Saturday, May 14, 2016

You Know It's Hot Season When....

You know it's hot season when...

1. Every day for three months the high temperature is between 100 and 112. People will often say it's hotter than that, but their thermometer is in the sun or on a wall that holds heat.  But ... that's 110 IN THE SHADE ... so if you're spending time in the sun, it really is hotter than that!  To make matters worse, the low temperature is around 90, so you never do cool off.  (This is an interesting website and quite accurate.  I clicked on several that were so inaccurate!  Also, for daily Niamey weather, this is a good place to check temps.)

Taken in the village where we used to live, a few years back

2. The number one greeting is, "How's the heat?" or "How's the sun?"  Everybody is hot and everybody commiserates together.

3.  You have power cuts lasting from a few minutes to 13 hours, almost every day.  And when it's 95 in your house and the power cuts off and you no longer have a fan to move the air, life gets miserable fast.  (Thankfully our office building has a generator or we'd have gotten nothing done the past two weeks!)

4.  When the power cuts off, you hear the sound of generators roaring to life in the neighborhood around you.  And you pull out your hand-held or battery-run fan and wonder if you should get a generator.  (Thankfully we haven't really needed one yet, but our little O2 Cool fans have been great.)

5.  Two minutes after getting out of the shower you are as sweaty as when you got in the shower.

6.  And speaking of the shower, the water is not cool AT ALL!

7.  Everything you touch feels hot.

8.  You have very little energy and you need to allow yourself to do less.

9.  You invent excuses to drive to places where you would normally just walk.  And then you drive slowly to enjoy the air conditioning blowing on your face.

10.  The swimming pool is your favorite place to be. And it feels like a bathtub.  Oh, and don't try walking around on the pavement in your bare feet!

11.  Your office air conditioner is set on 79 degrees and everybody coming in remarks on how cool it is.  Anything less than that, though, would be too big of a shock to your body coming in from outdoors!

12.  Going to church requires bringing along a hand-held fan, a bottle of ice-cold water, and a handkerchief to wipe your fevered brow.

13.  You are extremely thankful for air conditioning in the bedroom that allows you to get a good night's sleep!  And you try not to mention it too often because a lot of your friends aren't so fortunate and you know they aren't sleeping well.

14. You are constantly amazed that there are trees and flowers that produce fruit or bloom at this time of year.  (And it's a bummer that I don't like mangoes because 'tis the season!)

15.  You think of every excuse possible to not have to cook.  Using the oven is definitely out.  A mango smoothie would be good ... oh yeah, I don't like mangoes!

Monday, May 09, 2016

Five Minute Friday: Miss


Yes, I realize it's well past Friday.  But we had a 13 hour power cut on Friday, so that's my excuse. :)

Every Friday Heading Home hosts Five Minute Friday where you write for five minutes only.  The word this Friday was "miss".

She was young when she first felt God’s call on her life.  She didn’t know what it would mean, what it would cost.  But she knew she didn’t want to miss what God had for her. 

She soon grew up, went to college, got a job, became a missionary, and headed to Africa.  She was still young, ready for adventure and independence, and had no idea how much she would miss her family.  Life was good as a missionary and she loved what she did, teaching children at a boarding school. 

Then “Mr. Right” came along, they married, had children and continued in ministry together.  Life was complete.  It certainly wasn’t easy.  In fact, sometimes it was downright hard and she began to realize how much she missed her mom and dad not being nearby for advice.   She saw how much her kids were missing out to not have their grandparents nearby.

But she seldom missed her home country or the treats one could get there.  She didn’t miss not having a big salary.  She didn’t miss not having a big house.  She didn’t miss not having a high-powered job.

But, the older she got, the more she missed her family.  She missed her kids when they were at boarding school, even though she got to see them often.  She missed them even more when they went off to university and the nest was empty.  She rejoiced when they both married, but then she found how she missed them now as friends, not just as her children.  

And when the grandbabies started to come, then she realized what it really meant to miss someone….to miss all of their firsts, their growing up, their changing. How somebody could so fiercely miss somebody they hardly know was something she wondered often. It was then she realized how very much her parents had missed not being present as grandparents.

No, she has no regrets.  She wouldn’t change or trade her life.  But that doesn’t lessen the fact that she does miss her family…parents, children, grandchildren, siblings, and all the in-laws.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Updating the Guest Bath on a Budget

When we moved from the village to the big city, we moved from one bathroom to two.  I don't think we'd even had a curtain at the bathroom window in the village because it had shutters on it.  The shower curtain we had there went into the master bathroom here.  During our time in the US from 2009-11, I got a new shower curtain and towels for that bathroom.

Bathroom before
When we moved in here we needed something for the 2nd bathroom, but we didn't have a lot of money to spend or time to interior design anything for that bathroom.  We ended up using the curtains that had been in the kids' room, bought a new shower curtain, and called it done.  Our towels were mostly ones we'd received as wedding gifts and were in a rainbow of pastel colors:  pink, blue, green, and some "white".  

The bathroom was functional and I didn't hate it, but it's been exactly the same for the past eight years, so I decided it was time for a change.  I bought a new shower curtain (which turns out to be super long for some reason!), cloth to make curtains, a new floor mat, and a hand towel to lay on top of the towel cabinet.


I asked the painter to paint the cabinet from a grungy white to black and he charged me nothing just because he's a nice guy and I send lots of business his way.  

Then I asked somebody who knows somebody to have all of my bathroom towels, hand towels, and washcloths dyed black.  

I paid somebody to make the curtains because my machine isn't really working and she added a lining to the back of the curtains since that window gets the afternoon sun.

Everything cost approximately $64.00.  That's more than I thought I'd spent, but I'm so pleased with it, I think it was worth it.  And I know if I'd replaced all those towels, it would have cost a lot more!  Also, if I could have made the curtains myself and dyed the towels myself, it would have cost about $33.00 less than it did.

I'm really loving the aqua and black combination!

Sunday, May 01, 2016

12 Years a Slave and other Books Written by Former Slaves

One of the things I enjoy about having a Kindle are the number of books you can download for free.  Of course, the quality of some of them isn't that great, but there are a lot of classics for free.  And I've discovered that at certain times of year books will be free for a limited amount of time.  Several times in February I've discovered free books for Black History Month.  Last February I downloaded one called 12 Years a Slave.  It turned out to be a compilation of five biographies of former slaves plus Uncle Tom's Cabin.  I actually didn't read Uncle Tom's Cabin since I've read it in the past, but the five biographies were a real gold mine.  I'll consider them five separate books since they are also available individually.

12 Years a Slave is by Solomon Northup.  He was actually a free man living in New York State.  He and his wife owned a farm, and they also worked at a hotel to earn extra income.  Solomon was an expert fiddler and he was led to believe that he could get good money by traveling with a circus as a fiddler.  Long story short, he was turned over to slave traders, was kidnapped, and was taken to Louisiana where he served for 12 years as a slave.  I'll not tell you how he eventually got free, but it's a pretty amazing story.  Of the five books, this one probably most graphically describes the brutality of masters and overseers towards their slaves.

Frederick Douglass was the author of Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass.  The thing that really stood out to me in this book is that he was owned by a family with a young woman who had just married into the family and who had never owned slaves before.  She innocently started to teach him to read.  When Frederick heard her being told off by her husband for doing that and realized the fear he had about slaves being able to read, he realized that was his way to be empowered.  He had had just enough lessons with her to be able to, with a lot of hard work, teach himself to read.  Once he gained his freedom, he became a well-known speaker.

In The Life of Josiah Henson, Formerly a Slave, Now an Inhabitant of Canada, the story is told of a man who could have just walked into Ohio at one point, but didn't because he was on an errand for his master, whose confidence he had worked hard to gain even though he had no respect for his master.  Being a man of principle who followed his convictions instead of his heart, meant that he had to make some very difficult decisions.  He eventually bought his freedom, but was tricked out of that.  He eventually ran away with his wife and children.  Mr. Henson relates his conversion experience and how he became a preacher even though he could not read or write until late in life.  He became a "motivational speaker" among other former slaves in Canada to encourage them in better farming methods and farm management so that they could live more independently.  It is said that Harriet Beacher Stowe loosely based the character of Uncle Tom on Josiah Henson.

The fourth book was called Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs.  This book is quite different from the others.  For one thing, her grandmother was free and she herself was given quite a bit of freedom to visit her grandmother.  It is also different in that it was written by a woman ... but that's obvious.  Her story is mostly how her master (she was actually owned by a young girl, so the master is her owner's father) who was a dirty old man who wanted her to have an affair with him which she steadfastly refused to do.  In an effort to escape his advances, she had children by another white man, went into hiding in an attic crawl space for seven years, escapes to the North, but even there has to be constantly on guard and on the lookout for her master.

And, last but not least, one that you've probably all heard of:  Up from Slavery by Booker T. Washington.  Mr. Washington was a child during the Civil War and remembers the day the Emancipation Proclamation was read.  Though his family were now free, life did not suddenly become easy.  He worked for his step-father in the salt mines, but longed to be able to go to school.  He eventually did get to go to school and went on to establish the Tuskegee Institute, which not only provided a book education for black adults, it also taught each student a trade.  His example of training the entire person, not just the intellect, is a model that we would do well to follow today!

Each story was very different from the other, but one thing that each book, each author, had in common, was a strong faith in God.  Aside from Booker T. Washington who was freed in childhood, the others all stood up to their masters at one point; several even beat up overseers because they just couldn't take any more.  I think that each of them had a strength of character that was outstanding and that kept then pushing on for something better in spite of all the hardships they faced.

If you've never read any of these books, please take the time to find one at a bookstore or to download one on your Kindle.  I think the two I'd recommend the most if you don't want to get all five, would be 12 Years A Slave and Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl.  All Americans should know what slavery was really like to better understand the greater picture of race relations today.