Posted tagged ‘Gracie’

“Dear Government… I’m going to have a serious talk with you if I ever find anyone to talk to.”

May 24, 2013

Last night the rains were torrential. When the dog barked and woke me up, I could hear the rain beating on the roof. I called Gracie back upstairs, and she came but was unsettled. She doesn’t mind rain or thunder so I figured she had rung her bells to go out, and I hadn’t heard. The barks were her next hope of waking me. We went downstairs, and I opened the back door. The rain was in sheets and so heavy I could barely see the yard. Gracie poked her head out then right back in again. I insisted she go out, and she did for far longer than I expected. I had translated well Gracie’s barks. When she came inside, she was soaked so I used a towel to dry her. It was 1:30. We both went upstairs. Gracie jumped on the bed and immediately fell asleep. I did not so I started reading and did so for about an hour before I could fall back to sleep. It is still raining but only slightly. Gracie is asleep.

Yesterday Grace, my former student, not to be confused with Gracie, called and said she had been denied a visitor’s visa. I was devastated as I have been so excited about Grace coming to visit in August. For her visa, we had researched everything she needed to bring to the embassy for the interview, including a letter of invitation from me. She even brought a picture of the two of us together plus a deed to her house, copies of her bank account and several other pieces of documentation proving she has ties to Ghana and will return. Not a single piece of all that documentation was read. She was asked a few questions including whether I lived alone and whether she was married. She is and had a letter from her husband supporting her vacation. Visa denied ten minutes later. No reason was given. I am so furious I can’t speak without spitting. I wrote a letter to the embassy with a copy to the State Department visa section, but I suspect that was an exercise in futility. I spent the morning going from US official site to site, made a few phone calls and listened to each menu none of which addressed my need. I’m stymied. We had all our ducks in a row, and the woman at the embassy didn’t care or even notice. I’m not stopping until I find a way for Grace to be heard!

Okay, I feel a bit better for having ranted a bit, but I just don’t get it. We did everything right, and it didn’t matter. Grace and I are but small voices crying in a sea of bureaucracy, and I am bound and gagged by red tape, compliments of the American Embassy in Accra. (Okay I admit those last two might have been a bit over the top!).

“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!

“Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing.”

February 26, 2013

Gracie is my barometer. She has been in and out all morning so I know it’s warm outside. When she first went out, I watched her run the perimeter of the yard at top speed. When she came inside, she was panting and had the usual amount of spit on her face. I also have the front door open for her. She loves to sit there for hours and look outside. My street, though, is so very small I can’t imagine what holds her attention except in the late afternoon when people walk their dogs by the house. That sends Gracie into a frenzy of barking and jumping at the door. She is not a lover of dogs unless she can meet them on her own terms: face to face with plenty of sniff time and no human interference.

Today is another I have nothing on my list to do day. Yesterday I finished all my chores and also swept and wet mopped the kitchen floor. I have no idea what compels me to do these household chores. I just know that every now and then I get the cleaning bug, a virus for which I wish there was a cure.

My mother didn’t work outside the house when we were kids. She spent the day at home doing laundry and cleaning. I know I always had clean clothes, my bed was made every day, the rug in the living room was vacuumed, my blouses and skirts were ironed and the dust was gone, but I seldom saw her cleaning. It was almost like the shoemaker and the elves, but it was really because my mother did it all when we were in school. The only thing I did see was my mother making dinner every night. In my mind’s eye, I can see her at the kitchen sink, her back to the door, as she peeled potatoes, cut them up and put them on to cook. The stove was behind her to the left on the wall opposite the sink. It was white. All the appliances were white back then. Harvest gold and avocado hadn’t yet made an appearance. The kitchen was small with very little counter space. The fridge was beside the sink with a small counter in between them. That’s where my mother kept her dish rack with a rubber mat underneath. The mat was opened at one end so the water from the dishes went back into the sink. My mother believed in air drying dishes. I do too.

“The sky is the daily bread of the eyes.”

January 31, 2013

The wind howled all night and rain pounded against the windows. I heard it when the coughing woke me up, but I didn’t mind being awakened as I might have missed the rain, one of my favorite sounds. The howling wind was a bonus. It could have been from the soundtrack of an old black and white horror movie, like The Werewolf.

Yesterday morning I called my friend of over forty years, and he thought I was a guy named Paul. That was it for me. I called the doctor. They wanted me in right away. I think my coughing during the phone call worked to great effect. Come to find out my cold has morphed into bronchitis and was working its way toward pneumonia. I’m on all sorts of stuff right now which should make me sound far less like Paul and more like me.

It’s still windy and rainy. I had to convince Gracie to go out this morning then I ran for the papers and yesterday’s mail which was still in the box. The mail was boring. I have to get Gracie’s license today. It is, of course, the very last day to get it without an extra fee. I like living on the edge!

At the doctor’s they told me I needed to rest. I almost laughed out loud. Rest is my middle name. I love a good afternoon nap.

Because I haven’t seen anyone or been anywhere, my life has no new stories and no new people. I communicate entirely by phone. I spend the day reading and relaxing. I know, I know, a really tough way to while away the day. I’ve been reading David Baldacci, The Forgotten, and I like it. I stretch out on the couch with my afghan covering me and my dog beside me. If I weren’t sick, I’d think my life idyllic.

The rain has stopped, and the sun is out. The sky is mostly blue. I can still hear the wind, and through my window I can see the swaying branches of the oak and pine. It looks like a pretty day.

“…I have to go home and get a few things done. If I don’t get out the Pledge soon, the dust bunnies are going to be leaving tracks on my furniture…”

January 15, 2013

When I went to get the papers, I notice green shoots, probably dafs as they are usually the first. I wanted to yell and tell them to stay down as winter still has the stage. I suspect they have been fooled by all these days in the 40’s, like today. Even the nights have been warm.

No sun again. It is a damp, grey day, the sort where there must have been fog over the river early this morning, but I slept in even though I had set my alarm. I had a couple of mice get trapped last night. They each made so much noise I got up and went outside to let them go. No car this time. I just walked a bit down the street and freed each from the trap. It was a good thing I did as I found a package on my front steps. It was raining then so by morning the package would have been soaked. I was home all day so I have no idea why the package was left outside.

I have been busy of late cleaning weird places in the house, like the fridge, and last night I cleaned my bookcase, the travel route for the bedroom mice. I was tired so I went upstairs around ten and that’s when I noticed the bookcase near my bed was dusty, a Miss Haversham type dust. It’s only a two-shelf bookcase so I figured why not. I’m a near-sighted fool sometimes. Besides books, there are old Barkley lead figures on the shelves, and they were so dust-covered it was difficult to see their colors. I got on the floor, took them all off, cleaned the shelves then cleaned each of the figures. When that bookcase was done, I went to the big one, the one which is the length of the side wall and has four shelves all the way across. On the top shelf, I found the mouse route. I cleaned that shelf first then cleaned everything: the other shelves, all the old toys on them, the banks, the framed pictures and the other stuff I somehow collected over time. When I finished, it was close to 11:30, so much for an early night. I got cozy, grabbed my iPad and started reading when to my surprise a mouse strayed into the trap. I got up, Fern got up and Gracie got up. The three of us went downstairs. I went outside and freed the mouse. The three of us went back upstairs, got cozy in our usual spots, and I read for a while then turned out the light and fell asleep. At 1:15 I heard a racket. It was an unhappy mouse caught in the trap. I got up, grabbed the trap and went downstairs. This time I was alone. Fern and Gracie stayed in bed. It was still raining when I went outside to free the mouse in about the same spot as the first. I’m hoping he finds his friend and the both of them take up residence at someone else’s house. I’d even throw a housewarming party.

Two house finches were at my feeders this morning, and the flicker was back. He is such a huge bird especially in comparison to the finches and the chickadees who were also dining at the feeders. It was a busy bird morning.

Gracie and I have a few errands. She’ll be happy. I’m not.

“Now listen, we need to be quiet as mice. No, quieter than that. As quiet as…as…” “Dead mice?” Reynie suggested. “Perfect,” said Kate with an approving nod. “As quiet as dead mice.”

January 11, 2013

This morning I had breakfast with friends, people with whom I worked with at the high school who have also retired, then did a couple of errands; hence, the lateness of Coffee today.

I am going to change the name of this blog to something alliterative like Critter Corner or Animal Antics or maybe, after last night, Rodent Roaming. It seems I need the Pied Piper of Hamlin and I will the price he asks. When I went to feed the cats last night, I noticed familiar droppings in the eaves where I keep the cat dishes. Yup, mice are in the eaves in my bedroom. I had heard them but not seen any real evidence until yesterday. I keep the cat food in the eaves to protect it from Gracie, but with the mice around, I took the two dishes out, emptied them, took them downstairs and scrubbed them. I went back upstairs, filled the dishes and left them outside the eaves on the rug. Gracie, Fern and I were in bed. I was finishing my book when I noticed movement. A small mouse had come out of the eaves looking for the food dish. He was obviously a baby so I figure generations live in my eaves. This happened one other time years ago when the cats I had were old so I caught the mice myself in a Have-a-heart trap, all 17 of them. Fern, lying on the bed with me, saw the mouse, sat up and just watched for the longest time. I figured she was confused and thought she was at the movies watching Ben or Willard. I watched too and the mouse kept trying to get at the dried cat food dish. I finally took the dish up to a spot where the mouse couldn’t at it but neither could the cats. They’d be okay as they had wet food.

This morning I refilled the wet food, came downstairs and went outside to get the papers. Gracie went right upstairs and ate the cat food. She was still up there when I came back in so I yelled and she ran downstairs with guilt written all over her face. I put a gate across the door frame to keep Gracie out.

Today I bought two Have-a-Heart traps and will bait and place them upstairs. I also bought mouse repellant for when I finally get rid of the rodents. I was told to be careful if I take the mice to let them loose as it is illegal to transport animals in traps. That’s all I need: a blue light behind me and the evidence in a cage on the floor of the front seat.

Well, life goes on here in strange ways. I swear rodents have my number. They are a cabal meeting to design ways to drive me crazy. The spawns of Satan send representatives as do the upstairs and downstairs mice. I have two cats, one of whom would catch the mice if she were upstairs while the other one finds them entertaining. Gracie corners them, but she was sleeping,  snoring loudly, and missed the fun. I finally finished my book, turned off the light and went to sleep.

I will, after I post, go upstairs and set the traps. I’ll keep a running count of mice who get caught. I really hope I don’t beat my count of 17.


“You don’t get anything clean without getting something else dirty.”

January 10, 2013

Some days are memorable. Others are a matter of course. Most days I just go about my business whatever it happens to be. I have my sloth days, favorites of mine, when turning pages is the most activity I get. The industrious days aren’t all that frequent by choice. I figure I was industrious every week day for years, and that was more than enough. The last two days have been rotten days, an adjective I seldom use. I don’t care for it much, but right now it is the only word which comes to mind. My sister called them typical days for me, but they didn’t include falling off a ladder, tripping over something or falling downstairs so they weren’t all that typical. They were just plain rotten. The events which soured the days weren’t all that memorable so you can stop here if you want. If you’re curious, read on, but I warn you that in the course of human events these don’t really merit much attention. Because they happened to me, I’ll remember.

Tuesday early evening and yesterday afternoon were fiascos. On Tuesday I cursed, sweated and screamed in frustration as I cleaned the refrigerator because I couldn’t remove the bottom drawers and the shelf which held them as the left fridge door, the exit point, was blocked by the microwave table. I had to move the microwave, the table, the cookbooks under the table (it’s really an old student’s desk, but I figured you didn’t need that information) and the jars around it. By then I was exhausted and dripping sweat, an ugly sight, but I couldn’t stop. Finally one drawer came out easily. By manipulating the other this way and that I finally got it out and then I tried the same technique on the the shelf which holds the drawers, but it wouldn’t budge. One side did but not the other. I was so frustration I went outside on the deck to cool down and to scream just a bit with clenched fists. When I came back inside, I was able to get the shelf out by turning it sideways. I washed the drawers, the glass top of the shelf and the shelf holder, manipulated them and got them back in the fridge. I was done until Wednesday.

Om Wednesday, I decided to clean the deli drawer which was easy to get out as was the piece which holds the deli drawer, but while removing it, I knocked over a bottle of apple cider on the shelf beside it, and the cider spilled all over the bottom of the fridge, the same bottom with the drawers about which I ranted and cursed the day before when I cleaned it. Luckily, I had some curses left over I could use, and I did. I also spent nearly an hour cleaning up the mess I had made.

Meanwhile, Gracie was sick. She had been salivating all afternoon, hadn’t eaten and couldn’t settle down. I gave her green fronds from the spider plant. They settled her stomach for a bit but then it started again. A few more times of green fronds and settling a bit brought us to 11 when we went upstairs to bed. Gracie settled right beside me so that her body was against mine. Not comfortable for me but comforting for her. At 12 and 1:30, Gracie started again so we went downstairs where she ate some more greenery. I decided to stay downstairs and fetched my pillows, cleared off the couch and tried to find room around Gracie  who was in the middle of the couch. The afghan I used as a blanket was crocheted so it has holes and wasn’t warm. I was cold despite the sweatshirt, pants and socks. I was also uncomfortable and tired. Gracie woke again at 3:30, and I figured it was just about emergency vet time, but she ate more fronds and fell asleep for another hour. No fronds and no sleep for me. At 4:30 Gracie rang her bells to go out. When she came back inside about ten minutes later, she jumped on the couch and fell asleep until 9 Wednesday morning. She was fine all day. She ate her dry food and her supper and had her usual naps. All is well with Miss Gracie.

Meanwhile, I am exhausted from wrestling with a refrigerator and barely sleeping on the couch. I have used all my allotment of curses for the next three months. The only good thing is I have a really clean refrigerator. I’m hoping for company so I can show it off!

“Life is a celebration of awakenings, of new beginnings, and wonderful surprises that enlighten the soul.”

January 6, 2013

The morning is cold and dark. I woke up at 5:30, and the heat hadn’t yet been triggered beyond its 62˚ night setting so I tried to snuggle under the comforter and go back to sleep. It didn’t happen so I came downstairs, turned up the heat and turned on the coffee. All three animals are here in the den with me, and each is sleeping on a favorite spot. Gracie gets the couch, Fern sleeps on the afghan on the back of the couch and Maddie gets the chair. They look warm and comfortable. I’m a bit jealous they all fell back to sleep.

Yesterday I finished putting Christmas away. Last night I lit the electric candles on the tables in my living room, and in the kitchen I lit the quahog shell lights and the pepper bunch lights. The kitchen had a reddish tint. I miss the colors the Christmas tree brought to light up the night.

From now on winter is boring. I know each month has a day highlighted on the calendar, but that isn’t really enough. I’m going to have to manufacture celebrations, and I’ve been hunting for my favorites. January 10th is Peculiar People Day, and I have several candidates. In February is Valentine’s Day or chocolate and flowers day so I guess that month is covered though I could celebrate Kite Flying Day on the 8th if there is a good wind. The beach is the best place for flying kites, and I have a great kite just waiting to be flown. It has wooden struts and a cloth design, a dragon. It is meant to fly. In March is National Grammar Day, a day close to my heart. I can wear my new tee-shirt: Punctuation saves lives. It has two sentences above that line: Lets eat grandma and Let’s eat, grandma. I expect no further explanation is necessary. The first day of spring is also in March, and we have our traditions to welcome that day. Beyond that I have nothing, but I always find April a hopeful month when warmth creeps back and the dafs poke above the ground, and color starts to return to brighten the world.

Today is the Epiphany, Three King’s Day.  Tonight is the last night for my outside lights.

“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.”

December 27, 2012

It’s a gray day. The rain started late last night and continues this morning. When I let Gracie out, I noticed my back Christmas lights were lit. The timer’s sensor was duped by the darkness. I went out and turned them off then came back in, made coffee and was about to get my papers when the torrential rain started. It pelted the doors and windows. Undaunted, I got my umbrella and ran out to the drive-way for the papers. Right now it’s a quieter rain. I’m just glad it’s not snow.

The car is filled for the dump run. I hope it isn’t raining later, but my rainy day dump luck is generally bad. Usually it starts to pour just I drive through the gates. On my to-do list is also a couple of other errands, but no dump means no errands. I am actually hopeful I’ll be stuck in the house. Yesterday I did nothing all day, didn’t even make my bed. It was my day after Christmas sit around and enjoy life day. Today I’ll get to blame my sloth on the weather!

Christmas was wonderful. My friends and I opened gifts and enjoyed our Christmas feast. I opened ornaments from Africa. They are huts with straw roofs and are already on my tree. In my stocking, I got new socks. That doesn’t sound all that exciting, but if you saw my socks you’d understand as almost all of them have holes of some sort, usually in the toes. I hate to throw away socks with holes if they still cover most of my feet. Now, though, my two worst pairs can be thrown away after a small good-bye and thank you ceremony. My favorite gift is a bird made with PVC pipes. It has a long bill and crane like legs. This summer it will grace my backyard so we can all see it from the deck. Gracie got a new snowman and frosted dog biscuits. She also got a Santa that sings Jingle Bells when she carries it around. That I want to deep-six.

My Christmas tree is lit right now, and it shines brightly in the darkness of the day. Later, I’ll grab my iPod and lie on the couch in the living room to read so I can see the tree. It will be gone soon so I want to enjoy every moment, a year is a long time to wait until the next one.

“Christmas is the day that holds all time together.”

December 9, 2012

During The 12 Disasters of Christmas, last night’s syfi channel movie,  there wasn’t a single Fa La La La. Italy and Greece disappeared into the sea. The President was airborne because Washington had been fractured and was a gaping hole though at that point a droll observer might have opined Washington really hadn’t been affected at all. A crazy army general declared himself the leader of the new world and quoted biblical verses as proof but he was electrocuted by lightning bolts, proof he wasn’t. Our hero saved the world by inserting a rod, his birthright, into the head of a moai, one of six which had been buried in the US. The world was righted. I expect The 12 Disasters of Christmas will take its place among the giants of the season: Miracle on 34th Street, It’s a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Story and one of my personal favorites, Jack Frost, the killer snowman.

The rain has disappeared and left a cold sunny day, but the rain is due back later today and will stay around until Wednesday.

The dining room and kitchen are pretty well decorated for Christmas. I made several trips from the cellar yesterday hauling decorations upstairs so today I’ll give my back a break, but the living room looks awfully bare. Maybe I need to get and put up my tree. I always think that the best part of decorating.

The tree holds the most memories. Many ornaments have stories attached and some come from places far away in space and time. Ornaments from my childhood hang on the tree. They are glass ones which survived four kids, a dog and a few tree disasters. Some of the paint has worn off in places, but I don’t care. I don’t really notice. Ghana is well represented. Michelle’s old ornaments will be hung on my tree for the first time. They were a precious gift from her. New ornaments from Ghana will join them. Hand-made ornaments are some of my favorites because of the love infused in the making of them. Peter Pan and Captain Hook are on my tree as is Dorothy’s witch. I have a really ugly ornament, a woman dressed in go-go boots and a pink outfit. She sits right in front, right next to the angel with the stringy hair. My tree has beauty and it has whimsy.

I love sitting in the living room looking at the tree bright with lights. Gracie usually joins me on the couch and puts her head on my lap. The two of us just sit there quietly together.


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