Uncertainty

This afternoon, I am sitting here wondering what to write. There is so much going on out there. There is talk of a possible lockdown. Everybody has stocked up, just in case. Social media is rife with many speculations. I am here waiting to hear what the Ghanaian government has decided.

At home, I am cocooned in my cool room, my makeshift office ready for distance learning, another hurdle, we are ready to win. I have read in other media how we have to be calm at such uncertain times. That will not come naturally in my world now, I continue to encourage myself with a proverb my mother used to profess, in twi (Ghanaian language).

“Ahohoo baa ye aa  o  be ko.”

Translation is, “A visitor will by all means return.”

I believe this will all end soon.

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A Hobby She Loved

Flowers and plants remind me of Mama. She made gardening her hobby. This was an all year endeavour.Throughout the dry and rainy seasons, she bought, potted, watered, nursed and pruned them until all her pots were full of attractive tropical flowers. She researched and knew their names and could spot a special tree or flower a mile away. She made a number of friends because of this interest, exchanging plants and showing off her collection. Her friend Mrs. S planted roses, that is where Mama picked up a variety of them to include to her lot. The pots for the plants had to be constructed to fit the verandah and outdoor staircase space. Their shapes and sizes had to be precise.

She would escape to her garden for hours and whilst planting, escape to her world of thoughts, sometimes humming and pensive. On occasions she would string plants up so they would grow in a particular direction to climb a pillar, create an arch or provide shade. It made our home welcoming and serene. Mama took this very seriously and spent hours tending them, she loved nature and always had an anecdote about where she would rather be.

Mama told us how she planted a number of trees in her garden before moving in, during the early 1970s. The trees, now celebrating their golden jubilee, are still standing in the garden. Some of them with roots that have extended and protruded with age, others are old and frail. The drive to the house was shady, displaying a canopy of lush green branches. She also planted fruits in the garden.There were different kinds of tropical fruits, orange, mango, guava, lemon, soursop and the African almond tree. 

I did not inherit that trait, but knew how much she adored plants. When she retired she continued to invest in pots and plants and always kept her garden teeming. I had little interest and rarely helped her garden but R, my sister inherited Mama’s trait and is now creating an empire from her mini garden. She reminds me so much of Mama, sharing her interest and using all her resources including her time to develop her hobby into something great.

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The First Trot

I had my first run yesterday. Desperate for exercise, with my unsuccessful skipping regime, I decided to run at home. 

5pm, I rush to the room, I have got to exercise today. Desperately searching for my gym clothes, which I have had for many years and never worn, I dig and turn my perfectly organised casual cupboard. Where are they? I own a grey sleeveless top and a pink t-shirt with matching grey sweatpants. I always moved them when I tidied up. Whenever I touched them, in the past, I told myself I will wear you soon. Today I need you and can’t find you. 

Desperate for some shorts to wear E comes along and says:

“Mum I have a pair that will fit you.”

I smile and realise there are others rallying for me. With my old T-shirt on, she searches her well laid out wardrobe, greens, blues, blacks and florals. Pulls out this black stretchy teeny pair of sports shorts with a white line at both sides. I am excited, I am going to squeeze myself into this by all means and get running. I pull and push, tucking my stomach in at the same time and with one big pull I’m in. E is sitting on the bed staring and smiling.

“I told you it would fit you Mum.” 

I am encouraged. Almost ready, I get my casual trainers on. Of course my sports stylist appears and insists I wear sports trainers. I refuse. I need to be comfortable.  After all I feel like toothpaste in a tube, I am not going to add any more discomfort to this event.

Times up! There are smirks all around me. F looks up, K runs to get his IPAD , E giggles following me out. Of course I invite them to join me. Before I leave, I say to them I’m only running ten times back and forth. That was my goal, I had to announce it so I would do it. I trotted out of the door. I began with more spectators, my two older guard dogs who seemed confused, not knowing whether to run with me or get out of my way. I ignored them.

It was not a run after all, I trotted back and forth, stopping to catch my breath. From our wall to the gate, which is about fifty yards and slightly uphill coming back. It was a cool evening but I was hot, sweaty and panting. K took videos of Mum struggling, I found that hilarious. I had an interesting start to my new regime.

I am looking forward to beating my eight times back and forth trot as that is all my legs could manage!

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Early This Morning

This history making is really alarming especially because it is all over world.

My body doesn’t know what is happening and is still functioning the same way. It is interesting how I am able to wake up within  the same range of time every morning, as if I’m to get ready for school. I guess that happens to many of us.

This morning when I turned ready to get out of bed it was 5.27am, 5.30am is my normal time. I have been awake ever since. I have decided to make the most of this time as sleep will not come back to me. That is why I am sitting here typing my slice for today.

I have many other things to do but I chose to type my slice. I like the silence, the quiet space I crave, I can only hear the whizz of the ceiling fan and some birds tweeting in the distance. Once in a while, I hear a low click. I only have the light I need on. It is dark in the hallway and I like that feeling. The only sign of daylight comes to me when I turn to the right and look through the glass partition to the kitchen and window.

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I chose the sofa for it’s comfort and managed to stretch my legs on the leather covered bean bag. Before settling , I grabbed one of E’s throws so I would be snug and relaxed. I don’t normally write here, but I am enjoying the way the sofa is drawing me in and the cool air the fan is throwing over my head. I will do this again. 

Oops I just heard another click. Who is awake?

Can you believe I have the television staring at me, tempting me to turn it on and find out what else is filling our history?

I am not going to give in till I draw from this space I am enjoying so much.It surely is the peacefulness too.

I can hear more tweeting. Are the birds migrating or just waking too? 

It is 6.10am now and time for a hot drink.

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What Was Going On?

Excitement, frustration, disappointment, perseverance and achievement, in that order. These are some of my feelings and attitudes I have faced as I prepare for online teaching. The aim is not to give up or feel you can’t, as everything is possible when you persist.

This morning, I was extremely worried as I could not join a Zoom meeting on Monday evening. I had joined Zoom a few times at home for courses and meetings.

What was going on?

Why could I not access it?

What was I doing wrong?

I called up a colleague who willingly came by to help. We tried hot spotting and using all that we know. She helped me put an extension on my page, so I could easily access the page when it started working. It was all too technical for me, so I just followed her guide.

Later on I reached out to our Information Technology support. I got hold of them. Many emails, phone calls, photos and messages sent by Whats app later, following his lead, I managed to fix it. Don’t ask me if it was a network, broadband, application problem or whatever else, I still don’t know. All that I am happy about is that Zoom is bookmarked and I’m ready to join a meeting soon.

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Sweet or Sour

I sliced it carefully and laid it sideways on the plastic cutting board. I took wedges off the core and peeled the skin off carefully. It was just as I like them, not too ripe and a bit crunchy. They are quite deceptive. They seem very green on the outside, so you’d think they are unripe.

I took a chance today. Squeezed it a little and told myself it doesn’t really matter whether it is soft or unripe, I just needed my daily dose of fruit.

A smoothie would have been refreshing too, but I had that yesterday. So today, I cut it into thin slices, until I got close to the core when I could just have left some juicy bits on it. I always tell myself, what a waste that is. As I am at home today, I can clean the core in my local way, enjoying all the juicy bits.

I enjoy the seasonal fruits and make it a point to have a couple of them daily. On my adventurous days, I create some interesting mixtures of smoothies that sometimes end up sour but other times, quite sweet. The mango I had today was succulent, giving me the much needed vitamins.

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An Unexpected Visit

At 4.30pm earlier on this week, she entered my class through the connecting door. I turned my head at an angle staring directly at her. What was she doing here at this time of the school day? She kept walking towards me, stood and smiled. I tilted my head even lower, with widened eyes and a worried look, I gathered courage to ask.

“Sh what are you doing here at this time?”

She wore a cheeky smile but explained, “I came to do my work, I had to finish my writing because Ms. J said we’ll be doing a lot of Math tomorrow.”

I smiled and thought this was quite odd.

“Interesting Sh, does your teacher know you are here at this time?”

“My sister has an after school activity so I thought I could come and finish my work.”

The fourth grader mumbled proudly, as if she had achieved something and was waiting for an acknowledgement.

Of course I succumbed. I told her that was impressive but asked if anyone else knew she was here. Should she not have been at the siblings club? How did she get away and what had she told her supervisor? 

Anyway, her mission had been accomplished, so I told her I would let her teacher know and made sure she went back where she was supposed to be.

Last year I wrote a slice about Sh, Chatting During Lunch we had an encounter then.  Since that day, we have bonded and would chat during recess, sometimes. I believe she felt I was a friend and just popped in to announce something great she had achieved. I hope I did not put her off.

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A Moving Curtain

A loud moving curtain pounding the ground suddenly came with a noisy friend. All I could do was smile. This was welcoming the holiday (our spring holiday- brought forward). A fresh breeze is always welcome as it has been sweltering. 

The monster was here. It came with it’s own rhythm, slapping the different surfaces. I stood out there to watch the curtain flow, inside me I thought, this is going to be good.

Everyone needs you. We do, the plants do and I wonder how the pets feel. Our dogs must despise the heat too, they curl cozily in front of the door watching the curtain unwind. The darkened noon, creates a pleasant feeling, and makes staying indoors extremely enticing.

Unexpectedly a gruelling, vibrating and intense sound takes over and hits us. ‘This is rare,’  I  share, my heart beating heavily. Where was that from? Does it mean there will be more rain? Probably, as the monster showed his face, clearly.

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At School Today

Arriving at school this morning, I did not have a clue the kind of day I was walking into. What I noticed was the scanty number of students on the playground. It dawned on me that many of our families had chosen to keep the children at home. Students had been kept at home in anticipation of a school closure, due to the circumstances.

We took the opportunity to make the most of our time at school together. Practicing our online learning once more and testing the resources. This also allowed us to come up with agreements and to support each other .

If  school were to close we would be able to work at home independently.’ 

There were many pluses as students had a device to themselves, aiding the effectiveness of our Zoom trial. The day ended with confident students who were reassured of what would happen if the school closure were to occur.

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Collaboration

Collaboration is a word I have heard many times this week. 

Today, teachers, parents, students and support staff worked together to create a simulation of the journey to Ellis Island. This simulation was as realistic as could be. The students migrated in 1914, from different countries and took on the name and life of a person that had migrated in the past. It was the collaboration of all the different groups within our school community that made this possible.

I remember my grandmother used to share a saying that meant exactly that- collaboration. To paraphrase, the saying explained how a tree on its own breaks when there is a strong wind. It also reminded me of the African broom made with palm fronds. It takes a lot of the fronds put together to make that full broom strong and durable. Our simulation was a typical example of how the fronds work together.

A powerful image that I am left with from this morning’s experience is that of parents waving, taking photos whilst seeing their children off. The migrants carried their scanty baggage, dressed like the 1914 migrant unsure of the future but still hoping for a better life in the United States of America.

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