Posted tagged ‘bells’

“Stars of heaven, clear and bright, Shine upon this Christmas light, Vaster far than midnight skies Are its timeless mysteries.”

December 19, 2017

Last night it rained. The snow became pockmarked by the raindrops then most of it disappeared. The last of the snow is soft and wet. It was cloudy this morning, but I can see blue sky now and a hint of sunshine. Today is already 49˚ but it will be cold again tonight.

When I was a kid, the closer we got to Christmas the more difficult it was for me to breathe. I was in a constant state of excitement with all the Christmas doings. I loved the late afternoon when my brother and I raced to turn on the window candles. The best, a five candle tier, was in the picture window. It had all orange bulbs. The candles were sort of an off-white plastic, and most were taped to the window sill so they wouldn’t keep falling over from the weight of the bulbs. We had to screw the bulbs on as there were no switches. We had to screw them off as well, but we never raced for that. The bulbs were always hot to the touch. I used to lick my fingers before I touched the hot bulbs.

My mother kept us busy to distract us, to keep us calm, a huge undertaking. My favorite day was when we decorated sugar cookies. My mother made Santas, bells, trees and angels. She’d have bowls of white frosting and colored frosting in green, red and yellow. None of us were particularly talented. The trees were the easiest. I’d color them green, naturally, then I’d make strings of yellow and red lights. Santa was a bit more complicated because of the white pompom on his hat and his beard. The key was to frost the red parts first and try to leave space for the white. My Santas tended to look all the same. The angels got the yellow frosting. Sometimes we’d cover the whole cookie in white then we’d sprinkle with green or red or colored jimmies. That was usually when we had gotten tired and maybe a bit bored.

I always thought that at Christmas time everything seemed to look different, as if the world around me was covered by an aura. Even now I sometimes think that, especially at night when the air is clear and the sky star-lit and Christmas lights shine from the houses. Last night I went around and turned on my tree lights. In the kitchen I turned on the red pepper and scallop shell lights entwined around a shelf. I stood for a while enchanted by how lovely my house looks at night, how warm it is, how perfect for Christmas.

“I’m not going to buy my kids an encyclopedia. Let them walk to school like I did.”

August 31, 2017

Today is a delight. The humidity is still among the missing. The morning was even a bit chilly. I wished I had a sweatshirt on when I was outside waiting for Gracie. It rained all Tuesday night into Wednesday early afternoon but then the sun came out and the rest of the day was lovely. I hung around the house yesterday and finally did the laundry. It has made it upstairs only as far as this floor, but I still feel accomplished.

The kids around here go back to school next week, the day after Labor Day. It was also when I went back to school. I complained every year because that is the responsibility of kids the world over, but I didn’t really care. By the end of the summer I had run out of things to do. I was bored though I would never have admitted it.

On the weekend before going back to school, I checked out all my school supplies again and again. I sharpened my pencils and loaded and unloaded my school bag. I used to carry it with the strap across my chest, and I’d check out the look in the mirror.

I got to wear a new outfit on the first day of school, the only day of no uniforms. My mother would lay out our outfits on our beds. New clothes and new shoes were special.

On the schoolyard, I’d see my school friends for the first time since the summer had begun. When the bell rang, a hand bell rung by a nun, we’d go into the building but not in lines. Those would start the next day after we had found our classrooms and classmates. There were two classes of every grade, each with 40 or more students. One class got a nun while the other class didn’t. The nuns by their very natures kept us quiet and attentive. We didn’t dare do otherwise. The not nun teachers were just as strict. We all knew the being attentive position. It was sitting at our desks with our hands folded on top of it.

After the first few days, school became routine. We were back in uniform. Bells ruled our lives. We entered and left the school in lines. We did homework. It was a long way until June.

“The only thing that will make a souffle fall is if it knows you’re afraid of it.”

January 7, 2016

Today is warmer than it has been which is good as I have a few errands to do. The cats need dry food, and I need bread, life’s essentials for the cats and me. I did vacuum and dust a bit yesterday so I have a small sense of accomplishment.

I didn’t even know how to work the washing machine my freshman year in college. The bell went off once, and the machine wouldn’t work no matter what buttons I pushed. The idea of an uneven load never entered my head. I didn’t even know the load could be uneven, unbalanced. I ended up pulling out the clothes and wringing them by hand before putting them into the dryer. When I mentioned the bell to my mother, she explained about redistributing the clothes in the drum. I was thinking we should have had a laundry lesson before I left.

My junior year in college I had an apartment. My roommate and I had been classmates starting in the first grade and all the way through except for the year on the Cape. She had always worked to put herself through school. She was one of those waitresses who could heft full trays. Her right arm had more muscles than her left. She could cook anything, and I was amazed. I could cook things like eggs, hot dogs or hamburgers, but that was it. She even made meatloaf and gravy, onion gravy. I was more than happy to do the dishes if she cooked.

I was mostly inept when it came to household stuff. I never did laundry, never cooked and didn’t even have to make my bed. My mother did it all. That made apartment living an adventure. Learning to clean was easy. Learning to cook took a bit more time, but I got good at it.

Being in Africa was a test of sorts. I had to survive without machines or devices including an oven and a washing machine and dryer. My wringing skills came to bear on wash day, all done by hand. I ate mostly chicken with a sauce. The meal was cooked over a charcoal fire and the sauce was usually made from tomatoes and onions, the two most plentiful veggies. I did a little frying as well. I was spreading my culinary wings.

Nothing fazed me after Africa. I conquered the wash and kitchen duties and could cook just about anything. I was never to be afraid to try. That was the best part of it all. I had some failures, the bagels come to mind, but the successes were delicious, still are.