Archive for the ‘Musings’ category

“Now that I have opened that bottle of memories they’re pouring out like wine, crimson and bittersweet.”

March 25, 2019

A cloudy, cold day seems to fit Mondays. I’ve never been a lover of Mondays. When I worked, the alarm at 5:15 was an intrusion, an abrupt end to sweet dreams and deep sleep. I used to hit the snooze button a couple of times but would finally drag myself out of bed and downstairs to make coffee. The worst of all was my papers were never delivered so early. I’d check the news on TV and my e-mail. After coffee cup number two, I’d drag myself back upstairs to get dressed and face the day.

I have a memory drawer of smells, of triggers to things remembered. The Christmas tree is almost a sacred smell. Toast is another. It reminds me of mornings and my mother making breakfast for us before school. Cookies baking also bring my mother to mind. The mornings in Ghana were my favorite part of the day. The aroma of burning wood charcoal filled the air. It was a sweet smell. The market had a variety of smells, some unpleasant, like goat dung sold for fuel.

On summer mornings, I can sometimes smell the ocean, and it brings back so much of my life especially those weekend jaunts to the beach with my family when I was a kid. We loved the ocean and the beach. Just before a summer rainstorm the air has an earthy smell. I remember staying outside and getting soaked by the rain. It was almost joyful. The smell of food cooking on the grill brings my father back. He’d sit outside and man the grill. He’d have a pop or two of whiskey or a highball. I could smell the chicken cooking most of all. My father was a grill master. Jetways have their own peculiar smell, not exactly pleasant, but I don’t mind. I am traveling. Buses have an engine odor. I am reminded of high school when I took the bus every day.

Memories seem to have a life of their own. I am sometimes surprised and pleased when a long forgotten memory surfaces. I am not always thankful.

“Thus began a break of undetermined length and meaning.”

March 24, 2019

Today I am taking a short break, a one day break. It is so pretty an afternoon I’m heading out to explore. I stayed home yesterday so I still need dog food and bread.

I didn’t miss my toast this morning. I had lemon biscotti with my coffee. I’d forgotten I had a box of them so it was a wonderful surprise, and the lemon seemed a perfect mirror of the day. The sun is shining so brightly.

The high today will be 49˚. There is no wind. It’s time for me to mosey!

I’ll see you tomorrow.

“Don’t worry…the world won’t end today. I’ve put it on my ‘To Do’ list for tomorrow,”

March 23, 2019

When I woke up, there was a covering of snow, sort of winter’s last gasp. The sky was cloudy. That was a couple of hours ago. Now the sky is blue and the sun has melted the snow covering. It will be 46˚ today.

I have learned three minutes is long enough. I can get my neighbor’s mail, my mail and the newspapers. I can make coffee, two pieces of toast and feed Henry. I can empty the dishwasher with time to spare.

I was watching another disaster movie earlier. It had reached the plot climax when all of a sudden the screen went black. It was a test of the alert system. When the TV came back on, the movie was gone, replaced by MSNBC, the last channel I had watched. I couldn’t find my movie as I didn’t remember its name. I just knew it was a Prime movie. I scrolled through all the options and finally found it: The End of the World. It, of course, didn’t end.

Henry is my early warning system. He barks at any noise. Sometimes he howls. If he keeps going, I open the front door so he can see there is nothing. I’ve taken to calling him the dog who cried wolf.

I finally have a list. It is of places I need to go. A couple are for today. The rest are for Monday. Getting Henry’s food is topmost. He needs both can and dry food. I need bread, the staff of life, or no toast tomorrow.

My mother made the best cocoa. She used milk so the chocolate was thick and creamy. When the milkman came, he left a couple of bottles of white milk and one bottle of chocolate milk. We mixed the chocolate with the white so it would last longer. When we ran out, we used Nesquik. That took a bit of mixing or we’d have a blob on the bottom. It’s been a long time since I’ve had chocolate milk.

“The Peace Corps is guilty of enthusiasm and a crusading spirit. But we’re not apologetic about it.”

March 22, 2019

Despite the grey day, the morning has been a good one. Everything works, both papers arrived and the rain has stopped. My laundry is done. I was determined. It is now upstairs waiting to be put away. I’ve taken my time this morning, watched an old black and white science fiction movie and even had an extra cup of coffee and a couple of pieces of toast. All is right with my world.

I have no plans for today. I think I’ll stay close to home. I don’t even have a list of any kind which feels odd for me, the eternal list maker.

Sometimes when I wake up, I have to stop and think what day of the week it is. Usually I think of the day before and it all comes back, but I’ve decided it doesn’t matter.

When I was in high school, there were ads on TV for the Peace Corps. The slogan was, “The toughest job you’ll ever love.” I was hooked mostly because I already had a case of wanderlust dating back to the sixth grade and those ads showed volunteers working in far-off countries. The idea of going into the Peace Corps stayed with me into college and was part of my future plans. Junior year I went and listened to a Peace Corps recruiter and even took the language test. Over the summer, I made the decision I was going to apply. The application came in the fall, and I filled it out which took a long time as it was weighty and I sent it back. The waiting was excruciating. In January I received my acceptance. I replied the same day and said yes. I knew I was headed to Ghana, to West Africa. The Peace Corps sent a packet filled with information about training and about Ghana. I was enthralled.

Of all the decisions I have made in my life, the acceptance of the Peace Corps invitation still stands as the most momentous. Peace Corps changed my life. Everything I have done since then has been predicated on what I learned those two years in Ghana. They were amazing and still stay close to my heart.

“You know, Hobbes, some days even my lucky rocket ship underpants don’t help.”

March 21, 2019

Today has been the day from hell. Even the computer and the weather have conspired against me. It all started last night with my eye hurting, the same eye which was lased twice. The pain was dull and intermittent but painful enough to wake me up more than a few times, but by morning the pain was dulled. It was sunny when I woke up. Now it is cloudy. I got my papers. When I opened the plastic, I found two Cape Cod Times and no Globe. I was bummed. I decided to read my e-mail. I couldn’t get on line using my network, no IP address. My only recourse was to use infinity, but that meant nothing was secure. I asked Alexa about the weather. She couldn’t get on line. I tried several times to correct the problem. I did not succeed. I am typing on my iPad keyboard the size of which is only fit for the fingers of small children. My computer has no idea where it is and poor Alexa has an orange ring. The only bright spot has been the movie The Creeping Terror on Prime. It is hysterically funny. I have never seen a worse looking alien. I even got to see a hootenanny in a field and the twist at a local dance. They were wonderful. I need to buy this film for our Saturday night at the movies.

I am back on my computer. It only took three hours of talking to a tech guy who was fantastic. He reconfigured my network, got my old Alexa working and synched my new Alexa for upstairs. He asked if there was anything else, and I suggested my laundry.

Yesterday we welcomed spring at sunrise on the beach. It was cold but we didn’t care. The sun was magnificent appearing a little at a time over the rocks. It was so brilliant we had to turn our eyes away. We sang our welcome spring songs, and my friend Clare went hunting for our shells, mementoes of this year’s welcome to spring. We left the beach and went out for our annual happy spring breakfast.

I got home and took a nap though it wasn’t really a nap but a continuation of my disrupted night’s sleep. The alarm went off at 5:30.

I’m eating some chocolates so the day and I are looking up.

“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.”

March 19, 2019

The sun is brilliant. The sky is a dark, almost navy blue, and is free of clouds. The morning chill is not unexpected. Today’s high of 43˚ is the stirring of spring on Cape Cod. I saw yellow crocuses (croci) in the side garden. The buds are close to opening. Color is returning.

When I was a kid, I never noticed flowers. My sisters used to give my mother dandelion bouquets. She’d put them in jelly jars filled with water. My father planted flowers in the front garden, usually a few pansies. I don’t remember seeing any other gardens, even in my neighborhood. I do remember the house across the street had a trellis in the backyard. Purple grapes grew on it every year. We were allowed to pick the grapes. We spit out the seeds.

When I bought my house, my parents came down to see it. They brought flowers for the front garden. My father planted them. That was over forty years ago. A few of those plantings still come up every spring. I always think of my father and his garden.

I never saw flowers growing in Ghana. Every garden was devoted to food. My school had a garden and a garden boy, Enzo. The garden was across from my house on the other side of a dirt track. My house was also by the back gate which Enzo had to open when people shouted for him. If he saw me, he’d stop to complain to me about opening the gate. He told me he was a garden boy, not a gate boy. His garden was beautiful and filled with tomatoes, onions, okra and garden eggs. We gave him seeds so he grew green peppers just for us. Ghanaians didn’t like those peppers, no heat, so we ate every one of them.

Every year I check for bare spots in my gardens then head on over to Agway. I love buying flowers.

“The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common.”

March 18, 2019

The sun and the blue sky are still hanging around as is the chill. Every day this week is predicted to be in the 40’s, spring on Cape Cod.

St. Patrick’s day was wonderful. Dinner was superb though I’m not sure superb is the right adjective to describe corn beef and cabbage, a hearty meal. Everything cooked perfectly. The Irish soda bread and the Kerry butter completed the meal. Dessert was scrumptious. I didn’t eat it last night, but I had a piece for breakfast. I wonder if it is still called dessert if you eat it in the morning.

I found more shoots popping their heads above the ground. I count them as wonders. I watch their progress every morning. I saw a bit of yellow yesterday. I’m thinking a daffodil.

I am always thankful to Peace Corps for having assigned me to Bolgatanga. Every day was amazement filled with sounds, sights and feelings that I ever knew existed before living in Ghana. It was all a wonder of unexpected beauty.

I loved sleeping outside in the back of my house. My mattress, dragged from my bedroom, was a necessity as the backyard was concrete with a few big rocks which weren’t removed when the house was built and the concrete laid. I slept outside mostly during the dry season. I’d lie on my back and look at the sky. It was always spectacular with so many stars the nights were never dark. They were filled with shadows. Not a night went by without a falling star streaking across the sky. I oohed and ahed every one of them. They were never commonplace.

I have the same sense of wonder when there are meteor showers here. I take out a chair, something to drink, usually coffee, and I watch the sky. I still ooh and ah.

I can’t imagine a life without a sense of wonder, without seeing the joy of every day.

“St. Patrick’s Day is an enchanted time — a day to begin transforming winter’s dreams into summer’s magic.”

March 17, 2019

Lá fhéile Pádraig sona dhuit!

The day is sunny but chilly. The sky is peppered with a few clouds. ‘Tis a lovely day. I’ll be making corned beef and cabbage this afternoon. I have a flow chart, I always do for big dinners. In a bit, I’ll decorate the table. That’s first on the flow chart.

I have had a long connection with St Patrick. My name is totally Irish. Many of my forebears on both sides, maternal and paternal, were Irish. As you know I attended St. Patrick’s Grammar School for eight years. I was a member of St. Patrick’s Shamrocks, a competitive drill team, for seven years. I have been to Ireland twice. One time I went by boat from England to Ireland and rode all over the country by train. I saw more sheep than I had even seen in my entire life. I stayed at B&B’s. Every morning I ate an Irish breakfast except for the beans. When we were in Dingle, we walked and got a couple of rides to Slea Head. The view was spectacular, which doesn’t quite go far enough to describe the beauty. I remember seeing something in the distance. It turned out to be a sheet of rain. There were no hiding places so we got soaked. Luckily a French couple took pity and drove us back to Dingle. My second trip was only for a week with my parents, two aunts and my grandfather who was one generation removed from Ireland. He was in his eighties but was amazing.

One of my favorite Dad stories is when my mother cooked a boiled dinner for him. She delivered it, but he came back to the kitchen looking for potatoes. There were none. They had disintegrated, and she had to give him the bad news. He didn’t take it well.

My parents hosted many St. Patrick’s Day parties. The best part was when everyone starting singing. We were all crammed in the kitchen. The room was hot and smoky so the back door was open. The sounds of Irish songs filled the room. Everybody sang. I knew most of the songs thanks to my parents. They threw the best parties.

“On a lazy Saturday morning when you’re lying in bed, drifting in and out of sleep, there is a space where fantasy and reality become one.”

March 16, 2019

Today is lovely, warm and sunny. A bit of a chill is in the air, a spring morning chill. I’m glad I have errands today to get me out of the house. It is dump day. I miss my copilot Gracie who loved going to the dump. Henry is skeptical of anything which hints of the car. He hides when I get dressed which gives me a chuckle. He knows I’m going out. This morning he jumped on and off the bed then burrowed and found my face and arm to lick. I gave in and got up. What did I find on the floor? Insides from my new quilt. Henry had chewed the corner. I even found some downstairs so I know Henry roams at night.

What a storm we had last night. It was terrific. First it poured then came the thunder and lightning. I loved it. One bolt of lightning flashed in the sky by my den window and lit up the room. The thunder cracked over head. This was Henry’s first thunder storm. He barked thinking he could scare the thunder away. He stayed beside me for a bit then he fell asleep. He’s okay with thunder and lightning.

I think I have have caught the spring cleaning bug. In the last two days I have cleaned two cabinets. I threw away spices best used by 2015 and earlier. I tossed out some jellies and some cans of green chilies. I found a few things including a couple of bottles of vanilla extract and three mint extracts. I found the anise oil. That may propel me to make anise cookies, one of my favorites. My uncle used to make them and said not to use extract but rather use anise oil.

When I was a kid a day like today meant roaming the town. I was rich as I always got my 50¢ allowance on Fridays. Sometimes I’d buy Hostess cupcakes or snowballs and eat them as I walked, sustenance for the trek. Other times I’d buy a nickel candy bar. I had favorite walks like on the railroad tracks or to the dairy to watch the cows. I even went to the zoo a few times. I walked all over town. Only hunger drove me home.

Saturday has always been my favorite day.

“Thou hast most traitorously corrupted the youth of the realm in erecting a grammar school.”

March 15, 2019

The wind is blowing and the sky is dark so you can imagine my surprise when I went to get the papers. It is a warm day. The high will be in the 50’s, but it is supposed to rain.

My computer has been returned to me. A long while back, I logged on before I knew some letters didn’t work so it was the wrong password. I tried again. The same thing happened. On the next try, the computer went dark. That was when I had trouble starting it. When I finally did, I had to log on as guest user. That meant no access to my files. I also couldn’t get to a few sites, stopped by parental control. Yesterday, I Googled again how to get on not knowing my password. I found a video which was simplistic enough for me. I am no longer guest user. Can I get a hallelujah?

When I was a kid, I went to St. Patrick’s Grammar School. Just about everyone I knew went to St. Patrick’s. My first grade was in the old brick building. Across the street was the convent, next to the school was the rectory and beside that was the church. It was like an enclave. There were so many of us that some classes had 45 or more students, but discipline was no problem. I don’t even remember anyone daring to whisper. A look from a nun was all we needed to cause us to sit still and say nothing and keep our hands folded together on the desk top as if we were praying. The nuns were mysterious, and they were scary. Their black and white habits kept them apart from mortal beings. I never thought of nuns as people let alone women. They were a breed unto themselves.

I have to be out and about today. I’m going to Hyannis, to the big city. It’s been a while.