We are doing fine. Timothy is just getting over a really bad cold because of the change of season. We are going into the rainy season and the nights get cooler and the air gets wetter. We have just had a really strong thunder storm go through and it is probably now in the low 80’s and feels very pleasant to me. However, everyone is going around in long sleeves and flannel pants. We have Sawsee covered up on the floor with fleece blankets.
Rolf is curled up on a pillow fast asleep and enjoying the quiet time. There have been lots of little children (under 5 years of age) playing around here today and he just has a fit. He is so very protective of the house and our grandchildren. He barks his head off if anyone he doesn’t know or he doesn’t like to smell of when they come around. Some people he is not fazed by and others he goes crazy. I trust his instincts and for those I don’t know, we just duck inside the house.
The trees and flowers are beginning to bloom. There is a lot of a tree that goes in AZ and in the south. They vine up and around and are yellow, pink, red, and purple. I can’t remember the name – ah – bougainvillea vine – although they are trees here. There is also a tree that has beautiful purple flowers that hang like lilacs but only larger. I don’t know if there is a fragrance because the flowers are high up on the tree and I can’t reach them to smell. Lots of beautiful hydrangeas in all different colors as well.
There are several different kinds of lilies but I think my favorite is a white flower that blossoms like a white lily only it feathers rather than having six leaves like the lily we know. There is also an orange one. I had lots of them at the compound but don’t have any here. I haven’t been able to get flowers to grow here as yet. I want Kelly to bring me some 4 o’clocks and some other hardy flowers to see if I can get them to grow. The lizards like to eat the Zinnias I planted as soon as they came through the ground. We have a couple of pepper plants and some pineapples that are growing. We also have palm nut trees. The blossom is a very big and stiff hanging almost like a huge pine cone where the edges come down and overlap in a smooth formation rather than the traditional pine cones we see at Christmas, etc. Then, as they grow the seeds or palm nuts grow under the “leaves” of the cone. Once they pop out, you can see them as large red orange fruit. When you cut the bunch down from the tree, you pull the palm nut clusters out of the stiff pointy cone – they can really do a number on your hands if you aren’t careful. Most of the time the small girls do it because their fingers are so small they can get in a grab them without being stuck.
Then, after a day or so, you clean the hull off the palm nut, wash them and boil them in water for a few minutes to loosen the outside covering of the nut. Then, you put time in a mortar and pestle and pound them till the oil and butter loosen. Then, back in the pot to boil and strain the fiber from the liquid that is creamy. The liquid is then boiled with meat, fish, pepper, onion and served over rice. It takes almost all day to fix it and is very labor intensive. However, it is the staple of Timothy’s tribe so we have it about once a week. People from the interior eat it every day and it stains their hands an orange color and even their skin has an orange cast to it.
This week I have been doing some of the cooking with some modified American recipes. I like to cook ground corn beef with cabbage, onions and tomato sauce. We put this over rice and they really like it. I also made potato soup with a variation of adding cut up hot dogs to it. They love it; I just eat around the hot dogs. Or cook potatoes, onions, green beans and hot dogs together. One other thing they like is spaghetti, so I try to fix it every couple of weeks. Hamburger is like $5.00 a pound here, so we don’t fix it very often. Chicken and fish are the main things. Their fried chicken is awesome and I finally learned the secret. They parboil it first and then fry it. They put seasoning in the water when on the inside. Fish is generally fried and then added to their soup. Since I don’t like it that way, they hold out some of the fried fish for me to eat separately.
Breakfast is generally bread with peanut butter and honey drizzled on it. It is nutritious and tasty. The little ones like it and it will hold them until they can fix cream of wheat or rice for breakfast.
Last week for my birthday we had a big party. It actually was the one that Timothy promised me in 2007 and then spent all the party money of fixing up the house, and then there wasn’t enough for the party. We probably had 75 people here and served fried chicken, potato salad, and jollif rice which is rice with a variety of meats, tomato sauce and onions all cooked together. It is really tasty and can be stretched to meet the needs of a crowd of people. We got coke, sprite, and orange for the adults and fruit punch mix for the little ones.
We had a great time, and I received 3 beautiful dresses, material, and 2 pairs of African made sandals to wear when I go out of the house.
Alan, Lisa and Riley all went to Alabama to visit friends over Spring break. They had a good time and decided that all of them would go to Disney World together for Christmas. Last year Alans’ went to Arizona so they want to do something different. Since I am not there they are not committed to a family gathering. It is reaching the point where Riley will not be around much longer before college. It just doesn’t seem possible that he is growing up so quickly. In addition to band, he is running track and cross country in the spring. I guess he is pretty good at it and really enjoys it. I know it probably keeps him in shape for band so that when they start marching again he won’t be so sore. Plus he has built up his muscles from marching and that has helped with track. Lisa is doing so well with her new business that she has hired two additional people to work with her. She does the books, marketing, etc. for small businesses where the owner doesn’t have enough to hire someone to do it, but too much for one person to do. Alan is doing well with the insurance too.
Kelly and Bob are doing all right too. Kelly will be here from July 4th to the 23rd. She got her Lilly grant to do research on folk tales from Liberia and the similarities to American folk tales. She will do a bit of teacher training and is bringing a couple of other people with her. The kids here are really excited that she is coming as well. She wants to help Patient in the kitchen and learn how to make authentic Liberian dishes. Bob loves Liberian food and it is good for him. He is back selling cars again and is very content. I don’t know why he ever stopped in the first place. I think he was just tired and Kelly didn’t like the hours he was putting in. Now that they have been married longer, she is pretty much ok with it. They try to save Sundays to do things together.
Well, it is growing late and I need to get my beauty sleep Ha!
Peace and joy,
Anne and Timothy