Archive for the ‘Musings’ category

“Spring is the time of plans and projects.”

May 20, 2019

The house was chilly this morning so I was surprised to find outside was so warm. It is already 66˚. The sun is bright. The sky was cloudy, but now it is blue. There is a wind.

When I was a kid, some things drove me crazy. Knee socks which didn’t stay up but rather piled around my ankles was one of them. Women who wore Kleenex on their heads as hats at mass was another. It looked silly, and I never understood why. They knew they needed hats. Creamed corn looked disgusting to me. Girls who squealed drove me crazy. I wanted to slap them. A peanut butter and grape jelly sandwich was never a favorite. The jelly seeped through the bread and left a mess in the middle of the sandwich. Rough towels and scratchy sheets are on the list. We didn’t have a dryer. I hated when my shoelaces broke, and I had to knot then. They never tied tightly after that. Our phone party line was a major irritant. We had to wait for Mrs. McGaffigan to stop talking so we could make and receive calls. I think she listened. I know we did.

As I got older, irritants didn’t disappear, but I learned to tolerate the old ones better and got a few new ones.

Crooked pictures need straightening right away, and I hate hauling my laundry up two sets of stairs. Sometimes when I am on the deck, the guy who lives behind me puts his music up so loud I end up going inside the house. He’s the one who thought Gracie was a wolf. Ketchup on scrambled eggs is just gross. Ketchup on hot dogs defies tradition.

Henry has been out for the longest time, and I want to finish so I can join him. Today needs to be savored.

“When I get up early, I appreciate the quiet time to enjoy a coffee or water my plants. “

May 19, 2019

We have sun. We have a blue sky dotted with a few puffy clouds. The wind is strong and all the trees are being blown about. The air has that morning chill of early spring, but it will get warmer. The birds were singing away when I went to get the papers. Today is already easy to like.

When I was a kid, most times I walked to Sunday mass. I liked sitting in the half pew in the way back because were was no kneeler so I got to sit the whole time. I had a dime to put in the basket. In the summer, the early masses were really crowded. The church couldn’t hold all of the people so some sat or stood on the stairs outside the doors. I was one of them. It was like going to mass without going to mass.

Yesterday I did my errands and watered my plants. I felt accomplished. Today I’ll change my bed.

I’ve been watching Band of Brothers. This episode is entitled Bastogne. My parents, my sister and I went to Belgium and the Netherlands together. My father was thrilled to see so many World War II sites. One stop was in the Ardennes. Tank traps were still in the woods looking like concrete teeth poking up from the forest floor. My mother wanted pictures so I went. There was mud which sucked off my shoes. I didn’t laugh as heartedly as the rest of them did. We stayed in Bastogne. A WWII tank sits right in McAuliffe Square as does a bust of General McAuliffe, commander of the American 101st Airborne Division who held Bastogne. He was famous for telling the Germans, “Nuts,” when asked to surrender. We had a wonderful dinner at a hotel dating from before the war. I had boar.

This week I’m going to make a list of everything I’ll need for the deck boxes and the front garden. There will be herbs and annuals on the deck and perennials in the front garden. Pots of basil and lavender are my two favorites. I love to run my hand up the lavender stem for the smell. I cut basil and use it in so many dishes. I can barely wait.

“There are no ordinary moments.”

May 18, 2019

Today is amazing. The sun is so bright it hurts my eyes. The sky is a deep blue. The breeze ruffles the leaves and sends the topmost branches swaying. The only sounds are the birds singing. It is a bit chilly, but a sweatshirt is more than enough. Today is not to be wasted sitting inside.

I have had perfect moments, and, even better, perfect days. When I was a kid, riding my bicycle on a warmish Saturday and flying down the hill was the most amazing experience. It was exhilarating, but I didn’t know that word back then. I just remember I felt free, not tied to Earth.

In high school, my friends and I had adventures, and we laughed all the time. We wandered Harvard Square and visited the free museums. We walked all over Boston. Once we went square dancing. We bowled some Friday nights and threw mostly alley balls, but we didn’t care. We just laughed and had fun. I knew even back then those were perfect moments.

In Ghana, ordinary days were perfect. I still remember stepping off the plane in Accra for the first time and smelling the sweet air. I was in Africa. How could that not be the greatest adventure?

On summer nights the windows are open so I hear the night birds, peepers and frogs. The den lamp light is muted, and I play my favorite music. What a wonderful way to spend an evening.

My days are filled with simple pleasures, perfect moments. I sat on the deck the other day and watched the birds. The other night I started a fire with piñon wood in my chiminea. It smelled so amazing. Soon enough Saturday movies on the deck will begin for another season. I love my life.

“The flower that follows the sun does so even in cloudy days.”

May 17, 2019

Today is an ugly day, cold and cloudy. I suppose it is payback for the warm, lovely day we had yesterday when I sat out on the deck, played with Henry and watched the birds. Mr. and Mrs. Cardinal drop by every day. The usual chickadees and titmice fly in and out of the sunflower feeder. The goldfinches love the thistle. My new fountain sounds like a waterfall. I sat outside for a long while.

My to-do list is empty. I’m thinking a sloth day. The weather even seems to lend itself to lying around and doing nothing except turning the pages of a book. Bring on the bon bons.

Yesterday my landscaper came and planted all the bulbs I had bought. The flowers are supposed to attract butterflies. I hope so.

My deck is still wrapped in its winter clothes. The chairs, the table and the umbrellas are covered. The deck window boxes are either empty or filled with last year’s plants. My barbecue cover has been eaten and pieces of it are missing. I figure they are insulating the nests of some spawns of Satan. I have a time table for the switch to spring. I’ll have Skip, my factotum, and his friend Bobby here toward the end of the month. By then I’ll have bought plants for the front garden, for the deck boxes and the clay pots. I also need a pot of flowers to put on the stump of the pine tree and on the front steps. My mailbox needs a bit of tending. The post wobbles. The shelf outside the back door needs to be repainted, and I need a few more small clay pots to put there. I am getting tired of 50˚, cloudy skies and dampness. I long for warm days, blue skies and sun.

Soon enough it will be pine pollen season. Every outside surface will be covered in the yellow-green pollen. That’s when I long for rain to wash it all away.

“What I say is that, if a man really likes potatoes, he must be a pretty decent sort of fellow.”

May 15, 2019

I swear I am not delusional. I know I saw the sun earlier this morning. It shined through my front door then it was gone only to be replaced by the all too familiar dark clouds. Last night when I went to bed it was still raining, but according to the weatherman, it will only stay cloudy today.

Yesterday was so cold my heat blasted. The high today will be 55˚, but I’m thinking calling that a high is a misnomer.

My dance card is empty today. I am glad for that as I have a feast for my eyes and another for my ears to while away the hours. I have corn chips, chilis and cheese so my taste buds will dance. I started a new book last night called The Last. It kept me up reading until close to two. My new Joni Mitchell, Love Has Many Faces, came in yesterday. I am delighted.

When I was a kid, my sense of humor got me into big trouble. I always had an answer for my parents. They never appreciated my wit. My father sent me to my room, and my mother sometimes threw things. I was never phased. I loved going to my room, and my mother always missed. When I got older, all of a sudden I was funny.

My favorite all time Sunday dinner was roast beef, gravy, mashed potatoes and baby peas. I always made a well in my potatoes to hold the gravy and ate around the well to try to keep the gravy inside, but it usually escaped down the sides of the potatoes. The peas were always a bit difficult to eat. They always fell off the fork so I’d mix the peas and the potatoes. It was never a pretty sight, but it was delicious.

Henry is upstairs taking a nap. I guess he finds my bed more comfortable than the couch. Such is a dog’s life.

“Rain showers my spirit and waters my soul.”

May 14, 2019

Last night it poured so hard that Henry, who loves rain, went two steps on to the deck then turned around and came back inside. The noise on the roof was constant and loud, but I did wish for the metal roof I had in Ghana. I loved the sound of rain when it hit that roof. I could feel it all around me. Sitting in my house listening to any rainstorm was the most amazing experience. When I have gone back to Ghana, it has been during the rainy season so I get to hear again the sounds of rain on the tin roof. I cherish the experience.

When I was a kid, I loved summer rain. I’d go outside and run and play and get soaked. I’d splash through puddles and send waves of water around me. I’d slide on the grass. I’d stay outside all afternoon and let the sun dry my clothes.

I talk out loud. Many times I talk to Henry. He is kind enough to look at me and listen. I talk to the TV. I scoff at silly plot details like going upstairs when the stairs are covered in blood. I go crazy when drivers have their eyes off the road while they chat. I correct grammar. That may seem silly, but I think modeling good grammar is important. I’ve been told it doesn’t matter as long as you’re understood. I liken using bad grammar to singing or playing off tune. Neither one is good for the ears.

Yesterday I felt accomplished. I finished two loads of wash and did errands. I cleaned around the house a bit, mostly clumps of Henry hair. I uploaded pictures from my camera. The oldest set was from Easter.

Today I get to vote in the local election. The turnout in these elections is always small. I think back to turning twenty-one. I was so excited at being able, finally, to vote. Since then, I have always exercised my franchised, the privilege of voting.

“People will stare. Make it worth their while.”

May 13, 2019

April had 21 days of rain. May is already wet. Yesterday it rained all day and well into the night. Today is cloudy with rain predicted for the afternoon. The only good things about all this rain are the grass is green and the gardens are filled with blooms.

The movie I’m watching is called The Strangler, made in 1964. It is loosely based on the Boston Strangler. I’m liking the the cars, the fashions and the hair-dos. I saw women wearing capri pants, shirt-waist dresses and button down the back blouses. Those outfits could have come out of my closet. Hair-dos are puffed, a bit bouffant. I remember wearing curlers at night to get that very hair-do. The curlers made sleeping difficult. My mother used to say pain for beauty.

When I was in the eighth grade, we had a class trip to Nantasket Beach Amusement Park. I wore a new outfit: clam diggers, the local name for capri pants, a sleeveless blouse, white sneakers and a cap with a visor. My mother was one of the chaperones. My friend Jimmy and I spent more time riding the wooden roller coaster than any other ride. I remember late in the afternoon when some of our friends were leaving the park. They gave Jimmy and me their remaining ride tickets. We rode the coaster and a few other rides. My mother found us. Come to find out our friends were going back to the buses as it was time to leave. We didn’t even notice so the buses idled and waited for the two of us. We got an earful from my mother all the way to the parking lot.

I have fashion sense, but my age gives me allowances. I can wear stripes and plaids just for the fun of it. I wore black and white saddle shoes in high school. For a fifties party years ago I bought a new pair. I still have them. I’m thinking of wearing them. My Converse high tops are great sneakers. I think I should pull those out of the closet. The colors are great. It’s time to go back in time.

“I have so much of you in my heart.”

May 12, 2019

Today is Mother’s Day. It is the day I honor my mother and my memories of her. Every year I post basically this same entry with only a few little changes.

I am amazed at how long ago I lost my mother. I keep her close always, in my heart.

My mother was amazing. She was generous, fun to be with and was the perfect martyr when she needed to be, a skill I think most mothers have. It was her tone of voice so filled with pain that caused our guilt to well to the surface. “I’ll do it myself,” she’d say. We’d scurry to do whatever she wanted.

My sisters and I laugh often about the curses she inflicted on us: the love of everything Christmas and never thinking you have enough presents for everyone, giving Easter baskets overflowing with candy and fun toys and surprising people with a gift just because.

My mother had a generosity of spirit. She was funny and smart and the belle of every ball. She always had music going in the kitchen as she worked so she could sing along. She played Frank and Tony and Johnny and from her I learned the old songs. My mother drew all the relatives to her, and her house was filled. My cousins visited often. She was their favorite aunty. My mother loved to play Big Boggle, and we’d sit for hours at the kitchen table and play so many games we’d lose track of the time. Christmas was always amazing, and she passed this love to all of us. We traveled together, she and I, and my mother was game for anything. I remember Italy and my mother and me after dinner at the hotel bar where she’d enjoy her cognac. She never had it any other time, but we’re on vacation she said and anything goes. I talked to her just about every day, as did my sisters. I loved it when she came to visit. We’d shop, have dinner out then play games at night. I always waited on her when she was here. I figured it was the least I could do.

My mother loved extreme weather shows, TV judges and crime. She never missed Judge Judy. She also liked quiz shows and she and I used to play Jeopardy together on the phone at night. She always had a crossword puzzle book with a pen inside on the table beside her chair, and I used to try to fill in some of the blanks. On the dining room table was often a jig saw puzzle, and we all stopped to add pieces on the way to the kitchen. My mother loved a good time.

She did get feisty, and I remember flying slippers aimed at my head when I was a kid and one time a dictionary, a big dictionary, was thrown which luckily missed me though the binding broke when it hit the wall. I pointed that out to her and that made her madder. She expertly used mother’s guilt on us, her poor victims. We sometimes drove her crazy, and she let us know, none too quietly. We never argued over politics. She kept her opinions close. We sometimes argued over other things, but the arguments never lasted long.

Even after all this time, I still think to reach for the phone to call my mother when I see something interesting or have a question I know only she can answer, but then in a split second I remember. When I woke up this morning, my first thought was of her, and how much she is missed. No one ever told me how hard it would be.

“One of the very best things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.”

May 11, 2019

The morning has been loud and busy. When I opened the front door signaling I was awake, activity began. The guys were here to take down the pine tree in my front yard. I tossed out my keys so they could move my car and a screw driver so they could take down the flags on the soon to be gone pine tree’s trunk. I went out to watch and took a few pictures. This was the tallest tree out front, but it was dead. All the pine needles on the top branches were brown, and many had fallen to the lawn. It took only a short while. Now they’re cleaning up: raking and blowing. Henry has finally stopped barking.

Today is beautiful. It is sunny and bright and will reach 60˚. I’m thinking book in hand to the deck. I’d hate to waste a lovely day.

The dump sticker was $182.00. I am still reeling. All that money just gives me the right to dump my own trash and recycles five days a week.

I have some ripe plantains. I’m thinking kelewele, one of my favorite foods. Rummaging through the cabinets the other day, I found a jar of amlou, a Moroccan favorite of mine. It’s a thick paste like peanut butter. You grind roasted almonds with honey and argan oil and then yum your way through eating it on bread. I had it every morning for breakfast in Marrakech.

When I travel, I buy just because gifts for my family and friends. I also buy Christmas presents. For me, I buy cloth, bead jewelry, paintings and interesting things which catch my eye. I brought home a huge jar of amlou from Morocco. It caught my taste buds. When I travel to Ghana, I eat all my favorites. I shop in the market hoping for a wonderful find. I always eat Ghanaian food though I did try a pizza at the hotel restaurant. It is the same hotel where I’ve stayed two out of my three trips. The restaurant is outside. It is even dry in the rain under the cabana looking roofs of the seating area.

During my Peace Corps time I ate all sorts of food for the first time. My palate expanded more than I ever expected. I still love hummus and tabouli and all sorts of Middle Eastern food. On our last trip to Ghana, my friends and I ate at a Lebanese restaurant and remembered Tahal’s which was right near Peace Corps. I also love Indian food thanks to the Maharaja in Accra. I am always willing to try new food though sometimes I don’t want to know what I’m eating until after I’ve finished and decided if I like the food or not based on taste. I don’t judge food with my eyes or my ears.

I have nothing planned for today. I’ll just take the day as it comes.

“The only time I ever enjoyed ironing was the day I accidentally got gin in the steam iron.”

May 10, 2019

The morning was an early one for me. I woke up at 5:30, an ungodly time. I tried to go back to sleep, but that didn’t happen so I reluctantly got up, went downstairs and put the coffee on. I finished the rest of my morning ritual and was pleased to see the papers were out front.

The sky is cloudy. Rain is predicted. I guess the two days of sun have to be enough. I need to get dog food today and a dump sticker at the town hall so I can get rid of the trash. How exciting!

When I was a kid, my father always dragged the barrels out to the curb on trash day. When he got home from work, he’d drag them back inside. The garbage men came a different day of the week, but we didn’t have to do anything. At the bottom of the steps in a corner of the yard sat the garbage bin. It was covered with a metal top which had a pedal. Stepping on the pedal opened the cover to the garbage. The inside bin had a wire holder so it could be picked up to empty. My mother had a triangular, rubber garbage holder she kept by the sink. We took turns emptying it into the outside bin. In the summer it was the worst. As soon as I flipped the top open, I could smell the garbage and see the maggots. I always turned my head and hoped I got the garbage into the bin. I didn’t always. That’s when wearing shoes came in handy.

My mother used to iron. I remember the sound of the steam when it billowed out of the bottom of the iron. She had a metal holder for the hangers with the newly ironed clothes. I got an iron as a housewarming gift. I used to use it to iron mostly school clothes. I still have that iron. I can’t remember the last time I used it.

My wash will get done today. I have already dragged it downstairs. I hate doing laundry.