Posted tagged ‘cold’

“I had three chairs in my house; one for solitude, two for friendship, three for society.”

November 15, 2018

Last night was cold. Today is the same. The sky is covered in white clouds and rain is on its way. I’m going nowhere today. All I have on my to-do list is fill the bird feeders and water the plants.

My dining room is filled with plants. Some are on tables while others hang near the windows. There are no curtains on the three windows. The room is painted in what is called nutmeg. It is my favorite color of any of the rooms. The dining room table was made for me by a furniture maker using Shaker plans. That was close to 40 years ago. It was $400.00 which was a king’s ransom in those days. The chairs are mismatched on purpose. A shelf and two sconces were made for me by a friend’s father, also close to 40 years ago. He too used Shaker plans. The hutch is filled with Simon Pearce glasses bought in Ireland before he became famous. I can’t afford him now. Some Belleek pieces share the shelves. I bought them in Dublin. One wine glass sits in the middle of a shelf and is my favorite. My father bought it in Belgium during the war. There were four glasses so we each, my siblings and I, got one. I love my dining room.

My den is the grubby room. It is where I spend most of my time because the TV and computer are there. It alone of all the rooms hasn’t been painted in a long while because there are shelves too filled to empty and furniture too heavy to move. My friends got new furniture so I got their old couch and chair. I needed new furniture so I was thrilled at their offer. Henry and I both love the couch.

I bought my house in 1977 when I was 29. The mortgage was half my month’s salary so I was too poor to go anywhere or do anything. My trips to Europe ended. I had almost no furniture, but I did have a TV and a day bed. They were in the den where I spent all of my time even back then. Also in the den was a desk aka my dining table. I  laugh at these memories because I still pretty much live in the den but it is now filled with furniture and books, and I mean filled. I am where I started.

“If it can’t be reduced, reused, repaired, rebuilt, refurbished, refinished, resold, recycled, or composted, then it should be restricted, designed or removed from production.”

September 10, 2018

Oh no, it’s cloudy. It’s so dark you need the light to read. Rain is predicted. Every now and then the wind blows so strongly even the big branches are tossed.

The windows are closed. The back door is open for Henry, and I can feel a chill when the wind blows through it.

My dance card has been empty for a while. I have a meeting tomorrow at the library but that’s it for the week. I am still hoping for another movie night. The Lady in White, not to be confused with the Collins’ novel The Woman in White, will be the last movie. It’s a good one.

I have a list of projects, a list which has been around a while. I want to catalog the Christmas gifts I’ve bought, organize the cabinet under the sink upstairs, clean the tile grout in the kitchen and go through the big cabinet to check dates on the jars and cans. I suspect after reading the list you can totally understand why it has been around so long.

I don’t collect shoes, but I do seem to have a large number of them. The reason for the large number is partly because I don’t throw any away until they are beyond repair. I used to have several pairs of heels, short heels, which I donated to the Salvation Army when I retired. Most of my shoes are built for comfort. My favorites for winter are the wool clogs which I have in four different colors. In summer, it’s always sandals. I have a new pair of red sneakers, the first shoes I’ve bought in years. I love the bright red.

In Ghana, nothing gets thrown away. It all gets repurposed. My sandals were resoled with pieces of tire. My rice from the market was wrapped in the Sunday New York Times, my meat in banana leaves. Old bottles held palm or groundnut oil. Old cans were good for storing stuff and for scooping water. Paper helped start cooking fires. I learned so much in Ghana about the country, its wonderful people and about myself. Peace Corps volunteers always say we get more than we give. Even learning to repurpose was part of the getting.

“Your words become your world.”

March 6, 2018

No sun again today, just clouds, darker than yesterday. The wind is brisk and cold. It is another stay cozy and warm at home day. I have a few things I could do like the laundry and changing the bed, but I don’t want to do anything so I won’t.

When I was working, I got everything done. The house got cleaned, the laundry washed, the groceries bought and the trash dumped. Now I have all the time, day after day of time, but I procrastinate. Like Scarlett, I think,”After all, tomorrow is another day!”

I have redefined my lexicon. I have removed words like lazy and non-productive; instead, I stress lifestyle words like settled and describe myself as comfortable and undemanding. I still long to travel, and that won’t ever change. It is in all capital letters should you look it up in my lexicon.

I live on a small street with nine houses. Three of the houses have kids. Three have dogs. This time of year I hear only an occasional dog barking. I know when the mailman comes. I can hear his truck. A few cars go up and down, but they usually belong to neighbors. If I’m out, we always wave. Some of us have lived on this street since the beginning when the houses were first built. My neighbors across the street are the oldest residents. I don’t see them much anymore. He has Alzheimer’s and she is his caretaker. Seldom do I see any of my other neighbors. I rarely see any of the kids. I’m beginning to think we’re all in a hibernation of sorts.

Another nor’easter is predicted but not fierce or damaging like the last one. We will get rain; snow is north of us. The rain in winter always seems to come in at an angle, driven by the cold wind. It lashes against the windows in a constant barrage of heavy, noisy drops. The cold air is so damp it chills to the bone. Streets flood. The ground is hard, and the rain has nowhere to go. I have no affection for winter rain.

“A basket of ripe fruit is holier than any prayer book.”

February 19, 2018

When I got the papers this morning, I expected a warm day, but I was disappointed. It’s a chilly day. The sky is cloudy and rain is predicted for tonight. I do have a couple of errands to do later.

This morning, while my coffee was brewing, I had a surprise burst of energy. I polished a shelf, swept the kitchen, washed the cat dish and cleaned the sink and counter. That’s the most housework I’ve done in a few weeks. I’d like to think this burst of energy will be a rare event.

I treated myself this morning and had two lemon biscotti with my coffee. I love the taste of lemon so much I could live on lemon squares. Lemon meringue pie tops my list of favorite pies. I think we were one of the few families where a lemon meringue pie was traditional for Thanksgiving. I even learned to cook a few dishes with preserved lemons.

I’d never turn down anything made with pineapple except maybe pizza. In Ghana I ate pineapple just about every day as part of my lunch, always a bowl of fresh fruits. I like Thai food with pineapple. I almost don’t care about the other ingredients. In my cook book from Peace Corps Ghana was a recipe for pineapple upside down cake. I always wanted to make it, but I had no oven, only a charcoal burner. A couple of old cook books from the 50’s have pictures of a finished pineapple upside cake. They are perfect and have a cherry in the middle hole of the pineapple.

When I was kid, only a few fruits were available all year. My mother bought bananas, oranges and apples. The apples were always red. The oranges had seeds. In the summer we had watermelon and grapes, green grapes. At Thanksgiving we had tangerines, our parade snack. I didn’t even know fruits likes mangoes and papayas existed. Coconuts were on tropical islands in the books I read. We were fruit deprived.

“Violence isn’t a Democrat or Republican problem. It’s an American problem, requiring an American solution.”

February 15, 2018

Last night it rained. I heard it when I was in bed, and it was still raining when I fell asleep. Today is the aftermath of the rain, a cloudy, dismal and damp day. I’m glad I have nowhere to go.

The furnace was fixed by the time my house was down to 56˚. Maddie stayed beside me on a section of the afghan. Her fur was chilly to the touch. It didn’t take long for the furnace to start blowing that wonderful hot air.

My arm still hurts. I yelp out loud. The worst was on Tuesday when I ordered food delivery, clam chowder and a BLT. I couldn’t get the top off the chowder. I tried to do it one handedly. The top didn’t move. I tried my scissors but my left hand had no idea how to use scissors. I finally used a church key. That worked. I have learned I am totally inept without my right arm. I have an appointment with an orthopedic doctor on Tuesday.

When I was a kid, we did duck and cover to protect ourselves from an atomic blast. We ducked under our desks or against the walls in the corridor. When I started teaching in the high school, we did fire drills. We left our belongings in our rooms and followed the arrows outside. We waited for the all call to go back inside. The drills were timed. Much later we did shelter in place drills. The teachers locked doors, put out the lights, drew the blinds, covered the door window and directed students to go to the safest spots in the classrooms. They then waited for the all clear. Kids did what they were supposed to but  many didn’t take the drills all that seriously. Needing them seemed remote. That’s no longer the case. Schools have become targets. Since Columbine, 150,000 students in 170 schools have experienced school gun violence. President Trump has continued to say mass shootings are a “mental-health problem,” not a gun problem yet he signed a measure into law that rescinded an Obama-era rule aimed at blocking gun sales to certain mentally ill people. He rescinded the law because it violated due process. I don’t know what to say except it only happens here.

“Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness.”

February 3, 2018

Today is beautiful with a blue sky and the return of the sun, but it’s cold, an uninviting cold. I have no inclination to go outside. The hot air from the furnace is blowing and keeping the house warm. I won’t even get dressed. I’m nice and cozy in my sweatshirt and my flannel pants. It snowed a bit yesterday, enough to cover the walk and my car windows. I’m hoping the sun will melt the windows clean so I won’t have to brush and scrape.

I always think it is the darkness of winter which palls the spirit so I do my best to compensate. I keep white candles lit in the windows, and their light shines across the dark lawn. In the living room, I light lanterns in the corners of the room. Their candles flicker and leave shadows on the walls. On the hearth, twelve tea lights shine in the votives of the long candle holder, and a gourd filled with white lights sits atop firewood in a basket. The room is filled with light and is warm and cozy and welcoming.

I do love New England and am not tempted to leave for sunnier climes. I am tired of winter, but around this time I am always tired of winter. The two years I spent in Ghana gave me an even greater appreciation for the changing seasons I so love. It was always warm there, and I tired of the warmth. I wanted to be cold, to see my breath on a crisp winter’s morning. I missed the beauty of snow and how wonderful it looks as it falls and how breathtaking the world is after a snowstorm. I wanted to welcome spring with all its colors and sights and smells. Where I lived in Ghana had no flowers. It had baobab and pawpaw trees and fields filled with millet and yams. It had grass, tall and green, but it had no flowers. I missed looking for the first spring shoots to appear, for the crocus and the daffodils.

Spring is always a miracle, and I wait for it with great expectations. Every day I check for the tips of shoots in my front garden. When I find one,  I want to dance wearing bright colors and flowers in my hair.

“Snow flurries began to fall and they swirled around people’s legs like house cats. It was magical, this snow globe world.”

January 30, 2018

When I woke up early, I saw the snow falling outside my window so I got up and checked it out. I figured there were about 2 or 3 inches already on the ground. I decided it was a great day to go back to bed day so I did. I managed over two more hours. Maddie was impatient. She heard me moving around and started meowing trying to guilt me into getting up. She was unsuccessful.

It is still snowing. The weatherman says the cape will have snowfall the longest. When I want to get the papers, I surprised by how deep it was and how cold the air felt. It is a good day to stay home.

When I was a kid, we didn’t have all that many snow days. We’d walk to school mostly on the street because they didn’t plow sidewalks. The road always had a hard packed layer of snow, and we’d run and slide in a snow race of sorts. We’d also fall down. I remember wearing pink longish thermal underwear which came to my knees under my skirt. From the knees down, I wore knee socks. I had boots, the sort you put over your shoes. I wore my winter coat, knitted hat and mittens. I wouldn’t have looked out of place on the back of a dog sled in the Arctic.

The cloak room outside the classroom was never build to hold all of our winter clothes. There were rows of hooks on two sides but the hooks just weren’t long enough. The only hope was that the jackets on either side would hold mine on the hook and off the floor. The cloak room floor was wet and dirty from all our boots. I remember standing in my stocking feet after pulling off my boots. I then had to pull my shoes out of the boots. While I was doing that, my socks got wet and dirty. I didn’t care. My mittens and my hat went up the sleeves for safe keeping. I remember once not finding my hat until I got home. I never felt it in the sleeve. I thought I lost it.

The house is warm, cozy and inviting so I’m going nowhere. Should I get bored, there are a few things I can do including that laundry still leaning against the cellar door. The only problem is I have a bag of books I got from the library. I’ll just have to be strong.

“Cities get built out of poet’s dreams.”

January 26, 2018

The day is again beautiful if you just look out the window, but if you go outside, dress warmly as it is only 29˚. I hurried when I got my paper and the mail from yesterday. I do need to go out later to get a few different cat food tastes to tempt Maddie. She’s hungry but not thrilled with the beef and liver. I can’t blame her. Liver would never thrill me either. She’s upstairs hiding again. I only got to give her one of her three meds this morning, the one slathered on her paw. As for the other two, she is getting wiser and checks my hands when I get near her.

My grandparents, my father’s parents, lived in the same town we did. They had a great old house on a street of old houses. I remember the smell of their house. It was the lingering aroma of my grandmother’s lilac perfume. Their kitchen had tall wooden cabinets, and I remember an ironing board hidden behind one long, skinny cabinet door. The closet in the kitchen always had bottles of root beer on the floor, but I don’t remember who drank it. The kitchen eating area was built in and so small we never ate there. We always ate in the dining room. I remember the furniture there was dark. A breakfront took up one wall. My grandmother stored her best dishes there. Another wall was all windows and right across from the neighbor’s back door. The chairs at the table were tall. For the longest time my feet didn’t touch the floor. The living room had a piano but no one knew how to play it. Their TV was a huge console in a light wooden cabinet. The mantle and fireplace were lovely but never saw a fire. The sun room was off the living room. It was a tiny room of all windows. A desk sat at one wall and two chairs with a table between were the rest of the furniture. My grandfather kept his pipe holder filled with pipes on that table. On the desk, there was a paperweight with an R embossed in gold. That was my favorite room.

My other grandparents also lived in an old house but in the city, in East Boston. We used to visit on Sundays. My father dropped us off at the house then he’d roam the streets looking for a parking space. The city was mesmerizing for me. All the houses were right beside each other, and every corner seemed to have a small store with an old lady behind the counter. We played in the street. I remember stick ball and using an old broom handle as a bat. The ball was half a pink rubber ball.

I loved visiting my city grandparents. We always felt welcomed. My father’s parents were aloof and lacked warmth. We visited them far less even though they were close at hand. They didn’t seem to know what to do with us or even what to say. When I was older, I never went with my dad to visit them. I doubt they even noticed.

“Each day has a color, a smell.”

January 25, 2018

Winter is back. It gets quite cold at night and hangs in until late in the morning. The air was brusque when I went to get the papers. It will get warmer over the weekend, the mid- forties, then winter will again rear its hoary head. It is 28˚ right now.

Today is a pretty day with lots of sun and a blue sky. The air is clean and colors seem to pop. The breeze is slight and only the tops of trees sway a bit.

Maddie is sick now. I took her to the vets yesterday as she hadn’t eaten and had trouble going to the bathroom. When I called and described what was going on, they had me bring her in right away. They gave her blood and urine tests and a couple of x-rays. She has a urinary track infection, a high potassium level and a high thyroid count. They gave her an antibiotic and fluid under her fur to hydrate her and I got three meds to give her twice a day. Things aren’t going great. I gave her the meds easily last night and she didn’t seem to mind all that much. This morning, though, she disappeared after getting the meds. I took my flashlight and went upstairs and found her under the bed in the guest room, an old haunt of hers. I patted her and talked to her hoping she’d come down stairs, but she hasn’t. I’ll go back up in a bit. I don’t want to overwhelm her. The vet is calling today so I’ll see what she recommends. Maddie is 18 and a half so anything is upsetting, especially now.

Nothing is on my dance card today. A trip to the dump is in the near future, but that’s it. My cleaning couple can’t come today so, aghast and horrors, I will have to vacuum. I hope I remember how. The laundry bags are still by the cellar door. This is day two of the wash watch.

I love the smell of burning candles. Last night it was cinnamon and before that it was coconut. This Christmas my sister gave me squares of peat and a small ceramic thatched Irish cottage to hold the burning embers. The other night I lit the peat. When it was burning, I was reminded of the old b&b in Youghal, Ireland. It was springtime and cold and damp. We were the only guests. The owner lit a peat fire in the grate in the dining room. The smell of peat filled the room. It stuck to my clothes. I could smell it even when I got home and opened my suitcase. Burning peat is, for me, the smell of memories.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

January 15, 2018

It seems I get later and later which reminds me of the nursery rhyme about the scholar who used to come at ten but now comes at noon. That fits me perfectly. My late mornings are because I have been going to bed so late or early depending upon how you see the day. It was close to 3 this morning before I went to bed, and then I read a few pages.

When I went to get the papers, there were snow flurries. I swear that happens only when I go outside. They fall for a short bit then disappear. I have a vision of Old Man Winter tossing out the flurries as soon as he sees me. It is cloudy and cold still and will stay that way all week. The weatherman probably describes it as seasonal.

Today is a sloth day. I don’t need to go out for anything so no need to get dressed. My house is clean so no strenuous dusting. I could make my bed, but it is upstairs where no one can see it. I suppose I could bring the clean clothes up from the cellar as they have been down there quite a while. No, on second thought, they can stay there for a while longer.

I didn’t watch MSNBC today. The he said, he didn’t say is still the lead story. I believe he said that. Our president has no filters when he speaks off the cuff.

The two years I spent in Ghana were the most amazing years of my life. The country and its people stay in my heart. I always speak of Africa in superlatives.

Today is Martin Luther King Day so I have posted excerpts from Martin Luther King’s speech delivered on August 28, 1963 at the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington.

“And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

And this will be the day — this will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning:

My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.

Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim’s pride,

From every mountainside, let freedom ring!

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.”