of my favorite months. The second one is in October. That’s the update from the blog this August 2022. I’m super looking forward to September’s sunny days in our corner. Take care of yourself, and I hope you make a dent in your ongoing projects.
June is a great month to reassess plans and ideas. 2022 has been a series of small and massive changes, from stocking up on cooking oil to learning how to seriously create TikTok vids, trying not to binge on Stranger Things on Netflix, and seriously failing, the ’80s were fun. The year is on a roll, and it’s all about managing everything in your life to keep moving forward.
Here are a few updates from our corner. June is dry for us in Nairobi this year. I garden and we have to water veggies and flowers on a serious note to escape drought. In any case, putting in some effort with watering has gotten us some pretty results. Mom harvested some bananas, and the flowers are looking pretty. I miss the rain. Wondering if we should learn how to do a rain dance…hahaha.
I got to work on a very simple book cover this past month. We create content and make eBooks for sale at The Amari Baking Center. Here is a look at the pricing eBook we put out lately. It has great content about how to manage your product pricing if you’re thinking or working on starting a small business. You can get it here. Pricing Book/Amari
On my reading list, I’m caught up in the Ash Princess Trilogy for the month of June. Ash Princess and Lady Smoke are read, and I’m left with Ember Queen. Can’t wait to get to the end of this series. I have a plan to read Wings of Ebony, I’m hoping it is an interesting read. My book count is slowly going up. I hope I’m at 52 by the end of the year.
On writing, I think I’m doing better this year than I did last year. I have a lot more chapters out than I expected. It does take effort to add in the word count between daily life activities, general chores, and that fabulous villain called procrastination. I hope to keep winning on the word count as the year continues. Wouldn’t it be fabulous to put out a new ebook in December 2022? Let’s do this!
June is at the end and six months of 2022 with it. I hope that I’ll manage to make the next six months more productive for this blog. On the plus side, I’ve finally learned how to make a blog calendar work for me! Which is an accomplishment I really cannot explain, just know it is a big, BIG thing! I’m too excited about it. That’s my happenings for the year.
I hope your next six months are full of productive and amazing events that fill you with accomplishment by December 2022. Work on finishing that book you’ve been writing, get your projects done or plan one you’ve been thinking of getting done.
My grandmother told us (her grandchildren) folktales in her kitchen, while we waited for her to finish cooking. She told us tales when we finished eating and waited to go to bed. I remember the sound of her voice, her laugh, the scent of the sweet potatoes she roasted in the hot ash under the firewood coals. Most of all, I remember the warmth of her kitchen, as she spun wild tales about an ogre in the forest who ate naughty children. Her stories could be quite frightening at times.
She’s long gone now. All we have are the memories of her tales. Most of which are not as clear as we wish they would be. We were young, the years have gone by and us, her grandchildren, are often sad because her stories while entertaining are lost to memory. I wish someone had written them down. I wish I knew them well enough to write them down and print them.
I tell you this memory because you must also have stories you enjoyed, you experienced and hold close to your personal history. They are yours, told in your language, your way. To never forget them is a gift, to share them is your privilege. Write them down and get them read by others. Share your experiences in our beautiful East Africa with the generations to come.
Today, I’m very proud of our one plant vine growing like a champ.
We got grapevine cuttings from a friend I have spent the last two months babying these two last cuttings into growing into strong plants. One has agreed to bring out leaves, but the other cutting remains dormant. I thought nothing was happening with the dormant one but when I checked it a few days ago, it has roots. So, we’re in the waiting period with that one.
Meanwhile, we might end up with a one plant vineyard, and it’s oddly exciting. I can’t wait to see what happens next. Yes, the little leaves on the one plant have me imagining grapes growing on a vine, maybe making wine out of them. hahaha. Here’s to hope!
It was less than two years after three children lost their daddy to a car crash. The rawness of such a loss still fresh in their minds, the world seemed like a battlefield with every step. Strangers turned to friends, while friends they had known left, not able to withstand the sense of grief clouding around the three children and their little mother. It was a hard time for the small family of four.
Now, their home was a farm at the end of a stretch of land with a very muddy access road. On very rainy days, a lake of sorts would form in the middle of the access road. The mother of these three children would then have to find a way to get them across daily in order to get them to school. There were two pairs of shoes to be worn. Gumboots and rain coats to get through the massive swamp and school shoes to wear when the three children got to the bus stop. The family that owned the property closest to the main road was kind and allowed a small path at the driest part inside their own farm away from the access road. But even this little path would sometimes get hard to pass through.
In any case, the little family survived the best they could through the very rainy season and the massive swamp lake that formed in the middle of their access road.
One day, the neighbors who owned property opposite the little family’s farm opened a small gate on to their access road. They wanted a second exit they said. One that would allow them to have two gates. One gate on their main road on the other side of their property, and the little one on the muddy access road with the swamp in the middle.
The mother of the children had no problem with this development. In fact, she thought it would be a blessing. Perhaps the kids would have an easier time going to school now. They might use that small access to get to the drier road on the other side, and their path would be easier to school.
In the dry season, this little gate never came to play for the little family. Their access road was fine, and they went about their lives as usual.
Then the swamp in the middle of the road returned after a particularly rainy day. It was holiday time, and the three children did not need to go to school. However, their mother did want to send them to the shop, so she handed the three money and asked them to get a kilo of sugar from the shop. They had seen others using the small gate made by the neighbors to escape the swamp, so they thought, ‘Oh, we can also try this gate. It will be easier to escape mud and swampy water.’
They were nervous about it, after all this was a new route, but they thought they would try it and see if they could get to the other dry road. After all, the owners also use their access road in the dry season. All would surely be well.
They were wrong.
They barely made it to the opposite gate of the quiet property to the other road when a man came out swinging a panga from his house. The panga was sharp, his words sharper and he chased them as one would chase thieves. He screamed insults at them, and threatened to cut them to pieces, fear grew and the three children screamed running back home at the speed of light. They forgot why they had ventured outside their home and went to find their mother.
When the three children ran home, their little mother was in shock at their crying faces. She asked if they had been robbed off the money she gave for sugar, and tried to soothe them, wiping away their tears. In minutes, she discovered their story and a burning anger fueled her to confront this villainous man who would dare threaten to cut her children with a sharp panga.
When she got to his gate, she asked him why he would do this, and he threatened the little mother, telling her to shut up or he’ll kill her. This mother was not one to take insults quietly. She screamed for help and the neighbors came. As she was calling for help, this villainous man wrapped his hands around her neck and tried his best to rob her off breath.
It took three men to pull this villainous man off the little mother. Her voice was hoarse from the assault. Her neck damaged. The three children were in shock. Not less than two years ago, they had all buried their father after a car accident, now here was a man doing his best to turn them into orphans. Sinister yet, he was not sorry about it.
It became clear that a path to the dry road on the other side was not worth this hefty price of death.
In any case, the courts became involved. The villainous man was tried with attempted murder and the illegal path into the muddy access road was closed by a judge.
Life continued, as it often does.
Three little children grew up and in a blink twenty years passed.
Their little mother still struggles with neck problems, as a result of the assault on her neck. Some nights she has to sleep with a neck collar. The children often make sure it is new and available even when she travels. This was a price they paid for daring to think that all neighbors are made equal.
They all learned that the kindness of one family cannot be carried to the next family. Their access road still gets terrible in the rain, but they endure and find ways to pass through it without complaint. Muddy shoes are a much easier price to pay than death from murder by a villainous neighbor.
A few years ago, the villainous man’s family opened a path to the muddy access road again. They use it unstopped by the little mother and the three children. No pangas raised against them or hands wrapped around their throats in a grotesque picture of murderous intent. None of the villainous man’s family help fix the muddy road, after all they still have the other side to use during the rainy seasons. This lesson is that the nature of a family’s values remains and does not change.
Recently, the little mother was helping one of her daughters transplant a tree from their gate into their farm. She saw a woman pass their gate heading for the now illegal path at the end of their access road and said, “Ah, that’s that villainous man’s daughter. You should know her in case she comes to yell over electricity poles near their fence.”
Yes, the spectacle of a woman screaming over electricity poles has happened to the little mother, but that is a story for another day.
The little mother’s daughter spared the woman in question no glance. After all that woman’s daddy almost cost her a mother.
“It’s better not to know or interact with them,” the daughter said. “Nothing good can come from it.”
“True, ” the little mother said, touching her neck.
In the end, the little family lives on, but the question still remains, what makes people so unreasonable as to want to murder over a small moment?
Can you forgive someone who tries his best to choke you to death because you asked a question about your children, who tried to pass a path this person’s opened, that others have used unstopped, but your children had to face a machette on the first attempt? What would you do with this reality?
Happy New Year! 2020 is currently very beautiful. My Sunday is full of perfect sun, and birds chirping on the trees around our compound. Peaceful perfection.
This post is a gratitude post. I was on Goodreads deciding on my 2020 reading challenge number, and got to check out last year’s accomplishment. It suddenly occurred to me that I ought to be very grateful to my parents. Very grateful because they gave me the gift of nurturing a reading culture.
It’s a small action, really, but also the most powerful gift ever. My dad had a serious obsession with science fiction. He gave me my first Arthur C. Clarke books, (Rendezvous with Rama), and my mom has a thing for literature, she had a stash of African plays, and a box full of reader’s digest romance books. When I was done reading theirs, they bought me fiction books, one every month, and made sure I learned how to borrow books from my school’s library. The biggest challenge was taking care of that book and returning it in good condition. Better yet, learning how to keep books they bought so that my sister and brother could read them too. These small lessons have turned into the biggest blessings now.
I am grateful for my parents who taught me how to be a collector of books.
The Goodreads reading challenge is a great way to track books on the shelf at home, or in your virtual library. That’s a thing now by the way. My kindle has an endless list now. This year, I plan on 120 books, as opposed to the 200 from last year. I’m anticipating a busy 2020 in terms of actual activities on my time, so the number has reduced. I don’t know why it’s so exciting to see Goodreads make a report and list of books I read through the year. It makes me want to have a more impressive review for this year.
I’ll tell you that real world obligations can take over and suddenly you’re in March and haven’t started the reading challenge at all. I’ve found downloading a book every week on my kindle app helps me keep track. Read during a commute, when waiting for someone, or instead of scrolling endlessly on social media.
November is here! You know that means NaNoWriMo! Have you started writing your novel for the month yet? The NaNoWriMo: Kenya Region has an exciting whatsapp group, that keeps you going even on the days you want to stop. If interested, join the daily writing sprints. Here is the link to the NaNoWriMo whatsapp group. Get in and write your 50,000 words this month.
My project this year is called Kipepeo. I hope to get about 50K words of it done. It’s Nov 5th, I’m at 6K. 44k to go!
More News! Picture Perfect finally has a cover and a completion schedule which is this Month (November 30th). I’ve had a long journey with this story, and you’ll find a chunk of it on this site. I’m excited to finally finish this and get it out there on e-book platforms. Please look forward to it. Here is the cover!
Mike Omondi Mulinya is an artist focused on painting on Canvas and Mix Media. He is the owner of Olympus Art and is based in Ngara, Nairobi. He often documents his progress on canvas on Instagram. You’ll find a work-in-progress post and project-complete post on his feed..
What I love most about his work is the color that explodes on canvas: so vivid and authentic. Read on to discover more about Mike and his art, in the following interview.
“Don’t give up on your dreams. As an artist, stand up bold and be what and who you want to be in life because we live once.“
Q. Tell us about yourself and what you do.
My name is Mike Omondi Mulinya. I do Art and Design to satisfy my spirit of creativity and adventure.
You’re an artist, what is your experience in your industry in Kenya?
The art industry in Kenya though not so tough, is also not an easy walk through. Though the industry has prominent artists, not many of them are willing to sit and have a chit-chat of encouragement and prosperity (with new artists). I think there is a fear of overtake in their monopoly market of art. To add to that, I started up with four paintings in 2017 and went to ask for a chance at Alliance Française. They told me that they don’t exhibit the paintings that I was doing. They (the paintings) were kinda small I guess. So, lucky for me, they were bold to my aunt who bought them all.
What Inspires you? What inspired your most favorite artwork?
My dream and passion of having the Olympus Art Gallery is my wheel that I push daily. This dream inspires me every dawn and dusk. What inspired my most favourite work is nature. God was creative with the world, so God is an Artist and so nature inspires my paintings.
How or why did you start making art?
I started making art in high school to preserve the art culture that I see is almost coming to an end. I also started making art since I’m art coherent. It’s in me and I really wanted to bring the art culture to bold light and say Art is what I dream and I paint my dreams. In this world, one can’t survive without cash. I had to look for a source of income. I chose making art as my source of income.
What is your most important artist tool?
My important artist tools are my paint brushes, since they help me create vivid artistic images for the future and for utilization purpose.
Do you only paint on canvas, or can you make art in other forms? For example, painting murals, making greeting cards, or even on clothes?
I paint on canvas and any hardware material that paint is compatible. I can paint and make things to order.
What are your thoughts to aspiring artists in Kenya?
My thoughts are don’t give up on your dreams. As an artist, stand up bold and be what and who you want to be in life because we live once.
There is special magic in a painting on canvas hanging on a wall. If you’re looking for an artist to get art for your walls, your place of work, your …insert preference…do check out Mike’s Art. His contacts below:
A burst of inspiration struck this afternoon. We collected shells on the beach during a trip to Diani, and we had this huge bag of shells we didn’t know what to do with. Anyway, the inspiration came from browsing pinterest, and finding these great seaside jars made over at Completely-Coastal.
So, got to work collecting glass jars in the house. Impromptu arts & crafts, hahaha.
Made quite a mess of it at first.
But the end result looks awesome. These are now going on the bookshelves. Memories in a Jar!
All in all, a productive Saturday afternoon…at least it was a great save for the shells. Hope your Saturday was great!
Up next, Life on the Fast Track – 22. Jasmine is to face Dad and make a stand for her little brother! Oh boy!