Archive for the ‘Musings’ category

“The past is never dead, it is not even past.”

November 18, 2018

The morning is chilly, not cold, just chilly. The sun is out, but the sky does have a few clouds. I watched a spawn of Satan try to eat seeds from the feeders. It went from the long feeders to the suet feeders. My favorite was watching him on the roof of a suet feeder. He had trouble balancing and the feeder swayed from to side then he jumped off. He finally found one, but he had to eat upside down though he didn’t seem hindered. The feeder is empty. I’ll put in new seeds, but I’ll sprinkle them with cayenne.

Yesterday I was walking into my den when I realized I was in my favorite place at the perfect moment in time. The light was on, and it spread warmth throughout the room. The dog was stretched on the couch, and I could hear him deep breathing. I felt contented, and I smiled at my good fortune.

Life is really a quilt of moments sewn together without any thought to design, color or shape. The whiff of a familiar smell or the shape of a hand or the color of a shirt brings back a moment and connects us with an experience, never forgotten but seldom recalled. We hear a few notes from a long ago song, and, with a whoosh, the rest of the experience comes roaring into our memories and floods us with all the people and places forever connected to that song, memories we had shelved. The smell of a pie transports me to a small kitchen at 16 Washington Ave and the baking mitt on my mother’s hand. All of a sudden I’m remembering Thanksgiving and Christmas and cinnamon and sugar cookies, all triggered by the memory of my mother wearing that mitt and pulling a shelf from the oven.

One afternoon, walking home from school, I got so soaking wet even my shoes bubbled. When I got in the door, I shed the wet wear, went upstairs, got cozy and jumped into bed, book in hand. I nestled under the covers, turned on the bed lamp and began to read. As I was lying there, I felt warm and protected. Yesterday, it was the memory of that so long ago moment which gave me cause to smile. 

“God in His wisdom made the fly And then forgot to tell us why.”

November 17, 2018

Today is sunny with a breeze strong enough to drop more leaves. My grass and driveway have disappeared. After the yard had been cleared, it took only a day for them to be hidden again. My father would have spent a day like today raking and then burning the leaves.

I have had a few false starts this morning. I think my muse is still sleeping. First I wrote about today’s obituaries. The one of the woman described as loving to shop caught my eye. I wondered if she’d approve of that legacy. Then there was the man who bowled, his favorite pastime, and I wondered about my own obituary, but then I got stuck so I stopped, thought a bit then went on to another subject. Yearbooks were next. I always felt bad for the kids with nothing under their pictures. They spent four years of high school being phantoms. From there I jumped to still waters run deep, the classic description of the shy kid no one knew well. At that point I stopped and deleted what I’d written. It had led nowhere.

I then sat for the longest time letting my mind wander. Here’s where it went: I thought about pajamas with matching tops and bottoms. Mine were flannel in the winter and cotton in the summer. I remembered wearing them to the drive-in and having to put on my robe to go to the bathroom, about the only time I ever wore it. White canvas sneakers with pointed toes were fashionable when I was in high school. I thought they were uncomfortable as my toes didn’t have enough room, but I wore them anyway. Pain for beauty is what my mother used to say. We always kept a fly swatter in the house. I remember trying to perfect my technique. I had to be slow in aiming but quick in swatting. Now that I think about it, the fly swatter was pretty gross. It was never cleaned but kept hanging on a hook in the kitchen anyway. Even grosser than the swatters were those fly paper strips which hung from the ceiling. They spiraled like an odd decoration and were always covered in dead flies which had gotten stuck to the paper.  They were mostly in stores up town. I never thought them strange or disgusting.

Well, look at this: despite the loss of my muse, I did manage to finish another entry in the Coffee saga.

“Oh, comfortable cocoa!”

November 16, 2018

We got some snow yesterday. It was only a little, but any snow is dramatic. After the snow came the rain, pouring rain, and the wind. I could hear clumps of the wet snow falling on the deck and against the house, but Henry never moved so I knew the sound didn’t come from an intruder. This morning when I went to get the papers I noticed a bit of snow in my neighbor’s yard. It would never have survived the rain so more snow must have fallen after the rain. Today is warm, in the 50’s. I didn’t expect that.

When I was a kid, the fresh wet snow meant a snowball fight. We’d bundle up and go outside hoping to find our snowball armies. We’d all get together and choose sides then we’d build two walls facing each other, our protection from the snow missiles. Finally, we’d make the ammo. Snowballs were especially easy to make when the snow was as wet as last night’s. We’d wait for heads to appear over the wall and then let loose. I had a good arm and a good aim. I was blessed.

Today is a dark day. The sun showed up behind the clouds earlier this morning then disappeared for good. It will get colder as the day winds into night.

Yesterday I craved a pizza for dinner, but it got too later to order delivery so I fell back on my breakfast anytime meal. I had two eggs over easy, some bacon and two pieces of toast. It was delicious, but today I’m ordering pizza, thin crust with chorizo.

I could go out, but I’m thinking staying inside and being warm and cozy. I’m thinking a hot chocolate with a spoonful of Fluff on top. When I was a kid, it was a favorite treat. I remember waiting for the Fluff to melt a bit so it spread across the top of the cocoa. I also remember the Fluff mustache and the fun of licking it off. For days like today, it’s a good thing I always have Fluff on hand.

“I had three chairs in my house; one for solitude, two for friendship, three for society.”

November 15, 2018

Last night was cold. Today is the same. The sky is covered in white clouds and rain is on its way. I’m going nowhere today. All I have on my to-do list is fill the bird feeders and water the plants.

My dining room is filled with plants. Some are on tables while others hang near the windows. There are no curtains on the three windows. The room is painted in what is called nutmeg. It is my favorite color of any of the rooms. The dining room table was made for me by a furniture maker using Shaker plans. That was close to 40 years ago. It was $400.00 which was a king’s ransom in those days. The chairs are mismatched on purpose. A shelf and two sconces were made for me by a friend’s father, also close to 40 years ago. He too used Shaker plans. The hutch is filled with Simon Pearce glasses bought in Ireland before he became famous. I can’t afford him now. Some Belleek pieces share the shelves. I bought them in Dublin. One wine glass sits in the middle of a shelf and is my favorite. My father bought it in Belgium during the war. There were four glasses so we each, my siblings and I, got one. I love my dining room.

My den is the grubby room. It is where I spend most of my time because the TV and computer are there. It alone of all the rooms hasn’t been painted in a long while because there are shelves too filled to empty and furniture too heavy to move. My friends got new furniture so I got their old couch and chair. I needed new furniture so I was thrilled at their offer. Henry and I both love the couch.

I bought my house in 1977 when I was 29. The mortgage was half my month’s salary so I was too poor to go anywhere or do anything. My trips to Europe ended. I had almost no furniture, but I did have a TV and a day bed. They were in the den where I spent all of my time even back then. Also in the den was a desk aka my dining table. I  laugh at these memories because I still pretty much live in the den but it is now filled with furniture and books, and I mean filled. I am where I started.

“There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.”

November 13, 2018

When I was still in bed, I heard the rain. It was a quiet rain but a constant rain. I fell back to sleep. When I woke up, the rain was pounding the roof. Poor Henry couldn’t wait. He ran outside during the worst of it. I gave him a bully stick as a reward when he came back inside. Henry has created a mystery. I found small pieces of chewed, decorative wood on the floor. I then walked through the dining room and the living room but couldn’t find any more chewed pieces, and I didn’t notice a spot where something should have stood. I need to keep hunting.

When I was a kid, our dog Duke ate canned dog food which was, in those days, mainly horse meat. I never gave it a second thought. It was just dog food to me. Fast forward to now. Henry eats food with no fillers. He eats healthier than I do. I can see the vegetables in each: the carrots, peas and potatoes. Gracie used to hate peas. She always managed to isolate them from the rest of her dinner. Henry eats everything. He does not have a discerning palate.

Today I have a few errands, necessary errands. I need cream for my coffee, and I need new library books. I’ve read three of the four I got last week. I’ve also read one I bought myself. My bedtime has shifted to the early hours, the wee hours, all the more time to read.

I think it was in college when I first started every day with coffee. My friends and I sat together in the canteen drinking coffee and reading the newspaper. We used to have a contest to see who could finish the crossword puzzle the fastest. If one of us had a class, another of us who had come in during the contest would take over the puzzle. Lording it all over the other puzzlers was the reward for being first. We did that well!

“In Boston serpents whistle at the cold.”

November 12, 2018

The mornings have no longer been just chilly. Of late they are downright cold. When I get the papers, I don’t stop anymore to admire the new day. I hurry inside to the warmth of the house, the smell of the coffee brewing and the taste of that first sip of coffee. My sweatshirt is necessary even in the house. I find as I get older I feel the cold more.

When I was a kid, I was oblivious to the cold. I remember sledding down our hill over and over, all day long. Clumps of snow stuck to my wool mittens. I used to shake the mittens to try to get rid of the clumps, but usually the mittens just fell off weighed down by those clumps but, not being deterred, I’d just put the mittens back on, clumps and all, and go down the hill again. By the time I went inside, my lips were sometimes blue from the cold. My fingers were numb. My feet were soaked from the snow which had fallen into my boots. My mother wouldn’t let us into the house so we had to slide down the snowy cellar stairs, go inside and take off all our wet clothes and hang them on the lines. When I was done, I’d hurry upstairs to put on my warm pajamas and slippers. The next day we’d start all over again by bundling ourselves in our now dry jackets, hats and mittens for another day on the hill.

I still have a wooden sled. I use it at Christmas time as an outside decoration. I cover it in lights and hang my old ice skates off the steering cross piece. It is a record, a picture, of my childhood winters, of sledding down the hill and skating at the swamp.

It will rain again tonight. We seem to have only a day or two in between rain storms. The last one was torrential, but I suppose I ought not to complain. Yesterday my sister said she already had 3 or 4 inches of snow and was expecting a total of at least 8. Lord, keep the rain coming!

“Lord, bid war’s trumpet cease; Fold the whole earth in peace.”

November 11, 2018

This is from an earlier post. I don’t think I can do better.

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, World War I ended. This day became known as “Armistice Day.” In 1921, an unknown World War I American soldier was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Similarly, unknown soldiers had been buried in England at Westminster Abbey and at France at the Arc de Triomphe. All of these memorials took place on November 11th to commemorate the end of the “war to end all wars.”

In 1926, Congress resolved to officially call November 11th Armistice Day. Then in 1938, the day was named a national holiday. Soon afterwords war broke out in Europe and World War II began.

Soon after the end of World War II, a veteran of that war named Raymond Weeks organized “National Veterans Day” with a parade and festivities to honor all veterans. He chose to hold this on Armistice Day. Thus began annual observances of a day to honor all veterans not just the end of World War I. In 1954, Congress officially passed and President Eisenhower signed a bill proclaiming November 11 as Veteran’s Day. Due to his part in the creation of this national holiday, Raymond Weeks received the Presidential Citizens Medal from President Reagan in November 1982.

In 1968, Congress changed the national commemoration of Veterans Day to the fourth Monday in October. However, the significance of November 11 was such that the changed date never really got established. In 1978, Congress returned the observance of Veterans Day to its traditional date.

On Memorial Day, 1958, two unidentified soldiers were interred at Arlington National Cemetery having died in World War II and the Korean War. In 1984, an unknown soldier who died in the Vietnam War was placed next to the others; however, this last soldier was later exhumed, and he was identified as Air Force 1st Lieutenant Michael Joseph Blassie. His body was removed.

The unknown soldiers are symbolic of all Americans who gave their lives in all wars. To honor them, an Army honor guard keeps day and night vigil.

National ceremonies commemorating Veterans Day occur each year at the the memorial amphitheater built around the Tomb of the Unknowns. At 11 AM on November 11, a color guard representing all military services executes “Present Arms” at the tomb. Then the presidential wreath is laid upon the tomb. Finally, the bugler plays taps.

Each Veterans Day should be a time when Americans stop and remember the brave men and women who have risked their lives for the United States of America. As Dwight Eisenhower said, “…it is well for us to pause, to acknowledge our debt to those who paid so large a share of freedom’s price. As we stand here in grateful remembrance of the veterans’ contributions we renew our conviction of individual responsibility to live in ways that support the eternal truths upon which our Nation is founded, and from which flows all its strength and all its greatness.”

“My favorite time of day is to get up and eat leftovers from dinner, especially spicy food.”

November 10, 2018

The weather today is cloudy, dark and damp. It poured so much last night that Henry wouldn’t go outside. I worried but he made it through the night without needing to go out; however, he did throw up, and I didn’t sense him jumping off the bed or hear him being sick. The poor baby!

When I checked the deck from the window, I noticed a few things gone awry. One of the feeders usually hanging off the deck was missing, a suet feeder had been stripped of its suet and was on the deck and the other suet feeder was all twisted around its hanger. Water had accumulated on two of the waterproof furniture covers. I went outside to put the deck aright. It is chilly out, and the deck has a cover of wet leaves so I went slowly so as not to slip. I collected the missing feeder from the ground and turned off the hose. I emptied the water from the covers and went to put the feeder back when I noticed the metal which keeps the feeder closed was all bent. A spawn of Satan must have been frustrated at not being able to get the seed so it tried to open the feeder by the metal hanger. The feeder now hangs crookedly on its hook. I need more mixed seed.

Last night I cooked a real meal. Usually I do what’s easy like cereal, crackers and cheese or a sandwich. Last night I dined on curry pilaf and chicken shawarma. The meat came from Trader Joe’s. Henry was hoping for some, but the food was too hotly seasoned for him. He had to make do with a piece of cheese. I have enough left over for dinner tonight.

In Ghana, most of the food I’d buy in a chop bar ( a hole in the wall restaurant) was so hot it sometimes burned my lips. I got used to some heat but not when it was lip burning. When I ate in, Thomas, my cook, never used hot pepper. Once he used cinnamon my mother had sent. He couldn’t read and had no idea what it was. The food was inedible.

Today is so ugly I doubt I’ll go out. I see a nap in my future.

“November; Crows are approaching – Wounded leaves fall to the ground.”

November 9, 2018

The sun is in and out. It was bright when I woke up but is now hidden by clouds. The weather report is for rain this afternoon. When I went to get the papers, the wind was blowing leaves down the street. They sounded like raindrops.

My deck is bleak. The flower pots are gone and all the furniture is covered. The leaves too are gone, but the wind is blowing more of them off the trees onto the deck. Soon enough it will be covered again.

When I was a kid, the time between Halloween and Thanksgiving was boring. Every day was the same. I was caught in a kid’s rut: walk to school, wait in the schoolyard, go inside, do lessons, have lunch and recess, back to lessons, walk home, get into play clothes and maybe go outside a bit if it wasn’t too cold. I had to go back inside when the street lights came on and then I’d watch a little TV, eat dinner, watch more TV and then go to bed. If I had homework, it was sandwiched in before dinner. Back then I had very little homework, mostly spelling words and a work sheet or two, usually arithmetic. I had a good memory so the spelling words were easy to learn. The arithmetic was still easy, mostly problems to solve, and I had my fingers as backup.

Today is dump day. I always think of Gracie who loved the dump. Henry hasn’t yet come with me. I’m hoping he’ll get to love a ride the same way Gracie did. It will just take a bit of time and a huge amount of patience.

I’ve put out the basket filled with hats, gloves, scarves and mittens. My sandals are in the closet. I’ve started wearing socks, closed shoes and flannel shirts. I’m moving into winter.

“A squirrel is just a rat with a cuter outfit!”

November 8, 2018

Today isn’t as lovely as yesterday, but it is still a sweet autumn day. The sun is out. The sky is both blue and cloudy. It’s a warm day. The rain will return tomorrow.

My factotum is closing the deck which is so thick with oak leaves they covered my slippers yesterday when I went to fill the bird feeders. I kicked the leaves as I walked, a throwback from when I was a kid walking to school when the sidewalks were covered mostly in maple leaves. My landscaper said he is waiting this year until all the leaves and pine needles have fallen instead of clearing two or three times. My lawn has almost disappeared.

I went to the library on Monday and books have since absorbed my time. I finished one and am halfway through another. The librarian chose the four books and she chose well. A Borrowing of Bones by Paula Munier is my current book. It is on the table in front of me and tempts me to read just a page or two, but I know I’d never stop there so I won’t start reading until I finish here. I love finding books which capture my attention at the expense of  everything else.

When I was a kid, my mother used to yell at me and accuse me of ignoring her when I was reading, but I didn’t ignore her. I was so totally involved in my book I just didn’t hear her. When I’d tell her that, she’d scoff.

I have nothing on my to do list today. I actually did two loads of wash yesterday. The bags of laundry didn’t even sit in the hall for any time let alone the usual week or so. I brought  the laundry straight down to the cellar from upstairs. That’s like a new record for me. I also watered the plants, mopped the floor filled with Henry hair and filled all the bird feeders.

This morning I watched the deck and backyard from the kitchen window. The birds flew in and out of the feeders. Two red spawns of Satan chased each other up and down and around the biggest pine tree trunk. One grey squirrel walked on the deck rail looking for a vulnerable feeder hanging from the branches. He didn’t find one. That makes it 0-1 for the spawn of Satan!