Posted tagged ‘cool day’

“Just keep your nose clean and everything will be jake.”

September 5, 2015

Today is cool and beautiful with lots of sun. Mother Nature is garbed in her best for this weekend. Tonight, though, will be cold, in the high 50’s. I figure it’s a dress rehearsal for what’s coming.

My street has close to a million kids 10 and under. Okay, that might be a slight exaggeration, but this morning that’s what it sounded like to me. They woke me up before eight yelling to one another, and I think I heard one crying. I drifted back to sleep only to have them wake me again. That went on until 10 when I decided I’d get up. Every day the kids ride their bikes up and down the street mostly for the fun of it. The street is a good one for kids on bikes as it has little traffic. I’m just wishing the bikes came with muzzles. Now, of course, the kids are gone so the street is quiet. I guess they figured everyone’s awake now so their jobs are done.

Learning kids’ names was always one of the first items on my agenda when I was teaching. I wanted to address each kid by name instead of using the proverbial you or the pointed finger. I had five classes of names to learn each semester and I did. In Ghana the learning was complicated by the names and how to pronounce them. Abibata Abdulai and Bintu Liman were a couple of the more difficult names to remember. Fatima was pronounced as fa teem ah. Old-fashioned names were popular. Faith, Hope and Charity were common. Florence, Beatrice, Agatha (a ga tha) Rose, Grace and Regina, pronounced the Canadian way, were also common. It took me a bit longer to match names to faces.

My dad was great remembering business names and details but was never good at other names. I figure his head just didn’t have the room with everything else he remembered. I had two friends with Polish last names, and he never got those names right. One he called the Pole, and the other he never called anything except she or her. I don’t even think my friends noticed.

“Adding kidney beans to his cottage cheese and pineapple was an act of bravery Dave had not intended.”

August 28, 2015

We are blessed with another lovely day, sunny but cool.

In the Cape Times was an article about the cranberry. The article explained how the cranberry is one of only three native fruits, the others being the blueberry and the Concord grape. It is close to cranberry harvesting time which usually starts in late September. I have sometimes been lucky enough to happen upon a harvest, always a wet harvest. I love seeing those beautiful red fruits floating in the water. The color is extraordinary.

There are two kinds of harvests: the wet and the dry. In the water harvest, the bogs are flooded the night before. The next day a paddle boat of sorts churns the water. The berries are dislodged and float to the surface because they are hollow inside then they are gathered together and finally loaded onto trucks. The other sort is a dry harvest. A mechanical picker acts a bit like a lawnmower and combs the berries off the vine and deposits them in burlap bags hanging off the harvester. The best berries come from the dry harvest.

Once my brother, urged on by me, ate a red berry. It was poisonous and he had to have his stomach pumped. Now it makes me wonder who was the first to try cranberries or anything growing wild. I can imagine it now: the circle stands around the tribesman who volunteered. He takes a few berries, chews then swallows. The circle waits to see if he’ll survive. If he doesn’t, that’s one more berry crossed off the list. I’d watch the birds. I read it is safe to eat what they eat.

In Ghana I saw pineapples and bananas growing. I thought it was kind of neat to see them, not many chances around here. The pineapples surprised me. I figured their weight kept them close to the ground, but I was amazed to see them standing tall in the middle of a plant, one fruit to each plant. Bananas grow just like I imagined.

I like fresh cranberries and cranberry sauce from the can. I have made my own sauce but I have a warm spot for the canned sauce with the decorative rings. I love pineapples and bananas.

I would never volunteer to taste a berry.

“I always give my grandkids a couple of quarters when they go home. It’s a bargain.”

June 14, 2015

The morning is cool. The sun comes and goes. No rain is predicted until tomorrow so the sun may be back to stay later. The usual morning quiet has been interrupted by the guy next door putting in a new slider. The house is a summer rental, and they seldom do any work on it so the old slider must have been in really bad shape. I just know my quiet has disappeared.

My grandparents, my father’s parents, lived in the same town as we did. We didn’t visit them as often as we did my city grandparents, but I remember staying over their house a couple of times. It seemed huge to me. I remember it well.

To get to the house from the sidewalk, you had to walk up a flight of stairs then a second fight at the house. The driveway was below the house. Rocks lined the tall side walls of the driveway which curved a bit just before the garage doors. It was not an easy driveway to maneuver. The kitchen was my favorite room. The cabinets were wooden and reached to the ceiling. A small closet might have held all sorts of stuff, but I only remember the bottles of root beer stored on the floor. There was a built in ironing board, a built in table with some chairs and a bench and a deep sink below the only window. The dining room was right off the kitchen and had a wall of windows. The dining room set matched: the chairs, the table, and the dish cabinet, that’s what I called it anyway. There was a piano in the living room but nobody knew how to play it. There was also a fireplace in the living room but it was never lit. Off the living room was a small sunroom with my grandfather’s desk, his pipe cabinet, a small table and two chairs. Upstairs were three bedrooms and the bath. My grandparent’s bedroom had stairs in the closet which led to the attic. My aunt’s former bedroom had matching wooden furniture in dark wood. I remember the bureau had a mirror. The third bedroom was small and had a door to a balcony too small to be used. On the garage level was the laundry room and another huge room lined with bench topped bookcases. I remember the garage was perfectly neat. Tools were hung and a work table was clean and clear.

The yard seemed huge even though the neighboring houses were close. The house next door had a big garden and rabbit hutches at the top of a hill. I don’t remember any rabbits. There was also a huge shade tree between the houses.

I sometimes drive down the street where the house is just because of the memories. The house sits on what would be an isthmus if it were surrounded by water. The isthmus is too narrow for the two sets of houses, one on each side of two roads, especially since there are now fences separating the yards. The house looks exactly the same.

“Nothing reminds us of an awakening more than rain.”

May 16, 2015

The forecast says maybe rain today. I love it. You can’t be wrong when you say maybe. Right now, though, the clouds are few, and they don’t look like rain clouds. The sun keeps appearing and disappearing. It’s a chilly morning with a cool breeze.

Gracie and I were on the deck. The red spawn has started eating flowers from the clay pots. It had the nerve to grab a flower, scurry up a branch then sit and dine al fresco right in front of me. Now, though, I have the nozzle on the hose set to jet and I’m just waiting for the spawn.

When I was a kid, a rainy Saturday was the worst. If the rain was heavy, it meant staying inside all day, the most important day of the week for any self-respecting kid. On Saturday we had no obligations. We had no homework to finish, no church and no family dinner demanding our attendance. It was our day to do whatever we wanted except when it rained. A summer rain, though, was sometimes gentle, and we went out anyway. We figured the sun would appear and dry us. A winter rain made us chilled to the bones, and we didn’t whine about having to stay inside. On those Saturdays my dad would sometimes drive us to the matinee, more for his sake than ours. He wanted us out of the house. We were glad to oblige.

Even as a kid, I loved the sound of rain. On one vacation, in Maine, on a rainy day, I went to the car with my book, settled down in the back seat and read. The sound of the rain on the car roof was like music. The stronger the rain, the louder the music.

During the rainy season in Ghana, everywhere was music. The roof of my classroom was tin, and the sound of the rain hitting the roof was all we could hear. Teaching was impossible. My students would read, but each in turn seemed to stop, look above and listen. It didn’t matter how familiar we were with the sound; it still drew us.

The rain on thatch had a different sort of music, a crisper sound. My back courtyard was concrete, and the rain hit it with a pounding beat. The open sewers ran when it rained, and it was the sound a stream makes, a rippling sound, a burble.

On many a rainy day, I would sit on my front porch under the small tin overhang and listen. Even now I still remember the music.

“Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”

November 8, 2014

The red flag on my mail box has disappeared. It isn’t on the ground anywhere. I find that confusing. Where is it? Are there marauders stealing red flags as trophies and leaving behind holes on the side of my box? My postman, Bill, would never check the mail in the box without a red flag flying, proverbially of course. I had to put my outgoing mail in my neighbor’s box. He’ll probably wonder why his red flag is up.

Today is sunny with blue skies but is a bit chilly. The sunlight always seems muted this time of year as if the sun’s best just isn’t enough. I chased the red spawn a couple of times earlier, and I picked up the hose so he ran, but the water has been drained from the hose so I have no weapon. I’m thinking I might get a potato gun. Any other sort of weapon would run out of ammo. Potatoes are plentiful.

I seldom go see a movie at night. It is more expensive than those in the afternoons but really not by much. I think it is because matinees are ingrained, a part of my psyche, as I went to the matinee almost every Saturday when I was a kid except in summer when there wasn’t one. Just about everyone I knew went to the Saturday matinee. My mother was probably thrilled. My brother and I were gone while she just had my two sisters at home. They were a bit young though I did take them once. It didn’t work out. I had to take them home before the movie was over. I was not happy.

The food in the movie theater is exorbitant. I admit I sometimes sneak in a candy bar and even some bagged popcorn, usually cheddar. I always buy a drink which makes me look less of a smuggler. I sometimes wonder how popcorn and the movies became forever joined. I’ve been in theaters where they sold hot dogs, ice cream cones and smothered tacos. That seems wrong somehow.

When I was young, I used to buy candy which lasted a long time, but they don’t sell Sugar Daddies any more, and I’d be afraid for my fillings even if they did. Nonpareils, Raisinettes and popcorn are now my three favorite movie foods.

“Fear makes the wolf bigger than he is.”

August 29, 2014

My mouse died so I had to go to Radio Shack to get a new one. It didn’t work. I investigated and found my USB port wouldn’t connect one thing to another as my printer didn’t connect either. I moved down a bit to another port and was able to connect, but I got a message about my keyboard not connecting. That was a strange one as this is a laptop and my keyboard is always connected. I removed and then put the thingamajig connection to my new mouse back into the port. It all worked. This morning I noticed what I first thought was a blob of dust on the guest room floor then I thought maybe Maddie didn’t like the condition of her litter box and figured the guest room floor a perfect substitute. I grabbed a handful of TP and went to clean. It was neither. It was a dead baby mouse. I’m thinking the coincidence is pretty eerie.

The day has yet to make up its mind. The sun comes out then disappears, but it is chilly even when the sun stays around a little. Right now it is only 69˚and I’ve closed the window behind me to keep out the cool breeze.

My father’s story of the man with the hook scared me. He had a couple of versions. There was one where the teenagers in the car were the intended victims but they escaped and sped off with the hook dangling from the window. That scared me but in the same way scary movies did. The version of the man scratching the window with his hook was different. I could believe the dirty, disheveled man was skulking around the neighborhood looking for victims. Every time a branch scraped against the window I knew it was the hook, and I was scared for real.

One night my parents were out grocery shopping when the scratching began. I was so scared I ran around the house looking for a hiding place. Under the bed was one but that seemed a bit obvious. If I were a crazed maniac with a hook, that would be the first place I’d look. The closet was another. I could hide behind the clothes on the hangers but what to do with my feet presented a problem. I couldn’t run for help. He was outside. If I used the phone, he’d know exactly where I was. I could feel my heart beating out of my chest, and I gasped for every breath.

When I heard a noise at the front door, I hid in the closet. I figured the man had found me and I was doomed except I wasn’t. It was my parents bringing in the groceries. I told them about the hook and the scratching. My dad told me the story wasn’t real, but I didn’t believe him. I had heard the scratching. I knew the man with the hook was still out there somewhere. My parents  had scared him away, but I knew it was just for now.

“Without Spam, we wouldn’t have been able to feed our army.”

August 18, 2014

This room is chilly. It still holds the cold from last night, and the sun won’t be here until late afternoon. Most mornings I love sitting here, but not this morning. I need sun and warmth and maybe even some socks.

My birthday was wonderful. It was a two-day gala. The culminating event was going out for the birthday dinner last night. My friend and I celebrate each other’s birthdays that way. We decided a long time ago we didn’t need more things, but we need time together as we don’t see each other as often as we did. Usually it doesn’t happen on the exact day but it always happens. The timing isn’t important. It’s dinner with a friend that counts.

Today is Gracie’s favorite day, dump day. It’s also laundry day. They are both quite a comedown from all the festivities of the weekend. My tenure as queen was short-lived.

I don’t know if Hormel is offended or pleased that the mailbox for useless, unwanted e-mail is called spam. For me the word always brings to mind Monty Python’s Spam sketch and the Vikings singing. It also brings to mind my father. He loved Spam. He first ate it during World War II and all his life after that. Mostly he’d put it in sandwiches but sometimes he’d fry with his eggs. My sister became a Spam fan. She even has a pair of tiny Spam can earrings. The gelatinous goop, aspic I guess, makes the newly opened Spam sort of gross looking. Its pedigree is sometimes in question. My favorite Spam story is when my sister was invited to her in-laws for dinner. Her mother-in-law said they were having a pork roast. A square of Spam dotted with cloves, decoratively applied, arrived on a small platter and with a flourish was placed in the middle of the table. That is about as exalted as Spam will ever get. My sister managed not to laugh or gag and did eat some of that pork roast. I don’t think I’ve ever bought Spam though I am impressed at how many different flavors there are now. There is even a Spam spread should you need an extra appetizer. Most impressive is that Spam can last for years. I’m thinking a Spam jalapeño sandwich with melted Velveeta cheese. If you aren’t hungry for it now, just wait a few years. It will still be good.

“Let us step into the night and pursue that flighty temptress, adventure.”

July 25, 2014

Today is glorious. It is the definition of a summer day. The air is dry, the sun warm and there is a bit of a breeze ruffling the leaves so they glint in the sun. It is a day to be outside.

Today my grandniece was born, Georgina Kay Smith, 7 pounds-9 ounces and 19 inches long. The first picture arrived shortly after her birth. She still had flat ears and a squashed face as new babies do. Both Georgina and her mother are fine. My sister, the grandmother, called from the hospital and was thrilled. We all are. Now we wait one more week for the next baby, Jackson, who will be born on August 1st. He will be my niece’s second child. Georgina has an older brother, Ryder, who is eight. It is amazing that in one week the number of grand babies will have doubled.

The cool weather has put me in a peculiar mood. On hot days I have no ambition, but today I want an adventure of sorts. Maybe I just want to be ten again when the whole world was mine to explore. There was the zoo, the  farm, the horses in the field, the ripe blueberries, the swamp, the pool and the pond with the raft, the Huckleberry Finn raft. All we had to do was pick one or two or as many as we could fit into a single day.

When I travel, I still love adventure. I take in everything. My memory drawers fill. I wake up early and roam the streets. I buy coffee and fresh bread still warm from the oven, find a place to sit and eat and watch the morning unfold. Each new place is different but each morning seems somehow familiar. I watch people rush to work while others amble and take their time. I prefer the latter. During the day I sometimes have places to see while other times I just wander and hope to chance upon the unexpected. I eat when I am hungry usually at a place where I can sit outside. At night there are lanterns and muted light. Sometimes I eat in a restaurant while other times I buy food to take with me as I walk. People sit outside. I hear a babble of voices in a language I don’t usually understand. At open store doors, merchants beckon me to shop, but I just smile and shake my head. I am on an adventure.

“Sunday is the golden clasp that binds together the volume of the week”

July 20, 2014

This morning is still and overcast, white cloud overcast. The sun may appear but in its own good time. Meanwhile, I’ll enjoy the coolness of the morning. The only sound is a dog endlessly barking. It is somewhere down the street, and the bark is unfamiliar.

My eyes are a bit better. The swelling has gone down, and I can “clearly now” from the worst eye. The strangest symptoms are the bumps still in the corners below the eyes and the red underneath both eyes. I look like some science fiction writer’s vision of the raccoon from hell. The second symptom, the itchiness, is only spotty now so that too is on the mend.

A giant branch broke off one of the pine trees in the backyard. I never heard it. It must have happened last night when I was sleeping. I was surprised to see it when I did my morning survey from the deck.

Today seems like a throw back Sunday. It is so very quiet. Even the barking dog has stopped. I am reminded of Sundays when I was a kid. We never really played outside or made much noise. All the lawn work was finished on Saturday, and there were no Sunday errands. The stores were closed. Sometimes I wish we could go back to those Sundays.

The other afternoon I watched a movie new to me: The Wasp Woman made in 1959. It was wonderfully bad. The owner of a cosmetic company is visibly aging so women aren’t buying her stay youthful products. A doctor who has been experimenting with enzymes from a wasp successfully used his formula to make Guinea pigs younger. Janice Starlin, our cosmetic queen, wants to be the first human. The doctor is reluctant but agrees. Believing the process is going too slowly, Janice, our soon to be wasp, breaks into the lab and injects herself several times with the formula. Now here’s my favorite part: the doctor realizing the formula causes test subjects to become violent goes to tell Janice but gets hit by a car and falls into a coma; of course, he’d get into an accident. Telling her would ruin the plot. Janice then keeps using the serum causing her to transform into a murderous queen wasp wearing a dress and high heels. I’m thinking a dressy queen wasp beats a fly any old-time, even a talking fly.

“Well, mother, he is a very nice man. he gave me some candy.”

May 18, 2014

Today is cloudy and a bit chillier than yesterday. My bedroom window was open all night, and I was cold this morning, cold enough to grab my comforter. I burrowed down, got cozy and fell asleep for another hour. Gracie woke me up. She banged her paw on the bed right beside where I was sleeping. Even though I kept my eyes closed and my breathing even, she knew I was awake. I gave in and got up. Now she’s sleeping. Oh, the irony!

I loved visiting my grandparents because they lived in a city. The houses were close together separated only by walkways almost like alleys. Small bakeries sold square pieces of cold pizza and Italian ice from opened windows. We played stick ball in the street and baseball against the steps. It was a whole new world to me. I remember two streets up there was a park, and I remember there was a store on the corner of their street. It was tiny but every shelf and counter was filled with something to buy. We went there to spend the dime my grandfather used to give us.

Once my uncle took my brother and me to Logan Airport. We walked from my grandparents’ house in East Boston. My uncle is only two years older than I am so it was just three kids on an adventure. It was a long walk and seemingly longer going home. Logan in those days was a series of hanger type buildings, many made of wood. They were mostly one story. The roofs of some of them were for observation, for watching the planes. There were fences around the perimeters of those roofs, and I remember standing there a long time watching the planes taxi to the runways and fly off while others landed. There were still prop planes and no jetways. People walked from the plane to the terminal. We went through the interconnected terminals, and I took brochures as souvenirs. I remember that as a favorite day. My mother wasn’t so happy when she found out how far we had gone.

I have another memory of when my uncle took my brother and me to the MDC pool. To get to the pool, we had to take a bus and then the subway from my grandparent’s house. I remember standing on the subway platform by myself. I don’t remember exactly where my brother and uncle were standing. A man came up to me. I remember he wore a straw hat, had bad teeth and his coat was striped. He had a cane but it was on hooked on his arm. He spoke to me, and I said hello. He offered me gum and said if I followed him behind the stairs he’d give it to me. Never take candy from a stranger jumped into my head so I ran to find my uncle and brother who were together further down the platform. They wanted to know why I was running. I didn’t tell them what had happened. I broke the rule by saying hello so I kept the whole incident secret. I never told. This isn’t a favorite memory.