Posted tagged ‘Ghana’

“In summer the empire of insects spreads.”

June 25, 2017

The morning is just perfect. The air still has a bit of the night’s chill. The sunlight is sharp.  The sky has a few clouds but is still mostly blue. It will get warm today, into the low 80’s, but tonight will be sleeping weather, in the low 60’s.

Gracie had another good night. She also slept in her crate again. That gave me the whole couch so I could stretch my legs. Right now she is having her morning nap on the couch. She’s already eaten a small can of food. Last night she finished the pills for dizziness so I have to call to see if she can get a refill.

I was about to toast a couple of pieces of rye bread when I remember I had bought a cinnamon roll yesterday. I was delighted. Those bakery rolls are a favorite of mine and they’re filled with goodness.

I love the quiet of my house. It keeps me settled, centered. Most things I need are here in the den. I have books, magazines and the TV. In the basket under the table are what’s left of the corn chips. The fridge with the guac is just a bit down the hall. The bathroom is close. Alexa is here and is ever willing to entertain me with music and stories. This is just the perfect room to while away the hours.

Gracie needed to go out, and I have to take her so she doesn’t have to go down the stairs. It is hot out already. I’m thinking the sun is best seen from inside the cool house.

The deck got cleared of leaves and poop yesterday, but it is again filled with the black caterpillar poop. After I water the deck plants later, I’ll clear it off, and then I’ll do the same thing tomorrow. When I was taking Gracie out the front door a few minutes ago, I saw what appeared to be a long, green caterpillar with more legs than it needed working its way up the pine tree. Naturally, I went to check. It happened to be a small piece of a fur tree with the needles appearing like legs. I was glad, but I was also a bit disappointed.  My world is filled with black caterpillars right now so a long green one would have been a nice surprise.

Bugs don’t bother me though I do hate meal moths and miller moths. In times past I didn’t protect my flour, dog food, cereal or dry mixes so they were alive with larvae and pupae, future moths, which I hate at any stage. I tossed all the infected food and bought containers which closed too tightly for an infestation. The meal moths disappeared, but not the miller moths. They are still here. They are audacious and will fly at my head as if to taunt me. I try to grab them as they fly, and I’m pretty good at it, but there are too many of them for me. I just have to hold on a bit longer as they’ll disappear soon.

In Ghana, I accepted bugs in my flour and even some dying in my soup. I’d just pick the bug out and keep eating. I had totally different standards for bugs in those days. Even now when I go back, the old rules still apply. It is only here, at home, that I am a ruthless hunter of insects. it’s time to bring back those disgusting, long sheets of sticky paper. Die, insect, die.

“There is no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.”

June 5, 2017

Last night was a long one. It rained the whole night. Gracie and I went out at about ten. I got a bit wet and so did she. I was still wide awake an hour or so later so I watched a Hallmark movie. Yes, it had a happy ending despite arson, theft and a murder. At one, after the movie, I roused Gracie to take her out again. She got to the door and backed away, but I was insistent. I should have paid more attention. It was a deluge, but she needed out for the night so I pushed her out the front door with me unhappily behind her. Though I ran as quickly into the house as I could, I got soaked anyway and so did she.

This morning at about eight, Gracie was restless, and she woke me up. We went outside. It was wet but not rainy. It was cold. We came back inside and I went back to bed, or back to couch to be more specific. I snuggled under the covers and the cozy warmth lulled me to sleep. Gracie joined me. I woke up at ten. Gracie was still asleep so I rousted her to get her outside. I led her to the yard then ran inside the house and made coffee. I read the papers and had two cups of coffee. It was a leisurely morning.

Rain is expected again today so the sky is mighty dark. What a surprise! I have some errands, and it is chilly enough for Gracie to come.

When I was a kid, rainy days always seemed different than other days. My classroom seemed quieter. The rustle of papers sounded loud. The rain on the windows caught my attention as the drops slid down the glass and disappeared. The day seemed longer. Lunch was inside, but we didn’t really care. The rain seemed to drain our energy.

In Ghana, I loved the rain. After the dry season ended, every rainstorm was a bit of a miracle. The brown turned green. The dust became soil. Trees sprouted leaves. The fallow fields came alive with the tiny shoots of corn and millet. Rivers sometimes overflowed their banks. I always felt the rain and never minded getting wet.

“I care not for a man’s religion whose dog and cat are not the better for it.”

May 13, 2017

This has been one of those mornings. Gracie has wanted out five times. She comes inside, jumps on the couch then wants down and out again. Maddie meows in a demanding way over and over. I finally reached the end of my patience and told both of them to leave me alone in a not too quiet voice. I felt silly afterward.

A nor’easter will be here tomorrow. Meanwhile we’re living with forever clouds and cold, so cold I was surprised by it on my first outside trip with Grace. I was also surprised to see the guys working on my lawn and gardens. They were spreading mulch in the gardens and reseeding Gracie’s dots. The air smells of the mulch.

The other day I watched a YouTube video about Ghana. I think I smiled all the way through it. I love the country and its amazing people. That seems to grow over time. I have been back three times and would love to go one more, an anniversary trip in 2019, fifty years since I started training, or a trip in 2021, fifty years since my Peace Corps service ended. To get there, I’ll have to scrimp. Each trip was about 6 or 7 thousand or somewhere in between the two. After last fall’s amazing trip, I’m starting with almost nothing, but that’s okay. I like a challenge.

I could go to the dump today, but I’m thinking a sloth day. I watered the plants yesterday and that was it, but I still felt a sense of accomplishment. It doesn’t take much.

I watched The Lone Ranger this morning, one from 1950. I recognized one of the actresses. She also played Penny from Sky King. I think the Lone Ranger is the second best dressed TV hero in black and white, following Paladin, quite the sharp dresser.

I remember Paladin’s business card with the knight chess piece in the middle and Have Gun Will Travel across that middle of the card and the knight. Underneath it said Wire Paladin, San Francisco. When I was young, I thought Wire was his first name. When I was older, I found out that a paladin is a knight.

The Lone Ranger and the Indian chief just ended their conversation each with one open hand raised. The chief said go in peace. Immediately Spock came to mind. The Indian’s gesture was like a live long and prosper from Spock.

Gracie and Maddie are awake. My peace has ended.

“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.