Archive for the ‘Musings’ category

“When the dog bites, when the bee stings, when I’m feeling sad, I simply remember my favorite things and then I don’t feel so bad.”

September 24, 2022

Where have I been for the last two days? At Cape Cod Hospital. Why? That’s the story so here I go.

On Thursday morning I started my usual routine. I let the dogs out: yup, I was the one who let the dogs out. When they came back inside, I gave each of them a biscuit. One biscuit fell on the floor then the two dogs went at it. I tried to stop them, a stupid idea. I got badly bitten on my right hand. Blood spewed, but I continued to try and stop them anyway. Finally, I broke them apart and got Nala in the bathroom. I grabbed a towel and covered my hand, my bleeding hand. I left Henry in the house and drove to the hospital. The ER doctor had my hand x-rayed. My pointer finger was fractured. The bottom of the finger was shredded a bit. The ER doctor called the hand surgeon who said he’d be there in the morning. I was admitted. My finger was gauzed, an anti-bacterial drip and a pain killer were started, I put on a lovely Johnny, a flowered one, got into bed and met all the nurses.

I called my family and friends. I had the worst night. I couldn’t sleep, going to the bathroom was a trek and nothing good was on TV.

In the morning, I waited for the surgery. I waited until nearly two, then was wheeled to the surgery rooms where I met the surgeon, the anesthesiologist and several nurses, two of whom were former students. We got a few chuckles about that one and talked about their office visits. An oxygen mask was put on me, and that was the last thing I remembered until I woke up with a gauze covered right hand. We all chatted then I was wheeled to my room where I was given something to dull the pain. I called my friend who was coming to get me. She brought clean clothes and waited. The nurse gave me the discharge sheets, got my prescriptions filled and sent me on my way. I had to be driven home or they wouldn’t have let me go.

I got home where the dogs were thrilled to see me. My friend had cleaned the blood, and she and one other friend took care of the cat and dogs. After my friend left, I settled in as did the dogs.

What’s left? I have to get my car at the hospital and go to the dump. The car is filled with trash as the dump was my actual destination Thursday. I was waylaid!

The staff at CCH is beyond amazing!!

PS I had to type this with one finger!

“Of course, in our grade school, in those days, there were no organized sports at all. We just went out and ran around the school yard for recess.”

September 20, 2022

The morning is ugly. It is only 65° and cloudy and damp. The day won’t get much better though it will get just a bit warmer, up to 68°. It’s time to break out those bathing suits! The dogs have been out a while. They enjoy this weather. I figure, though, they’ll soon be inside as it is morning nap time.

When I was a kid, our dog Duke was not allowed on furniture, but he was a smart dog. At night he slept on the couch. We knew but never caught him. When we walked downstairs in the morning, we could hear him get off the couch, but he always greeted us at the foot of the stairs. When he was really old, he slept in my bedroom on my shaggy white rug, the one with a bite out of it from my hamster who had pulled part of the rug into its cage, chewed off a piece and made quite the comfy bed.

When I was a kid, the weekdays were all the same. My mother woke me up, and I went downstairs where breakfast was already on the table. After breakfast, I’d get dressed, grab my school bag and lunch box then leave for school. It wasn’t a long walk. It was a straightway once I got down the hill, maybe about two blocks. In school, it was the same subjects in mostly the same order every day. The only differences were art and music which alternated days. We ate lunch, had recess then finished the day. I walked home.

My whole week sounds boring, but it never was. I was a kid. I didn’t know boring. Every day was an adventure. Walking to school sometimes meant collecting the colorful leaves. Other days my friend and I skipped to school. I always think of skipping as joyful. In the school yard, before the bell, we met up with friends and chatted though we had seen each other the day before and the day before that. When the nun rang the hand bell, we lined up class by class and two by two in sort of a Noah’s ark impression without the animals. We stored away out jackets in the cloak room, and the day began in earnest.

When I got home, I changed from my school clothes and went out to play, depending on the weather. My friends and I often played games like Red Light, Hide and Seek or Simon Says. In the warmer days, we explored the field and woods below my house. I can still see that field and the dead tree at the end of the field. One giant limb of that tree was across the path. We could have walked around it but we never did. We climbed over it. Kids do that. Easy wasn’t aways fun.

“Nothing wrong with you a good roller coaster wouldn’t fix.” 

September 19, 2022

The air is so thick any movement makes breathing difficult. Everything is still, not even a slight breeze can break through the dense, damp air. The sky is gray. It is 67° which will be today’s high. My dance card is empty. Yesterday it was filled. I had a uke concert on Main Street in Hyannis for Open Street Day. The crowd sang along. It was fun. In the late afternoon, I went to the birthday celebration for a friend who used to be my neighbor. Everyone other than myself was Brazilian. We had great food including Brazilian linguica, a favorite of mine. I stayed until the early evening. I wanted to go home to keep the dogs company as they had been alone a good portion of the day. They were happy to see me but happier for the treats. I know my place in the hierarchy.

Few tourists remain except for the busy weekends. The roads are clearer. Travel time is less but harder to figure. Columbus Day weekend will be the last hurrah. The cape will be ours again.

When I was a kid, weekends, most of the year, were not much busier than weekdays though on Saturdays uptown had more cars and fewer parking spaces. It was the weekend errand day. But, in the summer, weekends took on whole new meanings. We often went to the drive-in on Saturday nights after spending the day at the beach or, once in while, a lake, but I remember one Saturday, quite the special Saturday, when my parents told us we were going to have surprise if we were good. They always attached good using their standards, which were seldom ours. Anyway, we got on Route 1 toward East Boston, where my grandparents lived. We were in Saugus when my father announced he was turning around and taking us home as he was tired of listening to us. We begged and pleaded and promised good behavior using his standards if he kept going. After the turnaround, he stopped the car at a parking lot. It was a giant toy store which had behind it rides, including a small roller coaster. I used to see that coaster when we rode by the store toward my grandparents’ house. It was a great surprise. He had only turned around as he was on the opposite side of the highway from the rides. We spent the day there. I think it was on that day and at that place where my love for roller coasters began. I rode it over and over and over.

“Learn to ride a bicycle. You will not regret it if you live.”

September 17, 2022

I’m wearing my sweatshirt. The temperature is only 66°, and it won’t get much higher, but the day is still a pretty one. The air is still now. The sun glints through the leaves and branches of the back yard. I can see the blue sky. It’s a hang around the house day.

I was a sloth. Today I am a corkscrew. The frenzied cleaning of the last few days has taken its toll. Yesterday I hauled up from the cellar the back storm door, cleaned it and put it in the door. That is one heavy door which I could barely pick up so I had to move it from corner to corner then step by step up the cellar stairs. I had to replace the back screen door as the nights are getting cold, and the back door stays open so the dogs can come and go. My back is paying the price.

Yesterday I picked up in the hall what I thought was a dead leaf, but it wasn’t. It was a flat, desiccated creature with a tail and two back legs. It was too flat to figure out what creature it was. I remembered way back when one of my cats was playing with a flat, black something. When I picked it up, I realized it had once been a mouse. Anyway, back to yesterday’s flat black something. I picked it up and threw it over the fence. I thought end of black, flat unknown creature, but I was wrong. Today I saw something whitish on the inside door mat. I went to get it. I was grossed out. It was half a tiny jaw bone with teeth.

When I was a kid, I loved these fall days. I remember riding down the hill, my street, on my bicycle. The wind blew up my jacket sleeves and puffed my jacket. I was cold but thrilled by the speed of my bike. I used to zip across the road to the field below my street. It was my short-cut.

I remember walking the tracks. I also remember when trains, Boston and Maine trains, used to run on those tracks. I was pretty young then. I’d jump off the track and watch the train go by. It was only a few cars. It used to cross William Street where my grandparents lived and stop at Farm Hill Station. I remember we used to put a penny on the track for the train to flatten, and we used to jump over railroad ties with OO on them so we wouldn’t break my mother’s back. We were successful. She never had a broken back.

“The leaves fall, the wind blows and the farm country slowly changes from the summer cottons into its winter wools.” 

September 16, 2022

I’m wearing my sweatshirt. The temperature is only 63°. Fall is next week. I guess today is a dress rehearsal.

It will stay sunny all day and the high will be 72°. I have a couple of chores and a couple of errands. My bed needs changing and the plants need watering. I have a small grocery list, and the dogs need a few cans of food. My sloth day has ended.

I caught Nala trying to get a box through the dog door. She managed to do it before I could stop her. I went into the yard to get the box and found a few things she had stolen from my bedroom. That dog is relentless. I found a bunch of dead leaves on a branch in the living room. I guess Nala figured if I can’t get anything out, I’ll bring it in. I’m just happy nothing is dead other than the leaves.

When I was a kid, I imagined myself as one of the characters in the books I was reading. The Doctor Doolittle series had me wishing I could speak to animals. I’d talk to birds, my dog Duke and a few squirrels, none of whom were yet spawns of Satan. I would be the fifth little woman living through a Christmas without presents. Nancy Drew and I would solve crimes together. I wanted to be one of the characters in any Jules Verne book. I used to check the man in the moon to see if he had his happy or his sad face. To go to the moon in a rocket was almost beyond comprehension. I didn’t care that Captain Nemo was a bit crazed. To be in a submarine looking out a picture window showing the bottom of the ocean filled with fish seemed the height of delight, hand clapping delight. I was never without books especially ones which fed my imagination.

For tonight I’m thinking about having a fire in my chiminea and dinner on the deck. I have pinion wood which fills the air with the sweetest aroma. I’ll buy something special for dinner to treat myself. The dogs will be with me, they always are.

“She calls it ‘stick season,’ this slow disrobing of summer,leaf by leaf, till the bores of tall trees rattle and scrape in the wind.”

September 15, 2022

Today is a sloth day. The last few days I have expended vast amounts of energy cleaning the house, and I need to revitalize. I have washed and waxed the kitchen floor, one bathroom floor, the hall and the stairs. I have vacuumed and polished. I have rearranged the den trying for a bit of order, less clutter. I am crazed.

My house and yard have a new rule, nothing dead. Nala was playing with a spawn in the yard, one which had already received its unearthly reward. She’d toss it, play with it and then take it for a run. She wouldn’t give it to me. She brought it through the dog door, probably for a tour of the house. I yelled and she took it back outside. Later, I had to shut the backdoor on the dogs when I went on my errand. The spawn was outside. When I got home, I went through the gate to the backyard, found the spawn and got it out of my yard. Nala never noticed.

This morning is chilly at only 63°. It is a sunny day with a blue sky. The breeze is strong. The high will only be in the low 70’s. The low will be 54°. Summer is waning in the face of fall.

When I was a kid, I loved fall best of all. I’d walk in the gutters filled with leaves on my way to school. The leaves were perfectly piled for wading through and kicking them into the air. It was like a storm of leaves blowing left and right and into the street. Sometimes, though, the leaves on the bottom were wet, even soggy. Kicking them did nothing. They were too wet to move. My shoes got ugly with pieces of wet leaves. I didn’t care. I was a kid.

Once the fall mornings got chilly, we’d have hot food for breakfast. Some mornings we had oatmeal, that thick, lumpy, paste-like oatmeal. I’d pour milk on the oatmeal and add sugar. Both made it palatable. I don’t eat oatmeal anymore. There was always toast, white toast browned perfectly. Sometimes there were eggs, usually soft-boiled. They were my favorite.

My school had no cafeteria so the only hot lunch I’d ever have was soup in my thermos. Mostly it was chicken noodle. My mother always included Saltines. She never missed a beat.

Yesterday I had a grilled cheese sandwich with tomatoes for dinner. I yummed my way through each bite. The dogs got none of it. Some things are just not meant for sharing.

“You know you haven’t stopped talking since I came here? You must have been vaccinated with a phonograph needle.” 

September 13, 2022

Yesterday it rained most of the day. The humidity stayed high even after the rain had stopped. The air in the house was so thick I turned on the AC and had a comfortable night sleeping. Today is cloudy and damp. Thunder storms are predicted for this afternoon with a high of 76°.

Nala has had a wonderful time. Last night, when she didn’t come in, I went looking. I saw her near the deck with a dead something in her mouth. I tried to have her drop it. Nope! She ran around the yard with her trophy. I decided to go back into the house. I shut the back door so she wouldn’t be tempted to bring the dead thing into the house. Not five minutes later, she was whacking the door so I checked, no dead thing. I let her into the house. This morning it was a loaf of bread, a brand new loaf of bread I had just opened so I could have toast. I put the bread into the toaster then answered the phone. When I went back to the kitchen, I saw it was gone. I raced outside. Nala had the loaf in her mouth. I started to shame her. Her stub of a tail was wagging and she looked guilty. She dropped the loaf which surprised the heck out of me. When I got back inside, the toast I had forgotten about was burned almost beyond recognition.

I got my new covid booster and a flu shot yesterday. I chose to have both in one arm. That arm is just a bit sore today. Next, I have to schedule my second pneumonia and my second shingles shots.

When I was I kid, I was playing with friends when I knocked the scab off my smallpox shot. It was on my leg. My doctor had said it was better than having a scar on my arm. I was afraid I’d need another shot. I didn’t. That scar stayed for years but has since disappeared.

Shots have never bothered me even when I was kid. I’ve seen people faint after getting a shot. Others got dizzy and put their heads between their legs to ward off fainting. Before I went to South America, my friend, my travel companion, and I went to Boston to get shots. They weren’t available here. I think we got three or four. She was a put her head between her legs shot taker. I just grimaced.

In Ghana, I was protected against just about everything. We got a yellow fever shot before we left the country. In Ghana, after a couple of days, we had shot day. I was okay with that as most of the diseases and such could be found in the region where I was going to live. I had never heard of half of the shots. We got typhus, diphtheria, tetanus, polio, gamma globulin and rabies, all in one day. The gamma globulin was every six months. A cholera epidemic broke out while I was there so we had that shot but later than the rest. We were supposed to take Aralen every week to ward off malaria, but we only took it during the rainy season. During the dry season, there were no bugs.

I guess I was well protected as I didn’t get any diseases. I did get the travelers’ disease, a race to the bathroom disease, but almost everybody gets that. I just made sure I was fast.

“Dance is the hidden language of the soul” 

September 12, 2022

Around 2, I was reading in bed. The dogs were comfortable, one beside me and the other at my feet. I thought I heard something so I put my book down to listen. It was an uncommon sound. I listened intently and then realized it was drops of rain. I listened longer just because it was the rain. This morning is still rainy, foggy and only 67°. I am so glad I chose not to wash the floors yesterday; instead, I planted the last of the flowers I had bought.

When I was a kid, the whole week loomed before me starting on Sunday nights when I had to go to bed early. “It’s a school night,” my mother would say as if I needed to be reminded. Monday mornings were the worst. Early was the word of the day: up early, dressed early and an early school morning breakfast of cocoa, eggs, cereal, either hot or cold, and toast. I’d bolt down my breakfast then grab my lunch box and my school bag before I was out the door for the walk to school.

When I was in the first grade, I had to memorize pages of answers from the catechism, the Baltimore Catechism. I remember some even now, 69 years later. Who made you? God made me. Who is God? God is the creator of all things. Where is God? God is everywhere. That last question had me thinking. Did that mean in bathrooms or at the movies? I pictured God in flowing robes enjoying himself on a Ferris wheel, but I never did ask those questions. I instinctively knew Sister Redempta would get mad.

One of the silliest things I remember was when we were told to make room for our guardian angels on our desk seats. I found sitting on half a seat uncomfortable, and besides, angels could fly. Why did mine need my seat? I didn’t ask that question either.

The best church service I ever attended was in Ghana, in Bawku. My Ghanaian sister invited me to a New Year’s Eve service at her church. It was amazing. It was filled with clapping, singing and dancing in the aisles. Women back then wore traditional clothing made from bright Ghanaian fabric. Flashes of color whirled by me as the women danced their way down the aisle. My sister grabbed me, and I joined the dancing, sort of, with my rhythmless steps, but the Ghanaians didn’t care I couldn’t dance. They smiled at me anyway, happy I had joined them.

“Autumn carries more gold in its pocket than all the other seasons.” 

September 11, 2022

My house still holds the night chill, but outside is warm, already 77°. It’s cloudy still, but the prediction is for sun and 82°. I have an empty dance card but still have a couple of things around the house to do, like washing the kitchen and bathroom floors. I bought some flowers on sale yesterday. One is a huge flowering plant which will need a big hole. I also bought some more rosemary and some lavender. I love the aromas of both of those plants. I run my hand up the rosemary stalks so my hand smells of rosemary. The lavender is for the front garden, the rosemary for the deck.

The nights are chilly now, down to the 60’s. They are not yet sweatshirt sweater, but that is coming. I did put socks on the other night, my first concession to the fading summer and the coming of fall.

Yesterday the roads were almost clear. Summer traffic has disappeared. Even the dump was nearly empty. I finished my three errands quickly. It was hot in the sun among the plants at Agway. I could have bought some more, but I needed to be in the cool store. Those plants are the ones waiting to be added to pots and to the garden. They will be the next chore. I bought two small pumpkins yesterday for the dining room table. They add color to my house.

Outside by the driveway one of the trees has red leaves. It is the first to wear fall.

When I was a kid, I used to collect and save all the red and yellow leaves. They were ironed into wax paper. Their colors never faded. My walk to school was under a canopy of tree limbs and leaves. I saw the leaves change color gradually. First came the reds, then the yellows, the brightest of all.

The mums on the front steps have bloomed, one is orange, the other yellow. They say, in their unique way, welcome to my house, welcome fall.

“We create our future by chasing our dreams, and it’s what we become in the pursuit of our dreams that makes the journey worth it.”

September 10, 2022

The morning is beautiful. The trees are still. The air smells sweet. The only sounds are the birds and the bugs. Today is starting to be a perfect day.

I have been busy whittling my list. Yesterday was an award winning day. I was able to cross off three chores. I planted the perennials I bought the other day in the buy one, get one sale. They are purple and red and are in the front garden. I hung the Ghanaian flag next to the Peace Corps flag. That sounds simple, but it wasn’t. I was screwing the holder into the tree, but my new tool got away from me and the screw went flying. I used my hand drill. The flag was already on a pole, but the pole was bent and wouldn’t go into the holder. Two poles later, the flag was in the holder and being blown by the wind. I figure anyone who notices the flag will probably wonder why I am flying the Black Star. I put down the contact paper in the medicine chest and threw away expired gels and such. Some were ancient. I did one chore not on the list and put new books into my little library.

This morning I have already been busy. The laundry is in the washing machine.

When I was a kid, Saturday was all mine. I could do whatever I wanted. Sometimes, mostly in the winters, I went uptown with my father while he got a haircut, brought his shirts to the laundry and stopped at a few stores to greet friends, townies. Mostly, though, I was a Saturday wanderer. Usually I was by myself.

My town was a remarkable place. It was small, but it had everything I ever needed. The library was my favorite spot. I browsed Woolworth’s even when I had no money. I watched at the side window of the Chinese laundry where shirts were being ironed on a big, flat machine. The barber shop had two chairs. I remember the hair on the floor. A bank was at end of the square as was the post office. Two funeral homes were across the street. One was always Catholic and the other was not. A little bit down Main Street were a few more stores just out of the square. My favorite was Santoro’s sub shop, a tuna sub with pickles and hot peppers please.

I pull out memories every now and then from my memory drawers. Most drawers, especially from my childhood, are overflowing, filled beyond the brim. I can close my eyes and see it all as it was. I find comfort in those memories. I get to see my mother and father again. I see my childhood hopes and dreams. I see my becoming.

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