Happy holidays 2006! Can you believe there are still two years left until Bush is out of office! At least some progress has been made. Still we have much to be thankful for.
We’ve had a great year here in Martinez. We’re still staying in our little above-the-garage apartment that we fondly refer to as our tree house. We’ve adopted a community garden plot, which has generously provided us with all sorts of wonderful food—tomatoes, chilies, lettuce, beans, summer squash, zucchini, kale, peppers, and a few strawberries in the summer; and now, believe it or not, more kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, peas, the end of the tomatoes, and infinite arugula. Despite being the beneficiaries of all of this abundance, we also managed to skirt our way out of California this summer during the hottest months to visit our old home of Kodaikanal in India.
We visited India to celebrate our Tanzanian friend Modesta’s graduation from high school after four and a half years at the international school where we both previously taught. Reuniting with Modesta was such a treat—she is just as happy and energetic as usual. After a month with us in India, Modesta is now back in Tanzania, volunteering for a community education center in a rural village. She is teaching biology, computers, AIDS education, and sports, while getting ready to apply to a university in Kenya where she hopes to study community development. We’re very excited for her.
In India, we also had the great pleasure of visiting many old friends, who treated us royally, feeding us and welcoming us into their homes as if we had never been gone. In the later part of our visit, we gallivanted around the north by train (if one can be said to gallivant on Indian trains). Joined by some Davis friends who were doing research in Bhutan, we visited Varanasi, the Hindu holy city on the Ganges, and Darjeeling, the northeastern hill station famous for its tea. We then moved on to the verdant, cloud-strewn mountains of Sikkim in the Himalayas, where we hiked along clear, swollen streams and over village-made bridges to numerous Buddhist gompas (monasteries) and other holy sites. This bit of our trip was so nice we declared it our unofficial honeymoon!
Tim will soon be returning to India in February to meet with researchers studying fire ecology in the Western Ghats and to nail down plans for his upcoming research, which will allow both of us to return to Kodaikanal for the academic year of 2007/8. If Ganesh and Agni and all of the other gods will, Tim’s research will investigate the use of wildfire as a pastoral technique in the Kodai hills, combining his passions for both ecology and human culture. He also hopes to investigate the beautiful south Indian art of kolam design, in which women traditionally draw geometric designs with rice flour on their doorsteps in the early morning. All of this research is now possible since Tim passed his oral qualifying exams on December 1st, the culmination of two plus years of study. Now, as one professor told him, Tim is defined by what he has not accomplished—his dissertation.
Katie graduated from Mills with an MFA in creative writing just one day before we hopped on the plane to India this summer. She won a departmental award for the best graduate-level, young-adult fiction and has since continued to write a full draft of her first novel, which she started last January! The story is about a young girl living in post-independence Tanzania. The girl’s village chooses to relocate and over the course of the next year, she unravels a local mystery. In addition to writing, Katie has launched herself into teaching three composition classes at Berkeley City College. She has found her niche in community college teaching—enjoying the immense diversity of her students and the opportunity to serve people who, in many cases, have been given the short end of stick in previous education.
Finally, our biggest news is that we’ll be joined by a third Quirk-Waring —we’re pregnant! If all goes well, the baby will be born at the end of June, 2007. We’re thrilled and our only regret is that we will miss the much-awaited weddings of Katie’s cousin, Kristin, and Tim’s college friend, Eric.
We feel very blessed, in large part because of our wonderful friends and family. We look forward to seeing all of you soon and hope you have a splendid year.
Love to all of you,
Katie and Tim