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How do you explain a Canadian winter to your Nigerian friend?

 

Uzo and I discuss the flood that forced him out of his house. I sympathize with his predicament and comment that I have some understanding of living in rough conditions.

When I was a child we lived on a farm in Saskatchewan—no electricity and no running water. In the warm weather my dad lowered pails with butter and cream and milk down the well to just above water level and that acted as a fridge, but no freezer of course so vegetables, fruits, meat and chicken had to be canned.

Our house was very small – 2 rooms and we had to fight the cold in winter. Water came from a well and my mother melted snow in big pots on the stove to do laundry and wash dishes and bath us. If she hung clothes on the line to dry on a not quite so cold day, she warned us not to go near them as they could freeze and would break if we touched them.

How do you explain a Canadian winter to your Nigerian friend?

I send him a couple of pictures explaining that in the first picture you see my sister and me. The building behind us is the barn. It was much bigger than our house. In the second picture you can see the ice that has formed on the horses’ nose. His breath has frozen from the cold. My dad pumped water from the well for the horses into a big water trough. In the winter the water in the trough froze and he had to chop a hole in it so that the horses and cattle could drink.

I comment that when our Malian friend came to visit one winter, he spent the whole time on the floor in front of our fireplace.

Uzo replies,

LOL! I probably would have done the same thing—add as much logs as I can to the fire. And yes, I think I remember Raymond. You mentioned him in your book, Mali to Mexico and Points in Between, right?  So, do you guys drink more tea/coffee (depending on the consumer’s preference) during winter?

I tell him that I don’t drink either and I don’t think people drink more, but they do add hot chocolate when it’s cold.

You gave a vivid description of what winter feels like. I used to think it’s a little easier for white people to move about during this time of the year considering the texture of their hair, but it appears I am wrong. 

Our hair does nothing to protect us from the cold and we need to wear many layers of clothing in the worst of winter. We live in Victoria now and don’t usually get any snow at all and it’s not very cold here especially compared to the prairies where we used to live.

Is it okay to skate on the ice?

Yes. In fact we did that with our children when they were little and we went to the Rocky Mountains. The ice was several feet thick and clear so we could see through it to the water below. Also there was a stream near our house and one winter it froze before the snow started so we could skate on it. Sometimes people go out on thin ice and do fall through.

 Is there any place in Canada that is mostly cold like Alaska? 

Up north for sure – don’t forget Canada extends to the Arctic.

Now I’m having second thoughts about walking on snow, LOL.

I think you would enjoy the experience—once!!

 

 

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I haven’t heard from my friend Uzo in a long while and then I get this message.

“I am currently writing you from a low-cost hotel. I lost “everything” in my apartment to a flood which devastated many homes in my vicinity (it rained heavily for six hours). Ah! It was really bad. In one case, neighbours had to break into a man’s fortress-like house (he wasn’t present at the time) to carry off his bedridden wife.

I think I can now relate on a deeper level with victims of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.”

I Google his city (in Nigeria) and find pictures like this.

Uzo survives

Yes, I think, he can relate.

I write back and comment that a “low-cost” hotel can’t be very nice. (I’ve seen enough in many parts of the world to know what they are like.)

Uzo writes back.

“Well, the hotel room is better when compared to other places I lived in—a two-bedroom apartment with a leaky roof, and then a mud house in the northern part of the country (in this case, I had to fetch water each day and there was no power throughout my one-year-and-a-half stay).

“I’ve to reprioritize my spending from now on, bearing in mind I have to replace (buy) some essentials at least, like settee and chair cushions, electronics. You may be wondering, but most of us (if not all) do not have insurance (schemes). I don’t trust the state government to help; they put us in this mess with their shitty road constructions. They’ve seen the extent of damage caused by the disaster and are saying help is not for everyone. Can you imagine that?”

I ask if he’ll be able to move back to his home.

“Yes, I intend to go back home. In the meantime, I’ve invited some friends to help me clear, reorganize, and wash the things I can still use.”

I admire Uzo’s strength and resiliency. And I bitterly resent those who could, but don’t help—the wealthy elite of the world.

 

http://www.darlenejonesauthor.com

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Will I be sorry I threw out my old photos?

 

I spent the last two days going through three huge boxes of old photos from the pre-computer days with the original intent of scanning them to my computer.

Instead I threw the vast majority into the recycle bin.

Why?

  • The photos were not the greatest quality as I didn’t have a good camera in those days.
  • I’m not and never have been a good photographer. I blame this on poor eyesight and (more accurately) lack of real interest.
  • I had three questions as I looked through the pictures. Where is this? What is this? Who is this? If I couldn’t answer even one of those questions, I junked the photo.
  • Very often a fourth question came to mind. Why ever did I take this picture? And to the junk pile it went.

What did I keep?

  • Pictures of family, but only the ones of people I recognized and remembered. Why, oh why didn’t someone label those old photos, I asked myself as I leafed through them. And then, in the quandary of deciding what to do with each one, this question popped into mind. What, I thought, is the point of keeping a picture of some relative I don’t remember? How would I explain who he or she was to my granddaughter? And why would my granddaughter care about a stranger?

Will I regret the great “cull?”

  • I don’t think so.
  • I hope not.

Did I make a huge mistake?

What do you think?

What have you done with your old photos?

http://www.darlenejonesauthor.com

Out & About—The bad guys don’t drive bright red cars

Russel Ray Photos

Out & About

Some readers might have seen the news over the past couple of weeks about a giant baby in Mexico peering over the border wall into the United States. It’s over in Tecate at coordinates 32°34’46.8″N 116°35’20.6″W or 32.579667, -116.589056

Location of the giant baby at the border wall in Tecate

Border Wall baby

Yes, we already have a border wall here in San Diego County.

Border wall

Border wall

Border wall

Border wall

Some of it, like in the pictures above, is about ten years old. Other sections, like the numbered panels in the picture below, are even older.

Border wall in San Diego County

Border Patrol agents like to park their vehicles in hidden locations on the top of mountain peaks, which, I’m sure, often results in the following conversation:

BP Agent 1: I see movement. 773.
Agent 2: I see it, too.
Agent 3: Copy.
Agent 2: Oh my God.
Agent 1: What is that?
Agent 3: It’s a little baby!
Agent 1: But it’s got YUGE hands!

Border Wall baby

I call it the “Border Wall Baby.” It was…

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Out with the old, in with the OXXO

Just the other day, this corner was home to several little shops.

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“What’s going to be built here?” I ask one of the workers.

“An OXXO,” he says,

What’s an OXXO, you ask.

It’s the ubiquitis convenience store found in Mexico. Our little area (population approximately. 20,000)  has at least 10 (at last count). For good measure there is one on the highway at the corner nearest our end of town, one at each of the three service stations along the highway, with the remainder dotting the streets in town often with little more than a block between them.

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It’s the rainy season. How can you tell?

1. You lose your Internet connection and satellite TV at 8:42 pm.

2. Your pool is over full and has to be drained every morning.

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3. You have to skim off all the bugs before your morning swim.

4. The tiles that were clean yesterday have acquired dirt – washed down from the air?

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5. You have to wend your way through puddles in the streets on your way to breakfast.

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6. Insects, frogs, and crabs proliferate and the cats seek refuge on your bed.

7. On the plus side the humidity is so high your wrinkles dissapper. If only you could bottle this stuff.

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Help.

Live & Learn


A Nigerian man holds his baby on their way to Italy after being rescued by the Spanish aid organization Proactiva Open Arms on the Mediterranean Sea. The organization on Thursday rescued more than 600 migrants who were attempting the perilous crossing of the Mediterranean Sea to Europe in packed boats from Libya. (Emilio Morenatti, AP, wsj.com, June 16, 2017)

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