My First!

Thanks so much Leigh Anne, for the invitation to this year’s slicer writing retreat. This will be my very first writing retreat. I have been craving one since I started writing seriously. My first slicer party and my first ever writing retreat.

And now here we are, “in a cabin tucked away in a world of lush green fields surrounded by beautiful flowers blooming under blue skies and perfect temperatures.” I will be travelling to this location. I will plan this journey, flights and all. I’m glad the weather will be warm, so I will not need to find extra warm clothes.

I will bring: 

Writing tools – Different colored of sharpie pens, many pencils and my sharpener. The tiny sharpener I travel will with everywhere, lodged in my cross-body bag. I am a pencil lady and read with a pencil in hand, that’s why I like to buy most of my books, as I annotate whilst reading. My steno note books are coming with me, that is where I brainstorm and think. I will bring a few as I am hoping to organise my thoughts and be productive. I have a couple of books I have that I will tuck into my bag, they are; 100 Ways to Improve Your Writing and Doodling for Writers. They were all recommended by my writing friends from Teachwrite. My Laptop will be with me for looking up synonyms, some research and publishing any pieces, but writing with paper and pen will be my first choice.

Food/beverage –  I guess as I write best through the night, so a jar of my Douwe Egberts coffee will have to be tucked in there somewhere. It’s sure to keep me up for the times I write best. As I am used to my local snacks I will bring a few packets of plantain chips, for my midnight feasts, whilst writing.

Quote – “Life is such a gentle, treasured thing. I learn about it every minute. I think about it so deeply,”
by Bessie Head, a writer I have discovered recently. This resonates with me so much, especially post -Covid and looking at the world around us. As we write, we are are learning and thinking about life and our lives now.

Thanks Leigh Anne for this opportunity to write with a focus. I’m glad I am getting to meet many writers for the first time! Maybe one day there will be a ‘real writing retreat,’ somewhere warm.

Here I go again!

I really like this weekly reflection format, from Erica’s blog.

5 things that made me smile

A conversation with a student

Meeting parents face to face, at school

Discovering new information from my book

Students naming our special class plant (in my class)

Jokes at our team meeting

4 words to describe my week

Enlightening

Exhilarating

Exhausting

Hurried

3 plans for the weekend

Complete my 10km walk

Read a chapter or two

Write a chapter or two

2 things I learned this week

About Bessie Head, a South African writer

To remind myself to listen more

1 goal for the weekend

To Rest

Meet Mayo, our class plant

Time to Write

I have a few stories lined up, ready to be drafted properly and rewritten.

Like a tortoise I am writing and inching towards a manuscript or two. Whenever I have time to write many other writing pieces pull me. I actually have a schedule for writing my stories and interestingly other pieces seem to have more power and drag me away from it. Thoughts of my stories are always lingering and sometimes bothers me as I have a timeline but I’m not sure when I’ll get to the finishing line.

This evening, I thought of a new scene and will take the opportunity to write it here;

Trotting towards the mango tree, Ama and her three cronies skipped, clapping towards their daily after school meeting place.

” Pa pa papa be ba, pa pa be ba,” they sang in unison.

This was not only because they were excited but it is also a signal of their time together. It had become part of their routine, for the neighborhood adults to be aware of their arrival.

It was Nuna’s turn to choose the first game. She had a plan. She wanted Ama to win, as she had not won any game for a while. Calling the name of the members of the team, she drew Ama to her. They were planning to play a game of Ampe, when Ama suddenly heard her mother call.

“Ama bra ha!” her mother’s voice was very faint and distant.

Maame whimpered, “Ama, Ama come home now! “

Ama seemed surprised as she had left Maame cooking the evening meal. Maame did not mind Ama playing with her friends under the mango tree, there was enough shade and space for them to run around. When Ama run hurriedly, barefoot into their tiny cottage she found Maame crouched on the kitchen floor.

“Maame what’s wrong? Did you fall? How can I help?”

Ama tried to drag her up, but Maame is a heavily built woman. Ama tripped backwards, trying to help. Should I ask for help? Ama thought. She did not even wait for to answer herself and darted out to call her three friends.

“Come in all of you, hurry please, Maame has had a fall,” Ama sobbed.

They all looked frightened but rushed towards Ama and quickly found their way to the kitchen, where they found Maame bent over.

She could not lift herself up.

They held each of her hands and legs and pulled her up. Maame, with her eyes shut asked them in her feeble voice to run and call Papa from his carpentry shop. Before Ama turned Nuna and her other friends were speeding to call Papa.

They shouted,” Ama, Papa will be here soon,” and were away.

Ama quickly poured Maame some water and prayed silently for Papa to get back quickly.

Just when Ama decided to sponge Maame down, Papa entered panting and sweating profusely. With his muscular arms, he helped Maame up and asked for help from his apprentice, who had tip toed behind him to the house. Papa rushed Maame to the village clinic which was a few streets away.

Ama had tears in her eyes but was glad Maame was being taken away, to be examined by Mr. Kobo, the elderly doctor, the only doctor in the village.

Ama had many questions and always worried about how hard Maame works. This has got to be a new beginning, she was planning to encourage Maame when she felt better, to come with her to see Grandma in the neighboring village, during the school holidays.

Ama sat, chin in hand, watching her friends play, whilst she waited to hear from Papa.

She knew Maame would be well. She just believed that.

A Useful Resource

How timely it is when you are teaching a topic, and find out about an issue on the news that teaches exactly what you are trying to share with students. Our unit of inquiry at the moment is about innovation.

On the news this week, I found out about the winner of an Architecture’s highest honor that fits in perfectly with our inquiry. Students are also inventing an item and are charged to think about ways innovation impacts the development of societies. A connected line of inquiry is, ways in which innovation can change societies.

Presenting students with this Architectural genius was just the perfect way to share an authentic example. It is perfect because he comes from a country just above Ghana (where we are), so close. Some of his projects are in Burkina Faso, his home country, where the terrain is similar to Ghana.

As our students are being taken through the ‘design cycle’ by our STEAM teacher and are writing persuasive essays during writing workshop, about their innovation, sharing a real life innovator, who has won an award this month, is so timely.

Similar to going on a field trip, my students experienced some of the architect’s amazing structures around the world.

That Morning Breeze

Warm breeze

Brushes my face

Like a full feather

Satisfying

Completely needed

Here

In this warm climate.

Covers you like an

aura of mystery,

A never ending spray

of freshness,

Hits your ears as if

whispering sweet

nothings to you.

Keeps sharing

that freshness

seemingly cool

in this much

needed space,

filling the vehicle

with hope

To start the day!

Green Cane Palms, from my sister’s garden

My Collection of New Words

As I read slices this month, I’m collecting many words. Some of the words are totally new to me, others I have encountered once or twice and never attempted to use. As well as finding the definition of each of the words, I’m thinking about different ways I can incorporate the appropriate word in my daily writing. I have collected approximately one hundred words and counting…

A page of my collection

Book Club Galore

Preparing for the book clubs that fill my life, I keep thinking how different they are.

I will share them briefly.

Book Club 1: A professional group, this is a slow read, two chapters at a time and with many months interval, before the next meeting. Gives us time to percolate and apply the discussion points and the big ideas of the chapters. As the chapters are titled, it is easy enough to start reading with the main idea in mind. That drives the discussion of the day, when we are given a few prompts as a guide. We were randomly selected for this club, all faculties and administrators are represented in each group, so we are a group of six, there are many such groups dotted around the school.

Book Club 2: The two sister members are family friends, they are part of the eight lady group of professionals most of them in the United Kingdom. We read a couple of chapters a week and meet weekly on Zoom. No prompts or questions but there is a host, she selects the book and is the moderator for the discussions. The conversations stray as far as they can go and come right back to the book. A very lively group, the book at the moment has many themes, discussions can get fiery and sometimes humorous. An exciting part of my week, a great mid-week intermission.

Book Club 3: Is starting today. A great book by a New York Times best selling author. We are starting today on Zoom, with colleague teachers, one in a different country. We are very organized as we have questions ahead of time. There is an interview with the author, an introduction to the book, which was sent to us by one of the members to listen to. Our plan is to meet weekly and to come prepared as we are only meeting for a short time.

These three are very different books and groups. I spend the rest of my free time reading making notes and preparing for the different clubs.

This Woman

I write from my observation of a ‘typical‘ Ghanaian market woman.

As it was International Women’s day recently, I want to celebrate this very hard working woman.

I am always in awe of the hardworking Ghanaian market women especially with the zeal and skill in which they take on different roles, juggle them, and keep their balls from falling.

This woman I’m writing about;

has her baby tied firmly in a sitting position, settled on the seat of mother’s bottom with the third piece of her African cloth holding baby up in a sitting position,

at the market, she would have bought some vegetables and other grocery, balanced most of her load in a basket on her head,

she trudges through the the crowd, with her load both on her back and her head.

This woman has leased a stall, where she sets her shopping down and sells her goods in this very tiny space, squeezed between two others, the only space she has to sell her wares.

After a hard day’s work, sometimes with very few sales, this woman, weighed by with her concerns, responsibilities, the weight of a child and her groceries, travels home to find the evening meal has to be prepared.

The battle continues…

I respect this woman, with all her sacrifices and still finding the energy to shower love and attention on her family.

Tropical Fruit Salad

Here

There

Who’s there?

That cool breeze

Welcome to the rain

Mangoes, paw-paws, watermelons

The rainy season brings them all to our fruit salad

I wrote my first Fib poem with my Teach Write writing party. Here’s part of the instruction we used to create our poems. “Fib poems are based on the mathematical Fibonacci sequence: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8… The poem is written in syllables based on this sequence.”

We were to write our poems about spring, since there are only two seasons where I am , we decided I write about change, and as the rainy season starts in April, I wrote about that.

MANGOES. Photo credit: Flickr (Sunnyswede)

The Time I Needed

My early morning weekday drop off to T was always emotional. Wrapped in a tiny hooded cardigan with another layer of soft blankets, on the windy weekday mornings. I was always very teary, I could not look back after handing him over. I could not stand leaving his three month old self with my good neighbor.

She cared for him as if she was his mother. That sounds strange, as she looked nothing like us and we looked nothing like her. Ever present in our lives, an angel, she held me many times when I was desperate.

Leaving K, left me feeling empty, it was an uneasy feeling, but I still looked forward to the morning ride . That solitary drive, from North to the East, although it took me about 45 minutes from saying goodbye to saying hello, that ride was my respite. I looked forward to listening to my morning Radio program, the voice of the anchor person was a soothing balm.

A first time mother, in a land far from home, this was quite difficult. Going back to work after being a full time mother was a shock for me. Every time I saw the secretary come to my classroom door, my heart would skip a little beat. I wondered.

“Have I received a phone call? Am I being summoned to come home?”

Fortunately it was never what I was imagining.

The drive back home was never the same, it emanated different feelings. I felt I needed to get back as quickly as possible. Sometimes, I would have a smile on my face because I knew what I was rushing home for. Although I needed this time to myself, I could never get back soon enough.

Leigh.Ann’s slice Bliss Station triggered this special experience and period of my life. The drive home, my car, was my ‘bliss station.’