First day of school 15 September 2009

Today was the first day of school for my small girl. She came to the house before 6:00 am, very eager to start the school year. I warmed up TZ (tee zed) and wata stew for her while she fetched water and swept. As she came to the house with the last bucket of water the rain let loose. Oh she was so disappointed. As I have mentioned before when it rains almost everything stops here in Sandema. My neighbors don’t like to go out in the rain. So there would be no school at least until the rain let up. I was also not having school that day because although the student’s had reported there were no classes. Students were cleaning the campus.

Cantuace at her TZ then Tenni, Thomas and her brother, Samuel came into the house. I was enjoying my morning tea, listening to the BBC and doing Kakuro. There was a small rumble of voices in the kitchen. It got louder and louder and suddenly all the kids were screaming. They were all talking in the local language and I couldn’t understand any of it.  I had no idea who started it or what the fight was about because they were talking much too fast and loud for me to ‘hear’ it. I am sure the underlaying reason was everyone’s disappointment about school being postponed by the ran but I wasn’t in the mood for psychoanaylsis I just wanted my peaceful morning back. I tossed them all out of my house.

Cantuace was in the house for a few minutes when they came and started screaming outside the door. When I went out to shoo them away Cantuace followed screaming herself. I said to myself “Forget this” and went back inside. In about 5 minutes Cantuace was still outside but alone now. She was wailing like she had lost her mother. I went out to try to comfort her and bring her in the house. She went to the back room and calmed herself down.

I think three things contributed to the fight. As I said earlier everyone was probably disappointed that they couldn’t go to school. The second is that all those adolescent hormones can flare up at any time. And last like any brother and sister Samuel and Contuace know how to push each other’s buttons. I was just glad it was over.

After finishing my tea and the puzzle I decided to make spagetti sauce. A rainy day is just right for simmering the sauce to perfection.  I started grinding the ingredients, tomatoes, garlic, and onions. The grinding bowl is good therapy. The meditative feeling I get when grinding veggies remindes me of how it use to feel to knead bread. I also reserved some tomatoes and onions to dice and add to the sauce. I had beef and pepperoni. Jack thanks for the pepperoni. I put the beef in a pot on the stove with some spices and a small bit of water. Portia and Rofina call this steaming the meat. It does wonders to tenderize tough beef. After the meat was steamed I added the puried veggies to the pot. Chopped the remaining tomatoes and onions and added them as well.  (I would give my left arm for some fresh celery oh how I miss it)

While the sauce was simmering my other two girls came, Portia and Rofina. We had tea which in Ghana is a hot drink and some bread with butter, groundnut paste or jam. We talked and caught up. I shared my photos from Burkina with them but all too soon they had to go.

The rain had finally stopped. Tenni and Cantuace gathered their school things and headed off about 11:00 am. At last the house to myself.
Last night Bernard, Lenore’s husband, called. He wanted some of my Burkina blog entries for the newsletter he and Lenore send out. I had not yet rewritten them from my blog notebook so today I was planning to do that. As the sauce simmered I sat down with my computer and began the rewrites. I usually write my blog long hand in a notebook then transfer it to computer for the initial rewrite. The kids here say that’s how “my generation” does things because we are not comfortable editing on the computer. Oh how that irks me! I was using computers before some of those young wipersnappers were born! What I didn’t know is how much rewriting involves playing solitaire! Its such a good way to ‘think’. With short stops to check on the sauce and a longer one to eat a small lunch I managed to  finish the three entries by 3:30.



Thankgiving Texts

From Liz:

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope whether you are working or spending the day with friends and family, your day is filled with good food and fun.


From Me:

I am with friends and we R cooking! My  3C GIRLS are having a practical.  Creme caramel,kabab, saffron rice, fruit salad, fruit punch, yam balls. Happy turkey day 2 u. 143


Apologies 24 November 2009

This term has been so busy and I have neglected my blogging. I promise to catch up during the Christmas Holiday. Why was this term so busy? I, being a crazy person, said I would like to teach both Form 2 and Form 3 (sophomore and junior) ICT. My heart would not let go of the students I had last year and I knew there was no one to teach the practical end of computers to the new Form 2s so I said give me both. I only have ten 80 minute periods a week. I have no classes on thursday so why am I so busy. Sounds like a dream job in America! Ah but I am teaching 235 Form 2s and 218 Form 3s. When I am not making lesson plans and planning homework I am marking homework.

This term I also had my first visit from a family member. Melanie, my sister-in-law came to visit in October. I will write all about her visit and I am hoping she will do a guest post sharing her impressions of Ghana with you all as well.

Last I had to go to Accra for medical reasons for a week and a half this month. I am fine. I will also write about that in more detail.

Like they do in the movies I will tell you of coming attractions. Pictures of Anala, my cat,
and a story about him. Our visit to a slave camp. Problems with my girl. My first extended case of the blues. And eating locally. These and I hope so many more coming soon.



09 September 2009 Pot of Possibilities

August 2008, at the end of training, Lenore and I roomed together. The end of training made us think about the end of our service. We mentioned many things we thought we might like to do when we finished our service. At 50 and close to 60 it was exciting to have options about the future. It is usually the young who have a future full of options.

During that talk Lenore coined the phrase “Pot of Possibilities”. I liked it very much. We put all our ideas for what we want to do after our Peace Corps service in this pot. At the time we didn’t know how we would change as a result of our service so we didn’t think it’s wise to commit ourselves to anything. We will put things in our Pot of Possibilities during our service and when we are near to the end our service we can pull them out and see what we want to do.

Today I want to write about my Pot of Possibilities. I don’t want to evaluate the options just yet. I have changed so much in my first year here in Ghana I just don’t know how I will feel after my second year. However I do want to write them down for the record, for me, and for my family and friends. I don’t want the people back in America to be surprised if I don’t come back to America in the fall of 2010. Probably most of my family and friends are prepared for me to stay longer in Ghana. I want to write for me as well. I have learned in the past couple of years of blogging that writing it an act of discovery and helps me to clarify my thoughts. I write for the record so the ideas in my figurative pot will have some form and substance.

First my librarian brain wanted to categorize them in to subject areas. My American mind wanted to list them in order of possibility. But my new go with the flow Ghana attitude has won out. I will just pull ideas out of the pot and write about them as they come.

Extending my service

Voila! The first one I pull out of the pot is also the one that has been in the pot the longest! Lenore and I talked about this possibility the night we started our pots. There are plenty of variations to this possibility. I could extend for one year and stay at my site. I could extend for one year and change sites even to another country. I could extend for two years and go to another country and go through training again. I could extend for less than a year.

The first time this possibility came up was when I was traveling back from my Vision Quest. I met Mike Simpson, the PCVL(Pece Corps Volunteer Leader) at KSO(Kumasi Sub Office), he had been here 5 years.. It was the first time I had heard that you could extend your service. As training went on I found out more about extending. Some people extend for less than a year to finish a project but most extend for a year. There are two benefits to that. If you extend for a full year Peace Corps will send you home for a month. Also a year is a short commitment after you have already been away from America for 2 years. You can always extend again. I am not sure PC will send you home after every extension. At Close of Service conference you can make the decision to extend your service.

I would want to extend for one year. The chance to go home and see family and friends certainly influences that decision. I have considered applying for PCVL. Mike will be leaving in May. The PCVL at the Tamale sub office changes often. I have considered staying in Sandema. I have also considered doing computer training with the staff at Ghana Education Service.. I could combine some of these options, as well.

Around the world flight

This is a wild and crazy dream. Yes even more crazy than joining the Peace Corps. While I was eating and having a mineral at the Street View Spot in Bolga with some other PCVs, Sheri and Ira, two omnibus PCVs, met up with us. They told me about the around the world flights. They will fly around the world for their close of service trip. It costs from $1500 to $5000. The flights usually start in London. You can stop in many cities on five continents but you must keep going in the same direction. You can stay in one place as long as you like. The itinerary is flexible.

The cost of this flight would be almost covered by my ticket home. Peace Corps will give us money in lieu of the ticket if we request it. I will have some readjustment allowance to cover some of the costs of living. I would have to figure out about work visas etc if I wanted to work while I stayed in some countries.

I have pulled one possibility out of the hat that is very likely – extending my service. I have also pulled one out of my hat that is almost a fantasy. What will I pull out next?

Semester at Sea

At that same lunch in Bolga Sherri told me that her aunt was a librarian. She then told me that her aunt was applying to be a librarian for Semester at Sea. Semester at Sea would be another way to travel around the world. The ship travels around the world and stops in various ports. Accra would be one stop! Students attend classes while the ship is at sea then when the ship lands in port they take field trips. Students are also allowed time to explore on their own.


This would be a fun way to travel around the world. I assume room and board would be part of my pay. My readjustment allowance would go much further if i didn’t have to worry about housing and food.

Return to America and Couch Surf

I could return to the States and visit family and friends. After being away for so long it would be good to visit people, to get back in touch with everyone. My family and friends have already asked me to speak at some of their clubs and local libraries. I am would love to show photographs and tell stories of my time in Ghana. I would like to encourage other people over 50 to join the Peace Corps. It would be a good way for me to see more of the USA. So maybe I could make some money small small to make a contribution to my hosts.

9-5 Job

How did this get in here. I NEVER want to work 9-5 again. I am sure I burned that possibility paper. Well I’ll burn it now!

Live with Beth

My best friend in the world has said when I return to the USA I can live with her, however long I want. We have been living at least two states apart since the 80s. It would be very wonderful to live with her and be in daily contact instead of phone calls and emails. Her sofa would be the perfect place to catch up on all the movies I have missed while I was away, to read my favorite authors’ new books and to write my memoir. Oh but Houston might feel cold after Ghana! I am sure this will happen when I finish my travels but at this point I am not sure when my travels will finish.

Write a memoir

If I can find an agent. If I can find a publisher. If I will be disciplined enough to take these blog ramblings and turn them into a book. I would like to write a memoir. There is so much good about the life here and in the people here. One short year has changed me. I want to share that with the rest of the world.

This project is starting small small while I am here. I have found an editor, my sister in law. And my favorite author, Stewart O’Nan, wants a signed copy when it is finished. At the very least my friends and family would read it.

Public Speaking

I could speak to a variety of audiences about my Peace Corps experience. The experience has so many facets. Carlene Peterson, Lucy Robbins Welles Librarian, Newington, CT, has asked me to do a cooking program of American Ghanaian foods. Pat at Library Connection, Windsor, CT, has said she would like me to speak to her Lions Club group. I think there would be a good pool of 50+ people for me to inspire to volunteer with the Peace Corps. My sister-in-law, Bette Sevison, Brigham City, Utah, has said I could speak to at least two of her clubs.

I have many photographs that I could use to illustrate my presentation. I could talk about customs, the Peace Corps experience, the Ghana educational system, Ghanaian daily life, or food.

Teach English in Japan, China or South Korea

This would be a great way to see Asia, to continue to use my improved teaching skills and to make some money. I have researched at a couple of programs recommended by other PCVs. The school or the government that hires you will pay round trip airfare, give you housing and pay a nice salary. They may even give you board as well as room.

Some slips have just been thrown in the pot with very little thought or research. The following are just seeds possibilities that haven’t even been sown yet.

Live in a small village in France.

Go to Kenya

Take a cruise across the Atlantic

Extend to another country for two more years.

Sing the national anthem at a Red Sox home game.

Build a house in Ghana and live there part time.

I would like to reiterate that the most exciting thing about this Pot of Possibilities is that I have it at all. I feel so lucky that I don’t have a mortgage to worry about, that I couldn’t take a leave of absence at my job and that I am healthy enough to persue one or more of these possibilities. As I said at the beginning of this entry it’s usually the young who have so many roads to choose from and we mid-lifers are on a road we have been traveling for many years. I am so happy that joining the Peace Corps has given me the chance to get off that road and to explore some forks in the road after I finish my service.