Sunday, November 01, 2009

Before I left Nkoranza back in July, I did a blog entry and mentioned that I had a couple more entries I planned to do before leaving. However, the internet café (which wasn’t working too well at that time) and some last minute visitors didn’t make it easy for me to cooperate with my plan. I thought, “no problem, I’ll be going back to the U.S. and will have even faster internet access there.” But now . . . I’ve been back in Ghana for almost a month – so, that plan of catching up while in the U.S. obviously didn’t get followed through upon. Ah well. The main part of the delay while in the States was that I was just being with people where I was at any particular time – does that make sense? I was visiting family and friends from NY to CA, and they were giving me their time and presence – and I really try, when people are able to take time out of their busy schedules because I say that I’m hoping to come visit, to do nothing and want to do nothing more than be fully present to those moments and gifts of time that I’m being given. (Sadly, I’m not always successful in these efforts – I sometimes check my email, answer the phone, send a text – do something that takes me away from that person/those people I’m with at that moment. If a TV is on in the same room (I HATE all those restaurants and bars that need to have a tv within every angle of vision), I can easily become mesmerized by the moving sites and colours – not even aware of what I’m watching other than images blending and moving. And I often regret afterwards my forgetfulness that I can just let the phone ring, the text go unanswered, and the emails wait. And my eyes can be trained not to drift to the backdrop of floating scenes. I ask my friends and family to forgive me those lapses.)

So – I’m going to combine one of the blog entries I hoped to do before leaving Nkoranza with a little bit of an update of my time in the States. There may not be much writing going on here, just a bunch of pictures.

I had mentioned to some friends about painting the septic tank just below my house. It was a big slab of cement in the foreground of this spectacular view of the valley below and the hill beyond. I had visions of doing a mural – sunrise to sunset over an African village kind of theme, planning to blend it in with the colours of the surrounding environment.

Sadly, the really sweet image I had in mind didn’t quite come out on the septic tank. Then rains came and it was hard to paint. So, for a long time – a really pitiful mural adorned the cover of my sewage storage area. I could barely sit or stand on the rock behind my house to simply enjoy the view, not just because of too much wine or beer making it hard for me to stand but also because this childish, unfinished image was there - mocking my "skills".

(Believe it or not, I had taken a series of photographs – showing progress all along the way – from pre-painting, to ½ way with paint tins on the tank, to each stage. My delusions of grandeur had me convinced that the reality of my mind's image would make the process worth documenting - and could lead to world reknown as one of the best septic tank painters in the universe - so maybe universal reknown. I'm sparing you the good - or bad - majority of those pictures.)

The killer part is that it started off with a nice blending of colours – hoping that blending would be the background – going from lighter to darker shades of green, blue, yellow, etc. – enhancing the sunrise to sunset idea.

And this initial background is where I should have stopped. I would have preferred this view during the rainy season. Oh well.

I finally had a chance to fix it up in the last few months of my time there. Sadly, though, a new phone company had come into Ghana and purchased ALL the red paint in the country. (I hate that company. I like red, but suddenly everywhere I looked another shop or house had been painted red with this phone company’s name splattered across it. Awful. I still like the red, but I seriously detest the phone company.) I searched high and low for red paint, near and far, up and down – but no luck. All the little shops up and down every blessed road in the country were painted red – except for the few that competing phone companies had managed to paint with their colours. Anyway – I’m still fine with the result of the septic tank.

There were a few other painting pastimes while I was there – one was my table. It had been a slightly chipped, industrial gray kind of colour at its birth, so I painted it red (this was before the detested phone company came on the scene). Then one night when the power was out (a rare occasion where I was living) I was able to use a few of the paints I had for the septic tank but couldn’t use due to the rain – and I repainted it.

It was done by candlelight and seemed necessary to do no matter what level of lighting because I was going to be gone for the following few days so it would have time to dry.

So – painting - or more like just blending colours. One pastime over the past couple of years.

Another was gardening. I used to talk of digging in my garden when people asked what I had done over the weekend. But it was a little embarrassing at the same time, because it started off small – just clearing the bush, putting in a small sitting area and transplanting a few plants I found around the property.

Gradually, it got a little bigger, and ended up being kind of pleasant, I think.

Even though I was an Agricultural Extension Agent (oh la la) while in Peace Corps (a position gained by being guided to reinforce, during my interview with the Peace Corps, the fact that for a couple of weeks every summer I took care of my grandparents’ garden while they were on vacation), I know next to nothing about gardening.

I mostly know that I get some kind of satisfaction and peace and calm from digging and experimenting in the dirt.

And, as with the murals, I have visions of what I think it really could be. And, as with the murals, those visions don’t become the realities. However, I think the reality was also quite nice:

So – I think that’s about it. (If you look carefully, in addition to the flowers you'll find some herbs - basil, parsley, lemon grass, thyme, dill.)

I’ve changed my mind – it doesn’t seem right to combine this entry with some of the experiences from the States – those things need separate entries. (And I ended up writing much more than I thought I would.) But that means I’m falling behind on blog entries, because there’s another I was going to do about a second or third favourite pastime while in Nkoranza (taking different kids to the BIG city on weekends – and that would have had pictures of people in it – maybe more interesting than this one), and another with a few stories and updates from some refugees with whom I’m still involved, and still another entry with a little info on the first few weeks back in Ghana. Oh well, I’ll work it out. The blog entries won’t be in any kind of chronological order, but they’ll be in the usual, random, rambling sequence (is that some kind of anachronism – a sequence that’s rambling and random? I don’t even know since I sometimes think I just use words I’ve heard and read without fully understanding them; although I usually try to use them with confidence so that other people who think they know what they mean and think I’m using them incorrectly question their own judgment and understanding of the words since I’m pretending to be so confident in my verbosiveness).


At 2:07 PM, Blogger Nate said...

Sometimes rambling is the best way to tell a story, when all the bits are only loosely connected, and the details only come to you once you start talking... Thanks for the update, your garden looks great! Isla says "hi"!

At 5:13 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

nice to read your blog!Nice painting(without red)!Its a pitty your not their for the garden.Nice plants.You have to start a new garden again! gr Greetje

At 5:13 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

nice to read your blog!Nice painting(without red)!Its a pitty your not their for the garden.Nice plants.You have to start a new garden again! gr Greetje

At 7:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I loved seeing the plants and the way the garden evolved--so different from the plants around here. Rambling works for me--I definitely think that's the best and easiest way to go as you're putting things down as you think of them and not trying to remember things and then missing some of the most important ones.
Mary Jo

At 3:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Steve, Great creative painting on your now beautiful septic tank. I never knew you had such artistic talent! Good Job! I see that sometimes your delusions benefit you. :) Your garden rocks, that is with flowers! I'm having a glass of Sangria with you! Anita


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