Posted tagged ‘beef’

“Happy Day After Christmas, Merry Rest of the Year, even when Christmas is over, The Light of the World is Still Here!”

December 26, 2017

Gracie and I are back home, and my car is in good order. It took longer than I expected as what was wrong didn’t matter, only my place in line. It is cold, 28˚, but tonight will be colder. By the middle of the week, we’ll be down to single digits. I will be hibernating.

Christmas Day was wonderful. I used the morning to prep for dinner, to get all the veggies ready for cooking. My friends arrived a little after 2:30. We drank some egg nog and then opened presents. We go in turn so we can see what we each got. Well, I’m thinking we were perfect, as good as gold, as Santa left great presents. I got a whole sackful of foot cozies which made me laugh. I love foot cozies and the ones I have left deserve retirement. I got a wrap to keep the cold at bay. I figure it will come in handy on Thursday. I also got a Christmas sweater as I didn’t have any Christmas clothes other than a t-shirt. There were earrings and so much much more. I gave my two friends each a bag of gifts, a bag Santa would be glad to carry from house to house. They loved their presents as well.

During the presents portion of the day, I was up and down finalizing dinner. We sat down later than I expected, but it is true that good things come to those who wait. The beef was scrumptious. The green bean casserole was a hit as were the potatoes. The carrots were good but were out-classed by the beef and the green beans. We sat at the table for a long while enjoying dinner and each other. Gracie was happy for her beef scraps and even Maddie enjoyed the meat.

After the dining room was cleared and the kitchen cleaned up. I turned on the dishwasher and we all sat in the living room. Gracie lost her footing on the couch and fell into the tree. She was scared but managed to calm down and get back on the couch where she fell asleep. I sat with her and patted her. Meanwhile, Clare asked about dessert. We decided we finally had enough room for the peppermint cheesecake Clare had made. It was unbelievably delicious from the crust to the peppermint cane topping. All of us yummed as we ate. The cheesecake was like tasting Christmas. It’s a good thing Clare left me some. I’ll leave it that.

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were amazing. We honored tradition with our gingerbread houses. We laughed at some of our presents, and each of us belonged to the clean plate club even after a couple of extra helpings. Dessert was heavenly. The company couldn’t have been better. I loved Christmas this year.

“It was Sunday morning, and old people passed me like sad grey waves on their way to church.”

October 15, 2017

I’m wondering where the sun is hiding. The day is damp and cloudy. It’s a quiet day, no breeze rustles the leaves and no voices are loud enough to be heard. I have to go out and do a couple of errands later and tonight is game night. That’s like a full day for me.

When I was a kid, the expectations for Sunday were pretty much nonexistent. It was a nothing day much the same week after week. It started with church. The only unknown was which mass I’d attend. Would I go early with my dad, the usher, or later by myself or with my brother? Sunday dinner was the biggest meal of the week. It was always a roast, sometimes a roast beef and other times a whole chicken. It was the one meal all week where we all sat down to eat together though my mother sometimes stood by the counter to eat. On weekdays my dad was late getting home from work so he was never there for dinner. We were usually watching TV when he got home.

Once in a while, on a Sunday afternoon, we visited my grandparents in the city. I was amazed by the city. Houses were close together. The Italian bakeries sold pizza. A house down the street sold Italian ice through an open window. On the corner of my grandparents’ street was a private club. My uncle was a member. I remember going there once for a family party.

If we didn’t go out to visit, we’d sit around watching TV until my dad took over and turned to a football game. That sent us to the kitchen to play a board game or down the cellar to play. If I had a book, I’d go read it in my room away from the noise. My mother cooked in the kitchen. She peeled potatoes and opened cans of vegetables. We usually ate around two. Most times there was no special dessert. We’d grab cookies.

Sunday night we’d watch a bit of TV then it was early to bed because of school the next day. We always grumbled. That never got us anywhere except upstairs to bed at our regular time.

“You either get the point of Africa or you don’t. What draws me back year after year is that it’s like seeing the world with the lid off.”

August 14, 2016

Big surprise: today is hot, already 88˚, and combined with the 70% humidity it feels like 100˚. I was on the deck earlier checking the plants. They have to be watered again, but I’ll wait until later in the day hoping it will be cooler.

When I arrived in Ghana for Peace Corps training, I knew nothing about Africa. The books and mimeographed materials from Peace Corps didn’t do much in helping me understand where I was going. Knowing there were two seasons, rainy and dry, had me picturing what rainy and dry look like here, that was all I had for reference. Descriptions of Ghanaian culture were like excerpts from a geography book. I read about the different tribes and where they lived. The country was divided into regions, a bit like our states.

Before we left Philadelphia for Ghana, I found out I was going to be posted in the Upper Region, only a place on the map to me. The Upper Region spanned all the way across the whole top section of Ghana from east to west. I was to be posted in its capital, Bolgatanga.

When I went to Bolga for a week during training, it was the rainy season when everything is green, and the market is filled with all sorts of fruit and vegetables. I figured that would be Bolga all the time. I was totally wrong.

When training was over, I made my way home, to Bolga. I stopped overnight in Kumasi, about the halfway mark. I always added an overnight so I could visit friends along the way. The trip from Accra to Kumasi was a wonderful train ride. From Kumasi to Bolga was a bus or lorry ride, always hot and always crammed with people.

Bolga was still in the rainy season when I moved into my house. The rains stopped a month or two later. Everything dried. The ground split. Nothing stayed green. My lips and the heels of my feet split. I walked on tiptoes. I learned to take bucket baths. My meals never varied. Breakfast was two eggs cooked in groundnut oil and two pieces of toast. Lunch was fruit. Dinner was beef cooked in tomato broth, a necessity to make the meat tender, or chicken. Yams were the side dish, sometimes in a mash and sometimes cooked with the meat. I always drank water except in the morning when I drank instant coffee with canned milk.

I never minded the same meals or the dry season. I was astonished every day that I was  living in Africa. I loved Bolga whether rainy or dry. My friends and I would often look at the sky and say it looked like rain. That was a joke, and we never got tired of it. We knew the rain was months away. If we found something new in the market, it was cause for celebration. If we didn’t, it didn’t matter.

In about five weeks, I’ll be back home in Bolga.