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Pride cometh.....


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July 26


It rained like the devil last night. Lashings of rain, thunder and lightning. Then it settled down to a soaking that lasted another 4 hours. Badly needed.


After a brief thunderstorm in the evening I bicycled to the village to get on the internet. I smiled to hear a thunder of toads calling. They have suddenly appeared, as if from nowhere, and I am pleased to see them. Amphibians worldwide are supposedly in some sort of transition. They are barometers of the health of the ecosystem, partly I assume, because their reliance on both aqua and terra leaves them doubly vulnerable to changes in either or both.


Anyhow, on the way home a short time later – there was no electricity in the village and therefore no internet – I decided to follow my ears to where the strongest chorus of toad opera was coming. My headlamp revealed a huge puddle in the dirt road, and a dozen toads of the masculine persuasion, throat pouches delicately inflated, facing outward with hind parts in the puddle, serenading potential paramours who were hopping distractedly around the edge. Three of them were having a menage a trois but I quickly lost track of who was whom. I assume the toads knew. I had stumbled on an amphibian swingers club in full swing.


The survival of the eggs and tadpoles depends on the continuation of the rains. I assume if that puddle dries up all that serenading and wooing will come to naught.


Which makes me think of the old “Froggy Went a-Courting” song, where he is in love with Miss Mousy. Of course, the cat comes uninvited to the wedding feast and all goes awry. My favorite version of the song, learned from Pete Seeger, finishes with:


So, this is the end of him and her,

Ding, dang, dong, oh the wedding bells.

There won't be no tadpoles covered in fur!

Ding, dang, dong, oh the wedding bells.


The whole preposterous, wonderful song was actually political, satirizing the king of France (Froggy) wooing a 17th Century English princess to further an alliance.


It has been a lot of hard work on the house. Sosa and I have been moving damaged concrete blocks, busting them to gravel with a sledge, and filling in holes in the driveway. Pick-and-shoveling cubic yards of fine, wet clay into a wheelbarrow and leveling land. Making new vegetable garden beds in which I've planted Swiss Chard and over a hundred tomato plants. The chili peppers aren't quite big enough to transplant yet. I'll soon start the aubergines, basil, and oregano. Pumpkins, watermelon, cucumbers and corn will wait until the end of the rains. I'll be curious to see how American sweet corn does here. I was less than successful with it the one time I tried before.


We are still waiting for delivery of one door and all of the window frames and shutters. It has been a 3-month wait and it's getting tedious. Work on the kitchen cabinetry is moving along. All of the interior of the house and most of the exterior is painted and tiled. Today, the plumber installed the shower hardware and the bathroom sink. Moussa Camara, the painter, is actually a very fine artist in batique, lino printing, and painting. He has to eat, so he also paints houses and does a meticulous job. Unless you want hard, primary colors you have to mix your own here. They sell 5-gallon pails of white paint and colorizer. Moussa knows how to mix colors and it is fascinating watching him work. To get the right shade of blue for the bathroom he added a bit of red to the blue and white; something I'd never suspect. It turned out perfect, matching exactly a pale blue in the tiles. (To see some of his graphic work go to www.kafountinelinoprinting.org or the Kafountine Lino Printing Workshop Facebook page).


Aug. 9


Three windows finally arrived and I helped the mason install them yesterday. I pray the next three will arrive in a week or less. We also built the back steps to the house with a cement-block planter box next to them.


A month ago, Malang and I poured a cement pad for an outdoor kitchen in front of Sosa's room. Yesterday, Pap Dibba showed up at 5 PM (he had said he'd come at 2) and we proceeded to roof the place. A burly man with close-cropped hair going to white, he is a pleasure to work with, precise, professional and always smiling. Moussa Camara and I assisted him in building the roof structure and when it was time to nail down the corrugate Pap motioned me up on the roof frame with him. “Me?” I asked. He nodded and beckoned. The split palm logs used for the roof look flimsy to me but Pap knows what he is doing and I got up there despite my hesitations. He showed me what to do, perched up there on the palm rafters and pretty soon I was getting the hang of it, pounding 'em out up on the roof. It has been 43 years since I've done that and it felt good. Nothing like working with a master workman to get an education! We finished around 7 and he headed off on his bicycle, still grinning.


I now have two guys named Vieux working on the house: the mason and the cabinet-maker who is building the kitchen counter and cabinets. The kitchen is showing progress with tile going up on the walls. I bought a new gas cooker in The Gambia. The old one works but looks so rusty and rotten that I just couldn't see it in the new house. There will be no refrigerator. It simply takes too much electricity. It will remain to be seen how much electricity the inverter draws. I am hoping things will balance out when we're using it fully.


The next project, once the house is generally finished is to build a smaller version of the water tower with a black plastic tank on top and three walls, open to the sun. The top and south wall will be plexiglass, if I can find any. That will be our hot water source. Passive solar. The house is already plumbed for it into the bathroom and kitchen. Three windows remain to be installed and we can move in, even if everything isn't finished. I can't wait.


Aug. 10


The old Jews of my childhood would never tell their age. They believed that the Angel of Death might overhear and think, “That's enough!” and take them.


On Saturday, I worked 11 hours at the house, mixing cement and sand with a shovel, wheelbarrowing, digging, filling, assisting the mason, digging fertilizer into three garden beds, and finally, up on the roof with Pap. I felt great. My friend, John Hochberg, emailed that last we'd been in contact I'd had some health problems. I replied that I've never been healthier. Fit as a fiddle. Pounds chest. Never better. Hale fellow, well met, etc.etc. Pride cometh, etc.


Yup, next morning I was hit by Saddam Hussein's Mother of all Head Colds. This one came with fever, chills, general prostration, chilblains, bog spavins, mange, ear mites, the cold robbies, flood warnings, and a dead battery. Never brag about your health. The Angel of Aspirin may be listening.

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Sorry to hear the mother of all head colds got you Doc, but at least you got a lot done the day before!


Thanks for the update, hope you feel/felt better soon!

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Sounds like it's time for an old home remedy-whiskey and honey. You might not feel better but you're guaranteed not to care as much in the proper doseage. Hope you feel better soon.

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Whiskey and honey sounds great!

In fact, I'm feeling much better. Thanks for the good wishes.

A flatulence of Harleys fits!

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