Posted tagged ‘dreary day’

“Here’s what we know about Santa. He sees you when you’re sleeping. He knows when you’re awake. He knows if you’ve been bad or good. I think he’s with the NSA.”

December 22, 2016

I woke up to another dreary day and a very dark sky screaming rain. The weatherman agrees. Snow is predicted in some parts of the state, but we will be too warm, in the 40’s. Yesterday was the Solstice, the longest night of the year. By next week, we will be gaining a minute and a half of light a day then two minutes in February. That sounds so hopeful.

Christmas vacation begins today around here. I remember this last day and how excited the kids were, high school kids wearing Santa hats and sucking on candy canes. They used to sing Christmas carols at lunch, spontaneous outbursts from one table then another then on and on. The halls between classes were filled with cheer, with kids wishing each other a Merry Christmas. At the end of the day, the school emptied quickly. The festivities had begun!

I have errands today then cookie baking. I was out a long time yesterday, but I couldn’t finish my list. One store was closed so I have to go back today. I also have to go to the candy store and the grocery store. I’ll get everything I need so I won’t have to go out again between now and Christmas. (I’m laughing here. That will never happen. I’ll find out I need something else. I always do.)

The excitement started to get palpable around this time when I was a kid. The countdown was at two until Christmas Eve and three until that glorious morning, Christmas day. Every afternoon we watched Santa Claus at his workshop. I remember the channel was WMUR from New Hampshire. Santa talked to us as if he were in the room. He discussed all of the work being done by the elves to get ready to fill the sleigh. I don’t remember what he looked like, whether he had great whiskers or paltry whiskers, or if his voice was jolly. I just remember sitting on the rug and watching Santa.

We didn’t have a fireplace, but I was never in doubt that Santa would find his way to the living room and the tree. He was magical so nothing could stand in his way. I figured he just used the door, probably the front door. That the dog didn’t bark was just more of the magic. I figured Duke wagged his stubby Boxer tail and gave Santa lots of kisses.

It is when the questions appear that believing in Santa gets shaky. The how does he do it in one night is a biggy. It shows a bit of skepticism. I am five and seven years older than my sisters. I told them nothing after I found out and I even became part of the Santa conspiracy and teased them about the good or the naughty list. It was wistful for me.

“At Christmas, ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ makes me cry in exactly the same places every time, even though I know it’s coming.”

December 13, 2015

Today is a grey day but still warmer than it should be. Last night my house was ablaze with Christmas lights. My neighbor from across the street called to say she loves the lights and can’t stop looking at them from her window. Most of the house has colored lights, but a giant white star sits atop the fence to the backyard and strands of white flow from the star. I love that star.

When I was a kid, we had turkey for  Christmas dinner. With it we had creamed onions, mashed potatoes, stuffing and another vegetable or two. Over time my mother changed the menu. We’d have some sort of a roast, fresh vegetables and always those mashed potatoes. We’d eat dinner in the dining room instead of the kitchen. First came the festive table cloth which changed from year to year. My mother and I would then set the table with her Christmas dishes. The centerpiece was made of boxwood and decorated with red balls and ribbons. The middle of the table groaned under the weight of all the dishes. We’d pass each dish and fill our plates. We’d compliment my mother on how delicious everything tasted. The mashed potatoes and gravy never had lumps. The vegetables were just right. It was every time a perfect feast.

I had been my mother’s sous chef for dinner and after dinner I was her cleaner upper. My mother would stay in the kitchen, dry the dishes and keep me company. We’d put on Christmas music. My mother loved the Carpenters Christmas, Frank Sinatra’s and Andy Williams. It was a treasured time for me. My mother and I chatted the whole time. Everyone else was in the living room, but they’d appear every now and then for some more desserts. The table was filled with choices: whoopie pies, cookies or candies, all made by my mother and me.

My mother made Christmas a joy. We all honor her by doing the same.

“Some say the world will end in fire, some say in ice.”

November 20, 2015

The rain started last night and is just now stopping. It has left behind yet another dreary day. It is 56˚ and as warm as it will be for the whole coming week when we’ll drop to the 40’s every day. I’m inclined to stay close to hearth and home.

Watching the Macy’s parade dates back to when I was five or six. I remember sitting on the floor in front of the TV eating snacks. My mother always put out mixed nuts for us to crack and eat, tangerines and M&M’s. We had those silver crackers and matching forks to pull out the nuts. Brazil nuts were my favorites. I liked tangerines because they were so easy to peel. I just didn’t like that they had nuts. Those I’d spit into my hand then put on my plate. I never missed color. Black and white was all we knew, but the parade still had magic from the floats, the sounds of the bands and Santa arriving at the end.

When my mother baked, the windows in the kitchen fogged. At night the window water would freeze in a thin layer like on our car windshields except it was inside the house. Sometimes the window ice looked like mountains ridges, some higher than the others. The ridges, though, never went beyond the middle of the window. I used to like to scratch pictures or messages on the ice with my fingernail, but once the heat kicked in, it didn’t take long for the ice to melt.

Our first frost came the other day. When I went to get the papers, I noticed my car windshield was wet, and the part of my neighbor’s front yard filled with mulch still had its layer of frost. When I went out about an hour later, the frost was gone.

I always hated scraping my car windows. It was early in the morning, around 6:15, still very dark and cold. Now, I seldom go out all that early so the frost has usually melted. When people ask me about the best parts of being retired, I’ll have to remember to tell them about never having to scrape a window.

“Sunday, the day for the language of leisure.”

November 16, 2014

Dreary is the best description for this morning. It is a dark, cloudy, cold day. Dead leaves hang motionless from the branches of the big oak trees in the backyard. Everything is brown.

Yesterday Gracie had another test for her irregular heart beats, but I won’t know the results until Monday. While I was waiting for Gracie, a woman came in with a 10 week old brindle boxer puppy. I told the woman had there been no witnesses, I would have stolen her puppy. It was the cutest dog with soft boxer ears and a mournful look, the sort boxers sometimes get. The woman has another boxer at home, a one year old rescue. I told her about Miss Gracie also being a dark, brindle. We both said we’d never have a different breed as we are such boxer lovers. Gracie came bouncing out of the back area. I patted her and then Gracie went straight to the woman and gave her kisses as only boxers can. The woman told me Gracie was beautiful. That woman has a good eye.

Sunday has always been the quietest day of the week. When I was a kid, I’d go home after mass, change out of my Sunday clothes and mostly hang around the house. I’d read the comics and then settle in with my book. My mother would be making Sunday dinner, and my dad would be watching football. This time of year the house was always closed to keep the cold away. My dad would have climbed the ladder a few weeks back to take off the screens and replace them with the storm windows. It was always a process especially the part of getting the storm windows on the hooks. The closed house held in the best smells on Sundays, especially the aroma of whatever roast was baking in the oven. My favorite will always be roast beef. The smell of one baking still brings me home, to my childhood, to those quiet Sundays.

“Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes.”

January 10, 2014

The alarm went off at eight as it is breakfast Friday, the once a month get-together of women I worked with for years. I turned off the alarm, looked out the window, saw snow and went back to bed for another half hour. The breakfast is a come-if-you-can sort so I wasn’t expected. I’ll go next month.

The day is dreary. The snow, only a dusting, covers everything. Even the pines look sort of nice with their branches layered in snow. The birds were missing from the deck feeders during the coldest days, probably holed up in tight clumps of bushes or branches somewhere, but they returned in yesterday’s warmth, a word loosely used here, but they aren’t around again today. Only the red spawn was at the sunflower seeds. He does his trick of jumping from the deck rail to the squirrel buster feeder (note the feeder’s name), grabs a seed in flight then lands back on the rail to dine. I get crazed and usually chase him off the rail into the yard. I think I have him so paranoid that the door opening scares him right off the deck away from the seeds for most of the day. Banging my feet on the deck as I run at him probably helps too. I suspect the birds will return tomorrow when it is supposed to be 50˚.

I was all set for a dump run today, but now I’m not so sure. The dump is always cold with a strong wind which cuts to the bone, and I’ve had enough of bone-chilling cold this week. I’ll stave off my conscience by doing laundry, but if the afternoon looks better, Gracie and I can still do the dump run.

Christmas gives such color and brightness to the winter that I miss it terribly when it’s gone. I left my outside lights and my fake inside pine tree lit until the day after Little Christmas. My neighbors did the same. Now we have all gone dark except for my palm tree. It stands on deck near the backdoor and is bright green with a yellow trunk. My neighbors love my palm tree.

I crave color in winter. Even my winter wardrobe tends to be drab, utilitarian. The clothes are meant for warmth, not fashion. I could remedy that I suppose, but since my retirement I am seldom inclined to buy new clothes. I did buy a flannel shirt this winter, but that’s it. Maybe I’ll add a jaunty scarf in brilliant pink to my winter ensemble.

“Man’s goodness is a flame that can be hidden but never extinguished.”

December 6, 2013

The phone woke me up close to eleven. I just let it ring. It was a telemarketer who left no message, an assumption on my part but I think I’m right. I heard it all, including the click of the receiver, as I didn’t even bother to move to answer the phone. (I’m going to complain a bit here so skip down to line 9 if you want to miss the groaning.) My back is horrific every morning. I wake up, crawl my way to the edge of the bed and wait until the stiffness goes away. Mornings bring the worst of the pain. I wait, patient and still, until I can move without the neighbors hearing me scream. Gracie looks up, sees me sitting, decides all is well and lies right back down on the bed. Fern meows, turns on her back and expects scratches and pats: so much for their sympathy. Meanwhile, I am Igor working my way to the bathroom. As I move around, my back starts to feel better but the pain stays all day, just a bit abated. Monday I’ll give the doctor a call though I’m not sure which one-I guess the surgeon. I call them my stable of doctors.

(Line 9 for those skippers among you) Today is another rainy, dreary day, but I don’t mind a day like today in winter. Summer, though, is far different. I always think I’ve been cheated if a summer day isn’t perfect, but my standards are much lower for winter when a day can be anything. If I assumed for a moment the guise of Pollyanna and played her Glad Game, I’d say, “I’m glad it’s raining. At least it’s not snowing.” That almost makes me gag. I think I’m long past my Pollyanna days.

When I was sixteen, my family dragged me to Maine for a few days. We were at a friend’s cottage. One of the neighbors came in to say hello. She was from South Africa. I was intrigued and a bit jealous and told her Africa was one of the places I’d most like to visit. She asked if I was talking about colored Africa. Seriously, I missed entirely what she meant. It wasn’t naivety. It was just I hadn’t ever heard that term before. Into my head popped green tropical forests, cloths of patterns and colors and fruit: yellow, red, green fruit. I told her yes. She explained that my life would be in danger, and I would be a target, a white target. I started to argue because I then understood what she meant by colored Africa. My mother put a stop to my rantings and shooed me outside.

When I was in Ghana, we were told we could anywhere except South Africa. No one needed to explain why. South Africa was apartheid, and Peace Corps espouses the opposite. In all its literature, Peace Corps calls the commitment a cross-cultural experience, but it is so much more. For most of us, Ghana became home. We absorbed all we could and became part of the whole landscape of Ghana: its customs and its people, the wonderful colored people of Ghana.

Nelson Mandela guided South Africa from apartheid to multi-racial democracy. He served 27 years in prison and turned this imprisonment into a tool to create political change and national liberty. In 1993, Mandela and President de Klerk were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their work toward dismantling apartheid.

Nelson Mandela was inaugurated as the country’s first black president on May 10, 1994, at the age of 77, with de Klerk as his first deputy.

On December 5, 2013, at the age of 95, Nelson Mandela died at his home in Johannesburg, South Africa. President Zuma released a statement later that day, in which he spoke to Mandela’s legacy: “Wherever we are in the country, wherever we are in the world, let us reaffirm his vision of a society … in which none is exploited, oppressed or dispossessed by another.”