Posted tagged ‘austerity’

“While the rest of the world has been improving technology, Ghana has been improving the quality of man’s humanity to man.”

January 22, 2019

This morning is polar opposite yesterday’s. I forgot to leave the storm door open a bit so the button was stuck again. I whacked it a few times, and it gave. As I opened the door, I could hear drips. By normal winter weather standards today is cold at 24˚, but the front of the house faces east so the sun shines directly on the bushes. It was the ice dripping. My computer worked this morning. Life is good.

We got a bit of snow last night but so little that Henry’s paw prints go through the snow to the deck. I wore my slippers to get the papers, and they only had snow on the soles. I cleared my windshield and side windows using my protected newspapers, but there was still a thin layer of snow on them. The windows are now totally clear.

I have to go out today, and I don’t even mind. I suppose I could wait until tomorrow as it will be in the 40’s, but I have been house bound far too long. Henry needs a visit to the vets for nail cutting and his distemper shot so I’ll take him. I also need a few groceries. As for inside, it is time to vacuum. Henry’s fur is again in clumps on the floor. I wish he wasn’t afraid of being brushed.

My austere life begins. My hope is to get back to Ghana in 2021, fifty years after my Peace Corps service ended. I have to start saving money. This month I managed my first deposit to my empty savings account which used to be full and healthy but is now is a mere shadow of itself drained by so many expenses. My friends Bill and Peg and I will travel together. We had the most amazing time when we were there in 2016. I am already excited by the thought of going back to Ghana.

I watched a video of women from Northern Ghana singing I Can’t Keep Quiet in English and Dagbani. I’ve posted it here for you. I didn’t know a single woman in the video, but I know them all. They are my students. They are my Ghanaian family. They are the market sellers always willing to dash a bit. They are the aunties along the sides of the roads selling fruit or plantain chips and Guinea fowl. They are the village women carrying huge bundles on their heads. They are the mothers toting children on their backs. They are one of the reasons I love Ghana and hold it close.

“Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana”

July 13, 2015

If someone knocked on my door and handed me a plane ticket, I’d take it in a heartbeat even with the destination unknown at the offering. In the last year I have traveled to New Hampshire, but that wasn’t a trip. It was a visit. The bug is getting itchier. I am in my saving mode so I can get somewhere. Ghana in a year is a possibility. I’d like to go back one more time though maybe I’ll wait for two years and treat myself to a 70th birthday trip. I’d add on a stop or two probably going rather than coming. I’ve always wanted to go to Timbuktu. It was the most exotic name I’d ever heard when I was a kid. I didn’t even know it was in Africa. I’d add on a safari but that’s drifting into dreamland. I’d have to live an austere life to save enough money which would be difficult as I like creature comforts, good food and a night out now and then. I guess I’ll have to give my destinations a bit more thought and work on keeping that travel bug under control. I do have a back scratcher.

I like today. It is less humid and the sun isn’t overwhelmingly hot. A few clouds cover parts of the sky. They are white grey, nice day clouds not rain clouds. A small breeze appears and disappears.

One of the plagues of Egypt returned. I had left a trash bag beside the car in the morning a day or so ago anticipating going to the dump. When I didn’t go, I put the trash in the trunk so nocturnal creatures wouldn’t open the bag and strew the trash about. The next morning I opened the trunk to add trash and a swarm of flies flew out of the trunk right by me. I’m not talking a few flies. I’m really meaning a swarm. Yesterday when I got in the car, more were buzzing around. I opened all the windows then went back into the house hoping the flies would be gone when I returned. When I got back to the car, there were a few lingerers. I kept the windows opened and some flew out but a couple needed my help. Now for the gross part of the story: I found dead flies on the back seat of the car, lots of dead flies. I hate flies.

Saturday night was entertainment night at my school in Ghana, and I remember one particular Saturday night. It was movie night and a USAID rep had left a cartoon for my students to view. It was about keeping bugs away from food and people. One sketch showed a fly stopping at an outhouse pile and then flying away with a bit of the pile on its legs. The fly’s next stop was food on the table, and it flew away with clean legs. The message was to cover your food to protect you from diseases. My students didn’t get the message. They were too enthralled with the first cartoon they’d ever seen. They thought the movie was a wonder and they clapped. They liked the flying, buzzing fly best of all.

“Pensive they sit, and roll their languid eyes.”

February 8, 2014

It’s still winter. I still live in New England. It’s still cold.

Before I go to bed every night, I send the dog outside to do the last of her night’s business then I shut off lights. Before I went upstairs last night, I pretty much did the same thing, but the light in the kitchen was already off and the dog was back inside so we went to bed. When I came downstairs late this morning, I noticed I had left the back door open all night. Right away I thought of the woman and the raccoon. In yesterday’s paper was the story of a woman who was awakened by a raccoon chewing her lips and face. She managed to throw it to the floor and lock it in the bedroom. The raccoon was captured and found to be rabid. The woman started rabies shots right away and also had to get several stitches on her face. It seems the raccoon got into the house through the cat door. Gracie’s door is even bigger than that so I’m thinking lions and tigers and bears, oh my, but actually I believe we’re safe as the 6 foot back fence will keep out most critters. I do pity the woman those shots. When I first got to Ghana, we had shot day, including a rabies shot. As the vaccine went into my arm, my knees buckled and I think I yelped or even screamed. I’m not sure which. The pain blotted my memory.

I’m going to count yesterday as productive. I did a load of laundry, went to have blood drawn and stopped at two stores. In one I bought doo-dads. I bought some watch faces and can’t tell you why. They were just neat looking.

My student Grace called this morning. She is trying to finish her house in Bolga. In Ghana houses are finished a bit at a time when money is available. Her house only needs a roof for the outside to be finished. Grace said when I next come to Bolga I have to stay with her. I said I would if she made jollof rice, Guinea fowl and kelewele. She laughed and said she would. I’m hoping I can go back in 2015 so I need to start saving money: no more doo-dads and no more shopping. The trip is expensive so austerity is my new life-style.

Okay, I just re-read this to check for errors. I have decided my life is boring when laundry is part of the conversation.

“If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you’re mis-informed.”

July 9, 2013

Today is dark with a gray sky. The humidity is high but not unbearable as there is a slight breeze, and a breeze is welcomed however small. The paper says rain with thunder and lightning. I am already looking to it. I love storms, and we do need the rain. This morning I have a doctor’s appointment for a wound check and yesterday the physical therapist signed off on me. That means I can now drive. I can be part of the world again.

All the windows and doors are opened, but I don’t hear anything, a random bird now and then but that’s all. I wonder where everyone is. This small street has kids, lots of kids: eight of them under seven years old, and I don’t even hear them. Not even a dog is barking which is also unusual. Maybe my invitation to wherever everyone has gone got lost in the mail.

It seems strange not to be traveling this summer. The last two summers I went back to Ghana, and if I had the money, I’d go again. I plan on austerity being my life style for the next year so I can save enough to go to Ghana again. Even after 40 years away, it seemed like home, and that connection is even greater after having been back a second time. Most interesting of all was meeting my former students many of whom are now retired and in their early 60’s. They refused to call me anything but madam or Ms. Ryan. I was and still am their teacher.

In the summer of 1969, I trained in Ghana to be a Peace Corps volunteer from June until early September. We had no phones, no televisions and no computers so we knew nothing of what was happening in the world. Letters from home were newsy but only about the family. One place where I stayed during training had a radio, and we listened to Voice of America and the moon landing. That was it for the entire summer. I, who used to read the paper every day, didn’t even care. None of us did. At night, we played cards and drank a few beers (I had coke-hate beer) at the local spots and the wide world never intruded. We didn’t even notice. All of us were too busy learning a new language and learning to live in a culture so different from our own.

Now I read two papers, am on my computer every day, carry my cell phone everywhere and watch news on TV. Sometimes I am very sorry I am so connected. The world at large intrudes on my life. Every bad thing that happens is blasted everywhere all the time, often the whole day on TV. I watch and am saddened by so much tragedy. Sometimes I long for that summer when I knew so little of what was happening in the world. I was blissful and ignorant.