Archive for the ‘Musings’ category

“People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day.”

June 30, 2020

Today is damp and cloudy and cooler than I expected. My back is a bit better, but I doubt I’ll go out. I’ll shower, my concession to cleanliness, and I’ll probably read, my nod to literacy. I have a slew (pile? bunch? bevy?) of new books I’ve downloaded. I have plenty of dog and cat food. I have a freezer full of human food. I have a bag of lemon Oreos.

When I was a kid, being quarantined, for even the two weeks, would have been torment for us and for my mother. I think my father would have found his way around it and gone to work. He was a salesman for a tobacco wholesale company. Essential? Maybe? The TV would have been on all day into the night. I think we would have run out of stuff to do in a couple of days. We would have whined and begged my mother to let us out. She would have been frustrated to the point of yelling. My father would have never worn a mask.

I love cheeseburgers. I love hot dogs. My freezer has plenty of both. I don’t use ketchup on either. It would be sacrilege to use it on a hot dog, and I use mayo on my burger. My French fries get ketchup. My onion rings get salt. I am open as to the kind of cheese on my burger. The rolls must be toasted.

I don’t hear a sound from outside. I don’t even hear a car. The branches and leaves are still. My house is quiet. The two cats and the dog are having their morning naps, but were I to rustle paper, Henry and Jack would rush downstairs thinking a human treat to be shared. They’d be disappointed.

I like looking at the background rooms of the houses of people who are remotely on TV. Some rooms are ugly. Some wallpaper is scary. One kitchen was huge and monochromatic, white. I like the cluttered rooms. They have personality. I like Seth Meyers’ Thorn Birds and Jimmy Kimmel’s Aunt Chippy with the foul mouth whom Jimmy loves to punk. I like Jimmy Fallon’s slide and Stephen Colbert’s drinks. Colbert really does need a haircut that is unless he is hoping for a man bun.

“I ran into the street barefoot and danced with my mouth open.”

June 29, 2020

Today is an ugly day. It rained more last night. Everything is still wet. Flowers are drooping, and tree limbs are closer to the ground. The furniture covers I spread out to dry have new pockets of rainwater so I’ll have to empty them again if the sun ever returns.

My back is so very painful right now. I have no idea what I might have done two days ago as the pain started yesterday. I didn’t lift anything heavy. Maybe I turned the wrong way. This morning I could barely get out of bed. I moan when I move. Henry watches me from around the corner, his head the only part of him I can see. I think Jack is upstairs. I saw Gwen sort of hiding in the cats’ room. Henry is late for his morning nap.

When I was a kid, I loved getting soaked by a summer rain. I’d stand outside with my arms spread wide and my mouth open hoping to catch some drops. I’d splash the running rivers which ran along the gutters beside the sidewalks. We’d splash each other and laugh at the sheer joy of getting wet on a hot summer’s day.

On the hot days, my little sisters ran through the sprinkler. Ours was often set on the grass along the side wall of the house. It spun in a circle and made noise. I remember my sisters would spread out their towels in the sun as if the yard were a beach. They’d take turns running and jumping over the sprinkler. They’d lie in the sun to dry.

I have a list of stuff to keep me busy. The list isn’t long. Reading tops the list. That was an easy choice. Sporadic cleaning is next because I do that already. I use my sleeve. The rest of the list is fluid. It changes with my mood. On the way through the living room, I sometimes stop and rearrange stuff like the pillows. In the kitchen I move the canisters around on the counter, but they usually end up in the same spot where they started. Strangely enough I am seldom bored. I have learned to take it easy, to slow down and sometimes to do nothing. But when I do nothing, I feel a bit of residual guilt imprinted on me by the nuns. That’s okay I suppose. It keeps me honest.

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

June 28, 2020

My back makes it painful to move. I keep trying to remember what I might have done to cause this but nothing comes to mind. The pain started yesterday. This morning, I grabbed anything close like door knobs so I could move forward. Getting down the stairs took a while.

Last night it rained. I was glad when I heard the drops on the back window. It has been a dry couple of months.

Today is perfectly lovely. Out the window, I can see the blue sky through the leaves of the oak tree. The sun is bright and beautiful. I am going nowhere today. Yesterday I went to Agway. Well, I drove by Agway. The parking lot was filled. I went to Hart Farm. The parking lot was filled. I went to Ring’s Market. Surprise, surprise, the parking lot was full. I went home. I had been riding around for a half hour. I ordered my groceries on line. They came a couple of hours later. The flowers will have to wait until tomorrow.

In the summer, on Sundays. when I was a kid, I did everything I could to avoid the actual mass. It took some planning. The mass with the most people was the early one. I tried to get there as late as I could before the mass started. I wanted there to be full pews, no room for sitting. Standing room only was in the entry way. It overflowed to the stairs. That’s where I sat.

In Ghana, at my school, Sundays were different than any other day. My students, all females, wore their most formal dresses. Each of the four years had different prints for those dresses. There were three pieces: top, skirt and a matching cloth folded and placed over one shoulder. Every Sunday, late morning, there was a service of sorts in the cafeteria/church/meeting hall. The students sang hymns and a guest speaker gave a sermon of sorts. The guests included: clergy, imams, education officers and me. I got tapped once. I remember I used an Aesop tale as my base, but I don’t remember which one. I think I confused everybody.

I have a few things to do today, or not!

“Sup with the sudden harmattan weather anyway? Making my beard feel like those iron sponges.”

June 27, 2020

The morning is lovely, but the day will be hot. It is already 78˚. I expect to have the AC cranking so the house will be nice and cold when I get home from errands.

The weather in Bolgatanga, Ghana was extreme. It was divided into the rainy season and the dry season. The rainy season was hot and oppressively humid. The dry season was sweltering. Strangely enough, though, it actually got chilly in early December, down to the 70’s at night from around 100˚ during the day. I needed a blanket for my bed. The worst of the dry season, the harmattan, began after Christmas. The Harmattan is a dry, dusty wind that blows from the Sahara desert. It hangs around for a couple of months and envelops everything in a cloud of dust. The sand covers the sun. I remember chapped lips and split heels on both feet. The Sahara sand, looking like a large brown cloud, has been blown here. It is the Harmattan.

Halleluia!! I have a list. I needed a list to get me moving. This morning I used the back of my t-shirt to dust shelves in the kitchen while the coffee was brewing. I haven’t done that in a while. Most of my list is for outside, for the deck and garden. I never did my errands yesterday; instead, I stayed home and did stuff around the house and on the deck. The errands are first on my today’s list.

When I was a kid, my father was in charge of outside while my mother ruled inside. The outside was easy: cut the grass and water the flowers in summer and shovel the steps and free the car in winter. My mother cleaned, cooked, washed clothes and took care of us. She was always busy. She was the one who had to discipline us. When we got older, she threw things at us. I remember the dictionary whizzed by my head and hit the wall. Next were her slippers. She’d throw them at us and tell us to bring them to her. We knew better. The slippers weren’t just projectiles. She wanted to whack us with them. She seldom caught us.

“Life is a combination of magic and pasta.”

June 26, 2020

Today is cloudy and damp. It is already warm, 75˚. Rain is a possibility, but a remote possibility. My house is clean, and I didn’t do any cleaning. Lee and Roseana did. Lee checked, as he always does, to see if I had anything he needed to do. I forgot to have him switch the storm doors for the screen doors. I’ll do it, but I won’t bring the storms down the cellar. They are awkward and heavy. I don’t do stairs while carrying awkward anymore.

The Cape is not a hotbed of exotic restaurants. Falmouth used to have a Caribbean restaurant, and I made the forty five minute trip a few times for goat and plantain. That restaurant is gone now. Wellfleet had a wonderful Mexican restaurant, and, again, I was happy for the ride. That too is gone. Asian restaurants are plentiful. I can eat Thai, Chinese, Indian and Vietnamese. I tried that last one only once so I probably should try it again. Down Cape is a South African restaurant. I have been there several times. The food is different than West African food, but I’ve happily made do with beef bobotie.

Once a week I order delivery, except this week when I ordered twice, but one order was lunch so it doesn’t count. A couple of days ago I had a Panera delivery of a Cuban sandwich. It was both lunch and dinner, half for one and half for the other. I’ve had fish and chips, a fish sandwich, seafood pasta, pizza, subs, cheeseburgers, beef with mashed potatoes and asparagus, a piece of peanut pie and some chocolate chip cookies. I figure I am helping my local restaurants stay afloat, and I’m salving my angst.

I didn’t go out yesterday, just because. I am going out today as I need a change of scenery. I have two stops. One is the nursery, and the other is the grocery store. I need bread and I need chocolate.

“In the right light, at the right time, everything is extraordinary.”

June 25, 2020

Everything is as it should be. The trash is gone. My shower has a new floor, the posts on the garden fence are back in place, all my deck flowers have been planted, the table, the grill and the lounge furniture were cleaned and the deck itself was power washed. I have a few decorative touches to add like small tables, prayer flags and candles, but that won’t take long. I’m ready for a summer of lolling on the deck.

The crossword puzzle in the globe had a great clue, one I knew right away. The clue wanted the country between Togo and Nigeria. It is Benin which was called Dahomey when I lived in Ghana. One of my trips was to go from Ghana, to Togo to Benin.

Today is cloudy and damp. The day is already hot, in the high 70’s. The house, though, is pleasantly cool.

I still need a few more flowers for the clay pots on the deck and some potting soil. I also need to put the furniture covers away. They were left out so they could dry. I need to get a new grill cover. That would be cover number 4.

Every night I light the small lamp in the living room, the over the sink light in the kitchen and the lamp here in the den. I still have white lights in the windows and a string of lights outside coming from the big lit star. I noticed a neighbor up the street also has a lit string of lights.

I remember summer nights when I was a kid. The living room was always dark, lit by a single lamp and the flickering light from our black and white TV. I sometimes sat outside on the back steps. I could hear the muted voices of our close neighbors. Their windows and back doors were open. I could hear the TV from next door. I used to sit there a while taking in the night.

Other than last year, I wound strings of lights around the deck rail. Some lights lasted a while while others went dead in a couple of nights. The spawns of Satan chewed the wires. I have three sets of lights I have been reluctant to put outside. The chewed lights were cheap, only $3 or $4 dollars a string, but the store where I bought the cheap lights was closed. The new lights I bought on line. I’m thinking I’ll take the risk. I love the lights at night.

The other night I saw my first firefly. It blinked by the window so I went out, found him and followed his light across the backyard. I remember the field below my house. During the day grasshoppers jumped in front of me as I walked, but at night, the field was glorious, lit by the fireflies which flew all over. I’d sit at the top of the hill and never tire of watching. I knew fairies were real.

“The game’s in the refrigerator, the door’s closed, the lights out, the eggs are cooling, the butter’s getting hard and the Jell’o’s jiggling.

June 23, 2020

The morning is cloudy. It is already getting hot. The forecast is sun and a high of 79˚. Yesterday I turned on the AC for most of the day. I was comfortable. Henry didn’t pant.

When I was a kid, we didn’t even have a fan. Upstairs was hot. Downstairs was always cooler because my mother kept the shades down and the curtains shut. She seldom used the oven because it heated the whole kitchen, a small kitchen. I don’t remember ever minding the heat even at night. My days were so full I was always tired and fell asleep easily. Last night, in the wonderfully cool house, I fell asleep just as easily.

The day of the deck has begun. Skip, my factotum, has been missing in action. I called and left messages, and I wrote to his friend Bobby on Facebook who is usually with him, but I got no answers. Don is outside starting work from a list. The first job is replacing the rotted wooden floor of the outside shower. He also has to remove three front fence posts which have rotted then replace them with new posts. That’s not so easy as flowers cover the fence. The herbs and flowers for the deck have to be potted, but I still need more flowers so I’ll go in a bit to Agway.

When it got really hot, pre-AC, I’d sleep downstairs on my pull out couch and leave the back door open to catch any air. After I bought a fan, I moved back upstairs and had the fan blowing right on me. Then I got an AC for the bedroom, and my room always got cold. My house redo included central air. It was the perfect choice. I love lolling in my cool house.

“The truth is that everyone is bored, and devotes himself to cultivating habits.”

June 22, 2020

The heat will be around all week. The humidity will return tomorrow. Yesterday, the house got hot, 77˚, so the AC ran all afternoon into the evening. When I needed my sweatshirt, I knew the house was cold enough. Upstairs, though, stayed warm. I arranged my hand fan on the bed so my face got the breeze. I fell asleep.

The sun was shining when I woke up, but it has since disappeared behind clouds. The day is a bit darker, but no rain is predicted, just heat. There is an every now and then breeze but in-between the leaves are still. According to the forecast, the sun will be back. It will be another hot day. I’m keeping my sweatshirt handy.

I’m going to buy the rest of my deck flowers today. They’ll be planted tomorrow. After that will be the grand opening of the deck. I’ll play some John Philip Souza and wave flags.

When I was growing up, we all got measles and maybe chicken pox. If one kid got it, we all got it. I remember the itch of the chicken pox. I had the measles when I was about nine or ten. I didn’t get the mumps. Before we could go to school, we had to have a smallpox vaccine shot. Mine was on my upper leg but some of my friends got it on their upper arms. It made an ugly scar.

I was okay for the first couple of months, but I suspect if you now check the dictionary for the definition of bored you’ll see a picture of me yawning. My days really are boring. I clean a little, and I read a lot. I finished another book last night. I watch TV but not so much, mostly movies. I watch for maybe fifteen or twenty minutes then I get bored again. My Netflix roll of movies for Kathleen to continue watching is long.

I’ve already dust mopped the floor. I did it on my way back from the kitchen. I never do just one thing anymore. If I go upstairs, I clean the table on the way and then the stairs on the way down. I hate cleaning.

I am going out today!

“I’m always going to love my father.”

June 21, 2020

This is my annual Father’s Day post. Many of you read it every year. It is about my amazing father, my funny and loving father. It brings back a rush of memories every time I read it. It makes me smile and long for my father. He was one of a kind in the best of all possible ways. This morning, as soon as I woke up, I wished him a Happy Father’s Day.

In my front garden are a couple of ground cover plants. They have been there for years. My father planted them for me. One weekend he and my mother came down to visit. My dad brought his lawn mower, a hand mower, garden tools and those few plants. While my mother and I shopped, my dad mowed the lawn in the front and the back. Both yards were fields no longer. He weeded the garden. I could see the flowers. The garden was lovely. I get to remember that weekend every time I go out the front gate and see my father’s plants. They touch my heart.

I have so many memories of growing up, of family trips and my dad trying to whack at us from the front seat and never succeeding, of playing whist in the kitchen, with the teams being my mom and me against my dad and brother, of Sunday rides, of going to the drive-in and the beach and of being loved by my dad. Memories of my dad are with me always, but today my memories are all of my dad, and my heart is filled to the brim with missing him. When I close my eyes, I see him so clearly.

On a warm day he’d be sitting on the front steps with his coffee cup beside him while reading the paper. He’d have on a white t-shirt and maybe his blue shorts. He’d wave at the neighbors going by in their cars. They all knew him and would honk back. He loved being retired, and we were glad he had a few years of just enjoying life.

He was the funniest guy, mostly on purpose but lots of times by happenstance. We used to have Dad stories, all those times when we roared and he had no idea why. He used to laugh along with us and ask, “What did I say? What did I say?” We were usually laughing too hard to tell him. He was a good sport about it.

I know you’ve heard this before, but it is one of my favorite Dad stories. He, my mom and I were in Portugal. I was driving. My dad was beside me. On the road, we had passed many piggyback tandem trucks, all hauling several truck loads behind them. On the back of the last truck was always the sign Vehiculo Longo. We came out of a gas station behind one of those. My father nonchalantly noted, “That guy Longo owns a lot of trucks.” I was laughing so hard I could barely drive and my mother, in the back seat, was doubled over in laughter.

My father wasn’t at all handy around the house. Putting up outside lights once, he gave himself a shock which knocked him off his step-ladder. He once sawed himself out of a tree by sitting on the wrong end of the limb. The bookcase he built in the cellar had two shelves, one on the floor and the other too high to use. He said it was lack of wood. When painting the house once, the ladder started to slide, but he stayed on his rung anyway with brush in hand. The stroke of the paint on the house followed the path of his fall. Lots of times he set his shoe or pant leg on fire when he was barbecuing. He was a big believer in lots of charcoal lighter fluid.

My father loved games, mostly cards. We played cribbage all the time, and I loved making fun of his loses, especially if I skunked him. When he won, it was superb playing. When I won, it was luck. I remember so many nights of all of us, including aunts and uncles, crowding around the kitchen table playing cards, especially hi-lo jack. He loved to win and we loved lording it over him when he lost.

My father always said he never snacked, and my mother would roll her eyes. He kept chocolate under the couch, hidden from everyone else, but, we, everyone else, knew. He loved Pilot Crackers covered with butter. Hydrox was his preferred cookie. His vanilla ice cream was always doused with Hershey’s syrup. That man did love his chocolate.

My father was a most successful businessman. He was hired to turn a company around and he did. He was personable and funny and remembered everyone’s names. Nobody turned him down.

My father always went out Sunday mornings for the paper and for donuts. He never remembered what kind of donut I like. His favorite was plain. He’d make Sunday breakfast when I visited: bacon, eggs and toast. I can still see him standing over the stove with a dish towel over his shoulders. He always put me in charge of the toast.

If I ever needed anything, I knew I could call my father. He was generous. When we went out to eat, he always wanted to pay and was indignant when we one upped him by setting it up ahead of time that one of us paid. One Christmas he gave us all $500.00, not as a gift but to buy gifts.

My father left us when he was far too young. It was sudden. He had a heart attack. I had spoken with him just the day before. It was pouring that day, and I told him how my dog Shauna was soaked. He loved that dog and told me to wipe his baby off. I still remember that whole conversation. I still miss my father every day. 

“Flowers seem intended for the solace of ordinary humanity.”

June 20, 2020

Today is the summer solstice, the longest day of the year.

When I opened the front door, I was surprised to find the morning so hot, already in the high 70’s. My house had stayed comfortably cool all night and into the early morning (that would be 9 for me). I did run the AC for a while yesterday. The house was 78˚, too hot for me.

Dinner last night had me yumming the whole time. I had roast beef, creamy mashed potatoes and peas, just about my favorite dinner. On the day before I left for the Peace Corps and Ghana, it was my last dinner at home.

Starting Monday, restaurants can have indoor diners. Governor Baker is slowly opening up the state, but I’m still in the house. I only go out if I have to or need to. The need to go comes more often now. I get to a point where I have to take a ride to maintain my sanity (a bit of a hyperbole but only a bit).

I need more flowers and herbs. I’ll have to go early tomorrow when the morning is still cool. The heat will be hanging around all next week.

When I was a kid, my father only put flowers in the garden below the picture window. He always chose marigolds or pansies. This year I bought marigolds, the first time I can remember ever buying them. They aren’t the prettiest or the most colorful, but they bring back memories of my dad. They’re going into one of the deck boxes.

This morning, the air was sweet with the smell of cut grass. Saturday is when my grass is mowed, and my deck is blown clean. This week will be the grand opening of the deck for summer 2020 after the flowers are planted in the boxes, the furniture is uncovered and everything is cleaned. I do need a new cover for my barbecue. I think this will be cover 4. The spawns of Satan took one. It just disappeared. I never found a single piece of it. They stripped the underneath of another one, nest material I figured, by making holes. Number 3 is lying on the ground pockmarked with holes and ready to be trashed.

I did make a small list. I seem to need one to get myself moving. The plants will get watered. I now have my pass for the dump so I’ll go today or tomorrow. My car needs gas for the first time in three months. I guess that’s forward progress.