Posted tagged ‘beautiful day’

“Squeaking squirrels squandering away their square shares!”

September 16, 2018

Today is another lovely day with warmth and bright sun. The breeze is so slight the leaves barely move. It is a quiet day but then most days around here are quiet. A dog occasionally barking is about the only sound. I have nothing on my dance card today. Yesterday a friend came by and we had cocktails and appies on the deck. Henry even visited. It was a wonderful way to spend the late afternoon.

I woke up close to eleven this morning. Henry got me up at seven to let him out, but I went back to bed. Seven was too early, too middle of the night to me.

When I was a kid, Sunday rituals were sacred. Mass was first then it was hanging around the house until dinner, usually around two. If I went anywhere beyond the backyard, it was on a whole family excursion. Every now and then we’d go for a Sunday ride. I had one back window, my brother had the other, one of my sisters was in the middle of us and my other sister sat in the front seat. Cars in those days had full front seats from one window to the other. The shift was on the steering wheel. Some of the rides were on back roads. I remember getting excited when we’d see a farm with cows. I remember stopping for ice cream. That was the best part of the ride, even better than the cows. My favorite ice cream for the longest time was chocolate chip then mocha chip then mint chip. The pattern is easy. Give me chocolate. My father’s favorite was vanilla, but he never ate just plain vanilla. He covered his ice cream in Hershey’s syrup so thick there was like a river of chocolate surrounding the vanilla.

The spawn chewed the outside string of lights again. I’ve given up. I’m flying the white flag. That is about the fifth strand done in by a spawn of Satan, a rat with a puffy tail, a squirrel. I went hunting for a solution. The only one I found was to cover the strands with PVC piping. That seems like a lot of work, a lot of measuring and cutting to fit the short spaces between the lights. I’ll just stay in the dark.

“What dreadful hot weather we have! It keeps one in a continual state of inelegance.”

September 1, 2018

Today is again glorious, cool and dry. The sun is strong. The sky is blue and unmarred by clouds. I’m going to sit on the deck and take it all in because by Sunday the ugly humidity will be back.

Today is the meteorological end of summer, and Labor Day is the unofficial end but none of that matters to Mother Nature. She will continue to blast us with heat and humidity until fall can finally work its way past her. I’m hoping it will be soon. Fall is my favorite season.

In Ghana we had the dry season and the rainy season. I lived where the dry season was hotter than any other place in Ghana, but now it is the rainy season there so the temperature in Bolga, my other home town, is the lowest it will be all year. It has been in the high 70’s and the mid 80’s there, and rain has fallen just about every day. It is odd to see it cooler in West Africa than it is here.

During my early Peace Corps days, I missed fall, the snow at Christmas and the freshness of spring. I missed flowers. But the longer I lived there, the more I came to love the changes in Ghana’s weather. The rains came intermittently in September. The fields and grasses began to turn brown. Every day seemed hotter than the previous one. By the end of September, it was the high 80’s. In October it was the high 90’s. The worst months, February through April, usually reached 100˚ or more. My favorite month was December. The days were hot, but the nights were cold in comparison. I needed a blanket. It was Bolga’s snow at Christmas. In May the rains started. The grasses turned green. The fields were filled with the young shoots of millet, maize and sorghum. The trees were green with leaves. It was spring, Ghanaian style. The market was overloaded with fresh fruits and vegetables. The tomatoes were luscious.

It has been a long, long while since I lived in Ghana so I have forgotten the horrific heat, those days over 100˚.  Back then I seldom complained. I took my cold shower late, jumped into bed and fell asleep. Now I complain and moan and turn on the air conditioner.

That’s the way it was there, and now that’s the way it is here.

“The only man I envy is the man who has not yet been to Africa – for he has so much to look forward to.”

June 22, 2018

What a beautiful day! The sun is bright, a little breeze ruffles the leaves, the humidity is gone, and the air is comfortable at 70˚. My biggest chore today is to hose down the deck, the table and chairs. They are covered with leaves, small branches and parts of acorns. Under the chairs is still some pollen the jet spray should wash away. The birds have been busy so the feeders need seed. The suet feeder was opened by a spawn so it too needs to be refilled.

Forty nine years ago today, a Sunday, the greatest adventure of my life began. Forty nine years ago today I said goodbye to my parents and headed to Philadelphia for Peace Corps Ghana staging. My father drove the three of us, him, my mother and me, to Logan Airport. It was a quiet ride with little conversation. None of us dared to say anything. At Logan, we stood around the gate saying our goodbyes. My mother’s hug was a bit tight. As I walked down the jetway, I turned and waved. They waved too. That was our last goodbye.

When I got on the plane, I was loaded down with carry-ons. My 80 pounds of luggage, filled with clothes and stuff like sheets, towels, a few pans and spices, had been checked. When I sat down, my seat mate asked me if I was running away from home. I told him the Peace Corps. He bought me drinks. I landed in Philadelphia and went to the taxi line. I noticed a guy wearing a button-down collar shirt and a pair of khakis. Around him was more luggage than one guy needed for a trip to Philadelphia. I asked him if he was going to the Hotel Sylvania. He was. I had just met my first fellow trainee. We shared a cab.

Downstairs at the hotel I stood in line to register. I had my fingerprints with me, the last piece of my file. I registered. At that same desk, they gave me my large manila envelope filled with information about Ghana, the staging schedule including a one on one with a psychologist, training information and my room key. I got to my room and unpacked a few things, enough for the five days we’d be in Philadelphia. My roommate never showed. I found that amazing. How could she not show after the long process of being invited to train for Ghana?

Our first meeting on Sunday night was just introductions, more specific instructions and an overview of the rest of staging. They gave us a per diem, but I don’t remember how much. I do remember finding my way to the dentist to have my teeth checked, the yellow fever shot they gave each of us and the first session. It was so unexpectedly boring. I decided to skip sessions and see Philadelphia. That’s when I met Bill and Peg. We became friends and co-conspirators. We toured Philadelphia. I remember the Liberty Bell and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

We were originally told we’d have to make our own way to New York for the flight. It made no sense to us and eventually no sense to the staff so we loaded luggage and boarded busses to the Philadelphia airport. It was a TWA charter flight to Accra. I was nervous, a little scared, a lot curious and even more thrilled. I was going to Africa.

“Sooner or later, everybody dreams of other worlds.”

October 21, 2017

Today is another wondrously beautiful day. The air is clear and the sunlight is sharp. The house had an early morning chill but a blast of heat warmed it. It will be in the high 60’s.

My mother would ask us to stick out our tongues to prove we were telling the truth. She said if we were lying, our tongues would turn black. When we refused to show her our tongues, she knew we’d lied. We’d run to the mirror and stick out our tongues to check. They were never black, My mother said only mothers could see the black tongues. We believed her. It never crossed our minds that our mother had manipulated us. I wish it were that easy to distinguish lies from truth.

My mind has been saturated with far too much news. I am still watching YouTube. Last night I watched three episodes of Rocky Jones Space Ranger, and one is playing right now. The series was made in 1954. The special effects are awful by today’s standards but that’s an unfair comparison. Rocky spent a whole lot of his time talking into a tube to Earth, his boss and to the leaders of other planets. With one exception, the alien leaders all spoke English. There was a sort of a teletype translator on the rocket ship. I recognized some of the minor actors including the star of Mr. Ed who wasn’t the horse. One exchange between Rocky and his crew members, Vena Ray, was reminded to pack her lipstick for the next space journey. She laughed and said lipstick was more important to her than oxygen. Such were the fifties!

I never did go out yesterday. Being home was just too comfortable. I didn’t do my laundry either, but I have made a list for today and laundry is at the top.

When I was a kid, fall was just about my favorite season. The weather was perfect. It was neither hot nor cold. The trees were beautiful and all different colors. We saved the most colorful ones ironed in wax paper. Every Saturday until they were gone, my dad raked the yard and burned the leaves. We rode bikes.

Campbell’s chicken noodle soup with Saltines was my favorite Saturday fall lunch. I’d crumbled the Saltines and put them in the soup. I usually put in so many pieces the broth disappeared. I’d eat the top layer and work my way down to the noodles and vegetables.

My dad loved a snack of buttered crackers. His favorite was Milk Crackers, Royal Lunch Crackers, but Saltines would do in a pinch. From my memory drawer I can still see my dad bringing his crackers on a small plate to the living room. He’d sit in his usual seat on the couch beside the table and munch while watching television. He always left crumbs.

“Stay low, stay quiet, keep it simple, don’t expect too much, enjoy what you have.”

October 20, 2017

Today is another beautiful sunny day in the high 60’s. There’s an intermittent breeze strong enough to sway the branches. It is a perfect day to take a ride.

Lately I have been quite lazy. I haven’t even made a single list. There’s no reason. It’s just inertia.

Laundry is piling up in the hall. A few dishes are in the sink. I figure I’ll get to all that later. There’s no hurry. I don’t have to do something every day.

The flowers beside the house are still blooming. The pumpkins are on the front steps and corn hangs on the gate. I saw a tree covered in yellow leaves. Fall is so filled with color. I always think of it as Mother Nature’s last gift before winter.

My lawn is disappearing under dead leaves from the tall oak tree and brown needles from the pine. It will be raked a few times before the lawn reappears. The irrigation system will be blown cleared of water and my outdoor shower will be turned off until the spring. It’s the same every year. All the pieces of summer disappear in turn.

I think being retired has brought me back to a simpler life. My wardrobe is mostly casual, and I seldom add to it. Once in a while I go out to eat, but mostly I spend time with friends. I watch TV movies but every now and then I treat myself to a newer movie though I do complain about the $5.99. I get books from the library. I used to buy the newest hardcovers, but now I get then for free. I don’t deny myself stuff. I just need less stuff.

When I was a kid, all my TV heroes always won. The bad guys were alive when nabbed. The only violence was usually a fight or a bullet to the arm or hand. Good guys never lost their hats in any fights. The animals, mostly dogs and horses, had names and were important to the plot. I remember Sergeant Preston of the Yukon, his dog Yukon King and his horse Rex.  I learned history and geography from watching this program. I remember at the end of each show he’d tell King this case is closed.  Sometimes there was even a bit of humor. Pat Brady provided that in the Roy Rogers Show. I never questioned that Roy and Dale rode horses while Pat had a jeep, Nellybelle. I was a kid. I just believed.

“One might well say that mankind is divisible into two great classes: hosts and guests.”

October 10, 2017

Today is another beautiful, warm day with a bright sun and a blue sky with just a few fluffy clouds. It is already in the 70’s. Tonight, though, will go down to the 50’s and will usher in daytime highs in the 60’s, far more fall-like weather than we’ve had. The doors and windows are open, but with cooler days coming, I guess I’ll have to start thinking about putting in the storm doors, the beginning of the cold weather rituals.

When I was a kid, my father would spend one whole Saturday putting in the storm windows. They were kept in the cellar during the summer. He’d have to take down the screens first, haul the storm windows outside, wash them and then attach them to the house window frames. There were hooks on top of the frames to hold the storm windows. My father would tilt the storm window at the top until it could be hooked. Sometimes it took a few, okay maybe several, tries before he’d get the upstairs windows attached. He was never happy about that. One thing my father lacked was patience. We’d watch the window exchange the whole time. My father used to lean out of the upstairs windows and attach them from there. He used a step ladder for the lower windows. Those Saturdays were the times when my vocabulary of four letter words was expanded the most. It was always a most entertaining day.

My guests are due between one and two. I’m just about ready. All I need is the wash to finish drying. I think I need guests every week as this is the fastest I’ve even gotten the was done. Usually it sits by the cellar door until I run out of underwear. This load never even sat by the door, a miracle of sorts.

My usually quiet day has been interrupted by the sounds of motors. The first sound may have been someone shutting down an irrigation system and the next was like the sound trimmers make. I saw the kids waiting for the bus this morning. They were riding scooters until it was time. I’m not usually up and about that early, but I had a meeting this morning.

I haven’t planned anything for today. I figure we can sit and enjoy each other’s company for a while. Later, we’ll take a ride, maybe stop at the beach and a shop or two. I get to play tourist.

“I will continue my path, but I will keep a memory always.”

July 16, 2017

Today is a sunny, bright, warm but getting hotter day. The blue sky is perfectly clear. The breeze is ever so slight. Every now and then I hear voices from down the street, but mostly it’s quiet, quiet enough that the birds can easily be heard singing. It’s like a Sunday from my childhood memories.

Roast beef, peas and mashed potatoes with gravy have long been my favorite meal. It was a Sunday dinner treat to have the beef. Mostly we had chicken. We always had mashed potatoes. My father didn’t believe dinner was dinner without the mashed potatoes. Back then we had canned vegetables. I remember the French green beans and my father’s asparagus. My mother served Le Sueur small, sweet baby peas, the ones in the silver can. I loved those. When I was really little, I mixed them with the mashed potatoes. The concoction wasn’t pretty but it was tasty and that was the easiest way to eat the peas. They were never fork food, too round and too small.

A long time ago there was a club in Bourne with male strippers. One night my friends and I were brave enough to go. We went, each of us, with many dollar bills. The place was filled. It was smoky. In the middle of the room was the stage. The fully dressed men, the policeman, the firefighter, the soldier, came out together and faced the different sides of the room. When the music started, so did they. The clothes flew off until the men were down to their G-strings. We didn’t approach them at first, being a bit embarrassed. Other women were quick to leave their dollars bills in the tops of the g-strings. I don’t remember who but one of us got brave, and the rest of us followed. We laughed a lot. It was a fun evening. We never went again and the place at some point closed down. I think it was because everyone went just once.

I used to love going to the Melody Tent in Hyannis when it was a theater in the round. I remember The Unsinkable Molly Brown with Debbie Reynolds. I was so excited to see a real movie actress in person. Much later, I saw the house of the real Margaret Brown on whom the character is based. It is in Denver, Colorado. I even found that exciting.

My life is filled with all these memories. Every now and then one pops up, one I hadn’t given thought to in years. Today’s memories are some of those.