Archive for the ‘Musings’ category

“We are all star stuff.”

July 15, 2019

The dog and the turkeys conspired to wake me up just after dawn. Henry stretched and his paw got me in the cheek. I could hear the turkeys. I decided I was more tired than curious so I went back to sleep. It was just after 8 when I woke up. The day was already lovely and warm but tending to hot. I fed the three pets and watered the deck plants then I corralled Henry to go with me to Dunkin for my coffee. I was glad. Henry wasn’t.

Tonight is the first movie night. We are later than usual due to other commitments and cold nights. I have a couple of possibilities for the movie, but I am leaning toward Capricorn One. It fits nicely into celebrating our accomplishments in space.

When I was a kid, I loved being out at night. I could see fireflies in the field below my house. The sky was full of stars. I could see the man in the moon. He was always smiling. I used to lie on the grass and look at the sky hoping to see a shooting star. Sometimes I did, and I always made a wish.

In Ghana is where I saw a sky so filled with stars you could read by their light. It was awesome. Some nights I’d sit outside by the rocks just beyond the back of my house craning my neck to see the sky. During the hottest time of the year, I used to sleep outside. I always saw a shooting star. Loving Ghana is easy.

Renters have moved in next door. They came on Saturday. I heard little kid’s voices so I looked out the window like a nosy old lady. I was glad to see a family as they never seem to be loud at night.

I have a few errands today. I’m okay with that as yesterday was a sloth day. I am over the trauma of last week except my fridge still freezes everything. I guess not everything can be perfect.

“Never kick a fresh turd on a hot day.”

July 14, 2019

Today my world has been righted. The line at Dunkin Donuts was short. I enjoyed two medium coffees as soon as I got home. My house is cool. Outside is hot so I’m quite comfortable.

My car’s air conditioning went off abruptly while I was in line for coffee. Immediately I thought bad karma had returned. Nope, I had hit the button when I was rummaging around for money. I turned the AC back on, “All’s right with the world!”

You’d swear I was abusing my animals if you had watched them at breakfast this morning. For the cats, I gave them fresh water, a full bowl of dry food and two cans of wet food. The big cat went right to the dish and started eating. When I got downstairs, I let Henry out and gave him his breakfast, his dry food. He came back inside and immediately began eating. When was the last time these poor animals ate? That would be last night.

When I was a kid, it was my brother’s chore to feed the dog. Duke ate two cans of dog food, horse meat in those days, every morning, but many mornings my mother ended up feeding Duke, my brother being remiss. Sometimes I did. I still remember how awful that food smelled.

My father didn’t like baseball or basketball. He loved watching hockey and football. One year we gave him a Christmas gift of a year of Bruins’ hockey. He was thrilled. My mother wasn’t so she bought him a small TV so he could watch upstairs. He never did. He watched on the big TV in living room. My mother went upstairs.

When I was growing up, I never noticed how hot the days got. I played softball all summer, walked to the town pool, a walk of a couple of miles, rode my bike and fell asleep without a fan. My sisters used to run through the sprinkler. The water was always cold at first, and they yelped, but the water felt warmer the wetter they got. I always thought of that as a kid thing.

In Ghana, in Bolga, I didn’t buy a fan, not wanting to spend the money. In the afternoon, when the day was the hottest, the post office and some stores closed. They reopened a few hours later. I learned to take it easy during these hours. I’d stay inside and read or even nap. I got used to the heat. That’s just the way it was. When other volunteers from the south visited, they couldn’t abide the heat and couldn’t imagine living in Bolga. I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. I love Bolga despite the harmattan, the humidity and all its heat. It was my home.

“It’s not so much the heat, it’s the humidity that’ll kill you.”

July 12, 2019

The rainstorm woke me up this morning. I could hear drops pounding on the roof and against the south window. I fell back to sleep. When I woke up, it was after ten. The rain had stopped and left humidity so thick you could cut with a knife (a New England aphorism).

I foolishly got in my car and went to Dunkin Donuts. The lines of traffic at each light were so long they were endless. Rain does that: it brings out the tourists in a symbiotic relationship with all the shops. The tourists drive with craned necks looking to stop for their souvenirs or for penny candy, cape t-shirts, ice cream or fudge. I should have known better, but the pull of coffee was too great.

The sun poked its head out for a few minutes, a taunting move, as thunder showers are predicted. The sky has gone back to cloudy. The air is still. I wouldn’t mind a thunder storm.

Henry wouldn’t use the dog door with the new flap. He got used to being waited on to go in and out. I tried bribery, begging and opening the flap as a demonstration, but none of them worked, but then this morning, without thinking, he went out through the flap but not in. I opened the door. His breakfast was waiting. He dismissed me after that.

My list of chores is mostly for outside so they’re on delay. I do have laundry to put away and laundry to fold from the drier. I’m thinking I’ll clean out the three baskets under the table here in the den. I can watch TV as I toil.

Fifty years ago I was in Ghana, in Peace Corps training. I missed the moon landing and Woodstock, but I didn’t care. I was in Africa.

“A little piece of everywhere I go becomes a big part of everything I do.”

July 11, 2019

The morning is cloudy and damp. The breeze is intermittent. Rain is predicted.

I think I am living under a curse. You know about Alexa. The next calamity was the dog door flap. It finally gave up the ghost when Henry was coming inside. I now have to let him in and out. I ordered a new flap. It arrived and was the right size but had too many screw holes. It has to be adapted. Last and most painful is the fridge. Everything in the bottom part is frozen. I called a repairman who said it was the thermostat. He couldn’t find the part so he suggested I call Sears. I found the part and ordered it. When I told him, he said it could be many parts even though he tried to order the thermostat. My last resort was to schedule a Sears repairman who can’t come until next week. This morning I had to get my coffee at Dunkin Donuts as I have no cream. The one saving grace was no traffic.

When I was a kid, milk went quickly. The four of us had cereal every summer morning. My mother had tall cereal boxes lined up in the cabinet, and we grabbed our favorites. I ate the Rice Krispies and my brother ate Cheerios. I don’t remember what my sisters ate. We also had milk with our lunches, sandwiches and at dinner. I remember how heavy the full glass milk bottles were. I used to spill.

I remember pieces of a few vacations we took when I was a kid. In Vermont the lake across the street had a drop off which was way over my head. I remember holding my father around the neck when he dove into the deep part with me. I remember the fish. A stream ran along the property line. We used to catch frogs there for the sport of it as we put them back. My father build a lean-to on the top of the hill behind the house. In Maine the water was freezing. My father used to row us across to a sandy spot near the house. I remember our dog Duke running in the bushes by the water to try to catch the boat. My father went back for him. I also remember we’d go into the water close to the beach and swim the rest of the way.

Once we visited my father’s aunts in New Hampshire. They lived next to a pond. I remember an old row boat beside the pond. It was overturned, and its paint was peeling. It had holes. My mother let us swim in the pond. I remember screaming. A few leeches were hanging off my chest and arms. My father ran and pulled them off me. I didn’t go back into the water.

“I personally am not conscious of my accent.”

July 9, 2019

This morning is already hot. The high should be around 82˚. For us, that is hot indeed. I am in my den which is still nighttime cool.

Big news on the cat front. The male, I think, has been napping on the front doormat in the sun. Henry meanwhile is napping upstairs on my bed. The cat continues to hiss and whack at Henry who just stands out of the way of that paw.

I never understood until I was older what my mother meant when she said someone had a hard row to hoe. Even when I knew what she meant, I wondered why a farm metaphor. She grew up in the city.

My father use to say cleanser for what the rest of us called the cleaners. He went to the cleanser every Saturday with his dirty white shirts and picked up his clean, starched white shirts. I used to wonder why he said cleanser. That, to me, meant Comet. When I was in the Peace Corps, I was reading a book about regional dialects. It mentioned that only people who grew up in Boston say cleanser, end of mystery.

I used to have a heavy Boston accent. With all my years on the cape, it has mostly disappeared though I do still drop my R’s. That accent gave me an advantage in Ghana. During training, we had a few large group lectures. One was about Ghanaian English. At one point I was asked to stand and repeat a sentence. When I did, the room laughed at my accent. No problem, I was used to that; however, the speaker then told the group I would be more easily understood by Ghanaians than anyone else in the room. I think I looked smug after that!

My sister and my nephew Ryan flew out here from Colorado often. That caused a huge problem for my nephew when he learned to talk. He didn’t call me ant when he talked to me. He said aunt. Later on, when he was a bit older, he had an ant climbing on his leg. Yup, he told my sister an aunt was on his leg. He has speech therapy to reconcile his Boston and Colorado accents. The therapist told my sister this was the first time she had worked with anyone with a vowel problem.

I have a friend from New Jersey. She has a far different accent than I and also has different words for common things. In the playground, I go down the slide. She doesn’t. She goes down the sliding pond. She also stands on line. I stand in line.

I order regular coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts. That means with sugar and cream. Foreigners, anyone not from New England, think that means black. Order a frappe if you want ice cream, not a milk shake. Don’t forget the jimmies on your ice cream cone.

“Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August.”

July 8, 2019

Today is almost my favorite sort of morning. It is cloudy and still. When I went to get the papers, I could smell the ocean so I stayed out on the deck a bit taking in the salty air and watching Henry in the yard.

Yesterday was frustrating. When I woke up, my two Alexas were not connected to the internet. I tried to connect them but failed so I called the help line. If I could have put my hand inside the receiver and shaken that woman I would have. She spoke too quickly and too softly. She repeated over and over during the marathon phone call. Not only did my Alexas not get connected, but I also could no longer connect to my network, Miss Kat. I had to use the unsecured Xfinity network. She told me that it was Xfinity’s fault. I pointed out to her that I had been connected until she got into the act and had doing all sorts of useless steps. She had me start all over from the Alexa site. I quoted Einstein, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” She didn’t say a word. I lost it and said she was useless and had made the situation worse. I just said thank you, being a polite sort, and hung up. A while later I got an email listing the same steps. I swore.

I did get my network back. I found a couple of sites which told me how. It was easy.

I do have to go out later. I’m heading to the dump and to Agway. I need more animal food.

When I was a kid, my summer wardrobe was shorts and mostly a sleeveless blouse and sneakers with socks. There was no such thing as sneaker socks. You could buy ankle socks and knee socks but not sneaker socks. We all wore Converse sneakers. My brother’s were black high tops and mine were white tennis shoes though I didn’t play tennis. I always wondered why they weren’t just called sneakers. Maybe calling them tennis shoes made them sound more sophisticated somehow.

All summer we mostly drank Zarex. The milk, even the chocolate milk, lasted. It was just too hot for milk. My mother would make Zarex in the morning in her blue aluminum pitcher. By nighttime, the pitcher would be empty.

I remember my two little sisters sitting outside on the back steps to eat their lunches. I have this picture in my head of Sheila sitting on a higher step than Moe. I remember their Zarex filled aluminum glasses which matched the pitcher though they were different colors. I don’t know why this memory stuck, maybe because it is a perfect picture of a summer afternoon.

“Maybe if we just lay beneath the stars long enough, all our worries will dissipate into the cosmos. And we can lay there motionless, yet sailing across the stars.”

July 7, 2019

Today’s weather is so very different from yesterday’s. Clouds dot the sky. The humidity has disappeared. The breeze is chilly and from the north. The house is cool. I love days like today.

Last night or rather sort of early in the morning I went to bed. It was around 1:30. I went to feed the cats and saw the bigger one, which I think is the male, on the bed. He didn’t leave so I went and patted him. He meowed and purred and rubbed against my hand. He jumped off the bed and followed me so I kept scratching his neck and head. He loved it. That was my mistake. That cat meowed and meowed except when he was hissing at poor Henry who was doing nothing. That cat never stopped. I kept feeling guilty so I’d get up and pat him. At around 2:30, I had to lead him into his room because he was lying on the top step scaring poor Henry who didn’t dare go by and join me upstairs. Finally, around three, Henry and I fell asleep to the sound of a cat meowing.

I’ve been watching Hallmark Christmas movies. I am a sucker for everything Christmas, but these movies make me think my Christmas celebrations are stark. The outside of their houses are totally decorated from the outline of lights to the figures in their front yards. The insides of their houses are filled with evergreen everywhere: on the mantle, down the stairs, around the windows and doors and all through the kitchen, and all the evergreen is lit with white lights. I’m guessing the bathrooms are the same, but the characters don’t seem to use them. There are certain givens in every Hallmark movie: main characters will fall in love, it will snow on Christmas, any character resembling Scrooge will fall in love with Christmas and all its trappings and every kid is smart and cute. I watch anyway.

When I was a kid, I loved summer mornings and summer nights. In the morning the air was cool and smelled of flowers. Sometimes I’d sit on the back steps to eat my cereal, my Rice Krispies. The sun shined on the hill behind my house and the clothes line posts were in shadow. The milkman would come, and I’d hear the rattle of his bottles in the wire carrier. The neighborhood would slowly wake up. At night the stars filled the sky and fireflies flitted. My neighbor’s houses were lit, and I could hear their voices through the screens. I always felt safe.

I know I live in a whole different world than the world of my childhood, but when I stand on my deck late at night, I can hear the night sounds of insects, and I can watch the flitting fireflies. I feel calm and safe.

“At home, my mother dabbed at her brow with a wet flannel she kept in the fridge for that purpose.”

July 6, 2019

The day looks beautiful through the window, sunny and bright with a blue sky, but the humidity is stifling. I even sweat when I’m sitting down. It is already 82˚. We may have a thunder shower later. I’m hoping.

One cat was on the bed when I went upstairs last night. I talked to him and he stayed the whole time I was in the room. I cleaned the litter, the cat dish and refilled both; of course, the canned food was gone this morning. I have to go out to buy dog food so I’ll make sure to pick up more cat food.

I have done nothing the last few days. My laundry sits wrinkling in the dryer. The deck is still bare of ornamentation. I did water the outside plants a couple of days ago and will water tonight if the rain forecast is a bust.

In the summer, when I was a kid, there was no matinee at the movie theater uptown. A rainy Saturday mean staying inside until the rain stopped. I’d watch TV and hope for good creature movies on channel 56’s afternoon Creature Double Feature. I saw all the Japanese monster movies and the old horror movies from the 30’s. Those movies made up for the rain.

Henry is a bit restless. He keeps looking out the front door hoping for some traffic to give him a reason to bark.

A wind is now blowing, and it is getting cloudy, but the humidity is sticking around (pun on purpose). I wish I didn’t have to go out. Days like today make me lazy. Well, any day can make me lazy enough to postpone errands. In the last line of Gone with the Wind, Scarlett’s words are mine to live by, “After all, tomorrow is another day.”

The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.

July 5, 2019

Today is already hot at 78˚. I am sitting in my den with my trusty dog sleeping beside me. The air conditioner is blasting. I am going to stay home, cool and comfortable.

Yesterday was a great 4th of July. It was spend with friends, and we had a barbecue, a traditional barbecue with hot dogs and hamburgers, deviled eggs and potato salad. I brought a blueberry pie.

Henry does not mind the sound of fireworks; however, the other day his dog door flap fell on him. I had had to tape the holes attached to the screws as the holes had split and the screws had come away from the flap. That make-do lasted a few weeks, but after it fell on Henry, I had to re-taped the flap. Even though it is secure, Henry is now nervous about using the flap. I have had to open the back door for him. Today, he used the dog door to go but but not to come in. That’s when it fell. The new flap will be here next week.

The tourists are here, droves of tourists. The roads are filled with cars, even my cherished back roads. My errands took far longer the other day as I had to sit and wait for the light to change to green. It took until the third light cycle before I could get out of the parking lot. Sadly, this is only the beginning of traffic.

I live on the cape, despite the summer traffic, for a lot of reasons. We are surrounded by the ocean. It keeps us warmer in the fall and cooler in the summer. Seafood restaurants abound. I usually order scallops or shrimp with French fries and onion rings: they have the best onion rings. If I want, I can still go to a drive-in movie theater, in Wellfleet. As when I was a kid, they show two movies. The other day I went on a lobster cruise. I ate a lobster roll as the boat sailed out to sea. The roll was chunky with lobster meat tucked into a toasted bun, always a New England hot dog bun roll. Sunrises and sunsets are spectacular when viewed from the beach or the jetty. I love to go on rides up or down cape. The scenery is beautiful. The old cape cod houses are right by the road. I often stop to take pictures.

When I’m stuck in summer traffic, I’ll just have to remember how much I love living here. Traffic is a small price to pay for all the beauty.

“America is a tune. It must be sung together.”

July 4, 2019

Happy 4th of July!!

Before I wax eloquent with respect to the 4th, I need to give you updates about the weather and the cats. Today is going to be hot, in the 80’s hot. When I woke up, the house was cool, but now I can feel the heat, even here in the den. I figure I’ll soon be barricaded inside with the AC blasting. As for the cats, we have some movement. The male (again an assumption because I was told the female is shy) meowed at me the other night and rubbed his neck again the gate. I started patting and scratching his neck. He purred and meowed at me if I stopped. The cat came through the gate to the hall, and I kept patting him. He kept purring and meowing. He even followed me into my room. During the night he jumped on the bed but jumped right off when he saw the dog. The next amazing surprise was when I was going to feed them and looked into the room first. There were two cats!! The new one looked at me for a bit and then ran and hid. Now I know the difference between them. She is wearing white knee socks on her back legs. I am relieved to have seen her. I was getting worried.

This is an entry from last July 4th. I doubt I could do better.

I just love birthdays and today is the grandest of them all.

On July 3rd 1776, John Adams wrote a letter to his wife Abigail. In it, he predicted the celebrations for American Independence Day, including the parties:

“It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other.”

John Adams expected July 2nd to be Independence Day as that was the day the Second Continental Congress voted for independence, but the signing ceremony for the Declaration of Independence didn’t happen until two days later so because July 4th appears on the Declaration, it became the date we celebrate Independence.

I know some people complain that the meaning of the day is lost in the barbecues and the fireworks, but they have forgotten John Adams’ hope. We are honoring the day exactly as he wished. Flags are waving everywhere. Families get together to celebrate and to break bread, albeit hot dog rolls. Fireworks illuminate the sky. Baseball is played on small town fields and in huge stadiums. Drums beat the cadence in parades. We sing rousing songs celebrating America and our freedom. We also sing heartfelt songs about what America means to us. We are many sorts of people, we Americans. We don’t all look the same, practice the same religion, eat the same foods or dress in the same way, but we all celebrate today.

“You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4th, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism.” Happy Birthday, America, from all of us Americans.