Posted tagged ‘Barbecue’

“How strange it is to view a town you grew up in, not in wonderment through the eyes of youth, but with the eyes of a historian on the way things were.”

February 22, 2018

For two days Boston has hit 70˚. We hit a high of 55˚. The sun has deserted us. It is cloudy again and damp and chilly. Last night it rained a little. I was lying in bed reading and heard what I thought at first was a mouse gnawing. It wasn’t. It was the patter of rain falling quite slowly at first then more heavily, but it quickly stopped.

Yesterday I went to the deck and did a bit of cleanup. I also filled the bird feeders. The cover for the barbecue has disappeared. I checked the yard from the deck but didn’t go under the deck. My first thought was an army of squirrels has set up camp somewhere close and my cover, which already had a huge section chewed off, was perfect for their tents. Two bricks were on the top to prevent the cover from blowing off. I found those on the deck. Maybe a spawn of Satan will be back to get the bricks for their camp walkway.

I actually cleaned most of this room. I polished and washed all the curios on shelves. I did such a good job I need sunglasses now because everything shines. I also caught up with the laundry. I feel accomplished.

When I sleep, I look a bit like a question mark as I still make room for Gracie to sleep beside me.

When I was a kid, my town was my world. I never thought it was small. Uptown had wonderful stores, and the library and the post office anchored the beginning and the end of the square. Some days the square smelled like fresh bread from Hank’s Bakery or popcorn from the candy makers behind the square. O’Grady’s Diner was across the street from the library. Once in a while, my father took me to breakfast there. We sat at a booth with red vinyl seating. I used to beg for dimes or a quarter to play the juke box. Every booth had a small box, and I’d turn the pages in our booth to find a favorite song. On Saturday mornings seats at the counter were mostly filled with all men. Saturday was their errand day with stops at the Chinamen, the barber and maybe the drug store or the Redmen then finally the diner. I loved my little uptown

“It is labour indeed that puts the difference on everything.”

September 4, 2017

Labor Day is the proverbial end of summer. I remember the now outdated fashion rule of not wearing white after Labor Day. I remember lamenting this was the last day of freedom, but I also remember being a bit excited about the new school year. The tradition was to barbecue, sort of a last salute to summer. I had to take a bath on a Monday. School dictated cleanliness. It was difficult to go to bed early, but my mother demanded it. Being sent to bed, however, wasn’t the same as sleeping. That took a while. Morning meant an early wake-up, a quick breakfast, new clothes and the walk to school. Everything was familiar. It was the same every year.

The real meaning of Labor Day has been blurred. It was first celebrated in the early 1880’s as a day to honor laborers, “who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold.” The first states to recognize the day were Massachusetts, Oregon, New York, Colorado and New Jersey. It became a holiday in 1884 and was a day for parades and speeches, all meant to honor workers and the contributions of the American labor movement.

Most stores are open today. Municipal and federal buildings and properties like the dump are closed as are banks and those schools which had opened last week. When I was a kid, nothing except maybe a corner store was open. I wish it were that way now.

Today is a beautiful day, sunny and warmer than it has been. I’m thinking I need deck time. I need to bank a few warm days to remember when winter comes and rears its ugly head. I have chicken I can defrost so maybe I’ll even barbecue. I do have to go out for animal food, but that’s it for the day, my only chore, my only to do list item.

When I lived in Ghana, we didn’t celebrate most holidays. We did celebrate the big ones like Thanksgiving and Christmas and one year I celebrated New Year’s Eve at the home of the ambassador to what was then Upper Volta and is now Burkina Faso. We had to work on Thanksgiving, but we did have dinner with turkey and all the fixings. We also added chickens to the menu. Christmas was our biggest holiday. We had gifts, decorated a tree and eat a special dinner. We never celebrated Labor Day. I don’t even think we remembered it.

“Sunday is the golden clasp that binds together the volume of the week.”

August 6, 2017

Today is an absolute delight. The humidity is gone, the sun is squint your eyes bright and there is a cool breeze. I even had to shut the window behind me as I found the breeze cold on my back. I opened the other window in here and both doors to let all that wonderful fresh air into the house. It is a deck day, a wonderful deck day.

Tonight is movie night. I think I’ll have a sweatshirt at the ready as it will be in the low 60’s. Even though it is early August, the weather hints at fall.

My neighbor barbecues chicken wings every Sunday. He doesn’t use any sauce. He never has any sides. His wife sits on the deck and keeps him company. If he sees me, he shouts for me to join him and his wife. I did one Sunday, the Sunday he barbecued Brazilian kielbasa especially for me. His wife made caipirinhas, a Brazilian drink I love. They call me Miss Kath.

I was taught Hausa during my Peace Corps training. It is a language indigenous to Niger but is also a Sub-Saharan trade language. There are even Hausa traders. I used to shop at their stalls on High Street. When I used Hausa, I got better deals. The man who oversaw the Peace Corps hostel spoke Hausa. He loved that I spoke his language. On the first floor of the hostel there were two sleeping rooms for women: one had a bathroom while the other was much smaller and didn’t. I was there once when very few volunteers were. He gave me a key to the big room and put everyone else in the small room. He hated what he called Yama Yama women who left powder all over the bathroom floor. Yama Yama women are street walkers so that was quite an insult. The other day Grace Awae, the former student I have spent so much time with, send hello from Facebook. I wrote back in Hausa: Ina kwana? Yaya kake? Good morning and how are you. She wrote Ina lafiya, I am fine.

I have a few deck clean-ups before tonight, mostly bird poop. I also have to clean the table. I’m making muhammara, a dish I learned to make in Marrakech. The original dish I had planned, shredded chicken phyllo rolls, has to be postponed as I don’t have the right ingredients. I thought I did. I have cheese and crackers and meatballs from last week which are now defrosting. We’ll have plenty.

If I were ten again, I’d be at the beach with my family. I’d be eating grainy sandwiches, probably bologna, and eating watermelon and some Oreos. I’d walk the beach to find shells and I’d swim in the warm tidal pools. I loved the summer Sundays of my childhood.

“The family is always the family but during vacations it is an extended family and that is exhausting.”

July 15, 2017

They’d be cornToday is another dreary day, cloudy and damp. Movie night is postponed as it may rain and the deck is still wet from the rain yesterday. Tomorrow night we’ll be watching Gunga Din and munching appies and assorted movie candy. We pause for bathroom breaks.

My old MAC is totally defunct. It needs a new fan, a new battery and a new hard drive. May it rest in peace.

The house next door is rented this week. A car is in the driveway, and I can hear their voices. They have a kid or two.

I went to the library this morning. Traffic was bumper to bumper even on the back roads. I dread the rest of my errands as I have to go on main roads. Beaches are empty on days like today so tourists take to the main roads to find something to do and souvenirs to buy.

We never came to the cape when I was a kid. If we were going away, we went north. My father’s friend had a place in Ogunquit, Maine. It was a tiny cottage in a row of side by side tiny cottages. There was a small kitchen with a table and chairs, and there were beds, lots of built-in beds. We never slept one to a bed as there were too many of us. In one room were two sets of three bunks. It was like a couchette on a train.

The Maine water was so cold only my father went swimming. He used to body surf. We’d go at low tide and try to catch the small swift fish in the tidal pools. We’d walk the dunes. I remember my horror at seeing naked people sunbathing among those dunes. Meals were mostly catch as catch can except for dinner which was usually hot dogs or burgers on the grill. They’d be corn on the cob and sometimes potato salad. The informality of the meals was part of the vacation.

When I reached my mid-teens, the last thing I wanted was a family vacation in close quarters with nothing for anyone my age to do. My father had to threaten me with dire consequences if I continued moaning and complaining. I used to pout with all the teenage angst I could muster.

The last family vacation I remember was the one to Niagara Falls. I was sixteen that summer. Woolworth’s was a summer away.

“Summertime is always the best of what might be.”

June 12, 2017

The flowers are all bought. My trunk and backseat floor were filled with plants. I needed to take out a second mortgage to pay for them, but I am pleased with all the different plants and their colors. The perennials will go out front, the herbs in the wooden deck boxes and the other plants in a variety of pots, mostly on the deck. I also bought one hanging plant for the deck. I am a sweaty mess from pushing the cart and wandering through the flower rows in the sun. I’m not a pretty sight.

One of the things I love about having the herbs in the deck boxes is going outside to snip the ones I need. I always feel a bit like Julia Childs as I snip a little basil, some rosemary, and a few chives.

It is really hot and is already 87˚, which will be the high for the day. It will get down to 66˚ tonight. My air conditioner is on, and the house is pleasant. I have to go out later, but I’m waiting until late afternoon hoping it will be a bit cooler.

I never used to mind the heat, but the older I get, the less tolerant I am of the heat and the cold. My furnace cranks all winter, and my central AC is on now. I have become a creature of comfort. I make no excuses. I think I deserve it.

My plastic flamingo and my Travelocity gnome are still here in their winter quarters. They will be the last two summer decorations to be placed outside. I do wish I had a small band to play John Phillip Sousa’s music as we march to the deck. The Stars and Stripes Forever would do just fine.

I’m still wishing I had a tree house in the backyard. It would be my summer vacation spot. I’d make sure Gracie could join me. The skylight would let the stars in. I could lie on my back and look for the constellations or watch the summer meteor showers. A small heater and an outside light would let me watch the snow fall. That would be glorious.

I do love summer on my deck. Soon enough it will be my favorite spot. We’ll have movie nights. We’ll eat barbecue and potato salad then much on popcorn and movie candy as we watch some great movies and some B science fiction films which always make us laugh. In winter I am a bit of a hermit. In summer I am the consummate hostess.

“Sunday, the day for the language of leisure.”

June 11, 2017

The heat is here. It is already 80˚ and it isn’t even noon. Just last week we were complaining about the cold, and now we’ve in the middle of our comeuppance, compliments of Mother Nature. The next two days will also be hot until Wednesday when the 60’s return so we can complain about the cold all over again.

The first thing I heard this morning when I was taking Gracie out was the sound of a bouncing ball. One of the kids down the street was shooting hoops. He was all by himself.

Every Sunday my neighbor barbecues. The meat is either chicken wings or kielbasa, which he buys at the Brazilian butcher. The kielbasa is delicious and quite different from the kielbasa the grocery store sells. My neighbor usually yells hello from his deck and invites me over. I always say no as Sunday is game night. I figure my next trip to Hyannis will include a stop at the Brazilian butcher.

Flowers are postponed until tomorrow. I’m going to stay home with Gracie. She ate yesterday and held it down but isn’t hungry today except for treats. I’m thinking she’s maybe taking me for a ride.

My grandnephew turned five yesterday. When he was asked what he wanted to do for his birthday, he said pan for gold. His mother, my niece, had no idea where that came from, maybe TV was her guess, but they did find a place, it is Colorado after all, which included a tour of the gold mine, panning in the river and then pizza at the restaurant. My sister, the grandmother, said it was the best time, and the pizza was to die for. Nobody found any gold.

I bought a variety pack of cereals the other day. I remembered them from when I was a kid. The boxes opened along the perforations on the top and then the box became a bowl.  I always thought it was kind of neat.

I’ve dubbed today a lazy day. I’ll take my shower but that is the extent of my exertions. I’m thinking a nap. Sunday seems to lend itself to napping.

“Every day my mother had tea. My dad has his ritual cigar. They had their evening cocktail. Those rituals were done nicely, with flair and feeling.”

March 27, 2017

Today is chilly, damp and cloudy. Last night it rained, and the ground is still wet. More rain is expected today. My dance card is empty so I’m staying close to hearth and home. I’m declaring today a sloth day. It’s a sit on the couch, watch TV, and snack day. It is comfy clothes including a sweatshirt that has seen better days. It is not fit for public viewing.

It has been a quiet news day. The front page of the Globe had only a single Trump article, and it was at the bottom of the page: “Trump girds for tax fight and Prepares to reverse Obama climate plan.”

When I’d visit my mother, she and I had rituals. We’d sit for hours at the kitchen table playing Big Boggle. We’d order take out for dinner. She paid and I picked up. On Saturday, we did some shopping. Both she and I liked off-beat places, never a mall. Sometimes we’d venture afar. One Saturday we went as far as North Conway, and we shopped and had lunch. We were gone so long my father figured we were lost, wandering aimlessly from backroad to backroad. Little did he realize that my mother and I loved backroads, even when we had no idea where we’d end up. On Saturday night, depending on the season, my father barbecued. It was always a couple of different meats, chips, a potato salad or pepper and egg. Chinese sausage was the favorite meat one year, but my mother’s marinated steak tips were perennial favorites. On Sunday morning my dad went out early for donuts. He was a plain donut guy, and he spread butter on it. He’d then start cooking breakfast. It was always eggs, bacon and toast. The eggs were easy over and the bacon crispy. I’d sit at the kitchen table to keep him company    Sometimes I was on toast duty. Sunday afternoons were for cribbage. When I won, it was the luck of the draw. When my dad won, it was expertise. I lived to skunk him.