23 March 2014

Making Bat Boxes - Sundays in My City

The house into which I recently had my stuff deposited came with several mosquito catcher things in the yard.  After not dealing with mozzies for the last 3.5 years this was not an encouraging sight. My house in North Carolina had terrible mosquitos and I tried so many things to keep them away so that I could enjoy being outside but none ever worked (Hello 26 citronella plants with which I surrounded the deck!). 

So I asked a running buddy/DIY expert friend if she wanted to help me make a bat box and, of course, she not only said yes but searched for and printed plans and had all the needed materials (gotta love free scrap wood!) already on hand.  Bats can eat up to 1000 mosquitoes an hour (!!!) so encouraging them to take up residence near your home can be very beneficial!


Supervision provided by her dog, Gordon



I'll admit, I do not like using the nail gun!

Voila!  Don't they look fabulous?!?!  I love them!  For this region of the country it says to paint them a dark color but I really like the plain-wood look so I might see if it works without painting. Sheri said she's going to paint the Bat Symbol on hers! 

UPDATE: She did it!!



Now to figure out where and how to hang mine.  I'm super excited!  And it was a really fun project.  Here's hoping both of us have a mozzie-free summer!!

Find out what other creative endeavors are being undertaken by clicking but button below.

Unknown Mami

16 March 2014

Simple + Beautiful = Simply Beautiful = Slovenia - Sundays in My City

Back in September I took a trip to part of the Balkans (Croatia, Slovenia and Bosnia Herzegovina).  The one and only time I rented a car on any of my trips and I drove from Croatia into Slovenia.  At first I was just planning to go to Croatia but when I looked at the map and saw how close Slovenia and Bosnia were I decided I had to take advantage of the proximity and visit all three. I would have taken the train or bus to Slovenia (I took the bus to Bosnia) but I decided I didn't want to go to the capitol and the only way to reach a small town was to drive (had I done a little more research I would have found out that Ljubljana, the capitol of Slovenia, is much nicer than Zagreb and swapped them on my itinerary).  The GPS decided I was going to take the scenic route and it was lovely.

Crossing the border...one of the few places that still has border control (which means it's one of the few places where I got a stamp in my passport!).





Ummm...???


For more beautiful sights, check out the rest of the SIMC posts over at Unknown Mami.

Unknown Mami

25 February 2014

Meet Iggy

Last week I introduced you to a few dogs at one of the animal rescues near here.  This weekend I walked Dancer again (actually, we did some jogging together) and a new fellow who just arrived the other day...Iggy.  Someone stabbed this poor little guy and he's recovering from surgery (please forgive the poor-quality photos, they were taken with my phone).




He's only about 6 months old and extremely friendly.  He isn't showing any signs of trauma despite being stabbed.  He doesn't even seem to have any sensitivity around that back hip where it happened.  He's recovering remarkably well!  I enjoyed my time with him yesterday.

I was looking forward to spending some time with Vixen (the sweetie pie I walked last weekend) but she was with one of the rescuers.  She has a bit of an infection on her forehead where she rubbed a wound against the cage so she's getting a chance to heal.  Hopefully she'll be better next week (well, hopefully she'll find a good home and not need to live at the shelter!).

23 February 2014

Akpafu Mempeasem - Sundays in My City

I've told you about Domeabra, the village in Ghana where I did my Peace Corps training. And although I only lived there for 9 weeks it really does feel like home to me.  I have another home in Ghana, though. The village where I lived and worked for two years. 

Just north of Hohoe, in the Volta Region, is a small village called Akpafu Mempeasem (Ahk-pah-foo Mem-pay-ah-sem); one of six Akpafu villages. It sits at the base of a mountain (Akpafu Todzi sits at the top) and looks across a valley to another mountain. 

The clouds hang low in the early mornings.
Low clouds across the valley.  This is what I saw each morning from my house.
A storm moving in
Less than a minute later! (I was very lucky to get under cover just before it poured)
Sunset (sun rises were over the mountain across the valley. Both were beautiful.

From the bottom of the road (there's only one road in this town) looking up. In the rainy season everything is green and lush. In the dry season everything is the color of the road.
The school where I taught. It's a small, village technical school.  Students there are either too poor or didn't have the test scores to get into a "good" school. They've grown (it was just a day school but now they offer boarding) and added some programs.  There were only three when I taught there (Technology, Home Economics and Agricultural Science). Now there are five.

The classroom block where the first-year students had their classes. It's not used any more. They now have a 2-story building with electricity and windows!

We didn't even have blackboards when I got there.  The technology students made some out of cement-grout which was then painted black. It worked...sort of.

The place changes, and yet doesn't, each time I go back. The volunteer there now (there's not always a volunteer in the village but there was when I went to visit this last time) lives in a house with electricity and running water.

This is how I got my water
There are now only 2 teachers at the school who were there when I was. The school now has computers (no internet yet) to go with that electricity. There are a lot of people in the village who don't remember me. But there are also friends who I can drop in on and they will offer me a chair and some food. I know exactly where they live and I know they'll be there.  It was my home for two years. In some ways, it always will be.

Do you have a home-away-from-home?

Sundays in My City is hosted by Unknown Mami. Go check out other SIMC posts from all over the world.

Unknown Mami

09 February 2014

Rescue Dogs - Sundays in My City

I've posted about my dogs plenty of times.  They're rescue mutts and I couldn't love them more!! They've been with my parents being thoroughly spoiled while I've been getting settled down here.

My buddy had to have a cancerous lump removed from his leg; thus the bandage.

They both had their teeth cleaned and my sweet baby found the patch they shaved on her leg for the IV to be very irritating.  Therefore they both had to wear the cone of shame.

While they've been living it up at my parents' I've been volunteering to walk some rescue dogs. These poor things only get out a few times a week when volunteers go to walk them so they have lots of energy!  Each dog goes 2 miles and I have to take a nice, long nap when I get home :)  Regardless of your feelings on breeds like pit bulls, I think Dante has a special ring of hell for people who abuse animals!

Dancer is a sweet girl who was left with a cleft in her lip from fighting.

Vixin is an absolute sweetheart who had been used as a "bait dog" in a fighting operation. I can only imagine the horrors she's been through. She has scars all over her face but she's very friendly and playful.
 
Zora was rescued from a breeder who was going to put her down because she was the runt of the litter.

I'm a firm believer in rescuing animals as opposed to buying them from breeders or pet stores.  If I had a place with tons of room I'd probably have more dogs...and cats. Please, if you want a pet, rescue!

Linking up with Unknown Mami for the always-interesting SIMC.  Check it out!

Unknown Mami

02 February 2014

If You Love Me, Come - Sundays in My City

Domeabra, translated, is "If you love me, come."  Domeabra is the name of the village where I spent my 8 weeks of Peace Corps homestay training. It's a very tiny village of maybe 200 people; most of them being small children.  It's an Ewe village (Ewe being one of the major languages in Ghana) in the Central Region (the Central Region being predominantly Twi (another of the major languages). I've taken you on a few tours of the place (here, here and here) but haven't really told you much about it.

I'm sorry to say I don't completely remember the story of how the village was founded but someone (for reasons I don't remember) left the Volta Region (the Volta being the primary region for Ewe people and the region where I would do my 2 years of service) and settled in the Central Region. He (if I remember correctly, and it's possible I don't but hey, let's just go with it, okay!) left behind a love and wanted her to come join him so he named his new place Domeabra.  She did love him and she did come join him and together they started a new little village of Ewe people.

I hated living in Domeabra during my training. But to be fair, I'm not sure I would have liked any other place any better. Training was a tough time.  And Domeabra isn't an easy place under the most forgiving of circumstances. During training you're given language lessons for 4-6 hours each day formal instruction (which does not counting every villager asking you what you're doing or where you're going (even when you're obviously headed to the toilet with a roll of toilet paper in your hand) in order to give you more practice). When you're not in language class you're being taught local customs and culture or being given instructions on how to do the job you'll be doing for the next 2 years. There's very little free time, next to no privacy and you have no control over your schedule. The hardest part, though, was not knowing what your next meal would involve.  My homestay mother tried very hard but she's not the best cook and I'm something of a picky eater. The stress involved in every meal was exhausting as was everything else. Training, for me, could not be over fast enough.

Once I had some time away from Domeabra I was able to reflect on that tiny village and how wonderful the people there were. It's a really special place and I'm very lucky to have lived there. It's truly a home away from home.

Father - Koshi (age 3) - Me - Aduba (age 8) - Mother
When I lived with them in 2001. Mavis (from this post) wasn't born yet.

The villagers grow cassava and the women have a cooperative where they collectively make gari (a dried cassava product) and sell it. By working together they can produce much more volume for sale and can sell to a larger market. The split the profit amongst everyone in the cooperative.

Despite truly being the poorest-of-the-poor, they're also some of the happiest and most generous people I've ever met. They're always smiling!

Little sister Mavis in 2008 (age 5)

The family in 2008. Koshi was 10, Mavis was 5 and Aduba was 15.


The family in 2013. Mavis is now 11, Koshi is 15 and Aduba was away at school. This is the first time my parents smiled in a picture!

I did come to love it there. The name fits.

For more places people love, check out the rest of the SIMC posts over at Unknown Mami.

Unknown Mami

25 January 2014

When You Give A Kid A Camera - Sundays in My City

This is my little sister, Mavis.


She was born after I lived with her family but while I was still in Ghana. She peed in my lap when she was still a baby :) Now she's 11 years old, smart and curious. Cameras are too expensive for most Ghanaians so pictures of themselves are a rare thing to have. They love looking at the display on your digital camera. Mavis was fascinated so I gave her the point-and-shoot and let her have fun. This is her view of her village.

The first thing she did was aim the camera at me.










Our mother

A little view of a little village through the eye of kid using a camera for the first time!
 
 
For other views of the world, check out the SIMC posts over at Unknown Mami.


Unknown Mami