Archive for the ‘Musings’ category

“Let us keep the dance of rain our fathers kept and tread our dreams beneath the jungle sky.”

April 13, 2019

I was between asleep and awake when I heard the rain. It was dripping from the roof to the overhang below my window. I stayed in bed just a bit to listen. When I got downstairs and let Henry out, I was surprised to see the rain was mere drops, one by one. I hardly got wet running for the papers.

The sky is still cloudy, but the rain has since stopped.

This morning it is Barracuda, a film made in 1978. The director, the writer and the star are all the same person, Wayne Crawford. I guessed the decade of the movie before I looked. The houses are all low slung, a Brady Bunch sort of look. The men’s bathing suits are those striped gym sort of shorts. Women are in bikinis but not so skinny as now. When the barracudas strike, the water is roiled and all you can see is blood, not so special effects. My favorite scene so far is of the mouth of the barracuda with a leg sticking out.

When I was a kid, a rainy Saturday was the worst. I’d beg my mother to let me ride my bike anyway. I usually lost that argument. All four of us stuck inside drove my mother crazy. If I had a book, I’d find a quiet spot and read the afternoon away, but no book meant boredom. TV was the only other diversion but even that got boring. I’d keep checking out the windows hoping the rain had stopped. If it had stopped, I was out the door with bike in hand. Riding after a rainstorm was great fun. I’d ride through every puddle I could, and I’d watch the fan of water spread out from each side of my front tire. I’d raise my legs off the pedals so I wouldn’t get wet.

One of my friends gave me a fold up umbrella as a going away present before I left for Ghana. It was the rainy season there. During the first week of training, I used the umbrella on my walk to language class. When the class was finished, I sat out of the rain to watch it for a while. When I left to go back to my room, I forgot my umbrella. Once I realized, I hurried back. The umbrella was gone. I was upset, but in the long run, it didn’t matter. I never saw anyone carry a rain umbrellas. People either got wet or found a place out of the rain. I sat in a kiosk once, invited by the owner. I was an object of curiosity. Every person walking by looked and I suppose wondered why the white woman was in the kiosk. I always said, “Barka da yamma,” good afternoon in Hausa to each of them. I always got smiles.

“I do not understand how anyone can live without one small place of enchantment to turn to.”

April 12, 2019

Today is cloudy and chilly, colder than it has been. Tomorrow is supposed to be warm. I hope so as I need a sunny, warm day.

Every time I think I’ve seen the worse black and white science fiction movie I see another. The one I’m watching now is Robot Monster, The Original Version. The monster has the body of an ape and wears a space suit sort of hemet. Bubbles are a plot device. Why, I have no idea. There are dinosaurs appearing twice, the same scene of two attacking one another. I could go on, but I don’t want to be a spoiler as I’m thinking this is a perfect film for a Saturday movie on the deck.

I need to be out today. Henry tested positive for Lyme so I need to pick up his pills, 28 days of pills. He has no symptoms so that’s a good thing.

When I was a kid, our town had a Chinese Restaurant aptly named the China Moon but affectionally called The Moon. It was considered exotic. Once in a while my parents ordered Chinese food. They told us that Chinese food was not for kids. We believed them until we were a bit older and tasted Chinese food. The Moon is still there.

Hago Harrington’s is a miniature golf course in my town. The course was built in 1950. I have played there many, many times, and I never seem to get any better. The lighthouse is my nemesis. There are three possible places at the bottom of the lighthouse for your ball to go through to the hole. I inevitably miss each of the three, and my ball bounces off the wood onto the walkway. I chase it down.

There used to be a big bowling alley. When I was in high school, a bunch of us would get together on a Friday or Saturday night to bowl. It was candlepin, three balls to a frame. We were all awful. I excelled at gutter balls. Despite my inability to bowl with any success, I was sorry when the bowling alley was replaced with a couple of businesses, one a Block Buster which also disappeared. A mostly take out place, The Liberty Bell Restaurant, is there now. The food is excellent.

Now, when I go to my hometown, I get a choice of restaurants including Chinese, Indian, Thai, Asian fusion and a few eclectic places. The town even has live theater. The Moon and the miniature golf course share a parking lot. A good afternoon is playing miniature golf and then eating Chinese at The Moon. The pleasure both bring is timeless.

“Don’t be pushed around by the fears in your mind. Be led by the dreams in your heart.”

April 11, 2019

Today is a lovely day, a bit chilly but sunny. It is a typical spring day on Cape Cod. Saturday is supposed to be a warm day. I’m hoping.

Henry doesn’t have heartworm, but he did have a positive reading for Lyme disease. The vet said an additional blood test at $179.00 would determine whether or not he needs medication. I’ll know tomorrow.

I get reflective at times. I remember all the neat things in my life all the way back to childhood. I remember the people most of all. My sixth grade teacher Miss Quilter wore thick glasses. She was probably the iconic spinster school teacher. I owe her. She awakened in me a love for learning. I always did well in school before her but after her I excelled. I wanted to know everything. I’ve told you about my classmate Marty Barrett, and I put him on the list because his travels to England made me want to travel the world. I still call this ache, this wanderlust, Barrett’s disease. Most of all I will always owe my parents for their love and encouragement.

The Peace Corps recruiter, to whom I am totally indebted, came to my campus at the end of my junior year, and that was when I took the language test. In those days Peace Corps advertised on TV. Those ads cemented my long time desire to join the Peace Corps. I told no one. I remember my father saying what a waste of a good education. My application was sent in October. The only people who knew were my close friends. I waited and hoped. In January I received a special delivery letter welcoming me into the Peace Corps. Saying yes was easy, telling my father was not.

I became a teacher because of Peace Corps.

I have been retired for nearly fifteen years. I have had a remarkable time. My friends and I get together to celebrate anything we can. In the winter we have game night and in the summer movie night. I remember fondly our Cowboy Day celebration. I have traveled to Africa four times, three of those were to Ghana.

All in all I have been lucky.

“To observe attentively is to remember distinctly.”

April 9, 2019

When I woke up, it was cloudy. Now the sky is much lighter so there is sun behind those clouds. It is warmish, not quite warm and not quite cold, sort of a Goldilocks day. Rain is predicted for late in the afternoon, starting around five, so this glimpse of light will be gone.

I have an announcement. My forsythia has buds. I saw them this morning, tiny yellow buds. I also saw buds on my wild rose bush. Spring has officially arrived in my front garden.

When I was a kid, I loved when spring arrived. The mornings were glorious, filled with bright sun and the most wonderful smell of flowers. I even skipped to school sometimes. I felt joyful. Sunshine and flowers do that.

Our trip to the vets went far better than I expected. I did have to trap Henry to get his leash on him and sort of pull him to the car, but he rode well and even abided a stop at the bank window. He got a biscuit. He didn’t want to go inside the vets. A man held the door for us as Henry wouldn’t move. I sort of pushed him. When we got inside, he was far better than I expected. He didn’t shake this time. He did pant a bit. Poor Henry did not want to go with the technician. She sort of dragged him. When he came out, he was a happy dog to see me. The tech said he was good when they took blood and cut his nails. Outside afterwards, he jumped into the car. He jumped out when we got home and raced to the front door. What was most surprising was he didn’t hate me.

My mind’s eye is filled with memories. I can see the hallway of my elementary school, the new school. I can walk down the main road in Bolga, and I can see places in the market like the vegetable auntie’s stall, the egg man and the meat seller. I can remember the walk from my house to the classroom block I took every school day. I remember Bill, Peg, Kevin and I on our moto (motorcycle) trips. I remember dinner every night with my friends, and I remember the night sky ablaze with stars.

I am always been thankful for my sharp memory and especially thankful for the part which holds all my adventures.

“Will looked horrified. “What kind of monster could possibly hate chocolate?”

April 8, 2019

Today is rainy but warm. The rain is light, mere drops. I can hear them dripping from the roof. It is one of my favorite sounds.

Last night I barricaded the plants by putting chairs in front of them to keep them from Henry. I’d move them if I had place to put them.

I love black jelly beans, but I don’t like black licorice. Twizzlers are my favorite red licorice. I never refuse candy with peanut butter though at Easter my mother always bought me a fudge egg, my favorite. Dark chocolate is my first pick. Any other chocolate is my second pick. I loved my mother’s brownies. She never used a package so I don’t either. Just as she did, I frost them and put on jimmies, sprinkles to the rest of you.

My mother always made pea soup with the ham bone. She’d freeze some for me. I kept the last frozen soup for a long time. I didn’t want to eat it knowing she’d never make any more, but I finally did and thought of my mother with each spoonful. She made the best pea soup.

My father used to keep his candy under the couch. He thought it was hidden, but we all knew where it was and helped ourselves. A candy dish was on the table beside where he always sat in the living room. My mother kept it filled usually with Hershey’s Miniatures. Mr. Goodbar and Krackle were my favorites. Mr. Goodbar, though, always made me think of the novel Looking for Mr. Goodbar, not so weird an association I guess. When the candy dish was nearly empty, only the milk chocolates were left.

I’m going to the bank today, and this afternoon I’m taking Henry to the vets. He’ll hate me for a while, but I haven’t any choice. He needs a heart worm test, his nails clipped and more heart worm pills. Poor Henry! Poor me!

“A dog teaches a boy fidelity, perseverance, and to turn around three times before lying down.”

April 7, 2019

Today is a bit chillier than yesterday but is still a lovely day. Earlier I was out on the deck with Henry. He loves the deck and runs back and forth sliding on the wood. He did more plant damage last night. I saw the dirt and found an Africa violet on the floor. I replanted it and am hopeful it will survive. I’ll put it on the counter tonight, but I’m thinking Henry might find a different plant.

Today is dump day. I like to go toward the late afternoon, just before 4 as that’s when it closes. I loaded the car this morning. My father also always went on Sunday. He loved going to the dump. In those days it was a huge landfill with gulls circling the heaps. You could even see the tallest heaps from the highway. My father would think the current dump boring with all the recycle bins. He’d miss the seagulls.

We are a pet family. When I was a kid, we always had pets. We even had a turtle which lived a long time and some goldfish which lived a very short time. We had a dog and a cat. My sister has two cats but did have a dog, Lucky. My other sister also has two cats. My nephews have a dog and maybe a cat, but I don’t remember if they have one or two. My niece has cats and a dog while another nephew has two dogs. This is the first time I’ve been without a cat, actually multiple cats. I even had one in Ghana I brought home with me. We spoil our pets. Henry knows where all the treats are, and he follows me there with a hopeful look on his face. I usually oblige.

I’m going to make a Sunday dinner for myself. I have some potatoes and vegetables and a pork roast. I’ll also be eating it for the next few days, but I’m okay with that.

“The look he shot her was incredulous in the extreme. “You have a filing system for your shoes?”

April 6, 2019

Today has a bit of spring about it. The wind is gone, the sky is clear blue and the sun brilliant. My dafs are all open, and the grape hyacinths are close. They are both shades of purple, one deeper than the other.

Henry did it again. The life of one house plant was snuffed all too soon. I found a stem and some leaves on the dining room floor, all that’s left. The plant was a small one, an offshoot from a larger plant. It was repotted yesterday. Henry found it during his night maneuvers. I’m thinking to move a cactus into the now vacant pot. That plant has been within Henry’s reach, but he’s left it alone. Smart dog!

A Saturday like today would have had me biking all over town. I’d hit my usual spots, the dairy and maybe the zoo. It was free back then. My favorite at the zoo was the elephant, a baby elephant. I’d also stop at the field where the two horses grazed. They’d come over, and I’d give them some grass. I’d bike uptown and then to the library. I usually got home in the late afternoon.

I had three pairs of shoes when I was a kid. I had school shoes, Sunday shoes and shoes for everything else which were really not shoes but sneakers. I had over the shoe boots, but they were for snow. My Sunday shoes were dressy. My school shoes were utilitarian. One had straps, the other laces. I don’t even know how many pairs of shoes I have now. They are stacked on my closet floor and shelf. Some are for winter only while others are for summer. I usually wear my slippers, even outside.

I could star in a last woman on Earth movie. I do hear cars and the mail is delivered, but I haven’t seen any people. My dance card is empty and yellowed with age. Henry is my only companion. Strangely enough, though, I’m quite content.

“Fathers are ironic, they want democracy in their country but dictatorship in their home.”

April 5, 2019

Last night was cold, not chilly but downright cold, in the 30’s. Mother Nature has to assert herself more. It’s spring’s turn.

Today is cloudy: the sky is filled with white, milky clouds. It will be in the low 40’s. It’s a stay home day. I have everything I need. I’m thinking I’ll water the plants, fold my laundry and feed the birds, nothing monumental, nothing needing exertion.

In the small bookcase in my bedroom are the books of my childhood. My mother had saved them for me. Most are in good condition except the Whitman books with cardboard covers. They have split bindings. I think the glue gave up over time. Those books were 49¢. I have several Trixie Belden, Nancy Drew and Donna Parker. I have Heidi, Little Women and Treasure Island. I read all the time back then. Some things don’t change.

When I was a kid, when the whole family was together in the car, we had the same seats every time. We mostly sat in the back seat. My brother was in the window seat behind my father. I was at the other window behind my mother. My sister had the hump seat in the middle. My youngest sister sat in the middle of the front seat which in those days was one long seat. The sister between my brother and me was the buffer. He and I fought even in the car. My father did the back swing to try to whack us while still holding on to the steering wheel with the other hand. His aim was never good. We always got out of his way. We quietly chuckled.

I remember going out to dinner with my parents at Mildred’s in Hyannis. It was a grand restaurant which has been gone a long while, torn down. One dinner, when I was home from college, my father ordered me a drink, a daiquiri. I was amazed. I drank in college, but that wasn’t something I shared with my parents. I’d never had a daiquiri before this. I guess my father thought it the perfect cocktail for me. I thought it was what the ladies in hats drank on the patio on a summer afternoon.

Henry is napping on the couch. He always leans against me.

“We were wolves once / Wild and wary / Then we noticed you had sofas”

April 4, 2019

The sun is bright. The morning air has a bit of a chill but the sort which will disappear as the day grows older. Every now and then the tops of the trees, the bare branches, sway. It is a winsome day.

Henry is a night marauder. He leaves my bed and goes downstairs and is up to no good. This morning it was dirt all over the kitchen floor and a bit on the dining room floor. He had attacked a plant. I also found some chewed paper. Where that came from I don’t know. I’m thinking of barricading Henry.

When I was kid, Duke, our dog, wasn’t allowed on furniture. He knew that but had ways around it. At night, he’d sleep on the couch and jump off in the morning when he heard footsteps. He’d stretch across the bed and leave only his toes on the floor. He was a sly one.

When I visited my parents for the weekend, I used to go with my father to visit my grandmother in what my father called wrinkle city, better known as apartments for the elderly. I never wanted to go, but I usually gave in to my father. On one visit he told me if I coughed it would be our signal to leave. Where she lived used to be woods when I was a kid. My turtle was buried in those woods. My grandmother was at the age where she repeated. On that visit she told us three times that my aunt had taken her to a restaurant where the Chinaman cut up and cooked dinner at the table. As she started to tell us for the fourth time, I coughed. My father started to laugh which caused him to cough. My grandmother wanted to know if he had a cold. We left shortly after that.

Life is quiet today.

“Without geography you’re nowhere.”

April 2, 2019

This morning was a lazy morning. Even Henry was quiet and he’s now napping. I watered some plants, worked on jigsaw puzzles and looked through catalogs. I watched a couple of disaster movies. The first was a meteor strike which would destroy Earth. The movie on now is about the destruction of the Earth’s crust. Lots of bursts of fire from the ground are killing people and destroying towns. I’m always reminded of Frost’s poem Fire and Ice. Either will suffice.

Two of my front dafs are just about ready to bloom. The day lilies have sprouted. Everything is growing.

When I was a kid, the future was tomorrow except I knew I’d travel when I was grown. I knew that from the time I was eleven. I loved National Geographic which I read at the library. I have my own subscription now. When I was in grammar school, geography was one of my favorite subjects except I didn’t care all that much about about crops and exports. The pictures in my books were beautiful. The Andes and Christ the Redeemer in Rio were in my seventh grade textbook. They stuck with me. I saw both of those. One of my neatest adventures was when I stood with a foot in each hemisphere in Ecuador. Back then there was no monument, no gift shop and no cameraman. I had to imagine the line. That was easy. Christ the Redeemer was huge. It towered on a hill overlooking the city. The Andes were snow covered. I remember flying over them on my way to Cusco. I could see the shadow of the plane on the rocky crags. I was so excited I could have been eleven again.

My dance card is empty for today and the rest of the week. I’m sure it is no surprise I have laundry to do. It is, as usual, leaning against the cellar door, maybe tomorrow.