Saturday, February 2, 2008

February 2nd

I walked over to my neighbor's house a few weeks ago to catch up on the day's news. Sagnon was sitting on his porch, and when he saw me walking up he pulled up another chair next to him. I sat down and, seeing his newborn chicks walking around the yard, asked him how many he had. Right when I did so, a large eagle swooped down out of nowhere, picked up a baby chick, and took off. L'aigle! L'aigle! Sagnon was standing up on his porch, yelling and swatting at an eagle long since gone. Well, I guess I only have three, he said, and sat back down. Want some tea?

I set my book down and went outside and around the corner of my house to water the plants. When I came back, a goat was calmly standing in the middle of my living room, just looking at me, and a henry kissinger book on foreign policy was on my desk? How did this happen? Well, I got into a couple nixon biographies before Christmas, and kissinger just kinda happened right after. And the goat, I don't know, but it's important to say that I left my screendoor open when I went out. I stood on my porch, looking at him. I figured this subtle non-gesture would be enough to clear out the party, but when he just kept up his stare, I figured I'd have to resort to plan B. Alright, goat, I said, we're gonna play this one nice and easy. I walked in towards him but then thought that he might kick me if I got too close. Horses and cows kick, I thought, and goats might as well. So I slowly walked around him and, having nowhere else to go (and not wanting to leave a guest unattended while I go to the bedroom), I sat down at my desk with henry kissinger.

I come back from Ghana and it's time to see something through. I rode my bike to the next village and bought a shortwave radio so that I can hear the BBC and RFI news. I bought powdered milk and oatmeal. I made a few dozen more bricks for my courtyard wall that I am building. To make bricks you take whatever you can find to dig and break up the soil. You add enough water to make mud. Then you take the wooden form, set it on some flat ground, and take the mud to the form. You pack in the corners, smooth out the top, and then lift the form. Wait a day or two and you have a brick. I started two clubs for the kids at school. One of them is a math club. The first day I walked into the classroom there are only a dozen kids inside. I started writing the problems down at the board, and by the time I'm done the class is full and close to one hundred kids were copying down the questions. If they get everything right, I told them, they get a tootsie roll. Thanks Aunt Edie and Uncle Gordon for the tootsie rolls. A piece of candy here is called a bon bon, and no one wants to miss out on a bon bon americain. I also have a drawing club. They like to follow step-by-step so I write on the board and they follow along in their books. One week we drew a hammerhead shark, wolverine, and a train complete with the different foodgroups. They have no idea who wolverine is, but I'm hoping they'll remember a few things from the foodgroup train. Il faut bien manger! was the name of the nutrition segment. They love to draw and around 50 kids came the first time, and 75 or so the second. I look on my United States map (thanks Aunt Gail) and trace I-35 as far as I can. With a short break somewhere in the lower midwest, I could trace it all the way to a town on the Great Lakes: Duluth, MN. Where Bob Dylan was born.

Ah I'm out of computer time here. I need to print out my eticket for the Italy trip next month and better get out of here and find some dinner. Have a good one, thanks so much for everything and I hope you're well. By the way, for everybody that said hello to me through the taperecorder Mom sent, I wish I had time to come up with a witty story to let you guys know how wonderful it was to hear your voices. All I can say with this little time is that, in college, when I worked at the restaurant an old woman would always come in once a week by herself. I was pretty bored most of the time, and I thought she might be lonely, so one day I asked her if she wouldn't mind some company. After a few weeks she would come in and ask her waitress if I could sit with her. Now that I think about it, I don't know if she was doing it because she thought I was lonely, but I guess it comes down to the fact that, week after week, when I was doing the same old thing and she came in, it was an unexpected familiarity so comfortable that it almost felt like home. Walking back to the hotel from the peace corps bureau, opening my package with the tape recorder, it was the same feeling.

See you soon, Clay


Becca Faso said...

boo, you are without wax ;)

katie said...

Good entry Clay.... 32 more days until I see you in ROME!!!

Larry E said...

Clay.....That drawing class sounds some of the good ones for your book....Our office always looks forward to your entries....Larry

Maggy said...

hah. i liked the part about wolverine.
QUIERO ESTAR EN ITALIA YA, PERO NO PUEDO!!!!!!!!!! my butchered spanish is improving little by little.
Soo did you hear I'm number 6 out of 634(?) people in my class?