Archive for the ‘Musings’ category

“Hearts shall dance once again; when canvas of ice is painted with the brush of skates.”

February 2, 2019

“Faithful followers, there is no shadow of me and a beautiful spring it shall be,” predicted Punxsutawney Phil this morning, but I’m skeptical as he is only correct 40% of the time. Come on, Phil. Didn’t you notice how cold it is when you stuck your nose outside?

Today is cloudy and a little warmer than the last few days so I have to bite the bullet and go out do a bit of shopping. I have only a small list, but I have to go to three or four stores.

Henry’s fur is all over the floor again. You can chart his route by following the line of dust. It goes from the couch, down the hall to the backdoor. I’m going to vacuum it today. I’m also going to bring my laundry basket downstairs. It is full.

When I was a kid, I would have welcomed today, a warmer than it has been Saturday. If the movie looked good, I’d go to the matinee. If not, I’d ride my bike around town, walk the tracks or even go ice skating at Recreation Park where the town erected a rink every winter. The DPW filled it with water which wasn’t very deep so the rink froze quickly. At the end of the day they’d spray the rink again so the ice would be cleared of all the skate ruts and marks, sort of a do it yourself Zamboni. I wasn’t a very good skater, but I could go backwards a bit. I’d skate until my feet started to hurt.

Quite a few years ago, I dragged my skates out of storage and went with friends to the rink in Hyannis. I could still skate, but it didn’t take long for my feet to start to hurt. I spent most of the time drinking hot cocoa and watching the skaters. I still have my skates, but I used them as a Christmas decoration. I sling them over my wooden sled. I am ten again.

This concludes our broadcasting day.

February 1, 2019

The air is perfectly still, the sky partly cloudy, and it’s cold but warmer than yesterday. I hurried to get my papers and yesterday’s mail then lingered over cups of coffee while I read the two papers. The sky got cloudy.

I do have a small shopping list, but I’m debating whether today or tomorrow when it will be warmer still. Part of the reason to stay inside is the cold, but I do admit that that the bigger part is pure laziness. I’d have to get dressed, out of my cozies into my outside clothes. That seems a daunting task.

Henry has finally figured out coming in dog door, but he still needs encouragement before he goes out the door. He runs down the hall and turns to look at me. I say go, and he goes a few feet then turns around again. When he finally gets to the door, he goes outside. Sometimes he’s outside so long I get nervous and go check on him. He always comes running.

Lately I have been watching really old television on Best TV Ever. This morning I watched the very first Dragnet when it wasn’t even Dragnet but rather Badge 714. The station is filled with black and white programs dating back to the early 50’s. Some I remember, many I don’t. Robin Hood is one of the programs. I remember the arrow and Richard Greene as Robin Hood.

Our TV was in a wooden console with doors that covered the screen. The console was huge. The TV screen was small. Knobs turned the TV on and off. In the back were tubes. The rabbit ears antenna sat on top of the console. Snow was common, on the screen, not the yard. One of us would play around with the antenna hoping to find the sweet spot where the snow disappeared. Sometimes we didn’t, but we watched anyway. I remember the first time I stayed awake long enough to watch the TV station sign off for the night with the Star Spangled Banner. I even watched the Indian test pattern for a while. It was boring, but I was excited staying up so late, later then the TV.

“Spring, summer, and fall fill us with hope; winter alone reminds us of the human condition.”

January 31, 2019

From the window, the morning looks lovely with a bright sun and a totally blue sky. I blithely went to get the papers only to be hit with air as cold as it has been all winter. I gasped. I’m not leaving the house today. My errand list can wait. I have all I need including Mint Oreos, cold cuts and cheese. My larder runneth over.

I have found the perfect movie for today, a really bad movie, but still perfect, 100 Below Zero. CGI snow covers Paris as an ash cloud heads to the city causing a new ice age in its wake. The top of the Eiffel Tower just fell. I’d best stop for a bit to get back to the movie before I miss any of the exciting action. Will our heroes survive?

When I was a kid, they never called off school because of cold, only snow. On the coldest days my mother dressed us much like Randy in A Christmas Story except we wore layers, not a snow suit. I had to wear a skirt to school so my mother made me wear snow pants under the skirt. Under the snow pants I wore long underwear, pink long underwear, which came to my knees, just above the skirt hem. I wore knee socks, a sweater, my winter coat, mittens, a hat and a scarf. Walking to school, we all looked the same so none of us were distinguishable.

Yesterday I went through all the Christmas presents I bought on sale for next Christmas and put them in individually labeled decorative bags, also bought on sale. I made a list of all the names and put checks under each name for the small gifts, and I listed the bigger ones. The sorting took a while, but I’m glad its done. I swear to keep the list updated, but I know I won’t.

It is almost laundry day. A pile sits in the laundry basket in my bedroom, but before it is moved, I have to change my bed then add the old sheets to the basket then haul it downstairs next to the cellar door where it will sit until I get tired of looking at it. That takes a long time.

“Whoever thinks of going to bed before twelve o’clock is a scoundrel.”

January 29, 2019

Winter is supposed to be cold, but I think we’re on overload. Single digits are predicted for tomorrow night and on Thursday night it will be 11˚. Today is 37˚, and it actually feels warm.

Today is a lazy day. I slept until close to eleven. I took my time reading the papers and had a couple of cups of coffee. The kitchen smelled wonderful between the grinding of the beans and the brewing of the coffee. I am watching television as I write. I admit that I actually stopped watching two science fiction novels on tubi, something I almost never do. One was about the San Andreas fault and the big quake and the total destruction of LA, and the other was about a glacier from Iceland heading toward North America and causing a new Ice Age, but I just found what may be the worst one of all. It is called Star Leaf. The description says, “Three friends fight to stay alive after finding extra-terrestrial marijuana deep in the woods and accidentally provoking the alien forces guarding it.”

Last night I went to get my mail around 11:30. The street was dark except for my outside light. No cars went down the street and no dogs barked. I could have been the main character in a science fiction movie about the world after a cataclysmic event left few survivors.

When I was in high school, I used to walk home at night after evening events. I remember the silence. I remember the circle of light under each street lamp. I could hear my footsteps.

In Ghana, in Accra, the capital, I used to walk back to the Peace Corps hostel at night. I could have taken a taxi, but I liked the walk. I remember men sitting outside on wooden chairs talking in hushed tones. They seemed always to be smoking. We greeted each other as I passed.

I love to sit outside on summer nights. I watch fireflies flit through the trees. From the small pond at the end of the street, I can hear the croaking of frogs. The Katydids add to the chorus. Summer nights are the most glorious of all, nights so filled with life.

I’m eighteen years behind in my ironing.”

January 28, 2019

Today is cloudy but then again so were Sunday and Saturday and so many other days I’ve lost count. The sun has become a rare phenomenon. I’m staying inside today in my most comfortable clothes. My routine has become one day out and about and the next day cozy at home.

When I was a kid and just home from school, I had to take off my school clothes and put on my play clothes. If I didn’t, my mother would hound me until I did. My school uniform was a white blouse, a blue skirt and a blue tie, the sort cowboys wore to the Saturday dance. It was a clip on. It was ugly.

I continue my cleaning frenzy. Yesterday it was the dining room. Today will be the kitchen. I’m saving the den for last as it is the dustiest, and I hate facing all that dust. Maybe I’ll clean in spurts. I noticed the den has dog hair on the floor in clumps. It didn’t take long. It was last vacuumed on Thursday.

My life is uncomplicated. It is as easy as I can make it. Whatever chore I can foist off, I do. That leaves me with going to the dump, changing my bed, doing laundry and spot cleaning in between visits from my cleaning couple. I could arrange for trash pick-up, but it is more expensive than the dump fee, and anyway, I only go every other week so it’s no big deal. When I meet people I haven’t seen in a while, they always ask if I’m enjoying retirement. I grin about as wide as I can.

I actually have a few things which need to be ironed. They are piled on a chair in the kitchen and are hidden by dish towels. Every now and then I see the pile and think it’s time to iron but, luckily, that thought passes.

“I once spent a year in Philadelphia, I think it was on a Sunday.”

January 27, 2019

It’s cold but it is winter after all. The sun was bright earlier this morning, but clouds are in and out, white clouds, though, which don’t hide the light. Snow has a remote chance later in the morning.

I’m watching the send-off for the Patriots. Thirty Five Thousand people are in Gillette Stadium. Most of them are wearing Patriot’s gear. Send-offs aren’t unusual around here. Crowds even gather to send off the Red Sox equipment trucks to spring training. Even more than robins, those trucks are a sign that spring is coming.

When I was a kid, Sunday was a boring day, the most boring day of all. Nothing was opened. We had to stay around the house. My father monopolized the TV to watch football. None us watched with him. He was always a screamer and sometimes rose out of his chair to yell at the team as if they could hear him. When I was older, my mother and I would sit at the kitchen table and play word games. We didn’t need to watch the TV to follow the game play. We just listened to my father.

My mother cooked my favorite Sunday dinner on Saturday, the day before I left for Peace Corps training. She served roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy and baby peas. We didn’t talk all that much. My parents were sort of still in shock that I was leaving for two years, and I was going to Africa, a totally unknown place to all of us. That scared them. I was more excited than scared. My parents drove me to Logan Airport. My father had purchased a plane ticket for me. Peace Corps had sent a bus ticket to Philadelphia, and my father said no way. We walked together to the gate where my parents and I said goodbye. I looked back once and waved. My mother was crying. I know I’ve told this story before, but it is a favorite of mine. I found my seat and started to put all my carry-ons away. There were so many my seat mate asked me if I was running away from home. I told him I was headed to Peace Corps training in Africa. He bought me a couple of drinks. That memory always gives me a chuckle.

“The restlessness and the longing, like the longing that is in the whistle of a faraway train. Except that the longing isn’t really in the whistle—it is in you.”

January 26, 2019

No question about it, winter is still here. The last few days were a ruse, a tease. Arctic cold is back again. My heat blasts constantly. I’m wearing a sweatshirt so well worn it is unfit for public view. I’ve added socks to my ensemble. They join flannel around the house pants and a t-shirt under my sweatshirt. It is not an attractive outfit.

When I was a kid, I wore pajamas to bed. I had slipper socks to keep my feet warm. Radiators spewed intermittent heat. The house would get hot and then cold. I could hear the steam from the radiator. It always sounded like a locomotive to me. It just needed a whistle.

When I was a kid, we’d take a bus from uptown to the subway station, Sullivan Square, and then ride the train, the MTA, to Boston. I remember kneeling on the seat and looking out the window. Before every ride we were quizzed about the rules: stay together, and if we get separated, go to the next station and wait. When I was older, my friends and I would take the train into Boston. I remember seeing Cleopatra at The Music Hall, now The Wang. Sometimes on a Saturday we’d go to Boston and just roam the city.

One of my favorite trains was in Ghana. I’d ride it as often as I could. I’d go from the Accra station to Tafo to visit my friends then continue on to Kumasi where the rails ended. I always went first class, a fairly cheap ticket, and usually had a compartment to myself. Once I rode from Kumasi to Takoradi on a sleeper train. It was my favorite ride of all.

On my trips to Europe, I took trains if I could. They were far more comfortable than buses, and the night trains meant I didn’t have to stay at a hotel. I’d look out the windows at people in their houses. I’d sometimes see families eating dinner at the table by the windows. I’d fall asleep to the click clack of the wheels.

If I were rich, I’d have a train car all my own, and I’d ride all over the country with my friends. The car would have a kitchen, comfortable bunks and a bar. The windows would be huge.

“Lots of people go mad in January. Not as many as in May, of course. Nor June. But January is your third most common month for madness.”

January 25, 2019

When I went to get the papers, the morning was chilly but not cold. It had a crispness almost like an early spring morning. I squinted in the bright sun. The sky is blue with puffy white clouds. The day is pretty.

When I was a kid, I never appreciated the world around me unless there was snow for sledding, fair weather for biking and a hot sun for swimming in the town pool. The weather didn’t change my routine during the school year. In the summer, each day carried its own possibilities.

My favorite season has always been spring. I got to leave layers of winter clothes in the closet. I often rode my bike to school. The day kept getting longer so the street lights didn’t come on until later. We got to play outside after school. I remember the mud. I rode my bike through it to leave tire tracks behind. The air started to smell sweet. The birds came back and so did the bugs. My mother used to open the windows to clear out the stale winter air in the house. The fresh sheets on my bed smelled like the morning. Spring was and still is a delight.

My clean laundry is upstairs. The only thing left on my to-do list is a bit of dusting. I’ve been doing it piecemeal using my sweatshirt sleeve approach. When the coffee was brewing, I dusted a couple of shelves in the kitchen bookcase. When I get a bit antsy, I get up from the couch and dust somewhere else. I figure by the time I’m done, it will be time to start all over again.

Today I have an appointment so I have to go out. Yesterday I stayed home. I vacuumed. Henry hates the vacuum. Gracie didn’t care. One of my other dogs, Shauna, used to attack the vacuum. That was my excuse not to vacuum. Once my mother was taking care of Shauna at her house instead of mine. She started to vacuum and Shauna went after it. Somehow, the vacuum sucked up Shauna’s tongue. My horrified mother turned off the vacuum right away. Shauna’s tongue was unharmed, but it gave the dog a better reason to attack, to stay on the offensive.

“Whenever you read a good book, somewhere in the world a door opens to allow in more light.”

January 24, 2019

Today was warm, nearly 50˚, but it was damp. I stayed home and barely got beyond the sloth stage. I watered a few plants, straightened up and dusted a bit.

It is 2:30, and I am wide awake, Henry is sleeping. He had a difficult day yesterday because we went to the vet’s. Henry needed a regularly scheduled shot. The poor dog shook while we were in the waiting area. He got so close to me he was sitting on my feet, but despite his anxiety, I had to get him on the scale as we needed his weight for heartworm pills. He weighs 44 pounds. I kept patting him and talking to him hoping to comfort him. We next went into the exam room. The vet checked him out and tried to make friends. She offered him a few dog treats, but he wouldn’t eat them. She gave him some cheese and he slurped every bit. The technician then took him into the back room where he got his shot and had his nails clipped. Henry looked quite handsome in the snowman bandana they put on him.

When I was eight, my grandparents gave me a couple of Bobbsey Twin books. My grandmother wrote a birthday message. She had a flowery sort of handwriting. In some ways it looked like calligraphy. I always thought of it as old lady handwriting.

When I was a kid, I went to bed fairly early on school nights. I’d only read a bit before my mother would shout up the stairs for me to turn off the light. I’d complain it was too early, and she’d tell me to turn off the light. I did, but I wasn’t happy. I wanted to keep reading. My solution was to read under the covers so the light couldn’t be seen. It got really hot under those covers. My plastic light started to melt. I started to sweat. I’d take a break so the light and I would cool down then I’d go back to reading. Sometimes I got caught but not very often. I’d read until I started to fall asleep.

When I’d get a book for Christmas, I’d usually started reading it after dinner, after all the Christmas frenzy. My mother use to complain I was reading the book too fast. She said I should take my time. I didn’t know how to do that. I still don’t.

“While the rest of the world has been improving technology, Ghana has been improving the quality of man’s humanity to man.”

January 22, 2019

This morning is polar opposite yesterday’s. I forgot to leave the storm door open a bit so the button was stuck again. I whacked it a few times, and it gave. As I opened the door, I could hear drips. By normal winter weather standards today is cold at 24˚, but the front of the house faces east so the sun shines directly on the bushes. It was the ice dripping. My computer worked this morning. Life is good.

We got a bit of snow last night but so little that Henry’s paw prints go through the snow to the deck. I wore my slippers to get the papers, and they only had snow on the soles. I cleared my windshield and side windows using my protected newspapers, but there was still a thin layer of snow on them. The windows are now totally clear.

I have to go out today, and I don’t even mind. I suppose I could wait until tomorrow as it will be in the 40’s, but I have been house bound far too long. Henry needs a visit to the vets for nail cutting and his distemper shot so I’ll take him. I also need a few groceries. As for inside, it is time to vacuum. Henry’s fur is again in clumps on the floor. I wish he wasn’t afraid of being brushed.

My austere life begins. My hope is to get back to Ghana in 2021, fifty years after my Peace Corps service ended. I have to start saving money. This month I managed my first deposit to my empty savings account which used to be full and healthy but is now is a mere shadow of itself drained by so many expenses. My friends Bill and Peg and I will travel together. We had the most amazing time when we were there in 2016. I am already excited by the thought of going back to Ghana.

I watched a video of women from Northern Ghana singing I Can’t Keep Quiet in English and Dagbani. I’ve posted it here for you. I didn’t know a single woman in the video, but I know them all. They are my students. They are my Ghanaian family. They are the market sellers always willing to dash a bit. They are the aunties along the sides of the roads selling fruit or plantain chips and Guinea fowl. They are the village women carrying huge bundles on their heads. They are the mothers toting children on their backs. They are one of the reasons I love Ghana and hold it close.