Posted tagged ‘grey day’

“The best time for planning a book is while you’re doing the dishes.”

May 2, 2016

All I can say is ditto about the weather. May has not had a glorious start. Usually by this time we’ve had a few warmish days, but this year the weather is slow to change. We seem to be stuck in the rain belt, but I’ll play Pollyanna’s glad game and say at least it’s not snow.

My dour mood is gone. I feel lighter somehow. I even started the laundry. Last week I went a total of 14 miles. Today I have stuff I want to do so the 14 miles will quickly be eclipsed.

My flamingo and my gnome are getting anxious. They are still here in their winter quarters  and wonder when they can take up residence on the deck, their summer retreat. I wonder the same thing. The deck has to be stained, but the weather just doesn’t cooperate. I’m leaning toward staining in the fall. I’ll have to talk to Sebastian, my neighbor and landscaper, about the possibility of waiting.

I don’t have an electric can opener. I don’t want one. Mine died a few years back, and I chose not to replace it. When I lived in Ghana, I realized how easy it was to get used to not having. Everything was done by hand. I had no machines to make life easier. After a short while, I didn’t care. It was there I learned to cook and bake. I also learned how to pick a really meaty chicken, good eggs, fresh tomatoes and recently cut meat. They were necessary skills for market shopping in Bolga.

Fast forward 40+ years, and my kitchen is a marvel of appliances and machinery. I have two food processors of different sizes, a blender, an electric mixer, coffee grinder, toaster and one of those immersion type things you put in soup to puree the ingredients. All of them have been put to good use. They are time and energy savers, but sometimes I don’t choose to use them.

I grab my cutting board, a good knife for chopping and bags for finished vegetables. I sit in the den, with the TV on and cut and chop. It helps my back not to be standing, and I’m reminded that I can do without. I enjoy the cutting and chopping in the same way I enjoy washing the dishes rather than using the dish washer. I ponder the world when doing what are essentially mindless tasks though I am careful with the knife. I let my mind wander anywhere and just follow along. I’ve never forgotten the value of washing dishes by hand. It is one of the best lessons I learned in Ghana.

The trouble with “weather forecasting is that it’s right too often for us to ignore it and wrong too often for us to rely on it.”

January 22, 2016

The paper is filled with news of the weather and the Patriots. A snowstorm is expected here by Saturday night. The amount of snow keeps changing, but it appears the Cape will get more than Boston. The Patriots play the Broncos Sunday in Denver. The Pats are 3 point favorites which is nothing given their horrendous record in Denver.

This morning was sunny but the gray sky is back but not dark enough to hide the light. It’s cold so I’m staying home and keeping warm and cozy. Last night around 6 I went to the store for a couple of things. The roads were just about empty. The parking lot at the market had 4 or 5 cars, usually I have to go around a couple of times until a spot opens. Inside, most of the stores were closed, but I did manage to find some goodies including shrimp fried rice, clam chowder and a couple of cod cakes. My larder is well filled.

When I was a kid, weather reporting was simple. We didn’t have warnings about when the storm might start and stop or how many inches to expect. My mother never raced off for groceries like bread or milk or water. We kids always had high hopes they’d be too much snow for school, but we wouldn’t officially find out until the next morning when the fire whistle blew.

Meteorologists now do the weather reporting on TV. They follow storms for days and tell us what might be coming. They even know how much snow we should expect. Gone are the markers, the white boards and the maps on erasable boards. Everything is computerized, no more guessing, no more fire whistles. Everyone now knows when to rush out to buy their water and bread. Tomorrow morning should begin the onslaught of frantic people facing a huge snow storm and bent on filling their fridge with water.

“How strange it is to view a town you grew up in, not in wonderment through the eyes of youth, but with the eyes of a historian on the way things were.”

June 19, 2015

Gracie is having her morning nap on the couch. She’s snoring. Maddie is under the lamp staying warm and Fern is sleeping on the couch cushion in the other room. Our routine is back.

I awoke to the sound of raindrops, but they lasted only a little while. The day, though, is still dark, overcast with light grey clouds. The weatherman says it will be warm, even hot.

The first few days of summer vacation when I was a kid were joyous days lacking routine, wide open days when I could do whatever I wanted. A long, wonderful summer stretched out in front of me. My bike never got put away. It stayed against the fence in the backyard. I used it to go to the library or to take a leisurely ride with no purpose or destination. I knew every corner of my town, every street. I knew all the places of interest. Some days I walked my bike on the sidewalk uptown while I looked in the store windows. Most times I hadn’t a cent, but I didn’t care. Looking was fun. In those days the square was filled with stores where you could watch the proprietors work. The shoe repair man always wore a leather apron. In the bakery you couldn’t watch the baking, just the wrapping and boxing of all the baked goods people bought. Meat hung in the window of one store and lobsters swam in a tank in the window of another. Cheese, huge round cheeses, filled the window of the buttery. The men’s store window had half mannequins wearing suit coats, shirts and ties. I always wondered why they didn’t have legs, but I guessed maybe the window was too small. The gas and electric appliance store had ranges in the windows. They were all white. People also went there to pay their electric bills. It was on the corner so half of the big door was really on two streets.

I’d get my fill of the square and bike home. I used different routes to vary the ride. I had a favorite house on one route which had a huge front porch and was painted red, my favorite color. On another route I went by the empty school. Sometimes I even rode on the dirt beside the railroad tracks as that was the shortest way home.

I never got tired of biking around town. When I go back, I drive on some of those same routes. The red house is still there, but the railroad tracks are gone. The square now has very few stores, and the remaining stores lack the character and individuality they had when I was young. I miss the lobsters the most though I do like the restaurant which has taken their place. When I go uptown now, I always think of what was and can name where all the stores once were. That restaurant was the Gloucester Fish Market.

“Do not fire on them unless they fire first, but if they want a war, let it begin here.”

April 20, 2015

Cold, windy day today. The sky is a light grey. The high will be in the very low 50’s. I have no plans for the day so I’m staying home, cozy, warm and, best of all, comfortable. Huzzah, there are buds on my forsythia and on my wild rose bushes. I noticed them this morning. They are always the first to bloom.

Today is Patriot’s Day here in Massachusetts, a state holiday. It commemorates the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the start of the Revolutionary War. That day helped define the character of Massachusetts.

I remember in the sixth grade learning about the Revolutionary War. Miss Quilter told it like a story, and I was enthralled. She explained about Paul Revere’s ride and how he, William Dawes and other riders rode all night to get to Lexington. She told us why it was called the “shot heard round the world” in Emerson’s poem. There was a picture in my textbook of Patriots hiding behind rocks to shoot at the Redcoats. Miss Quilter explained the picture and guerrilla warfare. That word wasn’t in my textbook, and I thought it was the same as the big monkeys. Miss Quilter went on to tell us the Red Coats didn’t see the shooters or know where the bullets were coming from. The Patriots followed the British all the way back to Boston and shot from behind rocks and trees.

We did a family outing one Sunday to Lexington and Concord. It was history come to life. I remember walking across the Old North Bridge in Concord and I remember standing on the Lexington Green just imagining the battle. The statue of the Minute Man seemed to stand above all else. We went into the tavern where Adams and Hancock were before they fled. On the way home we traveled the same route Revere had. I was in awe that whole day.

“In my opinion, too much attention to weather makes for instability of character.”

February 27, 2015

Today is balmy at 24˚. When I woke up, the sun was bright and framed by a deep blue sky, but the perpetual grayness of this winter has reappeared. There are now only patches of blue, and the sun has become a hazy light from behind a cloud. Tonight will be in the teens but with no wind. Next week one day will be in the 40’s if the forecast holds true. I’m expecting a parade and fireworks and picnics on the town green.

Lethargic pretty much describes me. I read a whole book from Tuesday afternoon to Wednesday night and then started on another. I did change my bed and the cat litter yesterday and went to the store as I had no bread. That’s it. That’s all I did, and I exhausted myself. Winter’s cold saps my energy.

I don’t know how old we are when weather becomes an issue, a topic of conversation. When I was a kid, the weather just happened. I got wet when it rained and cold when it snowed, but neither bothered me. It was hot in the summer, but that’s what summer is. Sitting under a tree for a while and running through the sprinklers were cure-alls for a hot day. The hot nights never stopped us from falling asleep. We were exhausted from playing all day. In my early 20’s I was in Ghana where 100+ degrees was the every day temperature this time of year. I didn’t complain about that either. I went to bed soaking wet after my shower and easily fell asleep as I air-dried.

Growing older and complaining about the weather are connected. I need the house warmer than I used to both during the day and at night. 68˚ is my usual daytime high though I’ll turn it higher if I’m cold. 64˚ is nighttime. I used to keep my house at 66˚ during the day and 58˚ at night. The two cats I had both slept under the covers. They were Siamese and liked warmth. Now, I can’t even imagine the house that cold.

Yesterday was snowing when I went out. A lady walked by me and said, “Oh my God more snow,” then kept walking. Weather does bring people together giving even strangers something to talk about.

“It’s the unknown that draws people.”

February 14, 2015

When I first woke up, it was 7 o’clock, and I could see sun and blue sky outside my window. I smiled, turned over and went back to sleep. The second time I awakened it was 8:30. The sun was gone as was the blue. Today is now like all the other days: grey and cold and uninviting. The snow will start tonight and come in waves. The biggest wave is due tomorrow.

Now where would I be if I could be somewhere else? Much as I love Ghana, the 100˚+ degrees is just our weather turned inside out. Back to Morocco is a possibility. It is winter there but a sweater is enough. I remember the colors in the spice market, the aromas of meat cooking and glasses of mint tea. Colorful rugs hung from balconies. Cranes nested. Okay, Morocco is definitely on the list, but then again perhaps it should be where I haven’t been. I love exploring new places and being by myself never matters. All of the sights and sounds become fodder for my journal, my hand written journal. The markets are for losing myself, for following unfamiliar paths. They are the places for discovery. That restaurant in Marrakech in a garden at the back of the furniture store is one of favorite finds, but I had help. A small boy led me there.

Asia comes to mind. I want off the beaten path, maybe Laos, Nepal or Myanmar if it gets its act together.

My family worries when I travel alone, but they don’t share that with me. They know I’d pooh-pooh the notion. My brother-in-law was the designated rescuer when I was in Morocco. He would fly there and accompany me and my injuries home. They were thinking broken leg. I didn’t even get a scratch.

I don’t ever mind getting lost as there are discoveries to unearth and I know I’ll always find my way.

“December’s wintery breath is already clouding the pond, frosting the pane, obscuring summer’s memory…”

February 12, 2015

Earlier this morning I rolled over and looked out the window. I swear I saw the sun. Later, when I woke up, it was a gray day. It was yesterday and the day before and the day before that. I could keep going but you get the idea. That sun must have been a dream, a wanting and most of all a hoping.

More snow is in the forecast, light snow starting later today. I am passed screaming. I can only sigh. The temperature is going to plummet. It will be 12˚ tonight and 9˚tomorrow night. The 20’s during the day will seem downright tropical. Where did I put that Hawaiian shirt? I’m thinking mai tai, many mai tais, all with umbrellas.

In Northern Ghana this is the harmattan, the season when a cold-dry dusty wind blows from the desert. It is also the hottest time of the year. In Bolga, where I lived, every day this time of year was over 100˚. The cold shower was a blessing, a relief from the heat. I didn’t have a fan, never even thought of buying one. The heat was something to abide just as the snow is. The nights during the harmattan brought relief from the relentless heat of the days. The temperatures dropped as low as the 70’s. I was cold and even had a wool blanket on my bed. The early mornings were brisk, even chilly. They were a delight.

In the midst of the harmattan I thought of home and winter. I thought of snow but it was an idealized version conjured by my imagination. The snow was pristine, perfectly white. Snowmen with carrot noses, buttons and top hats sat on front lawns. Kids sledded down hills. Snowball fights were fun. Cars made a crunching sound from the snow as they drove down the street. We all looked healthy with red cheeks.

It is easy to get discontent with extremes so we have to remind ourselves that seasons change. The heat ends when the rains come. Spring always follows winter.

“The light teaches you to convert life into a festive promenade.”

December 21, 2014

The Winter Solstice is official at 6:03 EST tonight, the longest night and the shortest day in the Northern Hemisphere. We are moving back to the light.

It always seemed unfair somehow when darkness came so early. We had the street light curfew so winter afternoons for playing outside were short, and if it was cold or snowy or windy, we sometimes didn’t go out at all. We played games, watched TV, did our homework and read. The afternoons felt endless. Supper always seemed to be late, deeper into the early evening, but it wasn’t. The early darkness fooled us.

Today is the same as yesterday, a grey day, and it’s cold so I’m glad I don’t have to go anywhere. The inside Christmas lights are lit so the house looks bright. Multi-colored lights are my favorites for the tree though I do put a strand of white lights around the trunk, starlights in the middle of the tree. My window lights are white candles, bright white candles, which shine in a circle of light above the bulbs.

It is easy to create beauty this time of year. The tree is in my living room in the same spot it always is. Sometimes I stand at the edge of the room just to look at it. I’m always taken by how lovely it looks, a bit of bias I suspect. My dining room is lit by the window candles and by the small tree in the corner. The table runner is bright red and green. The centerpiece is a tree made of blocks. Each row is a word or phrase spelled out in the blocks. All of them have to do with Christmas. It was once my mother’s. My kitchen has a red pepper bunch of lights and a string of scallop shell lights. I never mind going from room to room to turn them on. Their light is welcome especially tonight.

“I love Christmas, not just because of the presents but because of all the decorations and lights and the warmth of the season.”

December 20, 2014

The grey day doesn’t phase me at all. My trees are lit. The chili pepper wreath, the painted gourd and the scallop shell lights are also lit. They are bright and warm and the rooms feel cozy in the light. Today is make a batch of cookies day, orange cookies. Of all my cookies, the orange ones were my mother’s favorite, and they are also my friend Clare’s favorite because they remind her of her mother’s orange cake for which the recipe was lost. I remember my mother hiding some of these cookies because they disappeared quickly when company came, and my mother wanted a stash.

I am not going anywhere today. I’m doing the laundry, making the cookies and wrapping gifts. I’ll watch Hallmark movies this afternoon and be wary of my sugar intake. This evening, in keeping with the spirit of the season, I’ll watch the premier of the Syfy movie Christmas Icetastrophe. The only description says,”Christmas turns deadly.”

It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve seen them. I still watch all the old Christmas movies. A Christmas Carol is my favorite dating all the way back to Seymour Hicks, the gruffest of Scrooges, but, as I’ve said many times, the 1951 Alastair Sim will always be my favorite. In The Bishop’s Wife Cary Grant plays Dudley the angel. One of my favorite scenes is when Dudley magically decorates the Christmas tree by just a wave of his arms.

It seems Christmas angels have odd names, not just Dudley but also Clarence and Gideon and probably more I’m forgetting. Gideon is the angel responsible in The Magic of Christmas, a movie I like though it isn’t on TV often. In the night scene, the street lights have almost an eerie glow. Snow is piled high along the sides of the roads. The roads still have a layer of snow. Their breaths can be seen as Ginny and Jack, the two main characters, talk. In that pivotal night scene is one my favorite sounds, the squeak of boot on snow as Jack takes a walk.

Okay, I admit a guilty pleasure, the 1997 horror movie Jack Frost. I first saw it one Christmas Eve while my mother and I were talking and laughing. We couldn’t believe it, but we got pulled in and watched the whole movie. Jack Frost is a serial killer on his way to be executed when his van crashes into a truck filled with genetic material. Jack mutates into a killer snowman seeking revenge on the sheriff who arrested him, the sheriff of Snowmonton. Residents of the town are killed in horrific Christmas themed ways. Spoiler Alert: a blow dryer plays a key role.

“Let us not curse the darkness. Let us kindle little lights.”

November 28, 2014

Last night I was in bed before eleven, most unusual for me the night owl, and I slept until almost ten. I figure I was suffering from a Thanksgiving dinner hangover. My plate was filled with turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole and squash. I was so filled I had to pass on dessert, on pumpkin pie and chocolate pie. I will have some today after my second Thanksgiving dinner.

Snow flurries fell this morning, but they didn’t last too long and no snow stayed on the ground. Right now it is so very cold and grey, an unpleasant day. Every now and then, though, I see a brightness, a break in the grey. I figure it is from the sun trying to find its way out of the clouds.

Tomorrow I’ll shop and take Gracie to the dump. That means we’re each going on a favorite trip. My trunk is filled. I’d go today, but the dump is closed.

Now is the time for Christmas to move front and center. My factotum needs to come and decorate the outside of my house. I need to go to the garden store and get wreaths. A giant one is hung on the fence and a smaller one on the door. My house always looks so wonderful that I sometimes drive by just to look, just to see the lights. My neighbor across the street tells me she loves looking out her door at my house. She especially loves the old sled with the pair of skates hanging off the steering bar. That sits by my door. On the step is a pottery bowl filled with colored ornaments. One of my favorite decorations is a tree with naked branches decorated with huge ornaments and a flood light shining on them at night. The fence in front of my house is lit as is the back rail and the fence across the driveway.

My neighbor just called and said a flock of wild turkeys is in my yard. I opened the door and one was on the front step but took off at the sound of the door. More were on my lawn. The flock was fourteen turkeys looking plump and healthy. I took pictures.

Today is a relax at home day, one of my favorite way to spend a day.

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