Posted tagged ‘cool’

“Green grass is Happy grass.”

June 8, 2018

richI saw lots of sun and hoped it was warm, but the breeze makes the day cooler than I expected. It is only 65˚. The high will be 71˚, and it will go back to the 50’s tonight. I’m still hoping the predicted heat wave will make an appearance, maybe tomorrow.

Skip, my factotum, is here and has a long list of chores ranging from replacing fence posts to cleaning deck furniture. When Skip is done, everything will be ready for the warm days of summer.

When I was a kid, our house had only a small front garden. It was anchored by bushes, and the flowers had to be planted around the bushes. My father was a perfunctory gardener. He planted geraniums and pansies, all of one in the back and all of the other in front. But my father was a master when it came to his grass, his front lawn. That square plot of green got all the attention and care the flowers never did. He mowed and fertilized and watered that patch of grass. I remember it was always lush and green. He allowed but didn’t like the kiddy pool as it squashed the blades of grass. He always yelled when I rode my bike down the small grass hill which bordered the sidewalk. He could see the tire tracks.

My father used a hand push mower and a hand trimmer which sort of looked like scissors. The trimmer clicked and the mower whirred, the two sounds of summer I most remember from my childhoodI . My father never went to a power mower. He did go to electric trimmers, a Father’s Day gift from me.

I can remember summer weekends visiting my parents. My father always gave me a guided tour of his yard. On Saturday I’d sit on the front steps while he mowed. He went back and forth in rows, never deviating from that pattern. When he was finished, he’d ask me how it looked. I always told him the lawn was beautiful. He never said anything but he did smile.

“At home, my mother dabbed at her brow with a wet flannel she kept in the fridge for that purpose.”

June 7, 2018

Mother Nature has blessed us of late. Each day is lovely, sunny and spring warm. The nights are chilly, perfect for sleeping with the window cracked a bit, but this morning my house was so cold I put the heat on for a while. I didn’t expect I’d still need heat in June. I’m not complaining, mind you. I’m just surprised.

I bought flowers yesterday and spent over $200.00. This morning I noticed I need a few more annuals for the clay pots on the deck. I also need a few more clay pots. The pollen is gone now so the deck and the deck furniture can be cleaned, finally. I’m so looking forward to being outside under the umbrella, book in hand, a snack on the table warding off starvation and a cooling breeze keeping the heat at bay. That is paradise for me.

When I was a kid, our house had no spots outside for lolling. There was a shared lawn with the neighbors, but it was small because of a grassy hill. We played outside and sometimes ate lunch outside, but we sat on the back steps. Our side yard had grass and two fir trees. That was where my sisters jumped over the sprinkler and where the kiddy pool was sometimes put. My father would have preferred they be elsewhere, not on his lawn, but there was no other spot. I remember the squeals from my sisters when they jumped over the cold water spewing from the sprinkler. I also remember my dog using  his paw to stop the sprinkler from turning so he could get a drink. He was a clever dog.

I never really minded the heat when I was a kid. It was just part of summer. It never stopped me from doing anything. When I was in the Peace Corps, our training in Ghana was during the rainy season, the cooler part of the year though I do use cool here with reservations. For the two years after training, I lived in the hottest part of the country where 100+ degrees each day during the dry season was common. I never loved the heat but it was part of living in Bolgatanga. I survived, but even better, I thrived.

“Each day has a color, a smell.”

October 8, 2017

The day is cloudy dark. Rain is predicted. It is also windy which makes it feel colder than it is. I had to shut the back door. Last night was Gracie busy. She had me up every couple of hours, and we went out at 3:30. I went back to sleep but woke up when I heard her moving around at 8:00, but she readily jumped on the couch with me, and we both slept until 10.

I did all my errands yesterday. I had a route in mind, but the cars in long lines at the lights had me reconsider how to get there from here. I should have realized they’d be lines as this is, after all, a three day weekend, sort of summer’s last hurrah. Today is a stay off the roads day as the weekenders will be driving around looking for something to do.

I can smell wood burning again. The smell has again triggered memories. I remember overnights at Camp Aleska, the Girl Scout camp in the town where I grew up. The camp was up a dirt road across from the zoo and was surrounded by tall pine trees. Paths were behind the camp and led all through the woods. There was one big room in the camp with a huge fireplace. My favorite part of the overnight was falling asleep as the fire waned and the embers glowed in the dark. I have mentioned mornings in Ghana several times. The air smelled of wood fires as breakfast was cooked over wood charcoal. In the market, huge bags of charcoal were for sale. In some villages tree trunks were slowly burned into charcoal and bags of it were for sale on the sides of the road. Even the irons were filled with wood charcoal.

At night, aunties, older women, sitting along the sides of the main road in Bolga cooked food over wood charcoal and sold it.  I remember the smell in the air was a combination of the wood charcoal burning and food cooking at my nighttime snack stops. That was the first time I ever tasted grilled corn and deep fried plantain and yam chips. Guinea fowl was rare, but I always bought it if I found it. I remember the spots of light from the lit lanterns up and down the street and the blazing embers under metal bowls filled with groundnut oil where the food cooked.

I am ever so thankful for having served in Ghana and for the memories still strong and vibrant.

“The first rule of hurricane coverage is that every broadcast must begin with palm trees bending in the wind.”

August 25, 2017

Some mornings all the elements converge just right and the most gorgeous day dawns. Today is one of those mornings. The breeze is from the north, and I could smell the ocean when I was out with Gracie. Both of us stayed on the deck, not wanting to come inside. The smell of the salt water flooded my mind’s eye with familiar images. I saw the ocean with its tiny whitecaps hitting the sand. I saw the grasses atop the dunes dancing, blown by the slight breeze.

The morning air is cool today. Sharp sunlight glints through the trees hanging over the deck and leaves shadows of armlike branches. The small round mirrors hanging from the pine branches send a reflection of white circles bouncing around the side yard. The birds fly in and out, and I was glad I filled the feeders yesterday.

Today in all its glory needs to be savored.

I’m watching the news about Hurricane Harvey. I know what it’s like to dread the coming wind, rain and high water. I remember Hurricane Bob. It left trees across roads, wires hanging from split telephone poles and branches all over streets and yards. I lost a fir tree in my front yard, my second Christmas tree, but I still felt lucky because the tree fell away from the house. Stores were closed. I was without electricity for days. I cooked all of the freezer meat on the grill trying to save it. I drove all over to find ice. I couldn’t believe the damage I saw. It took a long while for the clean-up and for everything to get back to normal.

On August 25th 1954, two amazing events occurred. Hurricane Carol developed near the Bahamas and started its way toward New England. It would reach the coast days later, at the end of the month. Carol was devastating and deadly. Cape Cod was evacuated. More than 10,000 homes across New England were damaged including 1,545 that were completely destroyed. 3,000 boats and 3,500 automobiles were wrecked. Even Boston wasn’t spared. The wind sheared off the steeple of the Old North Church. Though I was only seven, I have memories of this storm. The giant, old elm tree across from my house went down and fell on the street making the road impassable. My father brought my brother and me outside during the eye of the hurricane to see the tree, and we climbed among the branches. I remember how still it was and how quiet.

The second amazing event was my sister Moe was born. Today she turns 63. She was under 5 pounds at birth so the hospital kept her until she gained more weight. That was the practice back then. She was still in the hospital when we lost electricity so we glad she was. By the time she came home, our house was back to normal.

My sister and Carol are forever joined in my memory.  That’s not to say they have anything in common except both were born on the same day.

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

August 11, 2017

The early morning was cool. Gracie wanted out before six so out we went. It was quiet. My newspapers hadn’t yet been delivered. Gracie finished her business, and when we came back inside, both of us fell back to sleep.

The sky is gray for a while then the sun breaks though for a short time, but the grey clouds never quite disappear. The sun does. The humidity is returning today.

Next door is still noisy but not as much as yesterday. The digging has stopped. The rest of the neighborhood is quiet. Even the birds aren’t singing. I figure they feel as oppressed by the clouds as I do. It seems to be getting darker though rain is not in the forecast.

I haven’t anything to do today. My house is clean, the laundry isn’t worth washing, too few clothes, and I don’t need any groceries. I suppose I could clean things like the bookcases filled with stuff, but I figure that’s over the top and good for a winter’s day. The downstairs plants do need watering so I guess I’ve found something to do. Hurrah!

I’m seeing commercials for survival food good for 25 years. I’m going to pass.

Many of the commercials are aimed at my generation because we, the baby boomers, are a bulge on the population chart and are so much older now. Today I watched one for the stair climber. Reverse mortgage is Tom Selleck’s ad. Another one is for insurance to pay off all the bills left when you die. Local Cape ads tout retirement communities with all the amenities including a doctor on call. AARP is all over the dial, okay not the dial but the remote though it doesn’t matter, you get the idea. I chuckle at the commercials for Consumer Cellular. Every actor is older, my age older, as in the older woman who reminds us we had to go to the library to look up stuff. She uses her cell phone for a walk in a field with her friends, a GPS app I figure, and says we can learn new technology. I’m so glad to hear that!

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

August 6, 2017

Today is an absolute delight. The humidity is gone, the sun is squint your eyes bright and there is a cool breeze. I even had to shut the window behind me as I found the breeze cold on my back. I opened the other window in here and both doors to let all that wonderful fresh air into the house. It is a deck day, a wonderful deck day.

Tonight is movie night. I think I’ll have a sweatshirt at the ready as it will be in the low 60’s. Even though it is early August, the weather hints at fall.

My neighbor barbecues chicken wings every Sunday. He doesn’t use any sauce. He never has any sides. His wife sits on the deck and keeps him company. If he sees me, he shouts for me to join him and his wife. I did one Sunday, the Sunday he barbecued Brazilian kielbasa especially for me. His wife made caipirinhas, a Brazilian drink I love. They call me Miss Kath.

I was taught Hausa during my Peace Corps training. It is a language indigenous to Niger but is also a Sub-Saharan trade language. There are even Hausa traders. I used to shop at their stalls on High Street. When I used Hausa, I got better deals. The man who oversaw the Peace Corps hostel spoke Hausa. He loved that I spoke his language. On the first floor of the hostel there were two sleeping rooms for women: one had a bathroom while the other was much smaller and didn’t. I was there once when very few volunteers were. He gave me a key to the big room and put everyone else in the small room. He hated what he called Yama Yama women who left powder all over the bathroom floor. Yama Yama women are street walkers so that was quite an insult. The other day Grace Awae, the former student I have spent so much time with, send hello from Facebook. I wrote back in Hausa: Ina kwana? Yaya kake? Good morning and how are you. She wrote Ina lafiya, I am fine.

I have a few deck clean-ups before tonight, mostly bird poop. I also have to clean the table. I’m making muhammara, a dish I learned to make in Marrakech. The original dish I had planned, shredded chicken phyllo rolls, has to be postponed as I don’t have the right ingredients. I thought I did. I have cheese and crackers and meatballs from last week which are now defrosting. We’ll have plenty.

If I were ten again, I’d be at the beach with my family. I’d be eating grainy sandwiches, probably bologna, and eating watermelon and some Oreos. I’d walk the beach to find shells and I’d swim in the warm tidal pools. I loved the summer Sundays of my childhood.

“In wildness is the preservation of the world.”

June 30, 2017

I love this morning. It isn’t sunny but it is windy and cool. I can hear the leaves rustling and the tinkling of the chimes from my backyard. Out my window I can see the branches being tossed by the wind. They look like dancers swaying and bending in the same direction. The weather report said sun, but I don’t miss it. A cloudy day has its own beauty.

The kids from down the street woke me again this morning. It was around 8:30. They were playing in front of one of their houses. I heard a couple of them singing, but I have no idea of the song. I also heard a couple of them yelling and a couple of them screaming. They’re gone now except for one, the oldest. He is shooting baskets. I can hear the ball when it hits the road and when he dribbles. I have no idea what happened to the rest of them.

Our girl scout camp, Camp Aleeska, was in the woods at the end of a sandy road across the street from the zoo entrance. The camp was in a pine forest and had been built by the fathers of scouts. Inside was one huge room with a tall fireplace and storage benches lining two walls. The kitchen and bathroom were off the big room as was a small room where the adults slept. Cots, the old canvas type with the wooden bars at each end, were stored in the benches. A couple of times, my troop went on overnights at the camp. After we had brought in the food, we set up our cots with a lot of laughter as sometimes they collapsed. We went on hikes and followed trails in the pine woods. Other times we did stuff to earn another badge for our sashes. We all had jobs like cooking, cleaning, doing dishes or sweeping. I remember the stew we usually had for dinner, poor man’s stew. It was hamburger, a can of soup, potatoes, carrots and sometimes canned corn. The stew cooked a long time on the stove. It was always delicious. I remember cooking breakfast with eggs and bacon and toast. We each had a single task at every meal. I always hated it when I had to wash dishes.

I loved the inside of that camp. It had the aroma of a wood fire. It was always quiet as there was nothing near us. We made the only noise.

The camp is gone now as are the trees that kept it hidden. It is the site of construction equipment and piles of sand. I don’t know when the camp was demolished. I’m sorry for its loss as no one else will make memories there.

“I happen to love coconut, particularly for that sweet and crunchy texture it adds to any dish.”

May 22, 2017

The rain is back. It starts and stops. The tops of the trees are blowing. Going outside is uninviting. The house was a bit cool when I woke up. A little blast of heat was it needed. I needed coffee.

The morning has gone quickly. I read the papers, but Monday is a scant news day. Sunday papers use all the news to fill the extra pages.

Last night around 11:30, I took Gracie out. Every house was dark. There are no streetlights so I couldn’t even see the brown house on the corner. The dogs usually bark from inside that house, but this time they were quiet. Gracie was quick.

I had coconut ice cream with hot fudge sauce, whipped cream and jimmies for dessert last night. The ice cream was filled with coconut pieces and was scrumptious. The first palm tree I ever saw was in Ghana. Coconuts hung from its leafy top. They were still green. I stood under the tree a while looking up, amazed I was actually seeing a palm tree. It had jumped from the pages of my geography book to real life.

I haven’t any ambition for the day. My plants need watering, and the cat litter needs changing. I figure that’s about all I’ll do. I also figure that’s enough.

Knee socks were popular when I was in high school. I had several pairs in all different colors. I wore them even after the elastic around the tops had broken. They became really thick ankle socks.

My TV watching has been a bit strange of late. I watched all the episodes of The Keepers about pedophilic priests and a nun who was murdered and how the two cases may have intersected. I also binged watch all of Anne with an E, that would be Anne of Green Gables. It was quite a change.

I’m going to get cozy and read. I think it a perfect day to do both.

“You spend the first part of your life collecting things … and the second half getting rid of them.

February 21, 2017

Today is lovely, sunny but cool at 42˚. The breeze is ever so slight. It’s morning nap time for the dog and cat. Maddie is 18 now. Gracie is 12. Lately, Gracie has had trouble maneuvering the stairs. Her back legs slide when she is coming downstairs so I am always in front of her just in case. When she was young, Gracie jumped the six-foot fence in the backyard, but now she and I share the infirmities of growing old and the dangerousness of steps.

I could never play a dead body. Yesterday I watched a few CSI New York episodes. In just about every one of those, one scene is in the morgue. The actor is lying on the slab while trace evidence is removed or explained. I’d be giggling.

I’m a slug. I have laundry to do, but the bag sits by the door. I have no ambition. When I was working, I was always busy on the weekends. I actually got more done in two days than I now finish in a week. Time is the reason. I always figure I have lots of time to do stuff so I procrastinate and stuff doesn’t get done. I used to feel guilty about that. I am now guilt free. The nuns would be horrified.

I collect cookbooks with literature inspired recipes. One whole shelf in my kitchen bookcase is filled with them. My first was a Shakespearean cookbook. When I did a medieval meal a long way back, I used many of the recipes from that book. Little House on the Prairie, Hemingway, Nancy Drew, Sherlock Holmes, The Boxcar Children, Jane Austen and Louisa May Alcott are just a few of my cookbooks. I love sitting and reading the recipes and planning a menu in my head. I think about colors and melding herbs. I mix and match vegetables. Mostly I have one grand meat dish but sometimes I need two. The table decorations are part of the planning. One meal, inspired by Dickens, had laminated pages of old books for place mats. In the middle of the table were different piles of books. They held the hot dishes. For music, I played an album of authors singing. It was just horrible. I don’t even remember how I found it, I don’t remember its name and I have no idea what happened to it. Maybe it was burned at the stake by my guests.

When I was a kid, I collected stamps and belonged to a stamp club. We met after school and some Saturdays at John Hickey’s house. I filled an album then lost interest in stamps. Besides, it was actually John Hickey more than stamps which held my interest. Strangely enough, my aunt and uncle now live in what was John Hickey’s house. I have no idea where he is. We went to different high schools.

I haven’t collected anything in a while. I’d hard pressed to find room, but if something strikes my fancy, a new collection might just be born.

“He who puts stew with jollof rice has trust issues.”

October 14, 2016

Getting up before the sun appears is getting annoying. Getting up before my papers arrive is also annoying. The only thing saving the morning is my first cup of coffee.

Yesterday was warm. Today it will be much cooler, in the high 50’s. Right now it is windy and damp and quite chilly. I’m glad I put the storm pane on the back door.

Today I am having breakfast out, and I have a dentist appointment, my six-month cleaning. Gracie and I will do the dump later in the afternoon. I’m also thinking Chinese food for dinner. I have a hankering.

My friends and I ate jollof rice just about every evening in Ghana. Think jambalaya. I even got to have it on the plane ride home. It was served with chicken curry. The hotel restaurant served the biggest mound of jollof, and we seldom left any on our plates. We never tired of eating it. I’m thinking I might just have to learn to make it. I do have several recipes. I just ordered my Halloween candy.

I just ordered my Halloween candy, what we used to call nickel bars. I remember how excited we were to get a bar instead of loose candy. Usually it was a Hershey’s. Last year one kid yelled to his father standing by my gate, “It’s a whole big bar!” He’ll be able to yell the same thing this year.

Gracie just scared me. She fell into the table from the couch. I grabbed her and held on for all I am worth. My first thought was she had collapsed. I was set to take her to the 24-hour vet, but she left my arms and got off the couch. She seemed to walk fine. The final test was a treat. She wouldn’t eat the first three choices but took the fourth and then went back for the other three. I figure out she had been too close to the edge of the couch and lost her footing. I have begun to breath.

I haven’t decorated my house yet for Halloween, but I did finish unpacking and putting everything away. I only have one wash left to do. The cloth I bought is in this room in a tall pile. The colors are vivid. My favorite is the black and red tie and dye. It will make a great shirt. The 12 yard bolt is for tablecloths, Christmas presents. I also have a 6 yard bolt of a beautiful blue and black pattern. It too will be used for presents. I brought back a tablecloth for myself. Peg found the material and had it cut in half and hemmed so it wouldn’t fray. Now I just need to have some dinner guests so they can ooh and ah.