Posted tagged ‘cool house’

“My doctor told me I had to stop throwing intimate dinners for four unless there are three other people.”

October 23, 2017

My back is a bit better. I can walk without holding on to anything. Yesterday was a sit on the couch day, and I thoroughly enjoyed it, the back aside. I have to go out today so I hope for the best.

I think I’ve used every adjective perfect to describe our weather of late. Think warm, sunny, deep blue sky and nearly breezeless. My house is again cooler than outside. In here it is sweatshirt weather. Outside is short sleeve weather.

My mother used to make fried dough for supper on Fridays, the no meat day. We’d all hang around the kitchen counter making sure we got our dough turn. My mother’s frying pan held three small or two big pieces of fried dough. She used to buy the dough at the supermarket. I remember it came in a blue and white box. We slathered butter and sprinkle salt on it. Fried dough was one of our favorite suppers.

We ate a lot of hamburger growing up, but my mother was a whiz at cooking hamburger so many different ways we never got tired of eating it. I still love meatloaf and American chop suey. She made spaghetti sauce with ground beef, another fake oriental dish of hamburger with water chestnuts and crispy chow mein on top,. The fall back was always  burgers. I love cheeseburgers.

My food in Ghana didn’t really vary a whole lot. We were lucky to live in the only area of the country which bred beef so we could always buy meat in the market. There was even a meat factory where we could buy some sort of tubular meat masquerading as a hot dog. The meat from the market was always tough. Only old cows were slaughtered. The meat was cooked in a broth like sauce with tomatoes and onions which tenderized the meat. I think we had that most nights though we also ate chicken, free range chickens because the chickens wandered all over the place all day but did came home to roost at night. We mostly ate mashed yams  but also had rice on occasion. Breaking teeth was a PC volunteer problem as the rice always had a few rocks. You needed to spend time cleaning it, but it was easier not to. When volunteers got together, food was always a topic of conversation.

Living alone means I don’t always make dinner. I improvise with whatever is in the fridge. I’m content with cheese and crackers or hummus and pita bread. I’m even happy with cereal. I do have meat in the freezer, heavy on the chicken, but I usually forget to take it out. Last night, though, I took out some Chinese sausage to defrost and I have some rice I can cook. That’s like a gourmet meal for me.

“No one appreciates the very special genius of your conversation as the dog does.”

August 21, 2017

The house is still chilly from the air conditioning being on all last night even though some windows and the two doors are now opened; however, it will be a hot day so I expect to be behind closed doors and shut windows for most of the afternoon. The sun was around earlier but has since disappeared behind grey clouds. We are going to have a partial eclipse, but it seems unless things change, we won’t even see that.

Last night the temperature was in the high 60’s so movie night was pleasant, even a bit chilly because of the high humidity. We watched Monster on the Campus. Oops, I’m really sorry. I should have warned you that was a spoiler. I just gave the whole plot away. The movie was released in 1958 so we did chuckle quite a few times at the special effects and the plot twists. The cars were as big as boats. The women all wore dresses, kind of ugly dresses, and accessorized with white gloves. The men, of course, wore their suits and fedoras. Troy Donahue had a small role. We applauded at the end not because it was over but because the monster had engineered its own demise. Such is the lot of monster in 50’s science fiction movies.

Gracie had a really bad night. She was sleeping in her crate. I was on the couch. It was around 4:00 when I was awakened by the sound of her paws frantically scraping over and over against the mat in her crate. I guessed she was trying to stand up but couldn’t. I raced to the kitchen. Gracie was lying on her side, her eyes huge, and she was scared. She tried again to get up but couldn’t. I grabbed her halter and lifted and pulled her out of the crate. I was scared that her back legs had given out, but when I pulled her upright, she stood. She was also wet. I figured that had been triggered by her fear. I dried her and we went to the couch. She jumped on it but sat upright for a while before she finally fell asleep. This morning everything is fine with her, but not with me. When I walk, I resemble a question mark because of the pain in my back. Poor Gracie and me!

“He who would travel happily must travel light.”

August 4, 2016

When I woke up this morning, Gracie was right beside me. The bedroom was still cool from the late night air so I was body warmth for the dog. When I went downstairs, it too was cool and dark so it was quite a shock when I went outside to get the paper. I was assailed by unexpected heat.

The light from the sun is strong. It looks hazy around the bushes and flowers. A slight breeze ruffles the leaves of the oak tree. I think it will be a lovely day.

My first load of laundry is in the dryer. My second load is in the washing machine. The bags of laundry had sat in front of the cellar so long I had no choice. I don’t deal well transient clutter.

I have started to get ready for my trip back to Ghana. First off was new undergarments, not that you really need to know this but I seldom buy any without a good reason. Even as an adult, I always embarrassed my mother with the state of my undergarments. My contention was nobody ever saw them. The last time I bought any was for my first trip to Ghana. It’s a good thing I travel. I have also bought three new shirts. The last new shirts were Christmas presents from my sister the Christmas before that same trip to Ghana as the undergarments. There is an obvious pattern here worth repeating: it’s a good thing I travel. On my list still is a pair of new pants, rub on insect repellant, a small roll of duct tape and moist towelettes. I think I already have everything else I need.

When I think back to my Peace Corps first time arrival in Ghana, I remember what I had brought. I was allowed 80 pounds. Most of them were taken up with clothes, sheets and towels and lotions and potions enough for two years. I had been given a packing list, and after my mother and I shopped, we crossed off most of the items. If I were going today for the two years, my 80 pounds would be a whole lot different; however, there would still be undergarments.

This morning was Corn Flakes and banana for breakfast. I thought it the perfect way to start the day.

“Somebody get me a cheeseburger!”

July 28, 2016

The weather has turned me into a hermit. I stay in my cool house and have limited human interactions. The phone doesn’t even ring, and I don’t care. I am quite content as my house has plenty to keep me amused. There are books, TV, the computer, Netflix and a growing pile of magazines and catalogues. I won’t even get dressed today. I will change my bed and consider the day well spent.

I don’t get bored all that often, but I do get restless. Sometimes I need to go somewhere. I need to do something. Often I just take a ride, and that is usually enough. I try to find roads new to me. Lately I have been riding up-cape towards the bridge. I hardly know that area other than the main road. I don’t shop, but I do stop at farm stands. Buying fresh vegetables doesn’t count as shopping.

When I was a kid, about the only fresh vegetable I ate was corn. I wasn’t a fan of tomatoes or cucumbers, zucchini or any sort of bean. Now I love fresh tomatoes and cucumbers. I always stop at little tables outside houses to buy the tomatoes on the honor system. Their taste is sweet, like no other tomato. When I visited my parents, I always brought my dad a bag of local tomatoes. He’d slice them on the plate, add a spoonful of mayonnaise and sit by the TV and eat them. That was his favorite summer snack.

Every day in Ghana, I basically had the same meals. For breakfast I had two eggs over easy and two pieces of toast. They were cooked on a small, round charcoal burner.  I drank coffee with canned milk. For lunch I had a bowl of cut fruit. Depending on the time of year they’d be bananas, oranges, mangoes, pineapple and papaya (paw paw in Ghana). Dinner was a starch like rice or yams and some meat. In September and October it was FraFra potatoes, a locally grown small potato. The meat was usually beef and was always cooked in a sauce, a tomato sauce with onions. It had to be cooked that way as the meat was always tough. We’d sometimes have chicken for dinner, one we’d buy live at the market.

One year the rains were late. We ate rice every night. It was stuffed peppers with rice. I had brought Bell pepper seeds from home, and they were grown in the school garden. No Ghanaian liked them. They weren’t hot. We, my two friends and I, bought all of them and had them for dinner over and over again during that extended dry season. I got so sick of rice I didn’t eat it for the longest time after I got home. I still don’t eat it much unless it’s fried rice.

“It’s a sure sign of summer if the chair gets up when you do.”

July 15, 2016

It feels like solitary confinement. The heat and humidity are keeping me inside the house, in the cool of the house. When I stepped outside to get the papers, I gasped because of the thickness of the air. It almost felt as if I were walking in slow motion. Every time I open the back door to let Gracie outside I am blasted by heat. She is out only a short time but comes in panting.

I think it might have rained a bit last night. The driveway was wet, and the outside table was filled with water, but it doesn’t matter. What little it might have rained isn’t enough.

The caterpillars are gone. My deck has very little frass. It has leaves and small branches from the trees but that is easily cleared. When my lawn is cut, they’ll blow the deck clean. I just hope for a cooler day so I can sit outside and read. Saturday night movies will probably start next week. I’ll have to get my hot dog machine and my popcorn maker ready.

My Saturday night deck movies will probably start next week. I’ll have to get my hot dog machine and my popcorn maker ready. Maybe I’ll test the popcorn maker this week.

I haven’t seen people in a while. I might as well be living by myself on a deserted island. Once in a while a car goes by the house. I hear it but don’t see it. My trunk is filled with trash and recycles.

My trunk is filled with trash, cardboard, papers and bottles. A trip to the dump is on my list but not today. The dump is always an extreme reflection of the weather. In winter it is a Siberian steppe. On days like today the heat is almost unbearable and reflects off the metal bins. Even a short stop is a sweaty stop. Maybe the afternoon will be cooler, but that, I suspect, is a faint hope.

“I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness for it shows me the stars.”

July 21, 2015

Today isn’t as hot as yesterday but the humidity is still stifling. Tonight will be cooler, and the cool weather will stay around for the next few days. The sun was out earlier but now the sky is grey, a light grey which hangs around but doesn’t brings rain. The air conditioner is still on and the house is cool. I noticed my neighbors had their windows opened earlier, but they have since closed them and put the AC back on. It doesn’t take long for the heat to permeate the house.

My mother used to keep the shades down when I was a kid. All the rooms downstairs resembled caves. She said it kept the rooms cooler. I remember going inside to get a drink and waiting for my eyes to adjust to the darkness. It was worse going back outside when I had to cover my eyes because of the brightness of the sun. My mother was never one for sun. She wore sunglasses all year, on any day with sun. We used to call her the mole.

Being a kid had such freedom attached. I don’t mean I could go and do what I wanted, but social conventions didn’t kick in until I was older. We laughed at the grossest stuff and told horrid jokes. Milk up someone’s nose was fodder for endless jibes. We thought it hysterical. I remember there was a joke phase involving Helen Keller and kids with no arms or legs and the punch lines would send us into peals of laughter. We weren’t cruel. We were just kids. Being dirty meant nothing to us. I’d grab a sandwich and not even think about washing my hands unless my mother made me. We ate dinner on the fly, no sitting down and taking our time. We wanted to finish quickly so we could take advantage of the daylight.

In summer the street light rule was not in effect. We stayed outside until it got pretty dark. I remember my neighborhood with the windows all open and living room lamps shining to break the darkness. It was as if stars had come to ground. There was a certain beauty to it all.

“There’s a lot of difference between listening and hearing.”

July 11, 2015

The day is another beauty with sun, a blue sky and no humidity. The house is cool. The weather in the paper said we’d have low 80’s today and mid 60’s tonight, perfect for sleeping. This is summer at its best.

I have lots of household chores today and I have a list. I always have a list. Even when I had a good memory, I had a list. It is in no particular order and nothing is too strenuous. Doing the laundry is the most energy-consuming task.

The Great Whites are back in Chatham. One which was tagged in the past was the first to return. It seems even sharks can’t pass up a free lunch. The seals sunbathe on the rocks unaware of what lurks below the surface where the sharks wait patiently. People are a bit more leery this year given all the attacks off the coast in North Carolina. That they are not our Great Whites is a bit of comfort.

When I was a kid, my life was filled with demands. Brush your teeth. Wash your hands before dinner. Wipe your feet on the outside mat. Hang your coat in the closet, not on the chair. Put your schoolbag away. Go upstairs and change into play clothes. Finish your homework. Don’t sit so close to the TV or you’ll go blind. Leave your sisters alone. Don’t slam the door. Go outside and play until I call you for dinner. Don’t stand looking with the refrigerator door open. No cookies before dinner. Eat all your vegetables. Get ready for bed.

I suppose my mother chatted with us in-between, but I don’t remember. Every day she pretty much made the same demands because we generally ignored them, and none of her demands stuck with us in anticipation of the next day when they began all over again with something about teeth.

I was a master at not hearing my mother. When she spouted her daily demands, the words all ran together, and I understood nothing. It was as if she was speaking in a foreign tongue. I’d nod my head pretending I was listening. When I was reading, I didn’t hear her at all as I was totally immersed in the book. She never really believed me and thought I was ignoring her on purpose. She’d ask if I had heard her, and I’d truthfully answer no. That was the wrong answer. The truth sometimes is.

When I got a bit older, sarcasm just flew out of my mouth unfettered, uncensored. My mother would go wild. I didn’t blame her as I had become a bit of a wise ass.

“I’ve just been bitten on the neck by a vampire… mosquito. Does that mean that when the night comes I will rise and be annoying?”

May 27, 2014

Yesterday was a weird weather day. It was cloudy then sunny then rainy then cloudy and rainy again. We ate outside under the umbrella. I could hear the heavy drops over my head and loved the sound. The rain didn’t last long, but the clouds hung around the rest of the evening. Today is really warm and the sun is playing hide and seek: disappearing and then returning. The prediction is for rain and the cloudy skies make me believe it.

The Cape was filled this weekend and the line of cars waiting to leave over the Sagamore Bridge stretched for miles. The paper today was filled with glowing predictions for the summer based on this weekend. I groaned a little, but that’s the price to pay for living here. I knew it going in so any complaints are just from frustration, useless at best.

My world is turning green from pine pollen. My voice is already raspy and I cough. The windows are closed as I’m trying to keep the pollen at bay, but I am Sisyphus with a dust cloth instead of a rock.

I grew up in summer darkness. My mother kept the shades down all day so the house would stay cooler. We didn’t even have a fan to push the night’s hot air around, but most times we kids were so exhausted from playing all day sleep came easily despite the heat.

I have these wonderfully funny memories of being wakened up at night from the bed rocking and finding my father standing on my bed trying to keep his balance as he chased down mosquitos on the ceiling with a newspaper in his hand. My father was a bit obsessive sometimes and flies and mosquitoes were among his nemeses. He wielded the fly swatter with perfection. The fly would be stationary, and my father with swatter in position would sneak up on it, swat it and then throw away what was left of the fly. Sometimes he’d have to clean the ceiling or the lampshade or worst of all, the kitchen counter. He kept count of his triumphs, “Got it,” was his summer refrain.

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