Showing posts sorted by relevance for query wall sitting. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query wall sitting. Sort by date Show all posts

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Just me and the chickens. And a couple of goats. And wall-sitting Haitians.

Some mornings, Dolly helped in the clinic. She was a labour and delivery nurse for many years and so she tolerates the sight of yukky things much better than I. So she weighed and measured babies and took blood pressures of mamas. 
I was banished to the road to help on a painting project. 
The road outside the clinic looks like this to the east...

...and this to the west.

Mamas knocking at the gate, rat-tat-tatting to be let in by Jason, the guard, is a common sight. 

There is a rooster, of uncertain ownership, that pecks around in the dirt outside the gate.
I am not clear on the attraction of roosters for the Haitian people. They are raucous at all hours of the day, but particularly at 4 o'clock in the morning, when the roosters perform their own version of the "twilight bark" from 101 Dalmations.

Segue please.
Haitian roosters make me grumpy.
In fact, I was asking Santo (resident translator and general go-to guy at the clinic) why we owned a rooster, he informed me that it was so that the hens would lay eggs.
But Santo, I said patiently, you don't need a rooster to get eggs.
Yes, you do, he replied, with a barely disguised pity in his eyes.
No, you don't, I insisted.
Yes, you do.
Oookay. I gave up. Sometimes, you just have to know when to concede defeat. This was one of them. There is also the matter of the lone egg that sits on the roosting shelf in the hen coop that supposedly incites the Dominican hens to lay eggs. Not working so far, people! I just hope that it never falls on the ground and breaks, or it will surely asphyxiate the chickens.

Aaand, there are the two pregnant mama goats, who belong to Jason, the afore-mentioned guard. I got a kick out of the number of times per hour that Jason peeks his head around the gate to check on his babies. He does love his goats!

Walls in Haiti are canvasses for art. 
Sometimes it is utilitarian, like this...

...and sometimes it is much more decorative.
I confessed to being slightly artistic, so Sarah asked me to help Wilfred, the brother of one of our translators, whom she had hired to paint a mural about healthy water practices. 
I love Haitian art. It is primitive and colourful and depicts ordinary, yet idealistic, aspects of everyday life in Haiti. It has an optimism that I like to think will be rewarded some day with bliss.
Wilfred has lofty goals. He told me that he wants to be a great person some day. I think he already is a great person, but I hope he also figures out how he can become successful, which is what I think he meant.

Wilfred used a pencil and an oft-abused level to rough out the rectangle that would contain the mural. 
No, he did not entrust me with any of this task.

But he did allow me to help paint the white background.
This is Jude, another brother, who is a happy fellow and liked to make fun of me, especially when I made strange noises because I was so hot. As in "elevated temperature", not "degree of coolness".

The wall on this side of the street was in direct sunlight all of the day, so the general strategy was to paint until you couldn't stand it any more, then go sit on the shady side of the street to recover.
Whereupon, I (and Dolly, when she was helping) learned the fine art of wall-sitting, one of my favourite aspects of Haitian culture.
Don't we do it well?

I had retired to the house one day and when I came outside again, Jude and another friend and helper (wall-sitter) Black Yves were snoring loudly next to the wall.

For a second, I believed them, but then they both burst out laughing.
Funny, guys!

It soon became apparent that I was not to be allowed to tarnish Wilfred's masterpiece with my amateur strokes, so I made this large painted space for notices. The usual practice is for people to slap notices randomly on walls, so Sarah decided to supply a delineated space and ask people to get permission from MBH before they posted their papers. 

I also made this tree for some of the local children to decorate with their hand-prints.

One day, it rained as we were working on our separate walls, and the boys rigged up this ingenious way of protecting their work.

It took them all week to complete the project.

Wilfred stopped by the night before we left. I had asked him to make a painting for me, but he had forgotten that I was leaving so soon. He told me that Jude had asked him to tell me that he thought of me as his friend.
Sweet Jude.
I left some money with Sarah, so I may yet get that painting.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Nana Files Day Four: a mishap or two

Seven o'clock arrived just as promptly as ever and we made a quick start on the morning by playing outside. It was sunny and windy and cool. The girls discovered the joy of wall sitting.  And we kicked balls around. 

We took a morning break from the TV, much to London's disgruntlement, and listened to children's songs on Alexa. There was much singing and dancing.

It was a nice overcast day, so after nap (Scarlet slept for three hours, I think I am wearing the little darlings out) we set off for the first park again in the wagon. I felt pretty energetic, much less achy than I've been for a while, so I figured the exercise was doing me good. We were almost to the water tower when I realised that one of the girls' water bottles was missing. Miss Scarlet must have biffed it over the side. Casualty number one of the day. I decided to wait until the walk home to look for it, as we were more than halfway to the park.
Miss London was full of smiles on the swing again.

And Scarlet rampaged all over the play structure, waving at everyone she saw. The girl has never met a stranger.

We had gotten a late start on the adventure, thanks to Scarlet's long nap, so it was after five when I finally talked London into leaving. I had promised her that we would stop by the lake to feed some bread crusts to the ducks, so we went home a different way. We were walking on the path by the lake and I was thinking to myself how nice it felt to be walking and not be in any kind of pain when BAM! I hit the ground, making a very inelegant and primal noise as I fell. I lay there for a moment, feeling all of the pain that had been absent a moment before, and a nice lady came up and asked if I was okay. I checked myself over, noting bruised knees and palms and wounded pride, but nothing apparently serious. She helped me to my feet and I hobbled off. 
We stopped a few yards on to feed the ducks and a couple of geese who were, of course, voracious in their feeding and so London hot-footed it back to the wagon and Scarlet chased the birds. Scarlet threw an 8.5 on the Richter scale fit when I made her get back in the wagon and then I noticed that my favourite Vista balloon cap was gone. I had put it on Scarlet's head because the wind was nearly at gale force and I thought it would help protect her little face. I was reluctant to allow another casualty of the outing so I retraced my steps and luckily it was lying in the middle of the path, just around the corner of the lake. 
On we went. Pretty soon, Scarlet had had enough of being in the wagon and so had London, so London pulled the wagon while I held Scarlet's hand. The going was veeeerrrrryy slow.

We made a detour back to the highway where the water bottle had escaped. I figured there was a slim chance we might find it on this part of the route. We arrived at the intersection and I scanned back down the road where we wouldn't be walking in case it was visible. Nope. Then London said, Look Nana, the top of the water bottle! I couldn't see it at first and doubted her, but then I saw it, sitting on the grass on the corner. It was only the top and it had obviously been run over by a car, but what are the odds of it being right there where we joined up with the highway? Bizarre. Sorry Sam.
The highway was a wind tunnel, it was ferocious. We were walking into the wind, poor Scarlet was facing it and there was not a thing I could do. She pulled her coat up to her face and sucked madly on her thumb. The poor dear was terribly tired but was such a trouper. 
Neither child took much convincing at bedtime. 
Me, I took three ibuprofen and watched the latest episode of Mercy Street then went to bed. I feel better than I thought I would this morning, just some stiffness in the parts that hit the ground, so the damage must not have been too bad. Either that, or I have mad recovery skills. 

If you know me, you will be surprised at this next photo. I think it's the first picture I have ever posted of a cat anywhere. Mad Max and I have a tenuous relationship. He claimed my stomach a couple of nights ago and I was okay with it until he started attacking my nice new watch that my honey gave me for Valentine's Day. Then he was ousted. 
I'm not sure who will be happier to see Mommy and Daddy, Max or the girls!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

What men love to do

Yeah, I'll bet this blog post gets a lot of unlikely hits, thanks to that title.
Maybe I should change it.

I just counted photos in the last post.
This one has only two.
And there was much rejoicing!

So, last week I made some unusual purchases.
Unusual, in that they are rare kinds of purchases.
I found a rather large television on clearance at Freddie's. It is 3D and wi-fi and LED and was only a third of the original price.
"I'll take it," I said.
Then, of course, I had to buy a wall mount and a new Blue-ray player, as our old VCR/DVD player just didn't cut it. According to the man of the house.
I also bought five smoke detectors from Lowe's.
Of course you do!

A week has passed, and this is the TV in the rec room, all wall-hung and polished and Netflix-ready.

And these are the smoke detectors, sitting in a sad little pile in the man cave.

I think I have discovered a new weapon that is vastly superior to nagging.
It's called blogging!
Feel free to exert peer pressure on the man of the house.

P.S. The television that was replaced was about twenty years old.
In case you were wondering.

Friday, February 4, 2011

The location

I thought you would better understand my experience here if I first showed you my surroundings.
This is the house in which MamaBabyHaiti resides. It's a rather grand afffair, by Haitian standards, and is surrounded by similar houses, only most of them stand uninhabited and in various states of construction. One gets the feeling that they have been that way for some time and will remain so for some time to come. This house is not owned by MBH, but was renovated by them to its present state.
Remember, you can always click on the photos to enlarge.

This is the post-partum recovery room on the ground floor.  
Our drinking water. We have been without a car all week (one of those long, frustrating yet hilarious Haitian stories) so collecting new bottles involves a motorbike and good balance.
The swimming pool.
Don't ask.
But remember this for later.
Banana trees in the garden. Haitian bananas are quite delicious, even when they are in a state of what I would normally consider over-ripeness.

Bins of supplies, some of which were donated by you, my lovely readers.
Shelves filled with natural and pharmaceutical remedies.
A corner of the garden and the big old wall that separates us from the rest of the world. We have been outside a couple of times this week, but our experience has been mostly inside this compound.
We are surrounded by concrete. This wall around one of the upstairs patios cracks me up, because it looks like nicely turned wood. It is, in fact, concrete. We see the vertical supports for sale along the roads. They are sold in two sections and then cemented together on site.
Ah yes.
This is the room where we lie awake at night, listening to cows mooing, dogs barking, roosters crowing, and the frog in the pool bellowing.
I said bellowing.
I have named him "Satan" for good reason.
The sitting room, where we talk at night by the light of a flashlight or hit the computers every time the power comes on.
Like now.
It's 2:30 a.m. and I'm going to bed.
Lisa and I are heading to the Dominican Republic (henceforth refered to as "the DR") in the morning. Hopefully we can find wi-fi when we get to Santa Domingo and the story will continue.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Day 1: Groggy in Glasgow

My first view of Scotland was breathtaking. It was through the window of our Icelandair Boeing 757 and the veil of grittiness in my eyes from watching movies all night. 

I loved Glasgow airport, it's not too big and customs was easy-peasy. As in, do you have anything to declare? No? Off you go then!
But drama happens.
In the weeks before we left on this trip, I spent countless hours preparing a folder containing a detailed itinerary, tickets to various attractions, receipts, and maps. I had rented a little Fiat 500 from Europcar through a third party company called Auto Europe and I had double-checked that everything was covered in the rental price, including insurance, because we had been taken by surprise by added charges in previous travels. Imagine my horror when the lady behind the Europcar desk refused to let me take the car unless I paid twenty pounds a day for insurance coverage. That would have more than doubled the cost of the car. It took about 30 minutes on the phone to Auto Europe to find out that for an extra $30 we could be fully covered by them for the whole trip. Win for me, especially considering that I managed to remain polite to the Europcar person throughout the encounter. 
This was the car we paid for:

And this was the car we got. It might look the same, but it's a Kia diesel and has four doors. It is still very maneuverable and easy to park. We have decided that we probably wouldn't have fit our luggage in the back of the Fiat.

It was an uncertain day weather-wise, which, as we have learned, is the norm in Scotland and northern England. 
If you don't know, I always drive when we travel to countries where driving is on the left side of the road. It was how I learned to drive so, theoretically, it comes back to me fairly easily. So here I was, twenty-four hours without sleep, driving on the wrong side of the road with a manual gear shift, getting lost every time we got to a roundabout because Jeff was trying to navigate for me using my Mapquest printouts and failing miserably, trying to decipher all of the unfamiliar road signs in a city that does its best to hide street names on the sides of the buildings, and having small and frequent moments of panic. It was with much joy that the person who was renting her flat to us through airbnb was able to talk us (over the phone) into her road. It was with great gratitude that I parked the car in a very small space between two other cars.
This street, known as Pollockshaws, was a short walk from the flat and later we found a wonderful organic bakery and several good restaurants on it.

We took a short nap and then I dared to take to the streets again. We visited the Botanic Gardens and, it being Saturday, lots of families were out taking in some fresh air and enjoying the gardens.

We have been to better botanical gardens, but the greenhouses were pretty spectacular. There was a whole chain of greenhouses attached to each other, all with different themes. I found a little bit of New Zealand in one of them.

And these pitcher plants were in the "killer plants" greenhouse, which was the best show of carnivorous plants I've ever seen.

Proof that we were there.

On the way back to where we had parked the car, we heard bagpipes. 
Bagpipes are like honey to our ears, so we followed the sound to this school.

And this young man was piping his heart out by the front door. I think it was a back-to-school night or some such thing. He gave Jeff permission to take his photo.

We drove back to Torrisdale Street and ate dinner at Buddy's BBQ and Burgers, where I ate poutine for the first time. It was delicious, and there was enough for dinner the next night. Jeff had a burger. Of course. 
I had pre-paid for tickets that evening to the Scottish Fiddle Orchestra, which was to be at the Royal Glasgow Concert Hall in the middle of downtown Glasgow. We nixed the car and took the train into downtown. The station was just across the wall from the flat, so it was a short walk on that end. Which was just as well, because after the five-minute train ride, we couldn't seem to get our bearings in the downtown area and find the concert hall. Most people that we asked didn't know where it was, and the ones that gave us directions were wrong. After walking hither and yon for about 30 minutes we finally arrived, hot and sweaty, just in the nick of time.
It was a perfect concert, the audience was well-behaved, and the icing on the cake was that Princess Anne, who is the royal patron of the orchestra, was attending the concert. My first time ever in the presence of royalty! I'm not much of a royalty-chaser, but I like Anne for several reasons. She is thrifty, and actually wears outfits more than once. This website has an interesting look at some of them. She is patron to over 200 organizations and carries out over 700 royal engagements and public appearances every year. She has been known to be grumpy in public, but also has a sense of humour. Apparently, she hasn't changed her hairstyle in several decades. What's not to like, I say. This is a fun little article about her.
But I digress.
Many of the numbers were foot-stomping and hand-clapping kinds of songs. Some were sentimental melodies and I'm pretty sure the old gentleman next to me wiped tears from his eyes a time or two. A mezzo-soprano and a tenor joined the orchestra for some songs. But the best part was when the First Troon Boys Brigade Piper Band joined in.
The photos stink, but I have included a YouTube video of the two performing together a few years ago.

There were six piano accordions in the back row. 
And two Scottish dancing sisters.
And sometimes the accent of the announcer was so broad that we couldn't understand a word he was saying. But we understood most of this poem when he recited it from memory:

McAllister Dances Before the King

Clansmen, the peats are burning bright,
Sit round them in a ring.
And I will tell of that great night
I danced before the king.
For as a dancer in my youth,
So great was my renown,
The king himself invited me,
To visit London town.
My brand new presentation kilt
And ornaments I wore;
And with my skein dhu,
I rapped upon the door.
Soon I heard a Lord or Duke
Come running down the stairs,
And to the keyhole put his mouth,
Demanding who was there!
"Open the door!" I sternly cried,
"As quickly as you can.
Is this the way that you receive
A Scottish gentleman?"
The door was opened; word went round,
"McAllister is here."
And with the news, the palace rang
With one tremendous cheer.
The King was sitting on his throne,
But down the steps he came.
Immediately the waiting Lord
Pronounced my magic name.
And all the ladies of the court
With pearls and jewels bedecked,
Did blush and tremble as I bowed
To them with due respect.
Slowly at first, with hands on hips,
I danced with ease and grace.
Then raised my hands above my head
And swifter grew my pace.
At last no human eye could see
My step so light and quick.
And from the floor great clouds of dust
Came rising fast and thick.
The Kind was greatly moved and shook
My hand in friendship true.
"Alas," he said, "Although a king,
I cannot dance like you." 
And the the gracious Queen herself
Came shyly o'er to me,
And pinned a medal on my breast
For everyone to see.
Her whisper I shall ne'er forget,
Nor how her eyes grew dim.
"Ach, where were you, McAllister,
The day I married him!"

But the best part was Auld Lang Syne at the end when the whole audience crossed arms and held hands and sang along. It was a fitting finale. 
One curious thing was that no one gave a standing ovation at the end. I have often thought that audiences in the US have devalued standing ovations by giving them too readily, when one should be reserved for a special honour after an outstanding performance. This audience of reserved Scottish men and women were obviously beyond moved by the performance, but only stood to sing the final song. I tend to relate to that reserve even now, after living most of my life outside of the UK. 

And one final photo of the railway station as we waited for our late train.
There's something that I really like about railway stations late at night.