Simone Lesage

Simone Lesage was a French centenarian who was born in Hauts-de-Seine department, France, on 7 October 1902, though she lived her last years in Aisne, France, having been a resident at the Saint-Georges retirement home since moving in on 16 May 1989 at 86 years of age.
A seamstress and hat-maker in her youth, Lesage was first featured in the media following her 105th birthday in October 2007. It was on that occasion that it was reported she still worked on hats for nothing in return, though the nursing home staff who received them preferred to preserve them instead of wearing them.
Lesage was said to have had a weakness for candy and chocolates, described in translation to be a "guilty pleasure" of hers.
She was reported on once more for her 108th birthday in 2010, an event that the nursing home staff, including its director, Raphaël Gayraud, was heavily involved in. She received various gifts on that occasion, including chocolates, flowers, angel statuettes, and even perfume from Chanel, a fashion company based in France. She was reported to still retain her taste for fine dresses, brought on by the work she had done in her youth. It was said that when she was happy, "her eyes would light up", but when she was unhappy with something, "it would show right away".
She was once more featured in the media on her 109th birthday, along with two other residents of her nursing home, who were also celebrating their birthdays that week. She was said to have put no effort into hiding her joy on that day, as she was "bombarded" with gifts, including a bottle of Chanel No. 5, Chanel's best-selling perfume.
Lesage on her 109th birthday
On that occasion, she took time to admire her gifts one after the other, selecting chocolates to taste and stroking the dresses she had received, assisted by her nurse, Christine Teissedre.
Gayraud also stated on that occasion that Lesage took no medication and was mostly healthy. Though she married sometime in her youth, she had neither children nor family. She was said to have compensated for this with the friends she made while at the nursing home.
She did not ordinarily speak in her last years, something that was attributed to her deteriorating hearing. Despite this, she was able to express herself in other ways, such as the way she shook the hands of those who came to see her.
Lesage died in the morning of 22 February 2012, aged 109 years, 138 days. Her death was said to have caused considerable emotion among the staff at her nursing home, several of whom were said to have been looking forward to celebrating her 110th birthday that October.

some pics

 . . . and dust to dust . . .

working dredging the barrage

girl taking care of a baby at the barrage

kittens - -  just for you Manoba

here comes the rain

This time last year I sat on my porch and watched thunderstorms march across the southern horizon and wept. 

Now its been raining for about 2 weeks.  Not steadily, but rainy season is definitely here.  A couple weeks ago this big storm blew through Kouka (it missed Nampoch).  The marche looked like a tornado hit it.  There was this unfinished church (block walls, no roof) that was completely demolished.  Trees down everywhere.

The rain isnt good for the dam dredging project.  Shoveling/carrying mud is harder than shoveling/carrying dry dirt. 

The funeral that i mention in my last post was a lot of fun.  my cartier and a couple other villages all did theirs at the same time.  My cartier killed 6 cows (which never happens), and a lot of other stuff.  Slitting a cow's throat is kind of intense.  Bry came out for 2 days of it.  We went to a neighboring village and watched charlatan stuff for awhile (in which they tried to figure out why certain dead people had died).  The next day we went from house to house, drank tchakpa and collected hunks of pig.  It was a lot of fun.

I'm glad its started raining.  The haze has been, mostly, washed out of the sky and the landscape looks greener. 
The setting sun still looks like a vanilla wafer

I saw like 4 dead snakes on the road when i was biking into town today.  they come out in rainy season cause their holes flood.  The bad thing is that there is too much vegetation to see them . . .

So Ningan dropped 4 little bundles of joy on my bedroom floor one night a couple weeks ago.  I got back from training in Pagala and discovered that they are now mobile-ish.  Now my house is swarming with cats again.  Two of them apparently cant tell the difference between my foot and mommy . . . .

People talk about guard dogs and stuff, but what about guard cats?  Its so much more comforting to go to sleep at night with the knowledge that any creepy crawlies in my house will be a snack for Nighan.

Speaking of creepy crawlies, I am cursed with a screwed up curiosity . . . the kind that leads me to shine my flashlight down my latrine at night to see whats there.  This resulted in me spraying enough insecticide (the active ingredients of which, im sure, are banned in the US) down there to turn my latrine into a toxic hell.  Ants love immobile cockroaches.

One thing I love about it here is that there is always something new and cool to discover.  Like yesterday, I went up into the northern part of Dankpen prefecture to talk to a couple cantons about this gender equality thing we're going to do in a couple of months.  The last village i went to was up on this ridge overlooking two river valleys.  It was pretty amazing.  I could see Ghana on one side and a large chunk of northern Togo on the other. 

Does time exist where there are no clocks?  Yeah, seasons changes, stuff grows and dies, rains come and go, but does this require "time"-- the minutes and hours that constantly slip by like water droplets in a cosmically infinite ocean?  the more i think about it, the more i find that looking at my phone is a way to measure the passage of my own mortality rather than to see how long ive been sitting in a meeting. In the broad scheme of things, i really dont have much better to do than to talk to people about how to reduce child trafficking or repairing their pump.

My host dad got a cellphone.  Whenever it rings, its a big deal in my compound.  In Togolese culture (i think west african in general), there is this idea of "saluating" people.  That's franglais.  It means that when you see someone you say hi, ask how he or she is doing, ask how the kids are, etc. its a sort of a ritualistic, formulaic process that has deep social connotations.  If you dont saluate someone, its disrespectful, especially an older person.  Conversely, Togolese love it when you can say hi in local language.  No meeting starts without saluating-- late arrivals saluate everyone, and vice versa, no matter who is talking.  Anyway, basically, now that Petit has a cellphone, he calls me like twice a day when Im gone to say hi and see if i'm still alive.

So i decided to extend for a 3rd year. in case i havent mentioned this yet

Watching my host mom with my little host brother, david, is interesting.  She's tall, taller than Petit, has a gruff voice, and kind of an intimidating presence.  When I first got to post, I was kind of scared of her.  But watching her one on one with david is really cute.  He's a year and a half now, he's walking, sort of speaking, and not as scared of me as he used to be.  The other day he tried to help her lift a basin full of stuff up on her head.  He had this big grin on his face.  I cant really describe her reaction except to say that its probably in the dictionary next to "a mother's loving smile/laugh at her child."  Ive been meaning to blog about it for awhile, but i find it hard to describe.  Its just this example of unadulterated maternal affection that I dont see often. 

Yesterday we stopped in a village to fix one of the motos and like 20 kids came up to shake my hand and say hi.  then it started being a dare for the kids who were scared of me.  Just one of those things that makes me laugh on a daily basis.

I wrote this several weeks ago . . .

 . . . and i dont really remember what it was about, so happy reading

There are a couple of things I miss about the US:
~1. The ability to buy a $1 candy bar with a $50 bill.  Do candy bars still cost $1?  Here, breaking a 10 mille note (what usually comes out of my bank’s ATM machine, when it works) requires foresight and planning.  Like knowing which store is likely to have enough small bills to give you change without sending a kid on a 10 minute search for more.  You have to plan your shopping trips in order of the denomination of bills you can use.
~2.  Fans
~3. Decent haircuts.  Seriously, I’d come back just for a good haircut.  Here, haircuts for me are like Christmas—I never know what I’m going to get. Like today for example.  My barber sort of knows how to cut caucasian hair, although he shares the Togolese dislike of anything resembling bangs.  Hence why I look like I have a huge forehead in all my photos.  His clippers sort of cut my hair, after several passes.  He plays catch with the guards because they fall off constantly.  I sweat under the sheet.  I usually go home and use scissors to even out the random clumps he didn’t get.  Today, though, was especially special.  My barber shares his power line with a welder.  Every time the welder welded, the power went out. And he must have been building something big today. For every 10 seconds of cutting, there was 30 seconds of waiting.  Oh well, I have short hair now, that’s all that matters.

There is this little lake near Nampoch that was built sometime in the misty past by someone with a bulldozer for the purpose of watering cattle during the dry season.  Over the years, the lake filled up with mud, thus reducing its storage capacity.  A local NGO organized, and found funding for, a project to dredge the lake.  A lot of my friends are working on this.  I go down there some days to drink tchackpa, an essential part of a gathering of any type, and hang out with them.  Basically, people are paid a certain amount of money (1 mille 350 CFA) per day for a certain number of days (40) to work on this project.  Men shovel mud into piles, then into basins that women carry to the edges of the dam and dump.  There are like 5 wheelbarrows, but they are used more for lounging than for hauling dirt. Its not easy work.  Yesterday I shoveled an amount of lake bed in about an hour that I could have moved with a Bobcat in 5 minutes.  Or less.  Paying 100 people for 40 days of work in the dry season is better, and probably cheaper, than hiring a bulldozer or something like that to come do the same work in a fraction of the time.

The next time you are unhappy with life in the US, google images “noma”

I just worked out how about 1,350 CFA is in dollars.  About $3. 

Tomorrow is the start of a funeral fete in my cartier.  The simplest way to describe funerals is like this—the funeral doesn’t end after the burial.  There is a certain period of dancing/feasting/drinking etc that I’ve talked about before.  Then, after that, there is another period of the same thing.  This second period can happen a year later, or several years later.  Usually is what seems to happen is a group of households who have outstanding funerals get together and have a huge party every couple of years.  March is the month for this in the north.  Last year I went to one of these parties in a small village near Nampoch.  One of the traditions is that each household butchers pigs and gives chunks of meat to visitors.  I’d never seen so many dead animals in one place before.

Conmemorating Expo92

20 years!!! It´s a long time... It´s been even celebrated on the portada of the feria de Sevilla. It was a great event. Hundreds of words have been written about it, you can have a look on the internet but there are about 210.000.000 entries about it. No, I don´t want you to copy any of these articles or information., I would like you to ask any in your family to tell you something about it from his/her personal experience, it maybe an anecdote, his/her opinion, in 200 words.

Jiroemon Kimura, World's Oldest Man, Turns 115

The above image from Japanese television shows Jiroemon Kimura, a resident of Kyōtango, Kyoto Prefecture, Japan, on his 115th birthday on 19 April 2012. He is the first male to achieve this age in over five years, and the third undisputed male to do so in history.
The world's oldest living man from 14 April 2011 following the death of Walter Breuning of Montana, United States, Kimura's 115th birthday comes half a month after that of Dina Manfredini of Iowa, United States, and marks the first time in six years there have been three living 115-year-olds together.
Kimura is currently the world's third-oldest living person, the world's oldest Asian, and Japan's oldest person, distinctions he has held since the passing of Chiyono Hasegawa of Saga, Japan, on 2 December 2011, aged 115 years, 12 days. Hasegawa, at her death, was ranked as the world's second-oldest living person, behind Besse Cooper of Georgia, United States, born 26 August 1896.
Kimura conversing with relatives on the occasion of his 115th birthday
Kimura is also the last living Asian born in 1897, and the only living male born in the 1800s. Following the death of Tanekichi Onishi of Hokkaidō, Japan, on 11 September 2011, Kimura is also currently the only living male supercentenarian in Japan.
Aged 113 years 360 days at the time of Breuning's death, he is the oldest man ever to assume the title of world's oldest living male, a distinction that had previously been held by Joan Riudavets-Moll of the Balearic Islands, Spain, who was aged 113 years 287 days when he became the world's oldest man in 2003.
Kimura also holds the distinction of being the oldest man ever to have fathered children in his life, as the only two men older than him in history never fathered any children during their lives. They were Christian Mortensen of California, United States, who died in 1998 aged 115 years 252 days, and Emiliano Mercado Del Toro of Isabela, Puerto Rico, who died in 2007 aged 115 years 156 days.
At his 114th birthday, Kimura was only the sixth male in history to achieve that age, and on that day, he mentioned to the media his survival of the 7.6-magnitude Kyoto earthquake in 1927.
He is the oldest man ever from Japan as of 26 October 2011, then having surpassed the final age of the previous titleholder, Yukichi Chuganji, who died aged 114 years, 189 days. Shigechiyo Izumi, however, was for over twenty years recognised as Japan's oldest man (and person) at the alleged age of 120 years 237 days, though his case was eventually called into question and subsequently rejected as of the 2012 edition of the Guinness Book of World Records.
Kimura, who became the oldest living Japanese male on 19 June 2009 aged 112 years 61 days following the death of Tomoji Tanabe of Miyazaki Prefecture, cited small portions of food as the key to a long life.
A former postman and farmer, he is also the third-oldest known and undisputed Japanese person as of 11 April 2012. He had then surpassed the final age of 114 years 357 days achieved by the previous rank-holder, Kama Chinen, who died in Okinawa on 2 May 2010.
Click for a report on his birthday, and click on these links for video coverage of Kimura's 115th birthday.

Enjoying a film

Some friends, my daughters an myself spent last weekend by the seashore. The weather was not very good so we had to do some activities in order to have an enjoyable time instead of going to the beach as it was impossible. One of the things was going to the cinema. The female group of us decided on this film because it was fine for both, girls with less than eight years old and "girls"with more than eight. We had a nice time, it is a different version, they have made some changes in the story but it is still a fine, lovely fairy tale and we all laughed and smiled with the film, which was the aim.
I won´t tell you the film as it is not fair, but I would like you to tell me the last film you have watched. Remember to use connectors to show sequence as they appear on page132 on the book of 2º Bachillerato and on page of the book of 1º Bachillerato. About 200 words :)

Dina Manfredini, World's Second-Oldest, Turns 115

Dina Guerri-Manfredini, a resident of Johnston, Iowa, and the world's second-oldest living person, turned 115 years of age on 4 April 2012.
Born Dina Guerri in Emilia-Romagna, Italy, to Italian-descent parents on 4 April 1897, Manfredini emigrated to the United States at 23 years of age with her husband, Riccardo Manfredini, also known there as Paul Manfredini.
Manfredini, who had at least one son, Dante Manfredini, became the world's second-oldest living person at 114 years 242 days on 2 December 2011, following the death of Chiyono Hasegawa of Saga, Japan, at the age of 115 years, 12 days. From 13 December 2011, she is also the oldest person ever born in Italy, having surpassed Venere Pizzinato-Papo of Veneto, Italy, who died on 2 August 2011, aged 114 years, 252 days. Consequently, she is the first Italian-born in history to reach age 115.
Manfredini, seen sitting behind her 115th-birthday cake
Manfredini is currently the only living female born in the year 1897, following the death of Oregonian Delma Kollar on 24 January 2012, aged 114 years, 85 days. She is one of two surviving people born in that year, with the other being Japanese male Jiroemon Kimura, who is 15 days younger than Manfredini and the world's oldest living man from the death of Walter Breuning on 14 April 2011.
Manfredini has been the oldest living person born in 1897 following the 29 March 2011 death of Shige Hirooka of Osaka, Japan. From 16 June 2011, she is also the oldest person ever born in 1897, then having surpassed Hirooka's final age of 114 years 72 days.
Manfredini, who lived on her own in a house until she was 110, is also the oldest ever person to live in Iowa state from 7 December 2011, though the title of oldest native Iowan remains with her predecessor, Neva Morris, who died on 6 April 2010, aged 114 years, 246 days.
Manfredini is the 26th person in history to reach 115, and the third person to do so in the past seven months. She is, however, the fourth person in the past seven months to be recognised by the Gerontology Research Group as having reached an age of at least 115; Mary Ann Rhodes, who was not validated by the group until 9 March 2012, was born in Ontario, Canada, on 12 August 1882, and died there on 3 March 1998, aged 115 years, 203 days. Click on these two links for confirmation of Manfredini's 115th birthday.