Posted tagged ‘fall day’

“The Peace Corps is guilty of enthusiasm and a crusading spirit. But we’re not apologetic about it.”

September 10, 2021

The day so far has been perfectly lovely. Yesterday and all last night it rained, heavily at times. It was still raining at four so I don’t know when it stopped. Everything is damp, except the air. It is dry and only 73˚. The sun has a sharpness, and the cool breeze sways small branches and leaves. The dogs are in and out. I can hear them chasing each other in the yard. I can hear their growls as they chew each other. I’ve opened all the windows to freshen the house.

My friend Bill sent out an article about 60 years of Peace Corps. The article said, “Peace Corps embraces cultural understanding…” I remember from the start we learned languages to use every day. We asked no more than anyone else. We became part of the community as teachers who taught at the training college. I was madam as all female teachers were. We did our best.

Bill wrote a note with the article saying he knows he talks a lot about Ghana and Peace Corps, but they had a profound influence on the rest of his life, on who he became. I know exactly what he means. I think most returned volunteers feel the same way. When I went back to Ghana for the first time in forty years, Accra had become a city of note, a sprawling city with neighborhoods, only a few of which I remembered. Adabraca was where the Peace Corps hostel was. We just told any taxi driver Adabraca, and he’d take us to the hostel. Where else would young and white go? One taxi driver told me he hated Peace Corps because we knew the right price. I didn’t find any of the old Accra Peace Corps haunts like Tala’s (I don’t know about the spelling), a wonderful Lebanese restaurant. We’d get a huge plate of hummus, on a flat plate, more like a round of hummus. In the middle, the hummus had sesame oil and around the top circle of the plate was a round of hot pepper. You dipped pita bread, one into the other. It is still my favorite way to eat hummus. We’d get what Talal called a Peace Corps pizza, a round of pita bread with cheese and chopped tomato inside. The bread was fried so the cheese melted. It was really good.

I apologize for the tangent. That happens. Anyway my Peace Corps experience also influenced the rest of my life, the choices I made. I wasn’t always happy, but I mostly was. When Bill, Peg and I found each other again, I wasn’t even surprised that we remembered so much of each other. I wasn’t at all surprised we shared the same politics. We still liked each other a whole lot. We had some wonderful experiences. I still laugh about the sacred rock and the river in Philadelphia.

I too will often write about Ghana. As with Bill and Peg, my experiences influenced the rest of my life and have become ingrained in who I am. For that, I am very thankful. I am also very thankful to you, my Coffee family, who indulges my memories.

“Flowers… are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty outvalues all the utilities of the world.”

October 2, 2017

I’m getting used to these beautiful fall days. Earlier, the morning was crispy and chilly, but the bright sun has dispelled the chill. The sky is a deep blue. A breeze shakes the branches, and more leaves keep falling, mostly oak leaves. I was excited and surprised to see newly bloomed flowers in my front garden. The flowers are purple, and that’s all I know about them. Now,hite and purple flowers are blooming in the front beds. It as if the garden is giving me its last gifts before the end of fall, before the coming winter.

I slept the whole night last night. The phone woke me at 8:15. It was a robo-call which I didn’t answer. Ten minutes later there was another call, but this one I answered. I knew the caller. Gracie then joined me on the couch, and we both went back to sleep.  The phone woke me again, and I cursed until I saw the time. It was late morning, close to ten. I answered the call then got up and began my morning rituals.

I am getting braced for the coldest times of year, for winter. In Ghana this time of year I braced for the dry season, for the total lack of rain for at least 5 months. I knew intense heat was coming with days hot enough to melt my unlit candle, but I also knew a reprieve was coming. The nights would start to get chilly, not New England chilly but chilly by comparison with the days. The temperature dropped over 30˚ every night. My bedroom had two rows of louvered windows; one row was the whole length of the wall beside my bed while the other was a single louvered window on the end wall next to the armoire. I’d leave the windows opened. It got cold, but feeling cold was glorious. I’d snuggle under the wool blanket I kept on my bed. I still have that blanket and keep it folded over the back of my couch. It brings smile from all the memories. It is also pretty itchy. I guess I forgot that part.

“Where would we be without salt?”

October 20, 2016

Today I feel lazy. I woke up early but have done nothing of any substance unless you count reading 2 papers and drinking 3 cups of coffee. I’m counting them.

Yesterday I was busy. First was helping at the high school from 8-11. It was a practical exercise for the seniors to give them an idea of an adult’s budget, what salary each might make and what had to be deducted from that salary. I actually had to set my alarm to get up in time. In the early afternoon, I spent an hour and half with my neighbor. We are working to improve her English. After that was a quick trip to the lab then we went to the dump. I didn’t settle in at home until close to 4. I figure a busy day earns me a lazy day.

For the most part, I watched the debate last night. I chuckled a few times and groaned every time Donald sniffed. Had I been in college the sniffing would have prompted a great drinking game. Some of his comments were frightening.

Sometimes I have a craving for salt. That always reminds me of the Star Trek episode where Kirk, Bones and a doomed crew member beam down to a planet so Bones can give his former girl friend, Nancy, and her husband physicals. Nancy is really a shift-shaping monster who sucks salt from peoples’ bodies. Sometimes I totally understand that need, but most times Lay’s potato chips work for me. Today is a beautiful day. It is cooler than it has been, but that’s okay as it’s been far too hot for this time of year. My house is chilly. I had windows open all night. I’m wearing a sweatshirt and my feet are cold. I do hate cold feet.

“My dog is worried about the economy because Alpo is up to $3.00 a can. That’s almost $21.00 in dog money.”

November 16, 2015

Oh the morning I’ve had! Gracie and I went to the vets as she has been licking one spot and is also dripping drool (not a pretty sight) from one side of her mouth. The licking was because she has a diaper rash or what would be a diaper rash if she were a baby. It is in the same area a baby’s rash would be. The vet told me to baby wipe her rash and then use Gold Pond powder. As for the drool, she has this little hanging thing down from her gums. It isn’t uncommon. She also has really bad teeth, but I already knew that and have tried to clean them unsuccessfully. The vet recommended surgery to clean her teeth and get rid of the hangy thing. The problem is she has an irregular heart beat so surgery could be a problem. I had to make an appointment at the cardiologist’s office for Gracie to be evaluated. The vet complimented me when he said Gracie looks great. Her fur is shiny and she has held her weight.

My brother-in-law said he and my sister would like to fly me to Colorado for Christmas, and I would love to go, but Gracie presents a problem. I have been calling kennels all over the cape looking for a spot for her over Christmas but have not been successful as it is so late and all the places are booked except one, but Gracie doesn’t like other dogs so she can’t be in the general population where there is space. She needs solitary confinement. I have connected with friends hoping they had friends who might like to stay here while I’m gone. Prospects are looking grim.

Today is a perfect fall day. It is sweatshirt weather, warm and sunny. The air is still. The shower of pine needles has stopped for now. The sunlight is different this time of year. Every day as it moves it seems to touch different places than it did even as close the day before.

I have to fill the feeders and clean the bird bath as the poor birds were disappointed this morning. Even the woodpecker was checking for seeds. Luckily I have suet.

Gracie is asleep on the couch and she’s snoring. It has been a busy morning for her and for me too as I also had to stop at the store for baby wipes.

I see a nap for me coming on in the near future

“Never invest in any idea you can’t illustrate with a crayon.”

October 26, 2015

Today is the epitome of a perfect fall day. The sun is shining with that sharp glint it seems to have only in the fall and winter. The temperature is in the mid 50’s. A small breeze is blowing. Some trees still have color, but others have brown leaves clinging ever so slightly. The last of my flowers are still in bloom. The rest of the garden is filled with brown stalks. Soon they too will be gone as it is close to clearing the garden time. The deck is still open but I’ve called Skip to come and cover the furniture and the umbrellas and stow away the candles and decorations which made the deck so inviting last summer. I think when winter comes I miss the deck most of all.

When I was in elementary school, in the lower grades, art was mostly cutting and coloring. I remember coloring leaves. On a single piece of paper, there were a few outlines of leaf shapes each with a vein down the middle. We’d color them with our crayons then cut them out using those little scissors which always seemed to get stuck on my fingers. The leaves were yellow or red as all the real leaves were. After we’d cut them out, we’d paste them on construction paper to make a collage. I remember the paste seemed to get on everything, including my fingers. We used a round bottle of paste which had a brush attached to the top. I could never get just the right amount of paste on the leaves. Sometimes the leaves stuck to my fingers and when I pulled them off, the leaves stuck to my other fingers. My collage took a long time to finish, and sometimes the back of the paper was wet from the paste leaking through. I’d wave it in the air hoping it would dry. I always put it between books when I was going home or it would curl.

My mother made a big deal of my art work. I beamed.

“Clothes make a statement. Costumes tell a story.”

October 28, 2014

Today is one of those fall days we all remember from when we were kids walking to school. The morning air has a bit of a nip, but it will get warmer as the day gets older. You can just feel it. The sun is shining through the leaves and branches of the trees in the backyard. It is a muted sun, not the bright sun of summer. The year is moving along.

Halloween was always the topic of conversation around this time. With only a few days to go the planning got intense. It was time to scour the house for the perfect costume. We all knew being a ghost was the fallback. We wanted more. We didn’t have zombies back then or I would have been one. Frankenstein made a few appearances. Walking with your arms straight out was part of the look. That gave the hint as to which monster you were. Hobos were easy but not at all scary. Cowboys needed only a hat and a gun belt. I was never the fairy or ballerina type. I remember one year my sister wore her tutu. Fake blood and scars on your face were a must. The scars always had black stitches. My mother did the make-up. She also hunted for the parts for our costumes. The only thing she usually bought in Woolworth’s was a mask for each of us. The best one was like the Lone Ranger’s because you never got hot and sweaty wearing it. A pirate was a good costume, and every pirate I knew only had one eye. Boys sometimes wore dresses and hats and girls had jackets, ties and fedoras. I remember being a hobo with a stubble on my face and wearing clothes which had seen better days. We usually carried pillow slips instead of bags.

At the neighbors’ houses we stopped the longest because they chatted and pretended not to know who we were. The little kids didn’t go far afield. My brother and I wandered all over town. When the house lights started to go out, we went home with our treasures. It was time to do inventory.

“Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them.”

September 6, 2013

Last night was put an afghan on the bed and close the windows cold. It was a delight. I slept soundly and late, didn’t wake up until 9:30. My mother would have said I must have needed the sleep. I watched the Sox and Yankees until 11:30 then read for an hour. Fern and Gracie stayed close to me in bed. They must have been chilly.

Today is a beautiful day with a feeling of fall about it. The sunlight is sharp and warm, but it drifts in and out of clouds. Fern is stretched in the sun by the front door.

It is so quiet here. The kids are all in school, not a single lawnmower can be heard, the house next door is empty for the season and I don’t think I’ve even heard a car go up the busy street at the end of my road. I like the silence.

My life has been amazing and now and then I think about it and give thanks. The other day I talked to Grace in Accra for a long time and last week I called Rose Atiah in Bolga. I just picked up the phone, called Ghana and spoke to students I taught in 1969. It is still a little mind-boggling to me that I actually lived in Africa for a little over two years. Who gets that lucky?  I worked for 35 years doing something I loved. Granted, I still groaned when the alarm went off at 5, but I never really minded going to work. I never considered it a grind. Every day was somehow different despite the sameness of the tasks. I got to retire early, nine years ago, and I love every day and am seldom bored. I can to sit outside on the deck in the morning with my papers and coffee and linger as long as I want. Who gets that lucky? I have traveled many places in the world and have seen the most glorious sights, pages of my geography books come to life. I dreamed I would travel, and my dreams came true just like in a Disney movie. Cinderella went to the ball. I went to Machu Picchu.

I have one errand left over from yesterday’s long list, but there’s no big hurry. I have all day.

“The world was hers for the reading.”

November 17, 2012

No question about the day: it’s a late fall day, a pre-winter sort of day when the air is cold, the sun is shining providing light but no heat and the sky is a brilliant blue, the sort of blue which only comes in the clear air of a cold day. The leaves still left on the trees in the backyard are brown. I look outside and it is uninviting, even with the sun. I’ll venture out later to fill the feeders and pick up some paper towels Gracie stole from the trash bag on the kitchen floor. She is quite particular about what she takes and she always sneaks out the dog door with her treasures. I’ve yet to catch her in the act.

I’m watching the worst movie, a 1940 film called Out West with the Peppers, a sequel to The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew which I watched a few weeks ago. I chose it over a syfy channel film about a creature which lives on light and energy, a creature which looks a lot like the crawling roots of a tree. I read a few books from The Five Little Peppers’ series when I was young. I got the first book for Christmas one year so I figure it’s a bit of nostalgia which has me watching.

I have nothing planned for the day except the usual: make the bed, take a shower and get dressed in sloppy comfortable clothes. I’m thinking I might even fold and bring up the laundry which has been sitting in the dryer for a few days. There’s also a cabinet which could use some organizing so that goes on the possibility list. That’s about all I can come up with for now. I figure it’s enough.

“Come, pensive nun, devout and pure, sober steadfast, and demure, all in a robe of darkest grain, flowing with majestic train.”

October 2, 2012

It is another beautiful fall day with lots of sunshine. The breeze is ever so slight and just ruffles the leaves. When I closed down the deck, I left out a table and a comfy chair so I can enjoy days like today. That’s where I’ve been for the last couple of hours. I fed the birds and read a while then figured it was time to get on with my day. I came inside but oh so reluctantly.

I have a couple of errands today, left over from yesterday. One I couldn’t do and the other I forgot to do. Looks like I’ll be putting four or five more miles on the car this week!

I wore uniforms for almost my entire time in school, from grades 1 though grade 11. They made it easy to choose what to wear, and uniforms made us all equal. My grades 1 though 8 uniform was a blue skirt, a white blouse and a blue tie: a cowboy tie is what we used to call it. The skirts had to be at least half-way down the knee. I remember the eighth grade when crazy Sister Hildegarde was my teacher, and she went after a girl who had rolled the waist of her skirt to make it shorter. Eleanor Garland was the girl’s name. It is a name I’ve never forgotten as the incident was so awful. To make it even worse, Eleanor was somehow related to crazy Sister Hildegarde, and we all knew it. I can still remember Sister Hildegarde storming down the aisle to the back desk, her veil blowing behind her, where she made Eleanor stand up. We always thought of her as poor Eleanor even before the incident. She had teeth which needed braces, was too skinny, not all that bright and was really shy. To have rolled her skirt so high was a defiant, rebellious Eleanor none of us recognized but should have applauded en mass when the incident happened. I’ll never forget Sister Hildegarde standing in front of poor Eleanor berating and yelling at her. Crazy Sister Hildegarde then  grabbed the hem of Eleanor’s skirt and pulled it down to where the rules said it should be. Eleanor never moved and crazy Sister Hildegarde never stopped yelling. Poor Eleanor cried silently, tears streaming down her face. She was humiliated and we were horrified. When Sister Hildegarde was finally finished her attack, Eleanor was told to sit down. She did so without a word. None of us said anything either. We turned around to let Eleanor have as much privacy as a room full of kids and a crazy nun could give her.

After graduating from the eighth grade, I went to a Catholic high school where every one of the nuns was sane. It was in a different town. I never saw Eleanor after the eighth grade. I sometimes wonder about her.

“A good holiday is one spent among people whose notions of time are vaguer than yours.”

September 19, 2010

Steam rose from the wet bark of the pine tree earlier this morning as the sun moved across the morning sky, and its warmth reached the bark. Today is the sort of fall day when outside is warmer than inside. The deck is bathed in sunlight. As is my wont, I stood for a while outside to take measure of the day. I noticed my neighbor has strung red and blue balloons around his deck. At four o’clock this afternoon is the party for his three year old son, and I’ve been invited. Sebastian, my neighbor, has asked me twice to make sure I’m coming. I have a feeling the party might be a bit like every evening when I sat in the living room of my Ghanaian father’s house in Bawku. The room was filled with people who spoke Hausa, and I understood very little. I just nodded my head and smiled a lot. Sebastian and his family are Brazilians, and when they are together or have company, I hear Portuguese more than I hear English. I suspect I’ll be nodding and smiling a lot.

I have been combing through travel sites looking for a place to go this fall, but nothing has piqued my interest. When air fares are posted mid-week, I look for a flight to somewhere exotic, to somewhere a bit different. I remember getting off the plane in Marrakesh and smelling unfamiliar spices in the air. I remember the trip from the airport when I first saw the ancient pink wall surrounding the old part of the city and  calishes traveling along the sides of the roads. I remember smiling and waving at the passengers. I knew I had chosen well. I want that same feeling again.

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