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Excavation Extravaganza – 9/4 through 9/11

Our trenches don’t quite rival the 27 kilometer CERN tunnel, which cranked up the Big Bang Revisited experiment yesterday, but then we aren’t trying to ferret out the beginning of all things, just make some footings for a modest kitchen on a small plot in southeast Kenya. We’ve been whackin’ away at the black soil for over a week, and laid down our picks yesterday.


We’ve been slowed by some very unseasonable rains, and even with the consuming urge to press on with the construction, none of us can find it within ourselves to root against the water. It has been dry so early this year. The animals are suffering. The eland on the game ranch near us are weakening. They are browsers, like giraffes, as opposed to grazers, like wildebeests and cattle. There is serious threat of villagers dying this season in northern Kenya if the rains fail again this fall. So despite the fact that we can’t spray the white ant (termite) discourager until the trenches are dry, and we can’t pour the concrete footings until we spray, we are happy for the rain.


If there is no rain this afternoon, we will pour the footings tomorrow, then the rain will make little difference in our progress. I’ll catch you up on the big and small of it since last news.



OK for now. We’re hoping that, like Federer, you’re all back on top.


Ci vediamo,




  1. Peggy says

    Dear David,
    I am in awe. I sit and view this story unfolding with my mouth open. To see what you all have accomplished — with shovels! — is amazing. The picture titled “the grid was expanding” gave us a concept of the scale of this operation, and, of course, the last photo shows just how deeply involved we are in Africa!

    Thank goodness for the cement mixer; no more dancing around the mixing pile.

    I hope the rains gave everyone some relief.

    Here’s to you, David, and your good work!

  2. Chris says

    I feel just like you do, Peggy. For some reason, this string of photos has struck me most of all, David. They’re so beautiful — they really fit the beauty of the whole enterprise. And to see that, to get the overview, and to see all the teamwork, is really beautiful. “Dirt was flying” is one of many scenes that are just amazing.

    What’s the difference between “browsing” and “grazing,” by the way?

    It is amazing how many people are working together for this come to life — and these photos of you Gilbert, Isaiah, Tony, Joseph, George, Benson bring alot of joy.


  3. martin says

    cheers to you and your beloved eland, both growing even stronger with each day.

  4. Michael Carlbom says

    I am so amazed at what you are accomplishing in Kenya David. Always knew you were destined for something big. This gives a whole new meaning to ” Pillars of The Earth”. Keep up the good work young man.

  5. david says

    Dear Peggy,

    Your faithful, largely unacknowledged behind the scenes work is what makes whatever we manage here possible. Thank you. Thank you. And the many others who work so hard for the project and for our kids.

    With deep gratitude,

    David and all of us here

  6. david says

    My dear Chris,

    I love the photos of the guys here too, and I’m determined to get Gilbert to smile in one of his, although that serious face of his is something to behold.

    Browsing is what we do in bookstores (are there any left there) and grazing is what we do at the brunch buffet at the Fairmont. Or, to put it another way, browsers eat leaves and bushes and such things…think giraffes and the illusive okapi, and grazers eat grass, all the herd animals.

    It honestly thrills me that the photos do what they do to you. It makes me very happy, and connected.

    Are you and Debi still in the Pacific NW?? I eat your blog entries like gelato…hazelnut.


  7. david says

    Dear Martin,

    Your namesake sends his best gravelly-voiced greetings. The elands need help, and maybe the recent rain will be a start.

    Been listening to Anthony and the Johnsons.

    All here love and miss you.


  8. david says


    What a great surprise! I’ve thought of you often since we met my last time home. The old connections are the best. It’s a small list who know the days of Bee and the Van. And so many things that are probably best left unmentioned here.

    Love to you and your family. Go well my brother.


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