Posted tagged ‘chilly’

“Talent is useful, but always keep your dagger sharp.”

February 18, 2018

The predicted snow stayed north of us. My sister who lives 14 miles from Boston got 5″. We got rain. The rain storm started around eleven and was still going strong at 12:30 when I fell asleep. Today is bright with sun. The blue sky is almost cloudless. The breeze is strong, and the pine branches are swaying and bending enough to make noise. It is a chilly day.

Tonight is game night, and we’ll also celebrate Chinese New Year. One year we did origami and folded the different color papers into dragons and kites and other symbols. I was horrible at it. I thought I had folded the papers just right according to the illustrations, but the finished produces had no resemblance to the pictures of them. It was frustrating, but I knew it would be as I had learned from experience I can put almost anything together by following the word directions and not the picture directions.  There’s that old left brain in action.

When I was kid in elementary school, we had art every couple of weeks. It alternated with music. There was no music teacher and there was no art teacher. The teacher or the nun I had did it all. Sister Hildegarde, my eighth grade teacher, had music class more often than once every other week. She had a keyboard which one of my classmates played. She also had pitch pipe which was round and had the keys listed next to the hole to blow. She’d blow the note then start us off with the first line. She sang so badly we had to hide behind our music books so she wouldn’t catch us laughing at her. I think it was also in her class I learned Gregorian chant notes. We even had tests of reading and writing chant.

I don’t remember much about my art classes. The only one I remember is when we made paper mâché puppets. We also had to write a small play and team up with classmates. I made a devil, and it was the best thing I ever created in any art class.

As I grew older, I found out that words strung together in the right way created beauty, a beauty of language which conjured images and memories and feelings. It was my talent.

“Today, watching television often means fighting, violence and foul language – and that’s just deciding who gets to hold the remote control.”

January 19, 2018

Everyday I make a list and every day I do nothing. I’ve read a bit, and that’s about it.  Losing Gracie is still so close. I keep looking for her, and I call poor Maddie Gracie. The house is quiet. Today, though, I have no choice but to go out. I’ve made a list with three stops, maybe four if I add the dump.

Today is a pretty day with a bright sun and a soft blue sky. The air is chilly but hints at being warmer. It is a good day to be out and about.

I watch television. It has been with me all of my life. When I was a kid, we had a cabinet  for the TV. It had doors which hid the screen. It was in one corner of the living room. A chair faced it, another chair was beside it, and you could get a great view from the couch.  My brother and I sat on the floor in front of it. My mother made us move back from the screen so we wouldn’t go blind. We had an antenna, rabbit ears, for fine tuning the stations. It sat on top of the cabinet. Most of the time it had aluminum foil around the ears. My father thought the foil brought in a clearer picture. I remember how often the TV screen was filled with snow. It made a static sound. The screen sometimes had lines and the picture kept jumping. If the TV didn’t work, my father would take some tubes from the back and bring them to the TV store to be tested. He’d do that until the offending tube was found. TV tubes were like Christmas bulbs. If one burnt out, none of them worked. It was hit or miss. When my father removed the back cover of the TV, I remember the tubes looked a little like Frankenstein’s lab with the lit filaments and their lights bouncing up and down the wires.

When my father couldn’t put the bulbs back in their original spots, it was time to call the repairman. We’d watch. My father would stand beside him and chat about the TV as if he knew something about it. The repairman wore a belt with all his tools and brought in a bag with bulbs. He always found the offending bulb.

TV’s now don’t get fixed. They get replaced and usually upgraded at the same time. The set I have now was one of the first HD sets on the street. I remember my neighbors coming to dinner and wanting to watch TV. They were amazed. This TV is 13 or 14 years old, and it still works fine. My next set will be a 4K UHD. I watched one at my friend’s house and I was drop jaw amazed.

Well, it’s time to get myself in gear, a fine metaphor, a suitable ending.

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!”

December 2, 2017

The sky is cloudy, gray. A small breeze just about ruffles a leaf or two, brown ones left on the branches. It is a bit colder than yesterday but not so bad that I’d need to bundle going out. I have a list of errands, but I haven’t ventured beyond the yard for the last few days. I’m either becoming a hermit or I’m practicing for hibernation.

I actually vacuumed the kitchen yesterday and hope to do the rest of downstairs today. I can’t even remember the last time I vacuumed. I do some spot cleaning between visits from my cleaning couple, things like using my sweatshirt cuff to dust and a wet paper towel under my feet to wipe the kitchen floor, but I don’t vacuum or rather I didn’t vacuum.

I have started writing down what I want to bake for Christmas. One sister always gets fudge and date-nut bread. I add a few other cookies but those first two are more than enough for her. My sister in Colorado always wants my English toffee. I don’t make it every year, but I used to because my mother loved it. The orange cookies are on Clare’s list. They remind her in a way of her mother’s orange cake. I also usually make a new cookie each year, but I haven’t decided which one yet.

I’m Hallmarking it today. It is a perfect day to stay home and watch Christmas movies with happy endings. Last night I watched Alistair Sim find Christmas in his heart. I never tire of him as Scrooge. One of my other favorites is called Scrooge and stars Seymour Hicks. It was released in the US in 1926. It opens with Charles Dickens pacing his library and hoping for inspiration. He writes A Christmas Carol. This movie presents a graphic picture of London with its beggars and lines for food. Scrooge falls asleep with his money around him. But watching Alistair Sim is the real beginning of the Christmas season for me. Let the bells jingle and the carolers sing. It’s time to start getting ready for Christmas.

“I love Christmas, not just because of the presents but because of all the decorations and lights and the warmth of the season.”

November 27, 2017

It was just after seven when I woke up. I would have gone back to sleep, but Gracie was staring at me with her I need to go out look so out we went. I was a little chilly as I didn’t grab my sweatshirt. Maddie was sleeping on it, and I decided one of us, at least, ought to be still asleep at this early hour. Once we were back in the house, I fed Maddie and Gracie, started my coffee, turned on the TV to find out if there had been any jaw dropping news overnight and then started reading the papers.

The animals wolfed down breakfast, the coffee was delicious, there was no big news, and I finished the Globe crossword but not the Cape Times cryptogram.

Gracie has a bit of anxiety. I figured this time she’d be fine as we’d already been outside. I was wrong. When I go upstairs to shower, Gracie waits and watches at the bottom of the stairs. She also goes the bathroom sometimes on the floor and sometimes on the treads. Today she hit both. While I showered, Gracie always waited for me. She used to lie on the bathroom rug. Now she can’t do stairs so she gets upset. I understand. I also wish for summer so I can shower outside.

Today is cloudy and cold. The wind is strong enough to sway the pine limbs. Nothing about outside looks enticing, but I’m stuck going out to an appointment. I’d much rather be comfortable reading on the couch. I’ve started a new series about Flavia de Luce, an eleven year old who enjoys chemistry and murder. The series was recommended by two avid readers so I bought the first two novels. I love the title of the first one, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie.

Two houses on my street are already decorated for Christmas. I’m thinking I need to call Skip, my factotum, to do mine. I always have white bulbs on the fence to the backyard. They are the trail of a giant star attached to the fence. The front of my yard has colored lights across the top of the fence. On the side, a small tree is decorated with giant ornaments highlighted by a flood light. In the back, the top of the deck rail sports colored bulbs.

I do love Christmas lights. They brightened the darkness of winter. They celebrate the season, and most of all they remind me of all the family rides we took to see the lights. That is one of my favorite Christmas traditions, and I still take a ride to see the lights. I bring Gracie so I can comment aloud without feeling silly. She’s a good listener.

“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.”

November 23, 2017

Today is a beautiful day, just chilly enough. The sun is bright and sharp. The leaves flutter a bit then the limbs swing back and forth when the breeze becomes a wind. I’m watching the parade.

My sister and I spoke this morning, and we remembered our mother waking up early to get the turkey in the oven. Why it was so early neither one of us remember. While my mother was in the kitchen, we were all sitting in front of the TV watching the parade. The snacks every year were the same: M&M’s, tangerines and mixed nuts. We used a silver set to crack then pick out the nuts. Years ago I bought a set exactly the same. I fill it with nuts and put the bowl, the crackers and the picks on my dining room table. Tangerines were the best as they were so easy to peel. Only seeds marred their perfection. The M&M’s were first to go. My father always went with my grandfather to the football game. It was Stoneham versus Reading. My father had no connection to the high school. He never went there and neither did any of us. It was football which drew him.

When the parade was finished, my dad took over the TV. He watched football until my mother called him to the table. We stayed in the kitchen until we set the table. We had turkey, gravy, sage stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole and another vegetable or two. The cranberry sauce was always the one from the can. The sauce had can ridges which gave it a bit of a decoration. I always wondered why it was called a sauce when the cranberry was jellied. My father ate quickly, all the better to get back to his games. We lingered far more, just sitting and talking. Clean-up didn’t take long. After that were the pies: apple, my dad’s favorite always eaten with a chunk of cheese, blueberry and lemon meringue. By then it was late afternoon. Supper, if we had any room for more food, was leftovers, usually a hot turkey sandwich, the meat bathed in gravy. That meal was the official end of Thanksgiving.

I have so many things to be thankful for a whole day is not enough. I am thankful for family, for the connections between my sisters and me. I have been blessed with the best of friends, my other family, and I am thankful for them. I am also thankful for my Coffee friends. When I started this, I never thought people I hadn’t ever met would become such close friends. Most of all, I am thankful for the joy and wonder of each new day.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

 

“In football everything is complicated by the presence of the opposite team.”

November 12, 2017

The sky is cloudy again, and it’s chilly, low 40’s chilly. My heat is on almost constantly. Nothing is moving. I can see the backyard through my den window and not a branch, even the smallest, is moving. I’m glad for the stillness. It helps to keep the cold at bay. There is a chance of rain later.

Gracie and I have to go to Agway. I am out of canned dog food, and that’s a calamity. I also need to buy biscuits, dog and cat treats, cat food and bird seed. Shopping at Agway is, for me, never an inexpensive stop. My animals expect and do get the best. Gracie is pickier than the cat and drives me crazy when she turns her face away from the treat I’m offering and holds out for something better which she usually gets. It is too late now to alter the behavior I have fostered in Gracie, the spoiled dog.

This morning I enjoyed biscotti with my coffee. It was, of course, chocolate biscotti. My  mother wasn’t a coffee drinker except with biscotti which she loved. When she came to visit, I’d give her a half cup of coffee purely for dunking purposes. One Christmas she even made her own biscotti, and it was delicious. She kept a few but sent most of it home with me as the rest of the family didn’t eat biscotti. What fools they were!!

The cloudy days make me feel languid. I need a bit of sunlight, a natural pick-me-up. It is so easy to love a sunny day and feel like conquering the world; instead, I just sit here hoping for a sudden jolt of energy.

Having lived here for so long, I am familiar with all the quirks of my house. I can identify the sounds. That’s the ice maker adding water or dropping cubes in the tray.  I can hear the clicks of the furnace before the heat blasts. The thump is Maddie jumping off the couch or from one step to another. I used to hear the scurry off the mice in the eaves, but the exterminator took care of that. Just a few minutes ago, I heard an unfamiliar sound. I stopped typing to listen. The sound had a rhythm, a rat-tat. I knew it had to be a woodpecker. I banged the wall, but the sound stopped for only a minute. I had to go out to the deck to scare the bird away. The sound has stopped.

Tonight is game night and football night as the Pats are playing the Broncos. We’ll all be watching. My sister in Colorado is working on her football game menu. The Pats never do well in Denver, but this year Denver is not doing well. They are last in their conference with a 3 and 5 record. The Pats are first in theirs with a 6 and 2 record. The Pats are favored. I hope that comes to fruition.

My dance card is not empty for a change thanks to game night.

“Winter slithers, autumn strolls, summer swims, spring skips.”

November 7, 2017

The sun is hiding. It was here earlier but it’s gone now. Today is chillier than it has been, but not chilly enough for the heat to be triggered. The clouds are white, and there is barely a breeze, but I’ll take the clouds rather than the usual cold of November.

When I was a kid, I rode my bike all year. Only the snow stopped me. The roads were seldom plowed all the way down to street so it was too slippery for bike wheels. It was sort of the same when I was walking to and from school. The sidewalks were shoveled by the people who lived beside them, not the town, so we’d hit parts which had never seen a shovel. Rather than get all snowy and wet, we’d move to the road and walk in the ruts. Sometimes we’d have to walk toe to heel because the ruts were so narrow. Sometimes we’d fall into the snow. We always laughed.

I really didn’t mind school all that much in the winter, but I really minded it in late spring and fall when the days were still warm and bright. All I could think of was I should be outside playing or riding my bike; instead, the best weather was being wasted, and a taste of the day at recess only made it worse. All I could do each school day was watch through my classroom windows as warm days withered away. We played when we got home from school but darkness came early, and the street lights were on by four. My mother didn’t care what time it was. She went with the street light curfew.

My town had so many trees bordering the streets and sidewalks that fallen leaves were everywhere. The ones on lawns were cleared and burned, but the rest sat in gutters or around tree trunks. Yellow and orange are the colors of fall to me.

Sometimes I still think of all the other seasons in colors. Spring is green, all different, varied greens. Summer is all colors especially reds and yellows, pinks and purples as the gardens come to life. Winter is white when it snows, and red and green at Christmas, but the rest of winter is mostly brown and grey. We’re almost there now.

“Remember, remember always, that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists.”

November 2, 2017

The days have been getting cooler, not cold yet, just cooler. The nights, though, are chilly, cold enough for an afghan. The other night my heat went on even though it is set to 65˚.  Soon, the afghan will not be enough to keep me warm.

I was out yesterday for one chore and two stops for shopping. At the first stop, I bought a Christmas present for a friend. The next one was the Italian store where I bought mortadella, fresh bread, pasta and sauce. When I got home, I was in a shopping mood and bought a few more Christmas presents on line. One bed in the guest room is filled with gifts so I have to start writing them down to see what I have and what I need. After all, it’s November all ready.

Gracie is not doing well. Her back legs are much worse. I am scared for her and for me. I hope there is something we can do as she is otherwise fine. She eats, demands treats and gives kisses. We have an appointment at the vet’s tomorrow.

I can’t watch the news anymore. The anxiety of what might be next has me watching Netflix and YouTube. This morning I’m watching Space Probe Taurus from 1965. It is awful. There they are, a crew of three men and one woman, in a space ship with several rooms and lots of space. The control room is about the size of my downstairs. So far two of the men have hit on the woman scientist who was expected to prepare dinner, well sort of dinner. Pills substituted for food. One scientist had lobster Newburg, another had fillet mignon with mashed potatoes and gravy. Right now their ship is stranded underwater on an alien planet and is surrounded by creatures the woman declared were ugly and frightening. They actually look like crabs. The crew is trying to free the ship from the water. One guy is going out in scuba gear. He is being followed by a humanoid looking creature and has no idea of the danger. I’m sitting on the edge of my seat!

My dance card is pretty empty for the next few weeks. Sundays are the only days with any entries, game nights. Last Sunday we decorated Day of the Dead sugar cookie skulls and then managed to play one of our games. The skulls were our best artistic endeavors to date. It seemed a shame to eat them, but I did.

I love my life even when I have an empty dance card.

“Shadows of a thousand years rise again unseen. Voices whisper in the trees, “Tonight is Halloween!'”

October 31, 2017

The wind and the rain have given way to a sunny day. It is a bit colder than it has been, 57˚ now and low 40’s tonight for trick or treating. I’m all set for my trick or treaters with candy bars for the bigger kids and Halloween pencils for the smaller.

I remember the excitement of Halloween when I was a kid. School lasted two and a half days or at least it felt that way. The hands of the watched clock moved ever so slowly, and the afternoon dragged on and on until the final bell was rung. We raced home. I’d spend the afternoon putting the final touches on my costume.

It took forever to get dark enough. My mother made supper earlier than usual. It was something quick, no big meal. She knew we didn’t want to eat. We wanted out. I remember driving her crazy by asking over and over if it was time. When she said yes, we bolted out the door.

We had a route based on our hauls from previous years. There were no fun size bars of candy in my day for which I am somewhat thankful. I say somewhat as people did buy bags of things like candy corn or those hard little pumpkins, and they’d divide the candy into individual bags of treats, not my favorites. We’d also get popcorn balls in the little bags. We knew the best houses, the ones with the nickel bars. Even now, when I drive down streets in my home town, I still remember which were the best houses on Halloween.

My mother bought us new masks. They were hard plastic and had an elastic in the back with a little metal piece on both ends which connected to the mask through a hole on each side. The elastics broke easily and got shorter and shorter each time we knotted them. The front of the mask usually had only eye holes. Some kids bought costumes which were worn over clothes and tied in the back. We never did.

My brother and I would stay out until most of the houses had turned their outside lights off. We’d check out our bags and munch a bit as we walked home. Once there, my mother would give each of us a bowl, and we’d sit on the living room rug and sort out the candy. We had piles. Our favorites were in one pile, the candy we’d never eat was in another and in the third was the rest of the candy. The good stuff went in the bowl. My mother never stopped us from eating the candy. I remember keeping my bowl handy under my bed. The candy never lasted too long.

I loved Halloween but not just because of the candy. Deciding the costume was fun. It took a long while even with hints from my mother. I’d choose one then a different one then another and another before finally deciding. We decorated the windows with those cardboard skeletons and witches. We carved pumpkins. We whispered about ghosts and witches and black cats to scare ourselves.

Walking home on Halloween night is one of my favorites memories. The sidewalks were covered with yellow leaves. It was quiet enough to hear our footsteps. The houses’ outside lights had gone dark. Only the streetlights lit our way. We whispered our conversation. It seemed right.

“There are no such things as curses; only people and their decisions”

October 7, 2017

The sun predicted for today has yet to appear. It is cloudy and damp. I could feel the moisture in the air when Gracie and I went out to get the papers. It made me feel a bit chilly and I wished I had put on a sweatshirt. The house, though, with all the doors and windows closed is warm.

We’re going out today, Gracie and I, to the dump, the market and Agway. My trunk is filled with trash from Thursday’s great cabinet clean-out. Gracie needs canned food and a treat or two, and I need the essentials for life: bread, coffee and cream.

My friends are coming on Tuesday for a couple of days. These are the friends I traveled with to Ghana last year. We first met in 1969 at Peace Corps staging in Philadelphia at the Hotel Sylvania. Staging is the first time the whole group of trainees get together before leaving for in-country training, and it is where we got shots, had interviews and were introduced to PC staff from Ghana. Right away we became friends and co-conspirators. The three of us skipped some of the orientation to tour Philadelphia. It didn’t take a whole lot of convincing. They were supposed to be posted in Tamale, a city 100 miles from Bolga. That would have made us neighbors. Instead, after Peace Corps found out Peg was pregnant, they were posted to New Tafo, in the south. I visited them every time I went south, and we traveled together. Just before our second year, there was an open post at my school. They were willing to join me in Bolga, and the principal agreed to make the request to Peace Corps so we became neighbors living in a duplex on the school compound. Bill had a red motorcycle. I had a grey one. We used to take day trips around Bolga. He’d take Kevin, their son, and I’d take Peg. We had adventures. I remember a couple of picnics during school holidays, one by a watering hole and another in the hills of Tongo where school boys stood and watched us the whole time. It was there an old man threatened us with the gods because he claimed we had desecrated a sacred rock by putting our small charcoal burned on it. The schoolboys said he just wanted money. We decided to take our chances. As we were leaving, Bill’s motorcycle stopped dead. It just quit running. We sort of chuckle and hoped the old man didn’t see us. The motorcycle did start right away, but it gave us pause.