Archive for the ‘Musings’ category

“The cold cut like a many bladed knife”

January 18, 2022

Today is sunny. Today is also, at times, cloudy. The high will only be 34˚. The wind is strong and cold and the topmost branches of the pine trees in the backyard are swaying. The dogs don’t stay out long. When they come back inside, their ears are cold.

Nala naps behind me on the couch. She jumps up, settles in and snuggles. She feels warm on my back.

I found one of my sandals on the driveway just inside the fence. I really thought I had well hidden the pair. It is now obvious that Nala’s talents are far greater than I ever imagined. Nothing is safe.

For breakfast this morning the dogs and I shared coffee and a banana. They love both. The two of them, one on each side of me on the couch, watched as I drank my coffee. Their heads followed my cup from the table to my mouth. I felt guilty. I gave them a taste.

I need to do a bit of shopping today. I am down to only one can of cat food. That will never do.

When I was a kid, I was seldom sick. I do remember getting the measles and staying in my darkened bedroom with no lights and covered windows, precautions so I wouldn’t go blind. I stayed in bed, in the dark room, until the spots disappeared. That’s when I learned the meaning of utter boredom.

I bought three small succulents a few weeks back. I put them, still in their little pots, in an otherwise empty pot until I could plant them. Now I don’t have to. Yesterday I noticed a pile of dirt on the living room rug. I knew the culprit. I just didn’t know the source of the dirt until I found a little pot, an empty little pot. I also found only a few torn pieces of greenery when Henry was chewing on them. He has gone to the dark side.

“O, Sunshine! The most precious gold to be found on Earth.”

January 17, 2022

Last night the wind howled. Every tree in the backyard shook. The dogs wouldn’t go out into the wind. The donkey fell and the cow lost its head.

When I first woke up, the sky was cloudy. Now I see stretches of blue and the glint of sunlight. It is warm at 50˚. Tonight will be chilly again, in the high 30’s. The high wind warning is still in effect.

By January 18th we will have gained an hour of daylight since the solstice, and every 28 days we’ll gain another hour. We need to celebrate, to wear bright colors to welcome the sun. I’m thinking we need a party.

When I was a kid, the stretch between Christmas and February vacation seemed endless. The mornings were dark and cold. The streetlights came on early. January lasted a lifetime. Every day we bundled in layers and walked to school. We had to wait in the schoolyard, in the cold, until the bell, until the nun rang a handbell from just outside the door. We dutifully lined up two by two and walked into the building. School was inviting. I remember it felt warm after being outside for so long.

The school desks varied from room to room. I had one which opened at the top. It was easy to keep the inside neat and orderly. My lunchbox went under the desk or beside the chair. The worst desk was the one with the opening under the desk top. To find a book, you had to bend your head down and look through all the books for the right one. The nun would tell us to get our books, like our reading books, and every head bent down at the same time to look. It was almost synchronized.

I have one of those desks in my kitchen. The top holds the microwave and my collection of African cookbooks. In the book slot and on the chair are all the dish towels.

When I was on the deck earlier, I noticed my cup measure in the yard. It had disappeared along with an almost empty bag of dry dog food. The empty bag was in the back forty. While I was retrieving the cup measure, I found one of my metal windups. A wheel is missing. It is from a recent theft as I cleaned the yard Saturday. While I was in the yard, I picked up pieces of a cardboard box, also from a recent theft. That dog is tricky.

“The goal of Sunday is to leave my home as little as possible.”

January 16, 2022

What a pretty day! The air is still, the sun is squint your eyes bright, and the sky is deep blue without a single cloud. It is 22˚ with a high wind warning. We are expecting wind gusts of 50-60 MPH and maybe even some coastal flooding. Rain will start late tonight.

I’ve started a new to do list. Not unexpectedly, the laundry tops the list. The basket is filled. I walk by it with eyes closed. I’m surprised I don’t trip on it.

Amazing news: Gwen started purring yesterday for the first time since she was diagnosed. I am thrilled. She is moving around more as well. Gwen is looking good.

When I was a kid, Sunday was my least favorite day of the week. We had to go to mass. It was only in the summer I didn’t mind going, didn’t even complain about it. I went to the early masses which were always crowded with people fulfilling their obligations so they could go to the beach or somewhere just as fun. The church usually ran out of room. People stood in the vestibule craning their necks to see the altar. The overflow stood on the top steps outside the church doors. My brother and I were, by choice, in the vestibule then we’d move to the top step and take a seat. We could hear the mass. We figured that was enough to let it count.

My eighth grade teacher was too old to deal with us. The classroom was generally quiet, but we all took advantage in different ways. I remember one kid would spill some milk in the waste basket then show it to Sister Hildegarde. She’d chastise the unknown culprit, actually standing in front of her but unbeknownst to her, and then send the culprit to clean it. He’d take the basket, leave and be gone a long while. Sister Hildegarde never noticed he was missing. My friend Jimmy and I often left early on the pretext we needed to go to the town library. Sister Hildegarde always gave us permission. We sometimes arrived back to class late after leaving for lunch, a lunch we brought and hid under our coats so we could leave. I remember once being an hour late. We told Sister Hildegarde we’d lost track of the time. She’d admonish us and tell us not to let it happen again. She always forgot. I remember she’d get exasperated at something or another or some student or another. She’d and tell us that when we graduated she was going to write on the board in tall letters, “Thank you, God, they are gone. “I always wondered if she really did.

“Without the weekend, where would the week be?”

January 15, 2022

The morning is uninviting so far. The sky is mostly cloudy though glimpses of sun and blue sky poke through for a bit of optimism on an ugly day. It is only 19˚, even worse with the wind chill. Last night was bitterly cold, and the wind was loud, turbulent. I fell asleep despite the howling. Nala fell asleep under the covers and Henry at the foot of the bed. My to do list has one item, clean the backyard. From the deck I can see all the trash Nala stole. That dog is an unrepentant recidivist.

When I was a kid, today would have been the perfect Saturday to sit in front of the TV and watch all my morning shows. I remember Fury and My Friend Flicka. All of my dogs have aspired to be Rin Tin Tin or Sergeant Prestons’ King. My favorite western has always been The Lone Ranger. Captain Midnight began my love for science fiction programs and movies. Creature Double Feature took up my afternoons. I sat as close to the TV as my mother allowed and watched two black and white science fiction movies. That’s where my love for them began. Even now I’d pop some corn and watch those old movies all day.

Tonight is hot dog, brown bread and baked beans night, at least it was my entire childhood. I’m going with just the hot dogs for my tonight’s supper as I’m not a lover of beans and never gave buying brown bread a thought. Back when I was a kid, I’d put sweet relish and yellow mustard on my dogs. Over the years my tastes have matured. I use a variety of mustards. My favorites vary. Right now I’m into spicy brown mustard. As for relish, it’s not for me. I choose piccalilli instead, a sort of chunky pepper and onion version. I also add chopped jalapeños and onions if I have any. Eating hot dogs has a couple of rules. The roll must always be toasted. It must, and I emphasize must, be open at the top. Choice of toppings is optional.

“Rainy days should be spent at home with a cup of tea and a good book.”

January 14, 2022

Languid is the word. Today is unhurried. The dogs and I have no intentions to move, to do anything needing energy. Both of them are napping. Nala is with me, and Henry is upstairs on my bed where I wish I were. The rain did it to us. When I heard the drops on the roof, I didn’t want to get out of bed. Outside is uninviting with dark clouds and rain. The day’s only saving grace is its warmth, 44˚. We have a high wind warning but no wind yet. Tonight’s high will be 29˚, but I don’t even care about the cold. I am staying close to hearth and home.

Yesterday was a banner day. I went to the dump. I had no choice. The trunk was filled with trash bags, most of them litter. The front and back seats had recycables. The back seat was totally covered by cardboard boxes filled with cardboard boxes. I was surprised by how quiet the dump was with few cars and no wind.

I also got a few groceries yesterday. Most were utilitarian, but I admit to apple and blueberry turnovers and a Three Musketeers. The dogs got biscuits. We were all happy.

When I was a kid, I loved being in school on a rainy day even though we had no recess. The classroom was in shadows despite the lights. The rain hit the windows. I remember they were the tallest windows stretching almost from ceiling to floor. A long stick with a curved metal piece at the top was the only way to open and shut them. The boys could use the stick, not the girls. Sometimes the pelting rain was loud and drowned out the nun, a miracle of its own, so we did quiet lessons like silent reading. I never understood that one even though it was graded. How did the nun know we were reading? The only thing I came up with was she watched our eyes moving across the pages, left to right. In my wanderings on line, I found sinistrodextral, which means reading left to right. The word has Latin roots, and with my four years of high school Latin, I can easily translate. Sinister means left and dexter means right. I suspect I’ll never have an opportunity to use this neat word. Not once in my life up to now has anyone ever asked me about reading left to right, but if someone does, I’m ready.

“In the shapeliness of a life, habit plays its sovereign role.”

January 13, 2022

The weather is bizarre. For two days it has been frigid weather, and my heat has been constantly running. Going outside even for a little bit was brutally cold. The dogs were out just for their business though I think Nala stole a box from the recycle bin and shredded it before she came back inside the house. Today the high will be 45˚, perfect dump weather. Tomorrow will be rainy and maybe even snowy.

I can’t believe I will actually get dressed today. It has been a while. I do, for cleanliness sake, change my cozies after my shower, but as far as I get beyond the house is usually the mailbox across the street.

Henry and his battle with the dog door continues. Yesterday he came back in himself through the dreaded door every time. Today he’s been standing outside and whacking the door with his nose, his method of summoning me. I am well trained.

When I was a kid, I never thought about how my every day was the same except for weekends, but even they had a pattern. Saturday was mine. Sunday was family. Saturday was morning TV, bike rides around town, hot dogs, beans and brown bread for dinner and a bath Saturday night. Sunday was doomed from the start. I had to go to mass. After mass I usually stayed around the house, watched some TV, read the funnies or hid in my room and read until dinner time. Sunday was the only day of the week with dinner. Every other day we had lunch and supper. Sunday dinner was usually around two. Sunday supper was light after the big dinner.

In Ghana, my week days too had the same pattern. I was up early, sometimes early enough to watch my students line up with their metal buckets at the shower stalls outside. I remember the sound of water hitting the bottom of the buckets. I’d have my first cup of coffee then breakfast, the same one very day, then I’d walk across the school compound to the classroom block to teach my first class of the day. In between classes, I’d walk home and maybe have another cup of coffee. After school, I’d go into town, roam around the market and hope to find a surprise like the watermelon I once found. I’d visit people in the stores and my husband at the Super Service Inn. On picture day, his mother, my mother-in-law, dressed him in new clothes. He looked adorable though a little uneasy, nervous and probably wondering why the white lady was taking pictures of him with her trusty Instamatic. When I looked at the picture just now, I realized it was taken fifty three years ago. I expect my husband is a grandfather.

“And how deeply, the passing moods of weather affected our own.”

January 11, 2022

When I let the dogs into the yard this morning, I swear I saw an elf. The purported elf was wearing green and red and slippers like a genie wears. He had on a tool belt and had a toy in his hand. I shook my head and looked again. The elf was gone. Am I delusional? Has being inside finally gotten to me? Then I realized the elf had probably been lost. He was thinking this is the North Pole at 15˚ and -1˚ with the wind and snow, yes snow, a dusting last night. No doubt, he wanted to go home where I suspect it’s warmer. Whoosh! The elf is gone and so is my sanity!

Nala has a new thing. The last few nights she has worked her way under the covers, gotten comfy and gone to sleep with a happy sigh. Another boxer, my Maggie, always slept under the covers on cold winter nights. Both dogs have winter coats, real coats, not just fur. Nala has Gracie’s, and it fits perfectly. Henry has the one I bought his first winter with me. It was fitted at the store. I’m a bit hesitant to put it on him. New things make him nervous.

I’m watching disaster movies. Right now it is lava from Vesuvius destroying Pompeii again. I started watching a different movie, one about snow covering the pyramids, but decided it was too close to home. I’m liking the heat from the lava.

When I was a kid, on days like today, I wore my long winter coat to school. It had buttons instead of a zipper. My mother had us layer. Underneath my coat I wore a sweater, a blue sweater which matched my uniform skirt. Sometimes I wore ski pants while other times I wore knee socks. I still remember the pink long underwear my mother bought me. It was thermal looking and covered my legs to about my knees. Every time I wore it, I lived in dread. I was always afraid the underwear would slip below my skirt to my ankles in front of everybody. I dutifully wore my hat and my mittens.

The weather is erratic at best. Today is frigid. Tomorrow will be in the 40’s. I’m going to keep nice and warm by staying home today. I need nothing. My larder is full. I do want something which I definitely don’t need. I want chocolate. It would make the isolation more bearable, and I’d be smiling a whole lot more.

“Trendy is the last stage before tacky.”

January 10, 2022

The clouds are getting darker, but rain is not predicted, just clouds and cold. The high today will only be in the low 30’s with a wind making it feel colder. The low will be in the teens. I guess winter is reminding us this is his time. I’ll let him have it. Meanwhile, I’m going nowhere.

I have been especially industrious. Last night I washed the kitchen floor. I just couldn’t take the paw prints. My sensibilities cringed. I also brought boxes and a trash bag to the car. This morning I changed my bed. I’m working my way up to the dreaded laundry.

Bananas are probably my favorite fruit. On the road, in iffy spots, they are pretty safe to eat having a peel and all. They travel well. My Rice Krispies rise to a new level when banana slices are added. I haven’t had banana pudding in a long while, but I remember the taste and the silkiness of the custard. Bananas are my favorite start of the day. Both dogs love bananas. I give them each a piece from mine when I’m feeling especially generous. Henry usually blows bubbles around his mouth while he’s waiting for his. It is both gross and humorous.

When I was a kid, I wore uniforms to school so my wardrobe was a bit skimpy. I had a few skirts and a dress or two, Sunday clothes and play clothes. I had school shoes which doubled as church shoes, and I had play shoes, usually sneakers, always low rise, white tennis sneakers. In the summer it was shorts, Bermuda shorts, and a blouse, usually sleeveless. As proof that life goes full circle, I have a skimpy wardrobe again though I have far more pairs of shoes.

The most clothes I ever owned at one time were when I lived in Ghana where I had to wear dresses all the time and everywhere except in my own house and yard. The wife of a teacher who lived next door was a seamstress, and she made my dresses, all of which were sewn with Ghanaian cloth. Traveling had its difficulties. Pit stops were exactly that, but wearing a dress made it easier to squat. Not that I went to fancy places, but I was dressed for them anyway. I do remember during training I went to Accra with one of the staff members. We went to a bar. It was in an area in Accra I didn’t know existed where there were casinos, fancy hotels and restaurants. We played liar’s dice at the bar with the owner. In that game, winning is losing. I was perfectly dressed.

My dance card remains pristine. I did acknowledge the new week by changing my flannel pants for a new pair I just got on sale. The rest of my uniform remains the same: a tee shirt under a sweatshirt, socks and slippers. It’s a good thing I don’t expect company.

“Life, within doors, has few pleasanter prospects than a neatly-arranged and well-provisioned breakfast-table.”

January 9, 2022

Today is an ugly day but a warm day. It is 45˚. I can hear the melting drops of snow dripping off the roof and hitting the deck. The dogs come in wet from running around the backyard soaked from melting snow. The steps are clear in the front and in the back. We had sun, but it was only a tease for a little while. Showers are predicted for later today so the clouds have moved in and taken over.

The wind is so strong I could feel the breeze blowing through the dog door up the hall. I closed the door. About five minutes later both dogs wanted out. I opened the door. They poked their heads out but stayed in the house. I think it was a test to determine their hold over me. They backed into the house and went down the hall. I got their tail ends. I hope that wasn’t a political statement.

The sun showed up a few minutes ago. All of a sudden the clouds lightened. I can see and hear the melted drops falling fast outside the den window. The sound is constant as if it were raining. The wind is still strong. The few brown oak leaves still on the trees are losing their battle with the wind.

My father cooked Sunday breakfast when I’d visit for the weekend. He’d always ask how I wanted my eggs cooked. I usually said over-easy. I loved dipping into the yolk with the toast. My father always started with the bacon. He cooked it in the cast iron frying pan. The eggs were next. They cooked in the bacon grease and were delicious. I always chose the rye bread for my toast. My father never broke the yolks.

When I was young, Chinese food was exotic. The only ethnic food we ate was spaghetti and meatballs. I remember my first foray into strange dining. We were visiting my aunt, the aunt whose husband owned the fish market. She served us spaghetti with clam sauce. It wasn’t red. It didn’t have meatballs. It had pieces of clams and a few clamshells with cooked inhabitants. I liked clams, and I liked spaghetti but wasn’t so sure they went together, but I was game. I was also surprised. It was tasty.

“The color of springtime is in the flowers; the color of winter is in the imagination.”

January 8, 2022

Mother Nature can’t seem to make up her mind. When I woke up this morning, it was a brilliantly sunny day with a deep blue sky extending as far as I could see. When I looked again a bit later, the clouds had taken over the sky and the sun had disappeared. But a short while later, they came back: the sun and the blue, but they brought a few clouds with them. That has become the pattern. The sun comes and goes. The clouds come and go. It is cold, 27˚.

Yesterday we didn’t get much snow. I threw out deicer on the back steps so the dogs don’t slide. I wish I had done the same on the front steps. No, I neither fell nor slipped, but I had to walk gingerly and carefully over the step mats now frozen and covered in ice. It is a good thing I have nowhere to go. I also have no ambition so it all works out perfectly for me, the sloth.

When I was a kid, I loved Hostess cupcakes. I had a routine. The frosting used to come off in one piece, and I’d save it for last. I always ate around the middle cream. That was second to last. It was the best day if I found Hostess cupcakes in my lunch box. I think I squealed.

I usually have three or four kinds of cheese in the fridge. My favorite changes, but cheddar is always on the list. I like it in chucks so I can cut a piece off and eat it on the run. When I was a kid, I thought cheeses was only yellow. My mother bought it by the box and by the slice. The box cheese made the best grilled cheese sandwiches, melty and hot and oozing out of the sides of the bread. Slices were for sandwiches, bologna sandwiches. What’s funny is the bologna came in a roll and had to be sliced. I was never a good slicer.

My outside Christmas lights are lit every night. I was going to shut them down after Little Christmas, the Epiphany, but the lights scare away the night, scare away the darkness. The rest of Christmas is put away, only the snowmen remain. They’ll stay around all winter.

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