Posted tagged ‘Ghana’

“Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine to the mind.”

February 28, 2017

I feel much better, but I’m tired. I so envy Gracie and Maddie and their morning naps. They must be exhausted after having breakfast. Added to that, Gracie had a trip to the backyard. How tiring that must have been. Later, they’ll wake up and have their dinners then both of them will need another nap. Standing and eating can be so strenuous.

When I was a kid, the last thing I’d ever do would be to waste any part of my day by taking a nap. In college I took some afternoon naps mostly to recharge after a party or a night on the town. In Ghana, everything closed down for naps. Because it was the hottest time of the day, a nap, to get out of the sun, was inviting. My students had to be in their dorms resting on their beds. In town the post office closed as did a few stores and kiosks. I got to like that time of the day. It was quiet on the school compound. Nothing much moved. I started taking naps. I haven’t ever stopped.

My outside Christmas lights are gone. My factotum, Skip, came yesterday to do some odds jobs, and the lights were first. Last night was really dark. There are no streetlights so the only lights were shining from the windows of a few houses but not in the houses nearest mine as people don’t live in them full time. If you walked around at night, you’d need a flashlight to navigate the neighborhood.

It was in the 40’s yesterday, not warm, just seasonable. Today will hit 50˚ but it is raining on and off. Tomorrow may set a new record in Boston. It won’t be warm enough for that here.

My front garden has flowers. Snowdrops and yellow crocus are blooming. They look beautiful, especially the yellow crocus. My eyes crave color during the drab winter. That yellow just pops and screams spring is coming.

I love that the day is getting longer and longer.

“Silence is also speech.”

February 25, 2017

Today is far warmer than I expected. It’s a sit in the sun day because tomorrow will be colder, back down to the daytime 40’s, to our usual February weather. This morning there was some fog. I couldn’t see more than an outline of my neighbor’s house. After I got the paper and yesterday’s mail from across the street, I stayed outside a while just to take in the warmth, the fog and the songs of birds.

The aroma of wood smoke is one of my favorite smells. The guy in the house on the next corner has been burning wood in a rusty metal barrel. At first I though a house fire then I saw him putting more wood in the barrel. He’s the same neighbor who thought Gracie was a wolf when she jumped the six-foot fence into his yard to go after his dog. I’m thinking he doesn’t have a permit to burn wood. but I don’t care one way or the other.  I like the wood smoke. It is one of my strongest memories of Ghana where wood charcoal is used for cooking every meal.

I had a portable cassette recorder in Ghana. The tapes stuck all the time because of the humidity so mostly they had to be rewound by hand using a Bic pen. I didn’t have a huge number of tapes, but I had my favorites including PP&M, CSN, Simon and Garfunkel, and Joni Mitchell. I think I played music every night. The adaptor had a red Christmas light size bulb attached so I could play without a converter. I could plug the cord directly into the wall. My friends Bill and Peg and I got together every night. We had dinner outside in their small courtyard. After their one-year-old went to bed, we played games. Password was our only actual comes in a box game, and we played it over and over and never got bored. We had the cards memorized through repetition so we sometimes changed the game. There were contests like the winner is the one who finishes the whole card first. That kept life into the game and kept us occupied.

I lived alone for the first time in Ghana. It was quite an adjustment getting used to being alone in a place so different, so far from home. My PC friends weren’t close to me geographically. (They were a letter away, no phones back then). I was teaching for the first time and not teaching well. My students didn’t understand my English. I was frustrated and lonely but determined. It took time. I did my best and so did they. Finally, we understood each other, and I was teaching, really teaching. I loved going to town and the market. I filled my days with teaching and my nights with music and books.

After my first year, Bill and Peg moved to my school, and we lived in a duplex. I loved having them near, being with them, and I also loved my quiet times, my alone times. We gave them to each other.

“It is the life of the crystal, the architect of the flake, the fire of the frost, the soul of the sunbeam. This crisp winter air is full of it.”

January 30, 2017

I woke up in the darkness of this cold early morning. I believe winter is most defined by cold darkness. I can hear the heat trying to blow away the coldness of the house. I am sleeping on the couch: actually, we are sleeping on the couch. Gracie is better, but this is the easiest way to keep an eye on her. I heard Maddie running up and down the stairs and across the floor. I wondered why, but cats aren’t easily explained.

When I went to get the papers, I gasped from the cold. I saw my windshield was coated in ice. I think that’s the first time this winter or maybe I missed the other frosty mornings by sleeping in late. The brown grass on my front lawn also had a coat of frost. Winter has made a grand appearance.

In Ghana, in the Upper Regions, this time of year is the harmattan. The days are hot and dry. The wind blows sand which obscures the sun. Day after day is the same. The nights, though, are wonderful. The temperature drops to the low 70’s which doesn’t sound cold, but the days are over 100˚ so 70˚ is chilly. I had a wool blanket on my bed to keep me warm. My students wore layers in the morning. My lips chapped and my heels cracked from the dryness, but feeling cold for a while was worth all of that. I just have to remember that feeling, that love of the cold, when the frost has to be scraped off the windshield, the house heat is blasting, I’m wearing a sweatshirt and socks to stay warm and an afghan on my knees is comforting.

Gracie and I are going out today. She will wear her coat for the first time this winter. I’ll just wear my hoodie.

“I believe in dressing for the occasion. There’s a time for sweater, sneakers and Levis and a time for the full-dress jazz.”

January 27, 2017

When I woke up and looked out the window, I saw a sunny day and a blue sky. The thought I might be dreaming crossed my mind, but I wasn’t. It is a lovely day, a bit chillier than it has been but still quite lovely.

Gracie and I are going out to do errands. My imagination has both of us shielding our eyes from the sun as if we’ve been living in a cave.

I have a list of places to go and things to buy. Gracie, as always, will be my co-pilot. Her favorite place is Agway. They give out free biscuits.

My return to Star Trek Voyager is almost over. I am watching the final season. Science fiction right now is far more hospitable than the real world.

When I lived in Ghana, it was during the birth of the Second Republic. The army had overthrown Kwame Nkrumah in 1966. They called it Operation Cold Chop. I love that. Chop is food in Ghana and roadside chop bars were the places to eat. We used to get food just about every Sunday from a chop bar in the lorry park. Anyway, the CIA backed coup   was for a multitude of reasons, one of which was Nkrumah’s close ties to Russia.

I used to love to watch the lobsters swimming in their tank in the front window of the fish market. I remember the guys behind the counter wore white aprons with bibs. They sold fish fillets from a display case. I didn’t care about the fish. Back then, the only fish I ate was tuna from a can.

I used to wear dungarees lined with flannel when I was a kid. Girls’ dungarees had a zipper in a front pocket. I wore blouses. If I got cold, I’d put on a sweater, a cardigan. Mostly I wore white sneakers. My clothes weren’t very colorful. They were heavy on the blue. I think every girl my age wore the exact same outfit.

My brother wore dungarees and striped jerseys. He even wore dungarees all summer. He wore white, high top sneakers, Converse sneakers. Mine too were Converse. Every boy his age wore exactly the same outfit, including Beaver Cleaver.

Last night I had a peanut butter and Nutella sandwich for supper. I would have used Marshmallow Fluff instead if I had any. My supper choices are quite limited. It’s time to shop. I’m keeping a list in Alexa. I just added Fluff.

“Do not be angry with the rain; it simply does not know how to fall upwards.”

January 26, 2017

“Rain, rain go away come again another day.” When I was young, I thought this nursery rhyme had a bit of magic about it. If I sang it enough times, the sun would reappear, and I could go out to play. I’m singing it now with the same hope. It has been raining since Monday. The sky alternates between angry clouds and greyish white clouds. The rain is sometimes heavy and other times just a fine mist, spitting rain my mother use to call it. I saw the sun for an hour or so the other day. It gave me a bit of hope.

I do a couple of house chores every day. Yesterday I watered plants, changed my bed and paid my bills. I haven’t gone anywhere, haven’t wanted or needed to. Tomorrow, though, I have a list of errands so Gracie and I will hit the road. Maybe if I cross my fingers and wish for sun, it might work.

When I was young, I had snow boots but not rain boots. Nobody I knew had them either. I also didn’t have a raincoat or an umbrella. I always got wet. It was the usual thing.

During the rainy season in Ghana, I got wet. Sometimes I had to run from my house to the classroom block when the rain was heavy, but I didn’t mind. The rain was always welcome. I’d even shop in the market while it was raining, but if the rain got really heavy, I’d stand in the doorway of a building or inside a small kiosk until it lightened or stopped. The rain was a gift to make crops grow.

I love the sound of rain. Even when I was kid, I loved the rain beating on my bedroom window. In Ghana the rain on the tin roof of my classroom was sometimes so loud that I couldn’t teach, but I could fall asleep listening to the rain. Its steady beat was comforting in a way, amost like music, maybe even a lullaby.

“Colder by the hour, more dead with every breath.”

January 15, 2017

This morning I just didn’t want to get out of bed. It was 9:15 when I first woke up. Considering how late I went to bed, I figured it was too early to get up so I snuggled under the covers and went back to sleep. I slept until 10. Maddie started howling. Gracie was snoring. I decided the bed was too warm and I was too comfy so I went back to sleep. It was easy. I slept another hour so it was close to 11 when I dragged myself out of bed. I have no guilt at sleeping the morning away. I have no obligations, no errands and no chores though I could do a laundry, but I won’t.

Last night I want the Patriots beat the Texans. It wasn’t the Pats best game as Brady was intercepted and sacked, but my Pats prevailed. The game started late, 8:15, and ended late so my friends and I decided to make it an evening. First, we ate Chinese and played Phase 10, our favorite game. I happened to win. Clare and I alternate winning. Tony hasn’t won since last March. We’re planning a gala for his anniversary of one year without a win. He isn’t looking forward to the festivities.

It was cold last night, 24˚, so today at 34˚ feels warmer. The low this evening will be 19˚. When I lived in Ghana, it was hot and dry in January. It was harmattan. Dust blew over everything. The sun was obscured. Rain was months away. My candle melted without being lit. The water was often turned off. I took bucket baths, and I had to take a few before I got the knack. I got good at it.

During Peace Corps staging, a time when we all came together for nearly a week before leaving for Ghana, I was asked if I minded going to the north. My response was to ask why the question. What was it about the north? The psychologist asking the question didn’t know the answer. I told him I didn’t care where in Ghana I was to be posted. That settled it. I went to the far north, the Upper Region. I even knew before I left staging I was going to be in Bolgatanga. The remote posting areas were filled first. That was Bolga. That was the place with a long dry season when days reached 100˚ or more. I think of that this time of year, the coldest time of year here in New England, but if I were given a choice between the two, the hot, hot dry days or the freezing days and nights, I’d chose the cold. I couldn’t escape the heat, but I can always bundle up to escape the cold.

“I fear thee not, O untried morrow!”

January 1, 2017

Happy 2017!

Today is far too warm for January, the mid-40’s. It is truly sweatshirt weather. I’d be disappointed if I were a kid who got a new sled for Christmas. This is new bike weather.

When I was in my 20’s, I wore dresses or skirts and blouses to work. After work, I lived in flannel and denim. My friends and I didn’t need an excuse to party. Cheap wine, some chips, and a bowl of onion dip were all we needed. We often went to Friday happy hours. I can’t remember a weekend when we didn’t get together. I was young.

I’m older now and I’m thinking life just happens so my plans for the new year are simple. My dance card is mostly empty. I’ll survive the winter with good humor even if it snows. We’ll do summer movies on the deck. I’ve bought a few already. I’m thinking a lot of grilling. I’ve been saving recipes. I have no travel plans except for my yearly visit to New Hampshire.

I watched 2017 arrive last night. I wanted to make sure 2016 was gone for good. It wasn’t my favorite year though I do have some wonderful memories. My trip to Ghana tops my list. Way back in 1971 when I left Ghana, I had hope I would return, but I could never have guessed how wonderful that first return would be, and that there would be multiple return trips. Bolga is my familiar Ghanaian home again. I shop in the market, eat all my favorite Ghanaian food, and spend time with my former students. Traveling with my friends Bill and Peg this September brought back old memories and made new ones. I figure I have been amazingly lucky to have had such friends. When I was young, I hoped my life would be filled with adventure. It has been and now I have a new year to fill with more.