Posted tagged ‘backyard’

“My weak spot is laziness. Oh, I have a lot of weak spots: cookies, croissants.”

November 14, 2017

I was awakened at five by Gracie’s panting so I got up and opened the front door. I didn’t go with her but did check a couple of minuets later, no Gracie on the grass. In a panic I ran barefooted outside to the wet, cold lawn then noticed the lights, the motion detector lights, were on in the backyard. I had left the gate open and Gracie saw it, went in the yard and did her business. She showed up a bit later at the front door. I was thrilled. That means on the coldest nights Gracie can go alone while I stay inside and man the door. During the daytime, though, I’ll go with her.

I had an early morning meeting, early for me anyway, at nine. Alexa’s dulcet tones were set to wake me, but I beat her to it and woke up on my own. That gave me a chance for coffee and a tiny bit of the paper. I was meeting ready.

Dismal is still with us. The sky is cloudy but not as dark as it has been. It will get down to the 30’s tonight. I am not enthused.

This time of year, my mother and I used to buy just about every issue of the Christmas magazines. We’d talk on the phone discussing the recipes and the decorations and then we’d decide what new recipes to try. My usual Christmas goodies to make were two or three kinds of cookies, one being orange cookies, my mother’s favorite, date-nut bread, fudge and toffee. My mother made mostly cookies, one kind was always sugar cookies. They were my favorite. She made great sugar cookies. My father was thrilled this time of year. All the goodies were in tins on the dining room table. He’d make several trips every day. Every morning he had date-nut bread slathered with butter. I used his mother’s recipe, about the only good thing she made. To say she wasn’t an inspired cook is an understatement, but the weird thing is the date-nut bread recipe is the only recipe handed down from my grandmothers.

Every Wednesday both newspapers have food day so I cut out recipes I know I’ll  probably never make but want to have just in case. I also cut out recipes from magazines for the same reason. Under my table here in the den are three huge baskets. The middle one is overflowing with recipes. Every now and then I pull them out and go through a few piles in case one inspires me to action. I keep telling myself the recipes need to be organized but that’s as far as I get.

I have a couple of house things to do but none are pressing. That might have to do with my having three new books to read from the library. They are right where I can see them, and I swear I can hear them calling my name.

“I can make another list because the choice is mine. A list of what to do. So I won’t be listless ever again.”

August 10, 2017

My eye survived the laser though it felt as if something irritating were in it, something I couldn’t remove. I also had a headache, a common after-effect I was told. I took some Tylenol and had a nap. Both helped. Everything now is just fine. My other eye is scheduled for Tuesday.

My neighbor is putting in a new septic tank. His giant truck is parked in my driveway so Gracie and I had to maneuver around it to get into the yard. While I was doing that, I was attacked by a wild rose bush. My usual morning on the deck with my coffee and newspapers had to be cancelled. I could smell the old septic. All my doors and windows are shut and the AC is on, all to thwart the aroma of septic.

Yesterday was a glorious day, cool enough will lots of sun and no humidity. I did a few errands, and when I got home, I filled the bird feeders. All of those exertions made me tired enough to need a nap though I confess I could have done nothing all day and still have needed a nap.

When I lived in Bolga, in Ghana, the post office and most kiosks closed every day between the hours of one and three. My students had a mandatory rest period. It was Ghana’s siesta time. It was also the hottest time of the day. Despite the heat, I enjoyed afternoon naps. The school compound was quiet for the first time since very early morning, and the heat made me drowsy. I learned the value of an afternoon nap.

Yesterday I had three sticky sheets on my table filled with schedules and things to do. Today there are none. I finished all the items on the lists. There is now a hole, a space needing filling. I love lists. They keep me organized and sort of compel me to accomplish something. If it is on paper, I pay more attention.

I don’t remember when I started to make daily lists. I do remember when I was having company for a big dinner I always made flow charts and lists. One list had all the ingredients I needed to buy and another had the names of each dish and their sources. I learned that last one the hard way when I had ingredients but didn’t remember the dishes and when, a couple of times, I forgot to serve a dish. The flow charts listed what I needed to do and when I needed to do them, things like shop on Thursday and what to start making on Friday. On the day of the event, the flow charts were explicit and intense. One would list what I did in the morning, the final preparations, while others listed the times to put in and take out stuff from the oven and at what temperatures to cook them. I used to tape the lists to a cabinet above my work space. and check off my progress. My sister made fun of my flow charts. I didn’t care.

“There is no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.”

June 5, 2017

Last night was a long one. It rained the whole night. Gracie and I went out at about ten. I got a bit wet and so did she. I was still wide awake an hour or so later so I watched a Hallmark movie. Yes, it had a happy ending despite arson, theft and a murder. At one, after the movie, I roused Gracie to take her out again. She got to the door and backed away, but I was insistent. I should have paid more attention. It was a deluge, but she needed out for the night so I pushed her out the front door with me unhappily behind her. Though I ran as quickly into the house as I could, I got soaked anyway and so did she.

This morning at about eight, Gracie was restless, and she woke me up. We went outside. It was wet but not rainy. It was cold. We came back inside and I went back to bed, or back to couch to be more specific. I snuggled under the covers and the cozy warmth lulled me to sleep. Gracie joined me. I woke up at ten. Gracie was still asleep so I rousted her to get her outside. I led her to the yard then ran inside the house and made coffee. I read the papers and had two cups of coffee. It was a leisurely morning.

Rain is expected again today so the sky is mighty dark. What a surprise! I have some errands, and it is chilly enough for Gracie to come.

When I was a kid, rainy days always seemed different than other days. My classroom seemed quieter. The rustle of papers sounded loud. The rain on the windows caught my attention as the drops slid down the glass and disappeared. The day seemed longer. Lunch was inside, but we didn’t really care. The rain seemed to drain our energy.

In Ghana, I loved the rain. After the dry season ended, every rainstorm was a bit of a miracle. The brown turned green. The dust became soil. Trees sprouted leaves. The fallow fields came alive with the tiny shoots of corn and millet. Rivers sometimes overflowed their banks. I always felt the rain and never minded getting wet.

“I’ve buried a lot of my laundry in the back yard.”

May 26, 2017

Okay, it’s raining yet again and is supposed to rain all day.  I have to go out to do an errand, but I’m used to the rain, and I’m used to getting wet. The trips Gracie and I make to the backyard are despite the rain. As for me, I’d like a bit of sun.

I did it!! I finally did my laundry. The bag has been leaning against the cellar door for a week or more and was beginning to overflow. What forced the issue, though, was the need for undergarments. Already this morning, I’ve emptied the dryer of clothes from two weeks ago, have a load in the dryer and another in the washer. I’m expecting applause.

TCM has Creature Feature every Thursday and most films are old black and whites. The first film last night was Cosmic Monsters, released in 1957. According to Wikipedia, it was notably unsuccessful at the box office but became something of a cult film due to television. The special effects are forgettable. The monsters are giant insects from Planet X. I loved the shadow effect of their legs on the closed shade of the schoolhouse. The teacher screamed. Of course, she did. Right now I’m watching The Wasp Woman. I figure the title gives away the plot. She is injected with a wasp chemical and turns murderous, all in an attempt to look younger. I have one movie left to watch: The Killer Shrews.

The best thing about sleeping on the couch is I don’t have to make my bed. I fold the sheet and the afghan, put the pillows back on the couch, and I’m done.

This morning Maddie and Gracie drove me crazy. Maddie kept meowing and Gracie was just as restless. I fed both of them, gave each of them a treat, refreshed their water, patted the cat and took Gracie outside. Finally, they both went down for their morning naps. The house is quiet except for the background music from the Wasp Woman.

Peapod is coming tonight. My larder will be filled. Rejoice!

“Our pets are our family.”

May 11, 2017

Yesterday in the early morning, Gracie and I went to get the papers in the front of the house. I saw a feather on the road and picked it up. It was huge and I knew it belonged to a wild turkey. All of a sudden the gobbling started. The turkeys were on the next street. I could see them from the deck. They were strutting as they walked up the street.

Gracie woke me up at 3. I could hear her panting, a sign she needs to go out. I put on my sweatshirt and my slippers and out we went to the backyard. It was even too early for the birds. Luckily Gracie was quick, and I was back to bed in no time only to awakened again at 6. I put on my sweatshirt and my slippers and out we went to the backyard. This time I could hear the morning songs of the birds. We were back inside quickly, and I surprised myself by falling asleep until 8:30. Gracie slept a bit longer.

During the summer of the Watergate hearings, I stayed glued to the television. I was fascinated. I heard the revelation the president taped everything and the reaction of the committee. I loved Sam Ervin, his sense of humor, his outrage and his dogged hunt for the truth. I remember Howard Baker, a republican, sitting beside Ervin asking, “What did the President know, and when did he know it?” It was a bipartisan committee dedicated to finding the truth. That is no longer possible.

My lawn was mowed for the first time this season yesterday. The air was filled with the sweet aroma of the newly mowed grass. The problem, though, is now you can see the connect the dots game on my lawn. During the early springtime, I took Gracie to the front yard to pee. Now you can see all the dead lawn dots. Sebastian, my neighbor and landscaper, and I spoke this morning. He is going to reseed those spots. He is not happy with my lawn or my front garden. He is going to mulch the garden. The beauty of my grass and yard is a matter of pride for him and me too.

 

It is still sweatshirt weather during the day and blanket weather at night. My heat goes on for just a bit every morning. The house was cold at 3 when Gracie and I went outside. I was glad to get back under the covers.

We have a couple of errands to do today. Both Gracie and Maddie are out of treats and Maddie keeps making her displeasure known. Gracie, though, is willing to take substitutes. She munched a piece of scali bread with butter and ate a bit of cheese then lowered herself to eat a dog biscuit. Both of them are now sleeping. I am blessed.

“I must have flowers, always, and always.”

May 7, 2017

This morning’s sky is the deepest of blues, a breathtaking blue. Not a cloud can be seen. I figure it is Mother Nature’s way of apologizing to us for all that rain, two days worth. The air is a bit chilly, only 54˚. It will get a little warmer but won’t break 60˚. It’s is after all spring on Cape Cod.

The trees are flowering on my street, some white, some bright pink. Gardens are filling with blooming flowers. The air smells sweet. Small leaves are growing on the scrub oak trees. I walk Gracie to the backyard several times a day. She always stops on the front lawn and sniffs the air. Any noise grabs her attention. At our 4:30 this morning walk to the backyard, she sniffed a bit then hurried to the gate. She ran into the backyard and squatted right away. We both went back inside and we both fell asleep. I woke up around 7:30. Gracie is back to sleep. It is her morning nap time.

My dance card has been really empty for the last few weeks, and the only dance this week is a library board meeting. The laundry is done, the trash has gone to the dump, and the house is clean. My deck still has its winter look, but that will change in the next week or two.

Gracie and I just came inside. The wind is blowing enough so I can hear all the chimes from my backyard trees. It is a chilly wind.

Spring energizes me. A warm day gets me out of the house so I don’t miss it. It is the same feeling I remember having as a kid. I felt free somehow. Gone was the heavy coat. Gone was walking backward into the wind on freezing cold mornings. Spring always made me want to skip.

“As they say, ‘It’s all downhill from cupcakes.”

April 27, 2017

Any discussion of the weather is off the table, but if I ever see the sun again, I’ll let you know.

Gracie had a great day yesterday. I did not. She drove me crazy. Whenever she wants out, I walk her through the driveway gate and let her loose into the backyard. At her insistence, we went out together at least 8 times before dark. Dinner is served in the late afternoon, but around eleven, she started hounding (notice the pun) me. When I ignored her, she hit my leg with her paw a few times. I gave in and fed her. Before she got sick, she’d stand in her crate and poke her head out when she wanted a treat. She hasn’t done that in a while, but she did yesterday. I was thrilled so I gave her treats. She was never satisfied. Gracie ate her dry food yesterday, a second dinner course. She used to eat every bowl of it but hasn’t for a while. She did yesterday and ate half a bowl this morning. I hope her driving me crazy continues.

Yesterday my friend made me the recipient of an act of mercy. I have been home with Gracie so my larder is pretty empty. My diet has consisted of cheese, eggs, and bread. I had only one cup of coffee yesterday morning so I’d have enough cream for a cup today. I nursed a can of Coke as I had only one other can left. I told my friend how conservative I’ve had to be. She surprised me with cokes and cream and a package of green Hostess Sno Balls. I was over the moon. I consider anything Hostess to be a gift from the gods and Sno Balls have it all: the chocolate cupcake, the cream middle and a special coconut and marshmallow top which comes off easily so it can be saved for last.

When I was a kid, my mother surprised us once in a while by putting Hostess cupcakes in our lunches. I was so excited I wanted to stand on my desk, demand attention and announce the treasure I’d found. Mostly it was the iconic chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting and a vanilla swirl. I used to eat around the middle so I could savor the cream at the end. Back in those days, most neighborhood stores had a display of all sorts of Hostess products. I loved Ding Dongs and Ho Hos. How can you go wrong with chocolate covered in chocolate? I found Twinkies a bit boring. Every now and then, I’d have a coffee cake but that was when I was older. Coffee cakes didn’t have a taste attractive to kids. Cinnamon was not a big draw. I never ate the muffins and only once in a while ate the pies, always apple.

I have to go out today. It’s about time I gave up being a recluse. I’ll take Gracie. She always likes a car ride.

““I love raw cookie dough, right out of the tube. The other thing I eat is marshmallow fluff.”

February 6, 2017

Sorry for the lateness of the hour. I slept in as I was up late watching the hoopla after my Pats won the Super Bowl in spectacular fashion. They overcame the biggest scoring deficit in history and won in the very first overtime. At the start of the second half, I was despondent at the score: 21-3.

I was able to coax Gracie down the back steps by holding her as she went from step to step. As soon as she hit the bottom, she ran around the yard happy to be off the leash I’d been using to take her out into the front yard. I will take her into the back yard one step at a time from now.

When I was a kid, there was no leash law and dogs roamed freely. Duke, my boxer, was all over town. Sometimes he was with his son Sam who was my aunt’s dog. My father had given Sam to my aunt as she had given us Duke when I was 5. Sam and Duke were notorious. People complained all the time. The dogs would stand outside a house howling if there was a female in heat. Boxers look fierce so people were afraid to leave their houses. We knew how silly that was as both of those dogs were wonderful. Sam was funny, even silly at times. He even seemed to smile. When Sam got into a fight, Duke watched until Sam was pinned then he’d step in and save Sam. Duke was also super-protective of us. He’d growl to warn people not to mess with us. That’s what boxers do for their families.

I love hot dogs. We ate them every Saturday night when I was a kid, and I never tired of hot dogs and brown bread. Baked beans were also part of the meal, but I passed on those. Just about every friend I had ate that same Saturday supper. It was a New England universal.

Marshmallow Fluff is 100 this year. Between 5-7 million pounds of it are sold each year. If you know how light Fluff is, this number is mind boggling. Half the supply is bought by New Englanders and people in upstate New York.

I loved fluffernutters. On Wonder bread we’d slather one side with peanut butter and the other side with Fluff. The mixture would sometimes ooze out of the side of the bread or one or the other would tear the bread when it was spread across a slice. Eating that sandwich was seldom neat, and it was usually the Fluff which was left on my face or fingers. I still kept Fluff in the house, and I have been known to make a fluffernutter. I have also been known to lick the Fluff off my fingers.

” A vegetable garden in the beginning looks so promising and then after all little by little it grows nothing but vegetables, nothing, nothing but vegetables.”

May 9, 2013

It rained during the night but not nearly enough. Most of it on the road has already dried. The day is damp but warm and quite still. I opened the windows upstairs and could smell freshly mowed grass. Dampness seems to accentuate smells, and my nose was filled with the sweet smell of that grass, the flowers in the front garden and an earthy smell of dirt.

I filled the feeders, including a suet feeder. When I was getting another cup of coffee, I looked out the kitchen window and saw a spawn eating the suet. I ran out yelling and scared the spawn away but only for a few minutes. It was back at the suet in no time and when I looked later, the suet had been finished off. That’s what I wish I could do to the spawn.

My backyard has what a real estate brochure might call rustic charm. All that means is I have done little to it except take down some dead pine trees. The yard is filled with leaves and pine needles and more pine trees. All around the perimeter is a path Gracie has made by running the yard. She runs next to the fence. Sometimes she runs around the yard, up one side of the deck and down the other. I think of the back as her yard. Near the deck are some lights, a bottle tree and decorations I put out every summer. I love looking down and seeing the lights in the yard and the fun decorations. New this year are two huge individual star lights and a large handmade bird my friends gave for Christmas. It is white with long orange legs and an orange peak. It will join the hula dancing bird, the wooden flowers, the white pot and the bowling pin.

My deck is still in winter mode. I have to make a list yet of what I need at the garden center. I know some pots broke during the winter, and I need herbs for the window boxes which fit over the deck rail. I also need flowers for about six different pots and a hanging pot of flowers, but all of that is just the start. The front garden needs a few more flowers, the herb garden looks empty and forlorn and my vegetable garden needs fence mending and plantings. It was such fun last summer to eat cucumbers and tomatoes I grew myself. This summer I’ll add a third vegetable yet to be determined. It will not be zucchini. That vegetable seems to reproduce itself and take over the world. The Attack of the Killer Tomatoes is a movie that makes me laugh, but it would be more realistic (okay, maybe it will never be realistic, but I’m using poetic license here) if the vegetable was changed to zucchini. Anyone who grows it always seems to be giving it away, begging people to take some. I can easily imagine vines of zucchini wrapping around cars and houses and the feet of barking dogs.

It is definitely beginning to feel like spring around here.