Posted tagged ‘cocoa’

“We are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmastime.”

December 22, 2017

Just two days days until Santa starts his rounds. I’m figuring lots of elves are busy at the North Pole, probably no cocoa breaks. I was told Santa leaves filled toy bags all over the world as his sleigh can carry only so much. That makes perfect sense though I wondered if magic was involved so the bags were always hidden.

We didn’t have a fireplace. Our stockings were hung on the stair rail in the living room.  They were small red stockings with a white cuff. Each name was written on the cuff and the letters were covered in gold glitter. My sister Moe is the only one of us who has her stocking. I can’t imagine what happened to mine. I’d never throw away anything of Christmas. Anyway, back to no fireplace. My mother told us Santa would find a way, maybe the door or maybe the window. We had nothing to worry about: he’d come just as expected. She was right.

Around this time before Christmas, my mother put presents under the tree, ones from her and my father. My sister Moe was an expert at making holes indiscernible to any human eye. It didn’t matter if the present was for her or not. She just wanted to know what was in the wrapped paper. This peeking led to another skill developed over time. Moe can shake just about any box and tell you what’s inside. One Christmas, she and Rod, her husband, were headed to a Christmas party. Moe wanted something new to wear so the shaking of presents from my mother and father began. She found a new blouse then decided she needed to accessorize. She shook a few more boxes and found new earrings. Moe has given up the small holes, but she still shakes.

I put presents under my tree yesterday. They are from Moe and Rod. One is a book. Wrapping didn’t hide its feel, its shape. It was an easy guess; however, I will go a step further and guess the book is a new James Patterson.

I have lots to do today and tomorrow. I still need to do some baking, and I need to do the wash I couldn’t do the other day as I was out of laundry detergent. I thought that was wonderful but I gave in and bought some yesterday. I didn’t want to, but I did anyway.

Today is cloudy, dark. Rain is expected though most of the rest of the state will have snow. It is really warm, in the 40’s, though it will get cold tonight. The long range temperature is a snowy Christmas. I love that.



“You have to eat oatmeal or you’ll dry up. Anybody knows that.”

January 23, 2017

Today is not one of my best days. My mother would say I am not up to snuff. To give you a better idea: I woke up at 9:30 and never got my first cup of coffee until 10:15. I just didn’t have the energy. I have someone who does all my yard work, a factotum who does odd jobs and plows, and a couple who clean every two weeks. Now I’m thinking I need a barista.

My Patriots gave the Steelers a bit of a football beating last night. We were on our feet more than a few times cheering their heroics on the field. Now it is on to the Super Bowl. My first thought for the big game is the menu. I’m thinking a sort of tailgating in the living room. I really wish my Dad was around so he too could cheer for his Pats and nosh with us (nosh-another one from my mother).

When I was a kid, baseball was my sport to watch mostly because it was easy to understand. The game didn’t have all the positions or plays football has. My dad watched the Giants on TV. I never did. I was a Red Sox fan. My football knowledge is much greater than it was, but I still don’t understand a lot of the responsibilities of the many positions. I understand the fundamentals of the game, and I find that’s enough.

Winter this year is weird. It is warmer. Today the high will be in the low 40’s and the low will be 38˚. It’s raining which makes it feel colder. It is also going to be extremely windy. When I was young, it was always cold walking to school. I was bundled as much as my mother could fit on me, but I swear my cheeks often went numb. They were red the entire winter. I didn’t have many colds, but I had sniffles. My nose was not a pretty sight nor, sadly, were my sleeve and mittens. Kids never carried handkerchiefs or kleenex.

My mother made the best cocoa. I drank it every winter morning. She’d dissolve the Nestle’s cocoa in some milk then add hot water to the cup. The cocoa always had bubbles on the top.

I have eaten all sorts of foods on my travels. Sometimes I had no idea what I was eating. I didn’t know the language. In some countries, I was glad I didn’t know. When I was a kid, I ate foods I’d never touch now. I ate sardines, the ones out of a can with a key on the top. I ate Spam right out of a can, also with a key on top. Those keys took a deft hand. My favorite way, favorite here used with tongue in cheek, of eating Spam was after it was fried. My mother often made us oatmeal for school day breakfasts. It wasn’t the smooth instant oatmeal they now sell. It was thick, lumpy oatmeal out of the cardboard cylinder with the Quaker on it. I never liked the lumps, but I found out that milk, a little cinnamon and lots of sugar helps the oatmeal, lumps and all, go down.

“In New England we have nine months of winter and three months of darned poor sledding.”

December 17, 2015

Today is dreary and wet. The rain started last night and continues. It will be in the mid 50’s today and for the next few days. There will be no white Christmas this year in New England.

I have a picture of me standing on the front steps of our house holding on to my new bike. The picture was taken a couple of days after Christmas. I was glad for no snow that year. Had I gotten a new sled, I wouldn’t have been smiling.

The sleds we all used had metal frames, metal runners and a steering device near the top we could move from side to side though it didn’t steer all that well. The rest of our sleds were wooden slats we’d lie on to ride downhill. We had to bend at the knees so part of our legs and our feet were in the air. If we needed them, our feet acted as brakes though most times the hill ended and so did our ride. I was lucky to live on a hill, a really good hill. I could choose to walk to the top or just go from my street which would still give me a good ride. We had to be careful at the bottom because our street was perpendicular to another street, and if we slid across that street, no cars could see us. Sometimes one of us would stand there and give warning if we needed to stop. We all hoped to keep going because sledding over that street into the field was the best and the longest ride, and having the longest ride was in no small measure a matter of pride.

I remember getting dressed for sledding. I wanted to be warm but not bogged down by clothing as I did have an uphill trek pulling my sled behind me after every ride down. We all wore leggings tucked into our boots. They were waterproof and made that swishing sound when we walked. Our jackets sometimes matched but most times didn’t as we’d grow out of one or the other. The jackets had zippers and were always hard to zip so my mother would do the honors. Our hands stayed warm in mittens. Most of us avoided hats, but if my mother insisted, I’d wear a wool hat which mostly covered the back of my head and tied under my chin but would ditch it as soon as I got the chance. I didn’t care if most of my body heat escaped through my head as my mother claimed.

I remember speeding down the hill and thinking this is what flying must be like. I never wanted to go inside, but when I was chilled to the bone, I dragged myself home, parked my sled in the pile of snow by the back door, went inside to the cellar, got out of my wet clothes, hung them up to dry and went upstairs for a cup of cocoa with marshmallow floating on the top. That was the perfect ending to a day of sledding.

“One should not attend even the end of the world without a good breakfast.”

August 30, 2015

The house feels hot and a bit clammy. The humidity has returned. Gracie just sits in front of me and pants. If I were a dog, I’d do the same thing.

When I was a kid, I was a morning cocoa drinker. Two of my siblings were tea drinkers. My mother would put a nice tea pot on the table rather than putting the teabags in mugs. For my cocoa, she’d mix the powder with some milk, stir it together then add the water. Some mornings she made eggs. Other mornings we had cereal. We always had toast. She sometimes made soft-boiled eggs and put them in yellow, chicken-shaped egg cups. She always lopped off the top of the eggs. I loved how she used to cut the toast. It was the perfect size for dipping into the eggs. Oatmeal was common in the winter, the old-fashioned kind which took some time. My mother kept a good variety of dry cereals, including each of our favorites. I never gave those breakfasts much thought. It never occurred to me how early she had to get up. Not only did she make our breakfasts but also our lunches, great lunches, the envy of our friends. We never said thanks. We finished breakfast, grabbed our lunches, kissed her good-bye and ran out the door. Kids just don’t think sometimes to say thanks for the every day.

There is a slight breeze as I can hear my chimes now and then. The birds are noisy. I don’t hear any people.

I have nothing to do today except maybe the laundry still sitting by the cellar door, but it doesn’t bother me much so it may sit there a while longer. I am not even dressed yet. I don’t care. There is no urgency in putting on clothes. I do love this life of leisure.

“Life is a beautiful and endless journey in search of the perfect cup.”

August 21, 2014

This morning I was up and out by 9 o’clock for an appointment which is a novelty as some days I’m not even awake by then. Even worst than the early hour was I didn’t even have time for coffee. A day without morning coffee is a catastrophe. To add to the misery a coffee-less me is groggy and snarly. Let the world beware. Luckily, though, Gracie and I weren’t gone long so when we got home, I grabbed my papers, ran inside and got the coffee brewing. I watched it for a while in anticipation.

I don’t remember when I started drinking coffee. Cocoa was my morning drink of choice when I was a kid. I haven’t ever been a tea drinker except when I was sick and my mother gave it to me as a cure-all. I’m guessing it was in college when I started drinking coffee. Late night cramming sessions needed a stimulus and cup after cup of coffee worked.

My father was an indiscriminate coffee drinker. He even liked instant. My mother had Coke in the morning and only wanted coffee if she had a biscotti to dunk. One sister is a chai drinker while my other sister drinks coffee. I introduced my coffee drinking sister to cappuccino, and she is forever grateful.

I don’t like flavored coffee. I call them girly coffees. I like my coffee strong, not so strong a spoon can stand upright or not strong enough to grow hair on your chest, a phrase my mother used which I find myself saying now and then, but coffee needs to be bold.

I did drink that horrific instant coffee in Ghana because that’s all they had. When I went back forty years later, I was hoping for real coffee but instant is still all there is, Nescafé. Ghana is a nation of tea drinkers. In Morocco I came to like their mint tea and the ceremonial pouring of it from high above the decorated glass. I even brought back a set of glasses.

The last few nights have been chilly, and I have had a cup of coffee each night. It’s not yet at the put your hands around the cup to get warm season, but that’s coming soon enough.

It is a peek-a-boo with the sun day.

“About the woodlands I will go / To see the cherry hung with snow.”

January 5, 2014

I have rejoined the world. My car is on the street should I choose to travel anywhere. The steps are shoveled as is the walkway. A path leads to the bird feeders so I can keep them filled with seed. Gracie hadn’t ventured further than the bottom of the steps where I had my little adventure the other day, but today she is roaming under the deck for a bit more privacy. Gracie is the mistress of all she surveys as she sits on the deck to keep an eye on the neighborhood. She has been outside most of the morning.

It is warmer than it has been. Icicles are hanging from my roof and getting longer from the drips. One is nearly to the ground. I put paw friendly de-icer on the front steps as they were slippery when I went to get the papers. With my history, a fall would have been inevitable, but I have saved myself from injury and indignity.

Fold laundry and vacuum pine needles are the only jobs on my to-do list. The day is a gray one and not at all inviting. Because I have no need to be out, I’ll shower and put on cozy clothes again.

If I were a kid again, I’d be out sledding. Around here the golf course is the big sledding spot, but where I grew up had plenty of choices. I did go to the Winchester Golf Club once when I was in high school. I was with my friends Bobby and Jimmy. We had a toboggan with wings. On the way down, we flew off the hills a couple of times and landed hard but never fell off. Jimmy, sitting on the end, almost did but I, in the middle, grabbed him. It was a spectacular run and we lugged the toboggan up the hill to take more flights. We were the only ones who dared to ride that hill.

We had wooden sleds with metal runners. A rope was tied to the steering bar in the front so we could pull the sled up the hill. I remember that rope froze after only a couple of runs. We always rode down the hill on our stomachs. We’d hold the sled, run as fast as we could then jump on once we were at the start of the hill. We’d put our feet in the air so they wouldn’t stop us until we needed them as brakes. The steering was always iffy at best. It was a quick ride then a longer walk back up the hill. We’d sled all afternoon until we couldn’t feel our feet or hands. When it was time to go in, I’d jam my sled in the snow in the backyard, walk down the stairs to the cellar and take off all the wet clothes. Every so often my mother would make us cocoa, “…to warm the innards,” as she sometimes said, but more often I’d get into bed to read and get warm under the covers.

Getting a new sled for Christmas was always one of the great gifts.

“I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a school-boy. I am as giddy as a drunken man.”

December 15, 2013

North of me is the winter wonderland. My sister, outside of Boston, got either 10 or 11 inches of snow. We got torrential rain all night. I could hear it on the roof. I have no idea why but heavy rain triggers the sensor lights in the backyard, the ones geared for Gracie, to go on. They stay on until the morning light triggers them to turn off. This is the second time it has happened. The first time I thought some giant animal had burrowed into the yard, but after 15 minutes, when the lights didn’t go out, I figured it was either a very patient animal casing the yard for dinner or some weird problem with the lights.

My errands yesterday were fruitful. I found two small trees, one smaller than the other but both perfect. They are now standing in the corner of the living room waiting to be decorated, but my back is bad so that may not happen until tomorrow, but I don’t mind the wait. The trees are lovely even without the lights and decorations.

I am not traveling north to see the play. My sister said it is miserable up there, really cold and dark, and when you add my back to the mix, staying home sounds like the better choice. I’ll watch Christmas movies and drink egg nog. I just watched Reginald Owen’s A Christmas Carol and now I’m watching the Muppets get their chance at Scrooge’s rehabilitation. It doesn’t matter how many times I see this movie I love it every time.

Christmas still has wonder no matter how old you are. I love the lights on my house, and I drive by the house sometimes just to look and to admire the view. I’m sure my neighbors, should they catch me, might think it strange. If I’m on the road and a house covered in lights catches my attention, I deviate my route just to see it. On my official light tour, I stop at Dunkin’ Donuts first for hot cocoa. Christmas music now plays the whole time I’m in the car. I sing along. I sit on the couch in the living room to read so I won’t miss a single minute of the tree. The season is short enough as it is. My two sisters always have live trees. I think it is built into our genetic code. They fill their houses with Christmas just as I do and my mother did. I remember she’d come down for the weekend, and we’d go shopping. She’d buy an ornament and say, “That’s it, no more ornaments. I have enough for several trees.” Well, she always bought more and always declared it the last. I have a couple of new ones this year. One is the official 2013 World Series ornament. The other is a sand dollar made from pottery.

It’s egg nog time!

“Education is learning what you didn’t even know you didn’t know.”

September 9, 2013

Every morning is now the same: cool in the house from the cold nights while the outside air is warm with sun. Last night I woke up chilly and added an afghan to my bed. It’s not yet comforter weather, but we’re getting closer.

The worst is yet to come. Soon it will be shut down the deck time, my final acknowledgement that summer has ended. I’ll leave out a couple of chairs as I am ever hopeful for warm days and maybe enough sun to make me lazy and tired and ready for a nap.

Summer seemed to stretch forever when I was young. I was never mindful of the days passing. I’d ride my bike or walk the tracks or be at the playground throwing horseshoes, playing tennis or softball. By bedtime I was exhausted, and sleep came almost as soon as I closed my eyes. When my birthday came in August, I knew school wasn’t far away. The trip to the shoe store sealed my fate.

I was always excited the first day of school. I liked school and loved learning. It was the getting up early part I didn’t like. My mother always made breakfast. I was a cocoa drinker. Everyone else drank tea. My mother used a china tea-pot. It had flowers on it, and it always made the table look just a little bit fancy even without a tablecloth. We had eggs or oatmeal in the winter. On the warmer days we just had toast and cold cereal. I always wanted to be the first one to open a new bottle of milk so I could scoop the cream. I was a dunker and dunked my toast in the cocoa though graham crackers were always my favorite. It took skill in knowing exactly when to take the graham crackers out of the cup before the end dissolved. I was an expert.

My friend from up the street would knock at the back door so we could walk to school together. My mother would hand us our lunch boxes, we’d grab our school bags and off we’d go.

“I went to a restaurant that serves “breakfast at any time” so I ordered French toast during the Renaissance.”

March 1, 2013

Gracie and I finally made it to the dump yesterday morning then we went to Agway, a store which welcomes dogs on a leash. It was a perfect Gracie day. In the afternoon it rained a little, but in the late afternoon the sun made another attempt to break through but wasn’t successful. I figure the sun got a bit miffed and decided to stay away a bit longer. Today’s weather is like yesterday’s and the day before that and on and on: cloudy with a chance of rain. The forecast does change a bit for tonight: cloudy with a chance of snow showers. I’m beginning to feel like a mole. (Since I posted this the sun has managed to break through the clouds for just a little while. At first I thought it was a meteor signaling the end of the Earth but my instinctive memories managed to resurrect the word sun.)

I was a cocoa drinker most school mornings when I was a kid. My brother or sister (I forget which one) was a tea drinker. My mother always served the tea in a flowered pot. Thinking back on that, it’s kind of neat to have a pretty pot on the table in the morning though back then I didn’t appreciate the gesture. My cocoa was made in the cup. My mother would put some cocoa granules in the cup, add some milk, stir the two together then add hot water. The cocoa always had some bubbles on the top. We  usually had toast, and in the winter my mother would make oatmeal to sustain us on the cold walk to school. My favorite breakfast was boiled eggs served in egg cups. The eggs cups were yellow chickens. Many were missing their beaks. My mother toasted the bread and sliced it into strips so we could dunk it in the egg. She’d cut the top off the egg and we’d dunk for the yolk. I have those egg cups now. My mother gave them to me when I moved into my house. She thought I should have some memories from my childhood. The egg cups have Fannie Farmer etched across the bottom. I never noticed that when I was a kid.

I had cereal for breakfast yesterday for the first time in years. I think that’s why my childhood breakfast memories popped into my head. Cereal was our warm school morning breakfast and our Saturday morning watch TV breakfast. My mother had boxes of different cereals lined up in the kitchen. My brother liked Cheerios. I was a Rice Krispies fan. I think Corn Flakes also made an appearance though we thought it was an adult cereal. It didn’t do tricks like snap, crackle or pop. I like Corn Flakes now so maybe we weren’t far off. I think a banana really dresses up a bowl of Corn Flakes.

This morning I had coffee and an onion bagel with cream cheese. It was a most satisfying breakfast.