Wednesday, September 11, 2013

How I've Changed


People often ask me how I’ve changed since I’ve returned from my Peace Corps service.  I usually tell them about my new level of patience, and how I’ve come to understand what is important to me in life, or if they’re a close friend I may tell them how I’ve become comfortable with who I am, including my hairline.  However, more recently, especially with today being 9/11, I’ve realized that since I've been abroad I've developed a new understanding of those who practice Islam.

I know that today is a hard day for all Americans.  I can remember exactly when and where I was on 9/11 and the goosebumps that ran through my body as I saw the plane crash into the first tower.  I’ve seen many beautiful posts from friends and family members remembering those we lost, but I’ve also seen some that simply eat at my heart.  The one that encouraged me to write follows:

“i am not usually outspoken, especially when it comes to political issues. In two days 1 million Muslims are marching on Washington. The SAME day they destroyed the twin towers.”

This quote was attached to a picture of an astonishing rally of bikers.  Seeing people come together is the most beautiful thing in this world.  The Washington News reported that the bikers organized the ride to Washington D.C. in part to protest a Muslim rally.  I admire the bikers coming together for those we lost, but find the comments regarding the protest of the Muslim rally hard to wrap my mind around. This is mainly because "they" did not attack the twin towers.  

Let me show you who "they" are...



Many of you have seen this woman before.
She was my host mother in my first village.  She cared for
me as if I were her own child.  When I told her I was leaving
she wept as if I was dying.  She's Muslim.





This is Musa.  He was my host brother.  He was extremely
diligent in his prayers.  He is one of the hardest working
children I know.  He is passionate about learning.  He loved
to sing Bob Marley's "Three Little Birds" and watch
sunsets with me.  He is Muslim.

  
This is Hawa.  She was my host mother in my
second village. She always did her work
with a smile on her face, and did
all she could to please her family and others.
She would have given me the world,
if I had asked for it.  She's Muslim.

This is my entire host family in Taibatou.  They have gathered together to pray in this picture.  They fed me, protected me, taught me, but most importantly ACCEPTED me.  They are all Muslim.

Returning, I wish that everyone could take a step outside of their box to get to know what it's like to be in someone else's box.  When it comes to religions and faith, they are truly beautiful when practiced correctly.  I wish this world could start concentrating on our similar beliefs, like our beliefs in love, kindness, or good deeds, rather than those that divide us.  This kind of answer is pretty hefty for the normal conversation, so I'll stick to my typical answers for now.  However, those of you who have followed me throughout this will know the truth.

Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts.  May God bless you all.


Monday, August 19, 2013

Two Words


We often use two words to express our gratitude and appreciation.  However, I find that they seem so small and insignificant in comparison to how I feel.

Throughout the past two years I have felt more love and support than I’ve experienced in my entire life.  I’ve received countless messages and letters with words of encouragement, packages thoughtfully put together with sentiments from home, assistance in the projects I’ve undertook, and even a few brave souls that came to experience The Gambia with me. 

How do you show gratitude to those who have helped you through the most challenging part of your life?  Thank you just doesn’t seem like enough.  I hope I can show my appreciation in a greater way.  I hope to lead my life in a way that says thank you.  

Until I can show you, please accept my thank you for now.  My heart is filled with gratitude and love for each and every one of you.  From the very pit of my soul and being, thank you.

I couldn't have done this without you!

Water NAATA!



The water is running at Nyakoi Upper Basic and Senior Secondary School!  Thank you to everyone who supported us through this project.  We received so many donations that not only were we able to provide the school with new solar panels and a pump, but we were also able to repair and fix the broken taps and pipes.  With the remaining donations, we supported Gambia Lifewater Project by providing money for other taps and pumps to be fixed throughout The Gambia, and we purchased 40 children’s books to donate to schools that have volunteers administering teacher book clubs.

I cannot thank you enough for your support.  You have truly made a difference in many lives including mine.  Thank you for your generosity.  May the good come back to you.

Justin and I celebrating the installation of the new solar panels.

Water will be running in the classrooms at the start of the school year!
Students will no longer have to leave class to get drinks.

The extra donations we received went to making repairs.
Here you see a flip flop being used to stop the gushing water.
A store valve is now in its place. 

A welder came to secure the bolts to the solar panels.
All precautions have been made to ensure the water will be running for many years to come.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Help me end my service with a SPLASH!


Throughout my service I’ve stayed away from projects involving money.  I lived by the thought that had I been interested in money related projects I would’ve stayed in America where I was comfortable and sent the money from there.  Instead, I decided to give two years of my life and offer my knowledge and skills where they were needed.  I felt fulfilled doing this for most of my service until one month ago when Buba walked into my life.

Buba is known by most as Justin Spees.  We were friends in San Diego and he contacted me in May saying he’d like to come see how I have been living.  After seeing pictures and posts he felt compelled to help my community and wanted to see if there was anything he could do to aid in the process of development. 

Since I had moved to Nyakoi in August of 2012 I had concentrated on the lower basic school and improving the teachers’ reading skills and teaching strategies.  I had turned a blind eye to the community as a whole.  Buba pushed me to step out of my comfort zone and ask the villagers about the community’s needs.  A lengthy list was formed, however, there was one issue that stood out. 

Nyakoi Upper Basic and Senior Secondary School, where 3 of my siblings attend, has been without running water since 2010.  The solar panels that had been providing power to pump water for the past 15 years are no longer working.  Buba and I went to see the situation for ourselves and were devastated by what we found.

Buba following Mr. Kinteh to see the non-working solar panels

Mr. Kinteh, the headmaster at the school, showed us around the school grounds.  We saw inoperable sinks, toilets that can’t be used, dried up taps, and a plot of land that once was inhabited by banana and mango trees now dry and barren.  In order to bring water to the school, the caretaker, Lawo, pedals 200 meters and fills two large containers that he straps to the back of his bike.  He and the other caretaker do this trip approximately 20 times a day to meet the needs of the 449 students attending the school. 

A sink where students once washed their hands

Lawo, the caretaker, preparing his bike to fetch water
Obviously, not having running water at a school is a problem.  Not only does it make the caretaker’s job harder, but it also means that cleanliness and hygiene become a problem as well.  The sinks in the classrooms that once allowed children to quench their thirst have become storage facilities and students must exit class and miss out on learning to get a drink.  The trees that once provided fruit that produced revenue to support the school’s needs are nonexistent. 

Understanding the issue, I can no longer turn a blind eye.  Water is a basic need that everyone deserves the right to.  I’m writing this to ask for your help.  Below is a link to the project Buba is spearheading.  It provides more detailed information and ways you can help.  Our goal is to raise the remaining funds needed and make our splash by July 15th.  Please remember that every drop counts. 


http://www.slideshare.net/JustinSpeesMBA/nyakoi-school-water-pump-and-solar-project

Sunday, March 10, 2013

World Read Aloud Day


March 6th was World Read Aloud Day.  I’ve been reading non-stop with my teachers, so this day couldn’t have come at a better time.  It was a great way to start transferring the knowledge the teachers have been receiving to the students.  For many teachers, it was the first time they had read a children’s book aloud to their class.

Unfortunately, there is not a reading curriculum in The Gambia.  There is simply an English curriculum.  Children are not taught to make predictions, to analyze text, or to make connections.  When I finish a book with my teachers and ask what they want the children to learn from the text, they often offer me a summary of the story.  I’ve been digging deeper with my teachers by having them look for the lessons and morals in books. 

Recently, a friend sent me The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein.  As I read through the story and tried to produce a moral, I decided to search the Internet to find out what others thought.  I was surprised to find that it is an extremely controversial book.  For those of you that have not read the story, I will offer a quick summary.

A young boy goes to play on a tree everyday.  The boy loves the tree and the tree loves the boy.  However, the boy grows older and soon he no longer wants to climb the tree’s trunk or swing from its branches.  The boy has other wants and needs.  First, he wants money.  So, the tree offers her apples to sell.  Then he wants a house, subsequently, the tree gives him her branches.  He wants a boat to travel the world.  She gives him her trunk.  The tree gives and gives until she has nothing left.  The boy returns when he is old.  All the tree has to offer is a place to sit on what's left of her, her stump.  Fortunately, all the boy wants is a place to sit.  The tree is happy and the boy is happy.

Critics say the boy in the story is greedy and ungrateful.  I don't see it like that.  I agree with the light-hearted readers.  Many have declared that the story is about unconditional love.  Readers related the book to a mother's love for a child.  I see the story of love.  I can relate to the text because I experience that love as a teacher.  As a teacher you give and give, and all you want in return is to see your students grow and flourish. 

I’m delighted to say that I have been giving to my teachers and they are doing just that.  In the past 2 weeks, I have sat down and read 41 books with my teachers.  They are making connections between the texts and finding morals.  More importantly, they’re passing on their knowledge to their students.  On World Read Aloud Day, I had 8 teachers say thank you in the best way ever by reading to their students. 














Saturday, February 23, 2013

Lacy Loses It


     Lacy and her friends had just celebrated their 600th day overseas vacationing in Cape Verde, and had returned to Senegal on their 602nd day.  They arrived in Dakar, Senegal a little after noon, and were ready to make their way back to The Gambia.  It was February 20th, 2013 when Lacy lost it.

     She exited the airport reciting the little French she knew in her head.  Senegal and The Gambia are negotiating societies, so she would have to bargain for a taxi ride to the car park.  She knew that as soon as the Senegalese cab drivers saw the color of her skin they would try to get as much money as they could.  Armed with what the price of a ride should be, she was ready to battle.

     She walked briskly past the taxis waiting just outside the airport’s doors.  She knew they had to pay a tax to park at the airport and would hike their prices for that reason.  She headed to the street and was quickly greeted by a driver.

     “Ou allez-vous?” the driver asked.

     “Nous allons Garage Pompier,” she responded while trying to imitate a French accent.  “Combien ca coute?”

     “Cinq mille.”

     “Non.”  She knew the price should be 1,500 cfa or une mille cinq cent.  He offered a price 3 times that.  She continued to walk as he slowly trailed her in his taxi.  Holding up four fingers he offered quatre mille.

     “Non, c’est trop cher.  Une mille cinq cent,” she countered.

     He held up 3 fingers, “Trois mille.”

     “Non, c’est trop cher,” she repeated.  “Une mille cinq cent.”

     She quickened her pace while searching the streets for another taxi.  He continued to trail her and finally said, “D’accord.”  He motioned to her to cross the street to an area he was allowed to park.  When reaching the car, the driver got out to put her luggage in the car.  Before putting her bags in the trunk of his car she made sure of the price.  “Une mille cinq cent?” she asked.  With the response of, “Oui,” she triumphantly put her backpack in the back and entered the car.

     Her friends, Eduardo and Cat, had been following her.  They were also making the journey to The Gambia.  She proudly told them that it would be 500 cfa each.  They pooled their money together and settled in for the ride.

     Reaching the car park, they informed the driver they were going to Banjul so he would take them to the cars traveling in that direction.  When he stopped, they adjusted themselves and set down the money they had agreed upon.

An image of a Senegalese car park found on seneweb.com

     The driver picked up the money and slammed it back down.  “Non!” he shouted.  “Cinq mille.”
Lacy is not a person who generally cusses.  Hearing this man exclaim cinq mille and slam the money back down made all sorts of inappropriate words fill her head.  A mix of English and French started to spill from her mouth.  “You said une mille cinq cent!” she raised her voice.

     The man was not accepting their 1,500 cfa.  He had their bags locked in the trunk.  Lacy began to feel helpless.  She was trying to grab her bags out of the trunk from the inside of the car, but they wouldn’t fit through the space.  She was trapped.  She didn’t want to exit the car for fear the driver would flee with their luggage.  She had no idea what to do.  Anger washed over her.

     Eduardo and Cat re-entered the car as the driver harshly informed him he was taking them to the police.   “Please do,” Lacy arrogantly thought, as if the police would help her upon hearing her side.
He slowly drove the three through the car park bringing in as many bystanders into the situation as possible.  By the time they reached where the police were supposed to be they had 20 to 30 Senegalese men surrounding them.  The driver got out of the car with an expression that showed he was a pro at this scam. 

     While Lacy would realize explaining her case would prove to be pointless later, she got out of the car with much more haste and anger than the others.  She began screaming how the negotiation had taken place.  The Senegalese men delighted in the entertainment she provided.  She asked Eduardo to figure out a way to get their bags out of the car, but it seemed to be the only way to get the bags was with the key.   The driver had removed the keys from the car as they were looking for a lever of some sort to pop the trunk.  They must have forgotten they were no longer in America.

     Feeling trapped and helpless, Lacy’s legs began to shake.  She looked that driver in his stone cold eyes and shouted, “You’re a very bad man!”  “A very bad man!” she exclaimed again shaking her finger at him. 

     The scene continued and at one point Lacy even brought Allah into the matter.  She would laugh at this later.  She yelled at the driver that Allah was watching him, and that he would judge him.  Oooh, Lacy.

     It seemed there was no way out of the situation without paying the driver more.  Cat calmly continued the negotiation in Wolof and decided they would pay the driver 3,000 cfa, twice as much as they had agreed upon.  Lacy wanted out of there.  She collected the extra money from her purse, but said she wasn’t giving him anything until he got the bags out of the trunk. 

     The driver opened the trunk with a smug look on his face.  Eduardo and Lacy collected their bags and began to walk off.  Money in hand, Lacy thought about taking off without paying the man.  Cat yelled after her that they had to pay.  She turned around and with Cat, Eduardo, and now 50 Senegalese men watching she threw the money on the ground.  Placing the money in that man’s hand was not an option.

     It probably took Lacy 20 steps before she began feeling like an idiot.  She normally was a cool, calm, and collected person.  She had obviously reached a breaking point.  After 20 months of being hassled and judged she finally exploded.  Lacy is a reflective person by nature, so she immediately began brainstorming ways she could have handled the situation better.

Here is her list of shoulda, coulda, woulda’s:

1.  Shoulda kept her bags inside the car and not put them in the trunk.
2.  Shoulda walked off from the taxi driver completely when he started her at such an outrageous price.
3.  Coulda realized that 1,500 cfa is around 3 dollars, and definitely not worth losing your cool over.
4.  Woulda sat in the car and remained silent keeping the driver from other business, had they not been  
     in a hurry.
5.  Shoulda kept Allah out of the matter.
6.  Coulda been a big girl, kept her cool, and handed the money over.

     However, if those actions had taken place, then there would be no story to tell.  Next time, Lacy.  Next time...

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Thank You, Universe.



     “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”  Paulo Coelho’s quote came to mind as I watched skydivers land before me on my last day of being 29. 

     I was watching the sunset, because we all know that’s what I do, when I saw everyone around me start looking up at the sky.  I heard a plane and thought, “Come on now, I know we don’t see these very often, but it’s just a plane.”  However, soon I realized the bystanders were watching people JUMP from the plane, something completely worth watching.

     I’ve always wanted to skydive and had even had the idea that I’d get married skydiving.  The thought behind that was that I’d knock out the two scariest things you can do with one stone.  Yet, I saw the opportunity to do something I’ve always dreamed of doing present itself right before my eyes, so it seemed that I might need two stones.

     Interested, I walked over to the team as they were packing up their parachutes to inquire about the jump.  It turned out they were doing one more jump the following day, which just happened to be my 30th birthday.  It would be the last jump of the season, and they only had one spot left.  The universe was conspiring…

      I took the man’s card while expressing my interest, but didn’t commit.  I’m a planner and a person that seeks advice so I had some work to do.   My biggest concern was the cost of the jump.  It was 300 U.S. dollars, which may not sound like much to you, but when you only make 220 dollars a month you don’t really budget in jumping out of planes.  On top of that, the only money I had brought down to Kombo was the money I planned on taking to Cape Verde.  If I jumped I would be cutting my budget for the trip in half. 
     I first consulted my travel/30th birthday buddy, Joanna.  She gave me the green light without any hesitation and said we would make things work in Cape Verde.  Next, I went to the fam.  My brother was online and reminded me of the role money should play in one’s life.  I had 2 yes’s.  Now, for the parents… My dad was once an airborne ranger in the U.S. Army so after questioning me on where I’d be landing his advice was simply, “Be loose,” meaning if you land in the water instead of the beach don’t freak out.  Check.  3 yes’s. 

     My mom had talked me out of skydiving once already, so I was worried what her reaction would be.  When I informed her of my plans, her initial response was to appeal to my money conscious side.  When she saw that wasn’t working, she seemed to give in with an, “I’m nervous,” and offered me over to God.  I left her with the comfort that I’d sleep on it, but unfortunately for her nerves my desire only grew through the night.

     I woke up and called the man running the show to see if the spot was still open.  The universe was still conspiring.  The spot was waiting for me. 

     The story continues.  I nearly missed my opportunity to skydive because of a hair appointment gone wrong.  My friend, Laura, showed up like an angel sent from heaven right as I realized my hair had been bleached white and was falling out.  She then sat with me, missing her appointment, while the hairdresser turned my locks grey in an attempt to fix them.  Time was becoming a problem and I was becoming frustrated.   Laura, obviously given to me by the universe, helped me remember it’s just hair.  I decided to forgo the cut I had paid for until I returned from my vacation, and made my way to the locker room to put on my pajamas to go skydiving.  Since the universe had set this up, I was slightly unprepared. 

     I’d love to go on to tell you about the jump, but it’s really something you’ve got to experience for yourself.  My words won’t do it justice.  May the universe be with you.

Signing my life insurance over to my mother






John, my jumping buddy


Laura, my angel




Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Yes, We Can!


“Anything you can do I can do better.
I can do anything better than you.
No, you can’t.
Yes, I can.
No, you can’t.
Yes, I can.

Anything we can do we can do better.
We can do anything we want to do.
Yes, we can.
Yes, we can.
Yes, we can.
Yes, we can.
YES! WE CAN!”

     The tune above played throughout my head as I sat through sessions on day one of the 2-day GAD training.  GAD is an acronym that stands for Gender and Development.  The purpose of the training was to discuss issues relating to gender in The Gambia, participate in activities related to gender and development, create a plan of action to encourage equality, and take the information and activities learned back to our communities. 

     I invited Mr. Drammeh, a grade 2 teacher at my school, to attend the training with me.  I asked him to come because he has energy, enthusiasm, and an open-mind.  I found I made the right choice throughout the training as well as when we returned to Nyakoi.

Mr. Drammeh and I at the GAD training
     We discussed gender roles, family planning, working with men as partners, and more sensitive subjects like FGM/C, (Female Genitalia Mutilation/Cutting).  Mr. Drammeh and I held side discussions about each of the topics.  I absorbed every word from Mr. Drammeh, and loved having the opportunity to pick his brain about subjects that rarely come up in the school setting.

     Lightening the mood on Day 2, Mr. Drammeh and I presented the song that had been playing through my head on the previous day.  After modeling, we asked the audience to join in.  The women started off singing, “Anything you can do I can do better.  I can do anything better than you.”  The men responded, “No, you can’t,” and the song went on.  After the men sang the verse to the women, we all sang together holding hands saying, “Anything we can do we can do better.  We can do anything we want to do.”  “No, you can’t,” turned to, “Yes, we can,” making it the most glorious cheesy moment ever. J

Mr. Drammeh and I modeling the song
   
     Cat continued the fun with a game displaying gender roles.  Mr. Drammeh’s energy and enthusiasm showed as he swept the ground with a pretend baby on his back.  The smiles and laughs as men put buckets on their heads and women pretended to brew attaya made light of the differences placed between genders in The Gambia.






     When it comes to gender and development, there is much work to be done.  This is true not only in The Gambia, but across the rest of the world as well.  We ended the training singing our song with extra emphasis on, “YES! We CAN!”  Before we can make any changes, we’ve got to believe we can.  Check out the pictures below of Mr. Drammeh believing he can.











Sunday, December 30, 2012

It Only Takes One


     In the past month, I’ve spent close to two weeks away from site.  Talk to any Peace Corps Volunteer and you’ll find that any time away from site is accompanied with guilt.  You experience guilt for being away from your family, guilt for enjoying things that they don’t have the opportunity to enjoy, and guilt for being away from work.  Fortunately, the two weeks that I have been away from site are for work, so the guilt is only “small, small” as they say here.

     In the middle of December, primary teacher trainers were called to Kombo to participate in a literacy workshop.  We were told a literacy consultant would be flying in from Washington D.C. to speak with us about teaching literacy in The Gambia.  We were asked to bring a counterpart, and instructed that our counterpart should be the main person we work with in achieving literacy at our schools.  Choosing a counterpart was a no-brainer for me. 

     I had started a teachers’ book club at the beginning of the 2012 school year with the hopes that if I could get teachers reading books that they would then share them with their students.  I asked the teachers to read children’s books and then fill out reports stating what happened in the story and how they could use the book in their classrooms.  I provided incentives, set goals, and created a chart to monitor their progress.  I wanted the teachers’ book club to serve as a model for the implementation of book clubs within their own classrooms. 

     Since the start of the book club, 5 teachers have participated.  1 teacher has reported on 2 books.  3 teachers have reported on 1 book, and 1 teacher has gone above and beyond. 

     His name is Mr. Touray.  He’s a grade one teacher at Nyakoi Lower Basic and is considered a teacher trainee by the ministry of education.  He’s in his second year at The Gambia College, and will become a qualified teacher after his third year.   He is my number one participant in my teachers’ book club.  After he read 20 books, (the goal I had set), we stopped counting and continued to discuss children’s literature with the pure goal of improving the students’ knowledge and education through books.

Mr. Touray

    When I received the text from my program manager that we needed to invite a counterpart to the training, Mr. Touray was the only teacher that came to mind.  I had just had a conversation with him in the library where he was thanking me for helping him.  I cut him off saying, “No, thank you, Mr. Touray!  You make my stay here worthwhile.  You give me a purpose for being here.”  All smiles, I received the text and called Mr. Touray back in the room.

     As he walked over to the library, I asked, “Mr. Touray do you believe in God?”  He responded, “Of course,” so I told him I thought he was listening in on our conversation.  I read the text out loud to Mr. Touray, and when I got to the part about bringing our number one ally in literacy teaching I said, “That’s you, Mr. Touray!”  As he blushed, I explained that God was creating more opportunities for us to work together.

     We attended the workshop on the 13th and 14th of December.  We discussed the components of teaching literacy, ways to conduct read alouds, how to engage students in literacy through word games, and teaching literacy with limited resources.  Joanie, the literacy consultant from D.C., heard about the book club I started in Nyakoi and thought the idea should be shared, so I also presented at the workshop.  I informed the teachers and volunteers of the process in starting the book club, its goals, and was able to provide a testimonial through Mr. Touray. 

Mr. Touray using children's literature in his Grade 1 class

    The workshop was a success in more ways than one.  Volunteers and counterparts walked away with ideas and knowledge of how to get books into the classroom, words on the walls, and language in the children’s minds.  Mr. Touray and I were able to share our success story, and I was away from site without an ounce of guilt. 

    Feeling guilt free, I heard of another workshop taking place at the end of the month.  Counterparts were once again being requested to attend.  After the high that was created from the literacy training, I knew I needed to find a way to make it happen. 

    More to come about my experience attending GAD Day with Mr. Drammeh…

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Payback


In the past ten years I’ve lived with many different people.  Some I’ve got along great with while others are on the blocked list on Facebook.  Living with people can be a challenge.  I fully accept fault in all my living scenarios where it is due.  For those of you reading who I’ve lived with and nagged at for leaving bread crumbs on the counter (Cody), or nearly ended our friendship by bringing my cat into our home (Miss), or piled loads of boxes in the entry way for long periods of time (Jess), know that I’m now receiving my pay back. 

Meet my roommates of 2012…

Rascal the Rat

He makes all sorts of noise at night and has eaten through my screen door.  Before I had the chance to see him, I tried to kill him by putting poison on peanut butter.  His brother, Wilfred, got to it first and was removed with a shovel from my backyard.  Whenever I see Rascal defenselessly huddled underneath my bed outside I feel terribly sorry for killing his brother.  I just wish there was some way I could let him know that it is not okay to eat through my door.


Pidge

Like Wilfred, Pidge is now in a better place, but I didn’t murder her.  In fact, I did all I could to make her last moments more comfortable.  I stepped out in my backyard to find her on my porch.  I was within two feet of her and she didn’t fly away, which instantly led me to believe something was wrong with her.  I brought out a plate of water and as I stepped inside she hopped slowly over, soaked her feet, and took a drink.  I watched as she blinked slowly at me in what seemed to be a thank you.  As the day went on I continued to check on her and found she had settled in her resting place.  Her neck dropped, and soon she laid completely on her side.  I asked for the shovel once again and handed her over to my father.  May her sweet little soul rest in peace.





Those Who Shall Not Be Named

My hatred for my following roommates matches Harry Potter’s hatred for He Who Shall Not Be Named.  These things attack by the millions at night and burrow in dark places.  They crossed the line when they started entering into my bed net.  I’ve been at war with them for the past month and am hoping they move out for good when cold season comes.







Teddy

Teddy the Toad was cute and I liked him.  He was fighting the good fight by eating Those Who Shall Not Be Named.  Unfortunately, Teddy got caught in crossfire.  He was in the wrong place at the wrong time when BOP insecticide filled the room and his lungs.  I’ll admit that it was my finger that released the spray, but I’d like Teddy and all of his loved ones to know that I had no intentions of hurting him.  Had I known he was there, I would have saved him.


Batty

Batty isn’t pictured, however I do have his voice on video.  Batty enjoys waking me up with shrill sounds at 2:30 in the morning.  He’s the least favorite of my roommates, but I find his shrill noises only happen when his home has been disturbed.  Thus, he does his thing and I do mine.  However, he does throw in an occasional dive bomb in the backyard every now and then to let me know who is boss.  I usually let out a curse word or two and retreat inside, acknowledging the hierarchy.




The Brat Pack

The Brat Pack is a group of lizards that don’t receive individual names because there are far too many of them.  They think they own my backyard, yet run every time I come anywhere near them.  They pull pranks now and then by jumping down to my feet from the roof and scattering about.  This, I don’t believe is payback for encounters with previous roommates, but for the time when I was 8 or so and my mom brought her boyfriend over for the 4th.  I threw snaps at his feet instructing him to dance.  When the brat pack pulls their pranks, I dance just like he did and let out a tune as well.  Guess they’re not the only brats…