Posted tagged ‘friends’

“Remember, remember always, that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists.”

June 8, 2017

Gracie and I had two visits to the vets yesterday. The first was to check on her legs which had splayed and caused her to go down on the floor. The vet figured it was due to her legs being stiff after she was sleeping on the couch was so long. She got two new medicines. The second was at 10:00. It was to the 24-hour vet where the entrance fee is $177.00. Gracie had spent the evening grazing in the backyard and had been sick twice. One of the new pills caused vomiting, and I wanted to make sure she was okay. We were alone at first then two other dog and their humans joined us. One of the dogs had been attacked by a coyote. He had teeth marks on his haunches and his tail. He was especially nervous, peed three times and lapped the floor. It took a while for the dog to calm down. The other dog had had surgery earlier in the day and was bleeding. The bleeding dog left first. He was okay. Gracie got an x-ray, an anti-nausea shot and an IV to help her rehydrate. She got another new pill. We got home at 1:45.

Here I am sitting inside on a lovely warm day, a sunny day no less, watching television. I am watching the Comey hearing. I think I’m hoping for a revelation similar to finding out about the existence of the recordings during the Watergate hearings. Comey’s facts and written recordings of his meetings with Trump are in contrast to Trumps’s memories. Comey is quite believable.

All of my close friends are around my age, maybe a few years older or a few years younger. That’s one thing we have in common, our ages. We grew up in small towns or in cities, both in this state and a few others. One of my friends went to the same college I did, but the others went all over the place. One of my friends dates back to high school. Two are my neighbors, and I worked with most of the rest except my high school friend’s wife and the two friends I met in Ghana. The biggest thing we share is our politics. None of us voted for Trump. As far as I know, we all voted for McGovern. Somewhere along the line, all of our experiences made us liberals. Maybe it was the 60’s or opposition to the war. Maybe it was fallout after Nixon, but I think it was well before Nixon. We were lucky enough to find each other and to become friends, kindred spirits, kindred souls. Sharing politics is just icing on the cake.

“I fear thee not, O untried morrow!”

January 1, 2017

Happy 2017!

Today is far too warm for January, the mid-40’s. It is truly sweatshirt weather. I’d be disappointed if I were a kid who got a new sled for Christmas. This is new bike weather.

When I was in my 20’s, I wore dresses or skirts and blouses to work. After work, I lived in flannel and denim. My friends and I didn’t need an excuse to party. Cheap wine, some chips, and a bowl of onion dip were all we needed. We often went to Friday happy hours. I can’t remember a weekend when we didn’t get together. I was young.

I’m older now and I’m thinking life just happens so my plans for the new year are simple. My dance card is mostly empty. I’ll survive the winter with good humor even if it snows. We’ll do summer movies on the deck. I’ve bought a few already. I’m thinking a lot of grilling. I’ve been saving recipes. I have no travel plans except for my yearly visit to New Hampshire.

I watched 2017 arrive last night. I wanted to make sure 2016 was gone for good. It wasn’t my favorite year though I do have some wonderful memories. My trip to Ghana tops my list. Way back in 1971 when I left Ghana, I had hope I would return, but I could never have guessed how wonderful that first return would be, and that there would be multiple return trips. Bolga is my familiar Ghanaian home again. I shop in the market, eat all my favorite Ghanaian food, and spend time with my former students. Traveling with my friends Bill and Peg this September brought back old memories and made new ones. I figure I have been amazingly lucky to have had such friends. When I was young, I hoped my life would be filled with adventure. It has been and now I have a new year to fill with more.

“They talked in the shorthand of old friends and shared memories.”

November 6, 2015

My friends have left. The house is just so quiet without them, but luckily Gracie is snoring which is sort of keeping me company. We had a wonderful time together. The weather was perfect, nearly 70˚ each day. Today is raining but ever so lightly. It is still warm. I have had the heat off and windows open the last three days. The cold will start returning tomorrow.

On Wednesday we rode around Hyannis and Hyannisport. We went by the Kennedy Compound then drove a different road back, all the more to see. That night we had dinner at Karoo’s, a South African restaurant with a cuisine quite different from Ghana’s. Two of my other friends joined us. We stayed talking and laughing long after we had finished dinner. Yesterday we went to the Kennedy Museum and the Kennedy Memorial then I took my friends to lunch at Jerry’s where I’ve been eating since high school days. The original Jerry is long gone, but the name and the good food remain. I showed my friends where my family lived, and we did a nostalgia tour. Last night was dinner at home.

The three of us, Bill, Peg and I, will be going back to Ghana together next October. We’ve already started talking about the trip. Grace, a former student, is building a house in Bolga and hopes to have it finished so we can stay there. We’re making a list of places we want to see. I mean, really, it’s only a year away!

Being with my friends is always comfortable. They are family. We shared a unique experience which created a bond so strong that time can never break it. We have stories which still make us laugh and we have a history. We met during staging in Philadelphia at the Hotel Sylvania. Staging is when the trainees get together for the first time, meet each other, have all our paperwork checked and see slides and hear lectures about Ghana. Bill and Peg were my kindred spirits as we skipped the large group events and went sightseeing. In Ghana we were first posted far apart as Peg was pregnant and PC wanted her near a decent hospital. They stayed there for a year then I talked my principal into asking Peace Corps to transfer them to my school. The three of them, Bill, Peg and Kevin, came and we lived in a duplex. That was the beginning of all our adventures.

“The great thing about getting older is that you don’t lose all the other ages you’ve been.”

August 17, 2014

My dad used to tell me the story of my birth. The hospital was in the same town where my mother’s family lived so my father kept driving back and forth with updates. My aunt was getting married that very day and was not happy her beauty sleep was being interrupted by my dad. My grandmother told her to deal with it. After all, this would be the birth of her first grandchild. Later, back at the hospital, my dad was sitting in the waiting room, the only one there. Finally a nurse came in and asked for Mr. Ryan. My father, after a hectic, exhausting night, said, “Who in the hell do you think I am?” She had him follow her, and they were just wheeling my mother out when he saw her and me. That never usually happened. Most times the father first saw his wife when she was in bed and the new baby in a bassinet in the nursery. My mother always complained she looked awful and should have had time to clean up. “What is it? was his first question. The it was girl. The it was me. It was around 3 AM when I arrived. I still like a good entrance.

I have been most fortunate. My life is filled with loving family, the best of friends and countless adventures. I have lived in Africa. Who could have predicted that? In Ecuador, I stood with one foot in each hemisphere. That is just so cool. I have the best aim when it comes to holes in the ground making me an overachiever in such an important skill. My friends make me laugh and give my life joy. My two sisters are amazing. They love making fun of me, but they’d be here in a heartbeat if I needed them. My friends and I have traditions like celebrating the first day of spring by watching the sunrise over the ocean, playing Sunday night games before The Amazing Race, Saturday night movies on the deck, Easter at the Ocean House and impromptu nights with munchies and games. My Peace Corps friends are back in my life and I am so much the better for knowing them. My former Ghanaian students too are back in my life. Two called and wished me a Happy Birthday today. KTCC has given me close friends for whom I am always thankful.

Okay, there have been ups and downs and bruises, but they never soured me on life. They made more grateful for what I have and taught me resilience and how best to land with the least amount of injury.

This morning my friend Clare left a mum on my front walkway. She does this every year, and it is one of favorite birthday traditions. Yesterday afternoon my friends took me to the Ocean House for a late lunch by the water. The food was scrumptious, the view spectacular and the drinks mighty tasty. They went down far too easily. They also gave me a Sharknado t-shirt I’ll wear with pride. When I got home, I took a nap. It was 6 o’clock. I woke up at 8. Tonight another friend is taking me to dinner. I expect it will be an early bedtime.

Every morning I am thankful for the new day and for whatever surprises it will bring.

“I am content; that is a blessing greater than riches; and he to whom that is given need ask no more.”

April 21, 2014

Today is lovely. The sun is brilliant and the sky a deep blue. It is 53˚. Today is Patriot’s Day in Massachusetts. The day commemorates the first battles of the Revolutionary War in Lexington and Concord. Today is the running of the Boston Marathon. Yesterday was the one year anniversary of the bombings. This year’s race has already started. All of the runners are on their way to Boston. The Red Sox are playing the Orioles, and that game has started. On Patriot’s Day the game starts at the odd hour of eleven. Today the Sox are wearing home jerseys which say Boston, instead of Red Sox to honor the city and the day.

Nothing is on my dance card for the rest of today. When I woke up this morning, I stayed in bed and read for a while. I finally got out of bed, put the coffee on and went out to fill the bird feeders. I was reading the papers when the phone rang. It was my friend waiting for me at the diner. I had totally forgotten our usual Monday breakfast. We rescheduled for tomorrow.

Dinner yesterday was wonderful. We got one of our favorite tables on the porch next to the wall of windows. I could see the small crests of the waves glinting in the sun as they rolled to shore. The water was calm. It was warm beside the window. I was glad for the short sleeve dress I had worn. The waiter told us to keep an eye on the line of scrub bushes on the sand as a mother fox lived there with her kits. We kept watch but didn’t see them. We each ordered a drink and shared truffle fries. We toasted the day and chatted a while before we ordered dinner. The restaurant was filled but not noisy. Men wore jackets and women were dressy. It is that sort of a restaurant. I had a flat iron steak, smashed potatoes and asparagus for dinner. The meal was delicious. I couldn’t eat dessert, but I topped off the dinner with a laced coffee sugared around the rim. When I got home, I let Gracie out, went upstairs to change then decided I really needed a nap. I slept for a couple of hours. It was the deep sleep of the contented.

“If you live in each other’s pockets long enough, you’re related.”

April 15, 2013

I have always thought of Keep the Coffee Coming as a community, a family. We get to chat with each other, share memories and have a laugh or two sometimes at our own expenses. One of my favorite Coffee experiences is learning about the world from all of you and about your childhoods and your holidays and traditions. Some family members have been with me for years, and I cherish them but I also cherish the newest members of the family. I think of Coffee as a place devoid of criticism or controversy, a place where we can all feel comfortable with each other.

My friend Hedley has decided not to return to Coffee. Though he has been with me for what seems like the best and longest time, he has decided not to visit again. I wrote him an e-mail wondering if he was okay as I hadn’t heard from him in a while. It was then he told me that there were so many anti-British comments made he felt uncomfortable at the very least and pained enough by the comments that he didn’t feel welcome here any more. He is my friend and I will miss him and his wonderful comments.

I decided that I would tell this to all of you so that maybe it won’t happen again and just maybe Hedley will return. We can’t like everything and we don’t always agree, but we should always respect one another.

I do have one story for the day and I’ll call it Gracie, the Possum and Me. Gracie was sleeping and snoring beside me on the couch around 12:30 last night when she jumped up and ran outside. Right away I heard banging and a noise I couldn’t identify so I grabbed my flashlight and went out on the deck. I flashed the light all over the backyard and finally saw Gracie near the right side of the deck. Then I noticed the dead possum at the foot of the deck stairs. It was a huge, adult possum, as ugly as they come. I went down the cellar and couldn’t find my shovel so I grabbed a hoe and a garden fork missing one tine so I could get rid of the deceased. I went out the cellar door which is right near the stairs. It was then the possum got up and started walking. Gracie ran and grabbed it and I ran and screamed so Gracie dropped it. The possum had only been playing dead and had done a great job. I was completely fooled. After Gracie dropped it, the possum looked dead again, but I didn’t go too close and instead stood guard. Gracie kept running the perimeter of the yard and up the other deck stairs to my side stairs trying to get at the possum. I thwarted her every time. Gracie did that at least seven times. I was totally frustrated as I didn’t dare leave the possum and so I couldn’t lock the gates on the deck to catch Gracie. Finally Gracie was on the stairs near me long enough for me to talk to her, and she came right to me. I grabbed her and brought her inside and gave her a treat for coming. I decided to leave the possum until morning. The whole escapade was over at 1:20.

The first thing I did this morning was check for the possum before I let Gracie out. The possum had done it again, superbly played dead, and had gotten away while we were inside the house. I let Gracie out, and she went looking. Sorry, Gracie, the possum is gone!

“Christmas is a day of meaning and traditions, a special day spent in the warm circle of family and friends.”

December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas, My Friends

No white Christmas here: it’s raining. I don’t mind though. It’s the day we celebrate, not the weather. My Christmas trees are lit and are bright with color. It took no time for the bubble lights to perk. I watched and waited. My friend and I met for Christmas breakfast, a tradition only three years old. It was at our usual Sunday spot, and this morning every booth was taken. The coffee was free, a Christmas gift from Tom and Nancy who own the diner. I bought bacon for Gracie.

Our gifts were always in the same place by the tree every Christmas. They were artfully displayed with a doll in the high chair, books front and center and games leaning so we could see them right away. We always got new games. The year of my brother’s bike had a different spin. The bike was in the kitchen, hidden so he’d be surprised. My father sent my brother for matches in he kitchen, and he got them without even seeing his bike. Finally my parents brought him to the kitchen and turned on the lights. I remember his bike had blinkers so he could signal his turns. My parents always acted surprised at what Santa had left.

In the afternoon, after Christmas dinner, we’d go to my grandparents’ house. My mother was one of eight children and all of them, but the two who still lived at home, brought their families there. Those two, an aunt and an uncle, were around my age, the aunt even younger than I. We hated leaving our presents at home, but we knew they’d be more when we got to East Boston to my grandparents’ house. Their tree was in the small room, and the room was filled with presents for all of us, for the grandchildren. My grandmother also had chocolates to hand out, Santas or reindeer. Spaghetti was always hot on the stove. It was one meal she could make enough of for all of us, the aunt, uncles and cousins.

We’d stay until early evening when my father would have us gather everything up, say goodbye and thank you to my grandparents then we’d grab our coats and head to the car. We always fell asleep on the way home from East Boston. Christmas was the most wonderful day.

“We’ll be Friends Forever, won’t we, Pooh?’ asked Piglet. Even longer,’ Pooh answered.”

October 22, 2012

The weather, other than Friday’s rain, was lovely all weekend. Though I had missed the peak foliage in New Hampshire, in Mont Vernon, there was still enough color to make every view spectacular especially the one from the top of a hill close to Bill and Peg’s house. Stretched out in front of me were rows and rows of trees in reds and yellows. The whole scene, unblemished by wires or houses or roads, made me think impressionism, of a panoramic painting left as a gift for all of us.

Gracie, other than when she jumped out of the car and started running up and down the street as soon as we arrived, was a perfect guest. Bill walked her all over including a 2 and 1/2 mile hike on Saturday and a shorter but more memorable walk on Sunday when Gracie saw her first porcupine and was unfazed. By the end of the weekend, she had settled right in and on Sunday morning was stretched on the couch between Peg and me with her head resting on Peg while she napped and snored.

I hadn’t seen my friends in forty-one years. We were in Bolga together for a year and have the most amazing shared memories. We even have many of the same pictures, and their living room has several of the same Ghanaian crafts I have in mine. Our reunion was seamless, as if I had been with them all along in time. We laughed a lot remembering things like our motorcycle accidents, his and mine were both caused by goats, and the trips we took together to Ouagadougou, Togo and Benin, which was Dahomey in our day. We had dinner together most nights in Bolga, and Bill remembered endless meals of goat. In one picture of theirs, both our motorcycles, his red and mine grey, were parked in front of their side of the duplex. Bill asked why I had parked there as if we could conjure the memory, as if it were just a few weeks ago. The weekend made me realize that Bill and Peg are the dear friends I’ve held tightly in my memories all these years, older, but mostly unchanged.

“I refuse to believe that trading recipes is silly. Tuna fish casserole is at least as real as corporate stock.”

June 4, 2012

Third day in a row of rain and that damp cold. It is only 52° right now, and there is a wind which makes it feel colder. Last night was a snuggle under the blanket night as I had my bedroom window open. Fern and Gracie were huddled beside me for the warmth.

Dinner was a smashing success. The curry was perfect. It had enough heat to make it interesting, and the taste of the fruit and the curry together was like a rainbow of colors bursting in your mouth. The coconut ice cream and the chocolate sea salt caramel was a perfect ending to the meal. The sauce was extraordinary and the salt gave it the most amazingly wonderful flavor. The talking stopped when the dessert eating began. I prepared the appetizers and the chicken and spices then John and Michelle came and John took over with the chopping and the sauce making. I loved it. I got to sit and enjoy my company. Michelle and I sat in the dining room so we could keep John company while he minced and chopped. After dinner, my guests cleaned up. That was wonderful and I was profusely thankful. I am always exhausted after cooking for hours and then having to clean up, usually by myself. All that’s left is to put away the dishes!

It was so wonderful having Michelle and John here. She got to put faces to names and see the house. Michelle is a Coffee reader so she knew my friends and had a picture in her head of what my house must look like based on what she has been reading. Michelle took lots of pictures. My friends easily took to Michelle and John. It boggles my mind that Michelle and I first met in 1969, and when we see each other, our friendship never skips a beat. I love John and I love his patience with Michelle and me when we reminisce. Their visit was all too short but they’re off for the rest of their vacation, three more weeks on the road. They’ll make Bangor today.

I’m going to take it easy today and finish reading the Sunday papers I didn’t get to read between watching the flotilla and making the dinner preparations.

I’m back! My electricity went off, and I wondered if a giant rat had eaten all my wires, but I used my cell and called my friend down the street. He had none either. I could rest easily!

“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.”

November 19, 2011

Streets and backyards are covered with brown oak leaves, recent victims of the last three days of winds. Pine needles in the front yard cover the lawn and garden. My world is drab and messy.

Today Miss Gracie is six years old. After I finish here, we have to go to Agway for dog food so she’ll get to pick a couple of gifts and a treat or two. Gracie won’t think this too special as it happens almost every time we go to Agway. Dogs are meant to be spoiled.

I sent out my Thanksgiving cards today and they got me thinking. Thanksgiving is the least pretentious of all the holidays. No colored lights gleam in the darkness, no special decorations or costumes or new spring clothes are any part of the day. Christmas has Santa and Easter has its bunny, but Thanksgiving just has itself which is more than enough. It is the one holiday without the hustle and bustle of days of preparation. It is a day when we can take time to remember the people we love and the people we have loved. We get to be thankful for being together, and we get to share a sumptuous meal. I think the sharing of food is one of the most intimate moments which brings people together.

When my Ghanaian student, now a woman in her fifties, was here we all sat and ate a Ghanaian dinner. It was the sharing of a culture, of my memories and experiences and of the bond which has held strong between Francisca and me despite the forty years since we last saw each other. It was more than a meal: it was a celebration of friendship and family.

On Thanksgiving, most of us have a turkey at center stage. We cook foods we’ve eaten since childhood, foods which connect the years, strengthen the bonds between family and friends and touch all of our memories. I can’t imagine a Thanksgiving without green bean casserole or Tony’s grandmother’s cole slaw or my mother’s squash dish. This year, as on every Thanksgiving Day, I will be thankful for the years of memories, for the gifts from this one unpretentious day.


%d bloggers like this: