Posted tagged ‘Ghana’

“You’re traveling all over the world but to be home is something special.”

August 5, 2017

The air is damp yet again and makes me feel closed in, hemmed in by the humidity. Rain is predicted for late this afternoon but the gray sky doesn’t look like a rain sky. It looks as it has in days, just gray.

Our Saturday movie night is going to be Sunday movie night because of the weather, the possibility of rain tonight. I have three new movies from which to choose: a new, unbroken Four Feathers, To Kill a Mockingbird and An American Werewolf in London. I’m leaning toward the last one. It has humor and a werewolf, an unbeatable combination.

I had to go around the parking lot three times yesterday before I found a space. It was almost right in front of the store. I gave thanks to the God of parking. I was in and out quickly, but now I find I need to go back. I didn’t read all of the recipe. I missed the sauce and its two ingredients. I figure to wait for the afternoon or for the rain.

I have a project. On the bottom shelf of my large metal table are three baskets. I keep putting stuff in them but take nothing out. They are mini closets, catch-alls for stuff I don’t know where else to put. My mother always had a junk drawer in the kitchen. My baskets are my junk drawers. I’m going to use a large trash bag for debris when I go through each basket. I’m hoping to find some surprises.

When I got home from Ghana and was hoping to find a teaching job, it never occurred to me to find a job which required international travel. I don’t know why unless it was just needing to get used to home again as I wasn’t happy here for a long time. I missed Ghana, the friendliness of the Ghanaians, the fun of market day, fresh fruit at lunch, the spectacular night sky, the wonderful smell of wood burning and so much more. It took me a while to notice the best parts of home.

Newspapers are making a comeback. The Washington Post and The New York Times, among others, are booming. Last November The Times signed up 130,000 new subscribers. I remember when I was a kid there were morning and evening papers, even special editions when something happened. I also remember getting ink all over my fingertips when I read the paper. I was mostly interested in the comics. My dad read the whole paper while he was having coffee. He got the Globe when he was a democrat and switched to the Herald when he became a republican. I get the Globe and the Cape Times. As did my father, I read the whole paper, each paper except I skip the international news in the Times having already read it in the Globe. I have a cup of coffee with each paper. I am my father’s daughter.

Some memories are unforgettable, remaining ever vivid and heartwarming!

August 4, 2017

The air is dripping. The humidity is so thick it seems to coat my skin when I go outside. This morning’s gray clouds are giving way to blue skies and intermittent sun. It is already hot. Here in my den, it is still cool. It won’t get hot until the afternoon after the sun moves from front to back.

The bird feeder I filled yesterday is already half empty. The birds flying in and out seem endless. One eats and two wait. They are mostly chickadees, black capped chickadees, the state bird of Massachusetts. I like to sit and watch them. The birds fly right over my head almost close enough to touch.

I can’t seem to find a story or a memory. That is rare for me as I have a huge memory drawer overflowing with scraps and pieces of my life. I guess I’m going to visit Ghana today, and I’m bringing you with me. There are so many stories yet to tell.

One day there was a knock at my door. It was a man I didn’t know. He greeted me. I returned the greeting. He told me he was looking for a white woman and was I interested. I said no. He asked me if I knew any Canadians. I said no again. He thanked me and left.

A blind beggar was being led by a small boy. The beggar was holding one end of a stick and the boy was holding the other. The beggar stopped in front of me and asked for money. This was while I was in training. It was my first beggar. I said sorry and sent him off with good wishes as you have to give a beggar something. He called me batoria, white woman. I wonder what gave me away? I also wondered if he was really blind.

I always went to the same vegetable lady in the market. I bought tomatoes and onions from her. She gave me my change the first time I bought from her, and I put it in my bag. She didn’t speak English but indicated with her hands that I should count it. I shook my head no. That cemented our relationship. After that she would dash me extra tomatoes and onions. Once she had a small watermelon. I have no idea where she got it, but she had saved it for me. When I was leaving to come home, I went to say goodbye. She was crying and gave me a hug. She also gave me a small gift. It sits on the table here in the den. She always comes to mind when I see it.

I loved the mornings in Ghana. The roosters crowed. The air smelled of charcoal fires. I could hear water filling the metal buckets where my students waited in line to take their bucket baths. I’d sit outside my front door drinking my first cup of coffee before breakfast. I had the same breakfast every day: two eggs cooked in groundnut oil (peanut oil) and two pieces of toast toasted against the sides of the small charcoal burner. I’d watch the school children cutting through my school compound to go to schools outside the gates at each end of the school. At one end was the primary school and at the other was the middle school. I was an object of curiosity until the students got used to me then they’d wish me, “Good morning, sir. How Are you? I am quite well thank you, ” all said one after the other without a break. I’d have one or two more cups of coffee between classes.

It seems my bemoaning my lack of memories was massively premature.

“Because once you’re afraid of one thing, you can get scared of a lot of stuff.”

August 3, 2017

The air is so humid it feels damp. The sky is gray. The slight breeze does nothing to clear the air. We are starting days of hot weather. I will be a hermit sitting in the cool house with doors and windows closed. The Sox game last night was rained out. There was thunder and lightning. It missed us.

My laundry is done, but the pile sits in the living room waiting to be brought upstairs. That’s progress to me and a check off the to-do list.

Ghost Shark is today’s unbelievable movie. The shark can appear in water, any water, including bathtubs and water coolers. It doesn’t eat the bodies. It is after all a ghost but it does lop off heads or cut the bodies in half. Even to me this is one strange movie.

Clowns don’t scare me, haven’t ever scared me, though the clown in Stephen King’s It is scary. I grew up with Clarabell. He honked instead off talked except he did say good-bye on the very last Howdy Doody show. Maybe it’s clown make-up which scares people or their bad taste in colorful clothes with ruffles. I guess clown shoes don’t help much either.

I admit the man with the hook scared me when I was a kid. My father told us the story with heightened drama, hand gestures and the occasional grabs of our knees which made us jump. When he and my mother once went grocery shopping, we were alone which was fine until we heard scratching on the screen and no other sounds. It scared us enough we hid under the bed probably the first spot a crazed killer would look, but we didn’t have the time to discuss the best hiding place in the house. We just ran. It was, of course, my father. He thought it was funny. We didn’t at least until we caught our breaths and our hearts stopped beating wildly in our chests.

I do like to be scared but not about real things. I never expect boogeymen in the bushes or that my house will be targeted by roving marauders. I keep my inside doors open. I have no window shades. The curtains stay open to the sun though not all windows even have curtains. If I hear a noise, I usually investigate, a little timidly but I go anyway. The other night the dog’s backyard lights were triggered. She was inside. I went out on the deck to check the yard but neither saw nor heard anything. I just shrugged at the mystery and went back inside the house. I left the inside door open.

The first place I ever lived alone was in Ghana. It took a bit of adjustment, but after a while I enjoyed being by myself. My house was right by the back gate which I sometimes had to climb over to get back into the school compound after hours. The watchman pretended not to hear me so he could stay by his bedding and his fire. My inside door was always open even then. My house was broken into one night. I was sleeping outside and slept through it all. Nothing much was stolen as I didn’t have much. My camera was found outside the house. You couldn’t buy film for it in Ghana so it was useless to the thief. I had very little money which was gone, but Peace Corps reimbursed us. I had my pocket picked at the train station and was the victim of an attempted purse snatching. Despite all of those, I was never afraid.

I have lived alone my entire time in this house. I haven’t ever heard scratching on the screen or eerie sounds at night. Gracie used to bark at sounds but doesn’t anymore unless there is a knock at the door or the bell is rung. So much for my watch dog.  Regardless, I feel perfectly safe.

“Anything seems possible at night when the rest of the world has gone to sleep.”

July 18, 2017

Today was gray when I first woke up. I went back to sleep, and it was sunny when I awoke the second time. I stayed awake. After two coffees and two newspapers, I was ready to face the day. The animals got fed, I took Gracie outside, put dishes away and  cleaned the kitchen counter. That’s it, my chores, for the day. I do have to take Maddie and Gracie to get their nails cut, but that goes into the errand column and is the singular entry in that column. Most of my day will be lazy and quiet.

I take Gracie out for her last outside trip just before I go to bed. It can be any time between 12:30 and 3. It was around 2 this morning. I turn on my outside light, and it is the only light. All of the houses around me are dark. I walk gently and slowly to the driveway feeling with my foot the change from grass to hardtop. It is downhill to the gate and I shuffle my feet for safety. Once Gracie and I are inside the gate, I sit on the deck steps and wait. After she triggers the yard lights, I can see when she’s done and when we can to go back inside to bed. Sometimes I sit outside a bit longer because the night is so lovely. Gracie recognizes my mood and leans against me, her pat me signal. I listen to all the night sounds. I check out the stars. After a while, I drag myself inside to bed.

The night sky in Ghana was ablaze with stars. Nights were never dark. When I slept outside, during the harmattan, I watched for shooting stars. I saw many. Despite the heat, I slept soundly in my back yard. Roosters were my wake-up calls. When I think back, I realize it all seemed ordinary to me, a usual night. When I go back to Ghana, I have the sense that all of it is familiar especially that rooster outside my window crowing as the day dawns.

“Be music always. Keep changing the keys, tones, pitch, and volume of each of the songs you create along your life’s journey and play on.”

July 10, 2017

Okay, a lady walks into a computer store, dead computer in hand. She waits while the technician tries a few things, but there are no easy fixes. She forks over $80.00 and leaves her computer for 3 to 5 days meaning the poor woman faces more time in iPad hell, but she is still a bit hopeful as she knows hope springs eternal. On the way out of the store a line of new computers are all connected and sitting in a row against the wall. She foolishly tries one. It’s magic she thinks. The computer is speedy, the touch needed is a delicate one and it has this changing sort of screen at the top of the keyboard. Wow, she thinks then calls over the guy and asks a few questions. There is still time to run, but she doesn’t. She stays and plays with the computer. In a short while, she walks out of the store with computer in hand, a new MacBook Pro with a 15 inch screen, Siri and all sorts of bells and whistles. The woman is smiling.

Today is a beautiful sunny day. It will be in the low 80’s, tolerable when there is no humidity. The breeze is ever so slight; only the leaves at the end of the branches move up and down. I have doors and windows open. Every now and then the chimes ring. It is the sweetest sound. It is the only sound now.

Earlier, the neighbor’s dog was barking for what seemed hours. Another neighbor had her landscaper mowing her lawn and cutting the front bushes. It was around 8 when the the mower started. I am against raucous noise in the morning.

On my school compound in Ghana the morning sounds at first were so different they woke me far too early, but soon enough they became part of my consciousness, and I didn’t hear them while I slept. Roosters were the first sounds I heard and the first sounds I learned to ignore. Next, I could hear the swish of hand held brooms made of stalks. My students were sweeping the whole compound including the dirt in front of my house. Afterwards, they lined up in front of two spigots to fill buckets with water for their baths.  I could hear the clicking of the buckets, the flowing water and the conversations in the line. By then, I was usually up and dressed and having my first cup of coffee while sitting outside on the small concrete porch in front of my house.

After a while, I took for granted those sounds, but I had stored them away in my memory drawers. When I went back to Ghana, to Bolga, the first morning sound I heard was a rooster. It woke me up, but I just smiled, turned over and went back to sleep.

 

“You either get Africa or you don’t…”

July 7, 2017

“Okay, I am in crisis mode as my laptop isn’t working. It stopped last night. Now it makes a noise and the battery isn’t recharging. The computer boots but I am warned about the low battery. I’m going to have to visit an Apple Store. I am using my iPad, and I hate it for typing. The keyboard is either too small or my fingers are too large.

Today is humid and chilly, the sort of chill that goes to the bone because of the dampness. It wasn’t raining when I went out with the dog, but as soon as we got outside, the rain started. Of course it did.

Last night the back outside lights didn’t come on. I have to check them, but I’m thinking the spawns ate them again. They ate red lights off the last sets so I’m wondering what color attracted them to this set. I swear the spawns who come here are crazy. There was the summer of the paint eating spawn who gnawed all the black paint off the chair arms. This one may be related.

The mouse trap is still vacant of any resident. It is filled with peanut butter. Either the mouse isn’t hungry or there are no more kitchen mice.

The summer has been uneventful. It is still early, I know, but nothing is planned. Last year I had Ghana ahead of me. That set the bar so very high that little will compete with the excitement and the countdown of the days watching the trip get closer and closer.

When I look at my pictures from Ghana, there is still a sense of amazement. I was in Africa. I wonder if my far younger me would believe I had lived there and it had an every day quality about it. I know I mention Ghana here often, but it is so much a part of whom I am I can’t help but write about it. It shines so brightly in my memory banks. The colors and sounds are so vivid. Going back has only intensified my feelings about Ghana and the wonderful Ghanaians.

I can only hear the rain.

 

 

 

 

“Some old-fashioned things like fresh air and sunshine are hard to beat.”

July 3, 2017

Today is beautiful, sunny and clear, but it’s hot, already 84˚. Tonight the low will be 65˚,  far more to my liking. I was surprised when I brought Gracie out around 8 at how hot it already was. My AC has been on since yesterday. Last night I woke up and grabbed the afghan as I was a bit chilly. I snuggled, got warm and easily fell back to sleep for another hour or so.

Gracie slept with me on the couch for the first time in a while. I heard her panting around 3 and knew she needed to go out. We walked across the lawn to the driveway. It was just so dark the houses were mere shadows. In the backyard, I could hear Gracie walking on the bed of leaves so I knew where she was. While I sat on the steps waiting and enjoying the coolness of the night, she roamed the yard. After she joined me, we went back inside to the couch and both of us fell asleep quickly.

I have outside stuff to do. The lights the spawns chewed need to be replaced as does the string of lights from the huge star on the fence. Half of it went dead which drives me crazy. Three plants died in pots, all the same plant, but I have replacements ready. I need to water the deck plants and clean my outside shower. My fountain can be connected as I found its adaptor. Gracie will like that as she drinks from the fountain; however, that presents a problem as I love the sound of the water as it moves through the fountain, but Gracie often drinks it so dry that I can only hear a gurgling sound.

Often I’ve been traveling on the 4th. I remember Ghana where it’s just another day. I was in Venezuela for the bicentennial 4th of July. It went by me without my even noticing. It is easy to lose track of the date when there is no set itinerary, no expected times of departure or arrival, and that’s my favorite way to travel. I’m not big on escorted tours. Often the best trips are serendipitous.

I saw a chickadee, a nuthatch and a titmouse taking seeds from my feeder, but my favorite was watching a goldfinch remove lint from the container of nesting materials hanging from a branch over the deck. I wish I knew where she was building. I’d love to see the nest and meet her babies.