Archive for the ‘Musings’ category

“A Sunday well spent brings a week of content.”

February 23, 2020

The weather still holds, a sunny, warmish winter’s day. It is in the mid 40’s. Earlier, the kids were playing basketball on the street, but they’re gone. The street is quiet.

Saturday and Sunday have always been their own days. The weekdays are all the same, Monday to Friday all the same. Saturday was for errands and chores, mostly my father’s. Sunday was a family dinner or a family day trip, sometimes to the beach and sometimes to a museum, but sometimes just staying home.

When I was a kid, we stayed home most Sundays all winter. I’d read the funnies while my father read the rest of the paper. We’d watch a movie on TV or I’d sometimes read away the afternoon. My mother usually made a big dinner. There was always a roast, usually chicken but sometimes roast beef, my favorite. Every roast needed mashed potatoes and gravy. The vegetables varied but peas, carrots and corn were our favorites. We ate around two. That night we’d have sandwiches made from the meat. My father always ate a whole meal of the leftovers.

In summer, life was more haphazard. Some Sundays we went to mass early and then left for the beach. We went north to Gloucester. The lunch basket was filled as was the Scotch cooler. My mother always sat on the blanket and worked hard at keeping the sand away. We sat on towels. We’d pick a sandwich, grab some chips, fruit if there was any, and then sit down for lunch. After lunch we waited the mandatory thirty minutes out of the water. We played games, cards if it wasn’t windy. We were glad when we could get back into the water. We always went home wet while sitting on towels in the back seat. The ride was gritty.

“A walk?” said Catharine. “One foot in front of the other,” said Newt, “through leaves, over bridges—”

February 22, 2020

Mother Nature has blessed us with another beautiful day, a lovely winter’s day. The sun is bright. The breeze is so slight it movies only the single dead oak leaves and the tiniest branches. It is 44˚, warm for February.

This morning I started watching The Andy Griffith from episode one, the arrival of Aunt Bee. In later episodes I loved the hats the older ladies wear. One hat had a tiny veil on the top and a single flower in the air which bobbed as the lady’s head moved. The ladies wore lace collars and brooches at their necks, all dressed up to do a bit of shopping. I saw a Chevy, two-toned, in the background. The same model my father once had. This show is sort of hokey but I like it. Barney makes me laugh.

I never did get my errands done, but I have to today as the cats need canned food. One or the other, the cats or the dog, are usually the reasons I get up and out. Four stops are on my list. I miss having car company.

When I was a kid, days like today were perfect for ice skating at the rink. To get there, I had to take the Medford bus from uptown. It stopped by the rink. It also stopped at the hospital where I was born which was still open. Anyway, back to the story, the ice was frozen at the rink so warmish days like today were perfect. The rink also had a refreshment center where I’d buy cocoa and sit and watch the skaters. I’d take the bus in the late afternoon back to the square. From there, I’d walk home in the early darkness.

Winter nights seemed to heighten sights and sounds. I remember hearing the echoes of my footsteps and seeing the shining lights from the windows casting shadows on the sidewalks. I was never afraid of the dark or of the walk. I loved the time to myself. It was like I owned the whole walk.

“Here at the top of the world a handful of American soldiers and civilians met the first invasion from another planet.”

February 21, 2020

This is a perfect winter morning. It’s cold but not windy. The sun is bright behind white clouds. Snow flurries fell for a few minutes. They were slow, and they were bright in the light. The sun has now surfaced and brought some blue sky. Nothing is moving and everything is quiet. Today is winter in all its best.

Last night was watch black and white 50’s science fiction night. I found the movies all over. Some I’d seen before and watched anyway. A few I started and stopped. The were even too bad for me to watch, and my standards for 50’s scifi are low. Evil aliens who were invading Earth were big. We always won, but the movies often ended with a warning that they could come back. In some cases they did. It was inevitable that the lead male and lead female would became an item, quickly. I loved the creatures: prehistoric dinosaurs, atom bomb mutated creatures like Them and even ice bound aliens, The Thing from the Other World. Such a richness of classics!

Now I’m streaming Grimm. I watched it first hand and not after. I remember some episodes but not all. I’m on Season Four, episode 4 or so. I do need to go out so I’ll take a break.

When I was a kid, Saturday TV was Creature Double Feature Day. The movies were all from the 50’s and early 60’s. Many were the black and white ones, but then color, sort of a pale color, was introduced. I remember Space 1999 in its newness. The Japanese science fiction movies were also shown. Frankenstein Conquers the World is a great one in its awfulness.

My love for science fiction began with books. I read all of them in the kids’ library then moved on to the adult room. The books were on the second floor, sort of in the back. I used to take one, sit on the floor and start to read it to see if I wanted to continue at home. I looked for certain authors I had read before. Space travel from Earth to somewhere was the main plot of a great many books. I knew we’d travel in space.

This has been a throwback night and day. I’ve had fun watching the old movies. I even popped some corn.

“One is never over-dressed or underdressed with a Little Black Dress.”

February 20, 2020

Some days I love from the start. Sometimes they’re rainy days. Sometimes they’re sunny days. I knew today would be a perfect winter day when I let Henry outside. The sun is sharp. When I retrieved my newspapers and yesterday’s mail, I was shocked by the unexpected cold, the 30˚ cold. Henry is content to stay inside and so am I. My errands can wait a day. I just brought down the laundry so I have a few days grace period before I have to take the bags down cellar to wash. I’m been watching Zorro Rides Again from 1937. I love it. The black and white serial has 12 chapters. It is a weird mixture. There are bad guys riding horses, there are air planes and cars. Masked Zorro rides a pinto and saves the train. I had my new favorite cereal, a little entertaining homonym for this morning, Raisin Bran Crunch to which I added a banana. Henry loves bananas so he got a slice.

Last night I watched What’s My Line on YouTube. The women, Dorothy Kilgallen and Arlene Francis, wore beautiful dresses, and the men, Tony Randall and Bennett Cerf, wore dark jackets and bow ties. The guests too were dressed to the nines. A set of twins wore what could only be their prom dresses. Even the women’s masks worn to hide the surprise guests had lace. That was an elegant time.

I remember dressing up for my first plane ride. It wasn’t a long flight, from Boston to the cape, but the plane dress code was in effect. It was the same for my next flights. Even the flight from Philadelphia, to Madrid to Accra had us dressed up. A lot of the guys wore button down collar shirts and khakis. They all wore ties. We women wore dresses.

I never dress down when I travel, but I don’t dress up much either. I wear what is comfortable and presentable, my dress code.

“I’m a detective, but nuns could stonewall Sam Spade into an asylum”

February 18, 2020

The sky is cloudy, and rain is coming. It is 40˚ which is warm for February, an already warm month. The wind is intermittent.

Lately I have been binging on Star Trek, all the different Star Treks. Right now I am watching The Next Generation. Yesterday it was Deep Space Nine. I have CBS All Access so I can watch the new series, Picard. For me, watching Star Trek never gets boring. They are all the books I read as a kid come to life.

When I was in grammar school, we had nuns every other year. On the off years, we had regular people as teachers. Every one of them was a woman.

When I was in the second grade, my teacher was Mrs. Kerrigan. She was the proverbial teacher of old with her gray hair in a bun, flowered dresses and clunky heeled shoes. She lived across the street from the church on the second floor. I still think of her when I pass by the house.

My fourth grade teacher, Miss Konopaka, was the no nonsense type. We didn’t dare talk or even shuffle papers. We didn’t want her threatening glare directed at any of us. We had double sessions then. I hated the afternoon session as we got out of school in the winter too late to play. It was getting almost dark when we walked home from school.

My favorite teacher back then was Miss Quilta. She was my sixth grade teacher. During that year I loved going to school every day, and I loved learning. She awarded success, and I wanted the recognition. I wanted my name at the tops of the lists in the back of the room on the bulletin board. Those lists were the top ten highest academic performers in every subject. I was on the top of every list but math where I was second.

Mrs. Corcoran was seventh grade. We had regular teachers in the seventh grade, two years in a row, so both classes could have nuns in the eighth. I never liked her that much. She’s the one who told me girls would not be allowed to play basketball at recess. It was a boys’ game. She asked me if I had my friend yet. I had no idea what she was talking about. I picked no as my answer.

I have a photo of my class from the eighth grade. It is a graduation photo, and we are all dressed up in fancy clothes. I am wearing a new dress. The boys are in coats and ties. I don’t remember many of my classmates. There were so many of us, but I do remember the faces of my friends. They have their own memory drawer.

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”

February 17, 2020

Today is beautiful, warmish and sunny. A few clouds dot the blue. My street is quiet though earlier I did hear the sound of a basketball bouncing on the pavement. I woke up after 10. When I opened the door to go get my papers, I saw a package from Amazon on the steps, and my papers on top of the box, thanks to my mailman.

Today is President’s Day, a celebration of Washington’s Birthday. It used to be on February 22nd but was moved to the third Monday in February. Many states celebrate Presidents’ Day, by moving the apostrophe they celebrate not one but all the presidents.

This week is February school vacation around here. I used to travel to Europe for the week. One year, my mother and I went to Italy, mostly to Rome and a few days in Florence. We walked all over. My favorite was the forum. We spent hours there. Every night, my mother and I sat in the lobby by the tiny bar in our hotel for a nightcap. Those nights are a favorite memory.

Tomorrow is a field trip day. My friends and I are driving down to P-town for a late lunch or an early dinner, take your pick. P-town is quiet this time of year.

I left a few items off my shopping delivery, one being critical, toilet paper. Looks like I’ll have to step into an actual grocery store, one of the big ones, like A&P. That’s another field trip.

Henry started his medication yesterday. He is taking a single clonidine tablet to start. If Henry needs more, we go up a tablet at a time. He has another medication should this one not work. He will always take medication. According to the vet,”Your dog will always have “special needs”, and management will always be necessary. “I’m fine with that. I want my Henry to be happy and less fearful of his world.

“Getting older is fine. There is nothing you can do to stop it so you might as well stay on the bus.”

February 16, 2020

Today is warmer than the last few days. At 39˚ it feels almost balmy, and it will even get warmer, up to the low 40’s, almost t-shirt weather. The sky is mostly cloudy. Tonight is game night. I hope my luck continues.

When I was a kid, I got my 50¢ allowance every Friday. I never saved it. My father thought I should. He’d tell me the fable of the ant and the grasshopper. He was an ant. I was a grasshopper. I thought the ant was mean. After all, he was entertained all summer by the grasshopper. He should have shared some food that winter, like sort of a cover charge. My father used to say he was the only ant in a family of grasshoppers.

When I look in the mirror, I am sometimes amazed about the old lady looking back at me. Where did all those wrinkles come from? When did I start looking old? I don’t feel old, but there are so many things I can’t do anymore. I have groceries delivered because carrying all those bags kill my back. I used to lug 50 pounds of cat litter into the house and upstairs. I can’t walk too far anymore without stopping here and there for a bit of a rest. I used to walk 8 miles a day. Most of my hair is grey, but I’m okay with that.

There is a giant plus in all of this. Being old means I can do whatever I want. I don’t wear old lady clothes. I’m into flannel and corduroy. I eat when and what I want. I’ve sometimes had popcorn, with salt and butter, for lunch. I live without a clock.

“I made a sandwich out of things. I’m an American. We can eat anything as long as it’s between two pieces of bread.”

February 15, 2020

Winter has arrived. Yesterday and especially last night were freezing. It is 23˚ right now. The high will be 28˚. Henry is in and out quickly, smart boy. My dance card is empty today. I’m glad. The day looks pretty but is best seen through a window from inside the warm house.

Henry thinks my bed is his bed. This morning I woke up so close to the edge of the bed I thought I’d fall off the mattress. Henry was pressed beside me. I was cold as only one side of my body was covered. Henry, though, looked warm. Jack was next to Henry. I’m glad Gwen hasn’t yet joined us though she did follow me into my room last night, a first. I know the bed is my fault. I have entitled my pets.

When I was a kid, Duke, our boxer, never slept on the beds. He slept on the floor beside our beds or sneaked and slept on the couch. When he was really old, he slept downstairs on the rug in my room.

Winter Saturdays meant going to the matinees at the movie theater up town. The only movie I remember seeing was The Wizard of Oz. Though it was old, it hadn’t yet appeared on TV. The switch from black and white to color made that movie forever memorable for me. I was in awe.

I did a bit of dusting this morning and used my sweatshirt sleeve as a duster. It works well and is handy.

I think I’ll have hot dogs for dinner tonight. It is after all Saturday. I’ll skip the beans.

One of my friends often invited me to her house to play games. It was her father who first introduced me to hot peppers. It was on the table at lunch, and he put it on his sub sandwich. I tried it. From then on I’ve used hot peppers in my subs but also in most sandwiches, including bologna. My mother used to buy bologna rolls and jars of hot peppers. I’d cut my bologna and usually one side was thicker than the other. I’d slice the peppers, never evenly. My sandwich was always bumpy, and you could see the mounds in the Wonder bread. I had to hold the sandwich with both hands or the insides would fall out. Now, I buy jalapeño slices to put in my sandwiches. I usually put them between the meat and the cheese. My bologna comes sliced from the deli. My sandwiches now are pictures of perfection.

“Somebody’s charming. I wonder who. A little bird whispered to me tis’ you.”

February 14, 2020

The morning is cold, only 30˚. The sky is still cloudy, and a wind comes and goes. A dusting of snow fell sometime last night, after midnight. The back stairs are covered but not the front. I’ll throw out some de-icer so Henry won’t slip.

I remember Valentine’s day when I was a kid. In school, we decorated shoe boxes and transformed them into valentine boxes mostly with glue and construction paper. My mother and I shopped for valentine’s uptown at Woolworth’s in the square. My mother let me pick my own valentines. They came in a single package, and all of them were colorful. Most of them had cherubic girls and boys on the front or cute little animals. They often had catchy little sentiments. I still have some. One is a picture of a boy and girl with strings and says “Stop stringing me along and be my valentine.” A puppy exclaimed, “Dog-Gone it. Be my valentine.” To an adult’s eye they must have seemed corny, but for me, they were perfect. The backs of them were white. I wrote my name in pencil, and it went in an angle down the back so I could write my whole name, Kathleen. The night before Valentine’s Day I’d sit at the kitchen table and write out my valentines. I’d put each in a small white envelope and write my classmates’ names on the front. I always had a valentine for each classmate.

We had to bring a party food to school on Valentine’s Day. Chocolate chip cookies were my treat of choice. We’d put the treats on the nun’s desk. They were a distraction all morning. We were in no mood to learn. We were too excited. After lunch the nun had us clear our desk tops of books and bring out our valentines and our boxes. She had us go row row by row to put the envelopes in our classmates’ boxes. I remember sitting there and hoping that valentines would be put into my box. Some of my classmates put envelopes in every box but a couple didn’t. If I got skipped, I’d pretend I didn’t care, but I was always a little hurt. After the valentines were given out, it was time to party. We’d go row by row to the front of the room where we’d choose our treats. I always took a couple of cookies. We’d then sit at our desks chatting, eating our treats and opening our valentines.

I remember walking home holding my valentine box, my treasure chest. I’d sit at the kitchen table and go through the valentines again. I’d show my mother every one then put them back into the box. I’d go through them a few more times then put the box under my bed where it would be safe.

“Someone once threw me a small, brown, hairy kiwi fruit, and I threw a wastebasket over it until it was dead.”

February 13, 2020

Last night it started to rain, actually it poured and kept pouring. When I woke up, it was still raining. Now it comes and goes. The day is ugly. I feel a nap coming on.

I had my last uke lesson of the session this morning. A new session will begin the first Thursday in March. I’m still having trouble with a few of the three finger chords. My friend Clare suggested playing those chords over and over. I have done that but not enough. I’ll use my two week break to practice those difficult for me chords.

When I was a kid, I wondered if the clouds would run out of rain. They never did. Words like weather and climate meant little to me. Climate was something I read about in my geography book. The desert was dry, the rain forest wet. As for weather, I thought about rain and snow and sun. It wasn’t until I was older that I figured out why they called him the weatherman on TV. Every morning I now ask Alexa for the weather of the day. She tells me what it is like in Woburn. I can’t seem to switch her to Dennis. I’ve tried on line several times. Alexa can be stubborn.

When I was growing up, we ate fruit in summer far more than we did in winter. My mother bought watermelon, bananas, oranges and apples for us as snacks. She used blueberries and lemons in pies and strawberries in a shortcake. Apples were versatile and were also turned into pies. Tangerines were a snack for watching the Thanksgiving Day parade. It wasn’t until I was in Ghana that I ate a bunch of different fruits: coconut, mangoes, pawpaw (papaya), pineapple and plantain. Two of them, coconut and pineapple, are my favorite fruits. Two others, Kiwi and avocado, came much later than the rest of the fruits. I do love avocado in sandwiches and guac.

I like vegetables and even ate them when I was a kid. Potatoes were everyone’s favorite. I also loved peas, Lesueur peas in a can. We ate carrots mixed with our mashed potatoes. It was my mother’s way of disguising the carrots, and it worked. In Ghana I ate okro, as the Ghanaians called it, for the first time. I also ate tuber yam and garden eggs, small eggplants. Mostly, though, my vegetables were tomatoes and onions.

I have an onion and some tomatoes. I also have oranges and bananas, and I bought some dried mango when last I shopped. Many times I just eat fruit for one or even two meals. I buy it already cut. I am most decidedly lazy.