Posted tagged ‘Holiday’

“New Year’s Day is every man’s birthday.”

January 1, 2013

Today is cold but warmer than yesterday. I can hear drips from the roof falling onto the deck as the snow melts. The birds are back. Even before my coffee I went outside and refilled the large feeder. I still haven’t located the bird bath heaters, but I know if I buy another, I’ll find the first two. That is the law of averages for me. I met my friend for breakfast this morning. I noticed a few other spots were opened as well, not like Christmas morning when the world seemed deserted except for my diner.

I’m going to watch the Rose Parade this morning as I do every year. I love the floats and am always amazed at how beautiful they are and sometimes how imaginative and whimsical. When the announcers list what was used to create them, I can’t imagine standing there gluing mustard seeds or the other small natural ingredients used to decorate them. I can’t even make decent looking crepe paper flowers with pipe cleaner stems.

The most difficult chore of this new year is remembering to put the right year on my checks. The first couple usually end up needing correction. Luckily, though, most of my bills are paid on-line, and they can figure out the year.

I have an empty dance card for this year, at least so far. No trips are planned though my travel bug itches for one. The deck looks deserted with its covered furniture, stacked tubs filled with decorations to be hung from the branches and with candles, lots of candles, to light and hang from the trees. Summer is a long way off when the ground is covered with snow.

Today I’ll go down to visit my friends, and we’ll play some games and eat dinner together. That’s the best start to a new year.


“I’ve learned that you can tell a lot a person by the way he or she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas lights.”

December 11, 2012

It really poured last night. The rain pounded the doors and windows. I got soaked. How did I get soaked you ask? Well, it was Christmas disaster number 2: the saga of the front outside lights. They didn’t light last night. The side and back were bright with color, but the front was dark. I put my sweatshirt hood up and went to the outside outlet. The timer wasn’t on; the outlet was dead. I reset it, plugged in the timer and the lights went on. It was a miracle. I got back into the house and turned around just in time to see the lights go out. I went outside and did it all over again to no avail. The outlet had gotten wet despite the cover. What to do? What to do? I took the timer out back and plugged it in an outlet on the deck. The timer still didn’t work. Did it short out I wondered? I came back inside to find out my kitchen lights didn’t work. I went downstairs to the circuit box and flipped switches. While down there, I brought up another timer and the longest extension cord in the world. I pluggedthe cord into a living room outlet, passed it behind a table so it wouldn’t be on the floor where I would definitely trip on it and fall then I took it out the front door and behind the bushes to the cords. I plugged the cords into the new timer then the timer to the world’s longest extension cord running out the front door. Everything worked. The only problem was the front door wouldn’t close over the cord so I left it ajar. At this point my sweatshirt was soaked and so were the hems of my pants and my shoes. I know I could have avoided everything and stayed inside, but I just couldn’t take half a lit house. Before I went to bed, I went outside and unplugged the extension, rolled it up as I went and brought it inside the house so I could shut the door. Today I’m hoping the outlet has dried.

I am going to decorate my tree today. Yesterday I slid it close to its resting spot but left room in the back so I can put the lights on without a struggle. Okay, without a struggle? Who am I kidding? I know that somehow something will go wrong. One year, after I’d put on all the lights, they all blew out. That was the year of the dark tree. Others years the trees fell; those were the years of the crooked trees. Another year the tree I’d bought to support the girls’ track team starting dropping needles at an alarming rate. That was the year of no tree.

Despite it all, I love Christmas. I love having a tree and sitting and just looking at it. I love Christmas carols and sugar cookies shaped liked snowmen. Today I’m going to decorate my tree, and despite everything, I am still an optimist. I have the highest hopes.

“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.


Christmas Strumming

December 7, 2012

Mark Anderson, a long time Coffee regular, has published a book, and this is the perfect time to introduce it. The book is called Christmas Songs for the Amateur Guitarist and Low Voices.

Christmas isn’t that far away, but there is still time to learn some carols then gather a few friends, sing for your neighbors while you strum along!

Here is the link:

“Like snowflakes, my Christmas memories gather and dance – each beautiful, unique and too soon gone.”

December 3, 2012

This is an alternative universe. It just has to be as mine doesn’t have sun or temperatures in the 50’s, at least not in December. Today and yesterday have been amazing. Though it rained a little yesterday, it was so warm all day that even at 11 o’clock last night it was still 51˚. Today is just as warm, and there is actually sun, a glowing orb in the sky I barely recognized. It’s a day to be outside enjoying a bit of a breather from winter.

The birds are back. This morning was like a busy day at O’Hare. My friends the chickadees have returned, as have goldfinches, a titmouse, woodpeckers who are enjoying my new suet feeder and the nuthatches who have been, for a while, my only visitors. Yesterday it was two house finches. When I stand at the sink, I look out the window behind it to get the best view of the birds and the feeders. I’m glad to have them back though now I need more sunflower seeds.

My outside lights went up yesterday and were lit last night. I drove around the block so I could see the whole house. It looks lovely, especially the huge star with trailing tails of lights which hangs on the driveway gate and the ornament tree lit by the spotlight. I noticed the sled near the door and the wreath on the front gate could use a bit of light so that will be my quest today, to find exactly the right strands. I also want to flower shop, to buy my poinsettias and boxwood. The rosemary tree is already on order. I love decorating my house for Christmas, and this is only the beginning.

The town where I grew up always decorated the fire station, the town hall and the square. The brick fire station was my favorite. Colored lights outlined the whole building and Santa climbed a ladder on the siren tower. In the square, decorations were strung from one side of the street to the other. A giant wreath was hung on the front of the police box which used to stand in the middle of Main Street. All the stores decorated their windows. Even the fish market had snowflakes falling on the mounds of snow at the bottom of the window, but you could still see the lobster tank.

In those days, the square had the only shops in town. Carolers from the different elementary schools sang each night on the stage which was erected just for Christmas. The sidewalks were filled with people, and you could hear them wishing each other a Merry Christmas. I loved being there just as it started to get dark and the Christmas lights were lit. It was like a fairyland.

“The only real treasure is in your head. Memories are better than diamonds and nobody can steal them from you”

December 2, 2012

When I let Gracie out, it felt warm, but the papers aren’t here yet so I haven’t been outside. For some reason I woke up at 6. I can’t even remember the last time I did that. That early was too much for Gracie. She is already back to sleep on the couch. The sky is lighter now, but it’s still grey. What a surprise!

One side of my cellar is filled with Christmas decorations. For a while I collected really ugly 50’s decorations, those ceramic pieces we all had as kids and plastic light up Santas with holes in the back for lights. I remember my mother had four ceramic Santa mugs. Each handle was a letter and all of the handles together spelled out Noel. I found a set just like that and was thrilled. It was like finding an old friend. I have Santa head salt and pepper shakers and several angels wearing red dresses. They’re holding ceramic candles. All of the angels are blondes. I have a whole village of cardboard houses, some with intact windows, some without. I have a Tom and Jerry serving set and a couple for egg nog. They too are from the 50’s. In an antique store the other day I saw similar pieces to ones from my collection. They were expensive. Those ugly decorations are now treasured antiques.

My tree is hung with memories. Many of my ornaments have stories attached. A few hung on our family tree every year. My mother gave each of us some of those ornaments a long while back, and I treasure them. Some ornaments are from different trips I’ve made, and I have a few from Ghana. When my friend Michele came to visit last June, she gave me some ornaments she’d had since we were in Ghana together. I can’t wait to hang them on the tree for the first time this year. They’ll be memories of Michelle and Kumasi and hot water. I know the last one seems strange, but I remember how amazed I was when I stayed with her and found out she had hot water straight out of the shower. I have ornaments my mother stitched for me. My favorite is a K with the three kings on it. One year I made name ornaments for my whole family out of blocks. I have the one I  made for my mother and I put it on my tree every year. She loved Christmas, and by putting it on the tree, I keep her in mine.

“Easter spells out beauty, the rare beauty of new life.”

April 8, 2012

I always think Easter Sunday should be sunny and even warm, all the better to show off all those new clothes. It’s cloudy right now, but I think the sun is struggling to break through the grayness. Gracie and I had an adventure earlier this morning. We sneaked down to my friends’ house and decorated the tree near their deck. We do it every year. This year was a streamer of eggs from branch to branch, some wooden rabbits doing gardening hanging off the small branches and decorative eggs on sticks stuck into their pansies right by the door. They haven’t seen them as their backdoor is still closed so they’re not awake yet. This is the only time of year I can see all the way down to the end of the street.

When I was little, Easter morning never had the same degree of excitement as Christmas morning, but we’d still run to find our baskets. We’d munch on jelly beans as we checked out everything one at a time. The chocolate rabbit was always the most prominent standing tall as it did in the basket. There were coloring books and crayons or small toys and always a stuffed animal, usually a rabbit or even a duck, wearing a hat and sometimes a colored vest. We’d play and munch until my mother dragged us away to get ready for mass.

Easter was always a big day in church. The haphazard members of the congregation only went on Christmas and Easter so the pews were filled. I remember the church looked festive on Easter Sunday as lent was finally over. Tall white lilies in pots were on the steps to the altar and by the rail in the front. The statues were uncovered, and the priest wore white. The rest of us wore mostly pastels and hats were a necessary accessory. Men had fedoras and women had hats with veils. Boys had none, but we girls wore hats with flowers or ribbons. The church was awash with colors in every pew.

Some Easter Sundays we’d go to visit my grandparents. The house was filled with my aunts, uncles and cousins. My grandmother always had chocolate for us, usually a small rabbit, as an Easter gift.  We’d run up and down the two sets of stairs chasing each other while the adults stayed in the kitchen on the bottom floor. My grandfather always hid in his room away from the tumult.

My father usually hustled us out the door in the early evening and we’d fall asleep on the way home, exhausted by the festivities of the day and all those stairs.

“St. Patrick’s Day is an enchanted time – a day to begin transforming winter’s dreams into summer’s magic.”

March 17, 2012

Yesterday it was in the darkness of early morning when I woke while today it was 10:30. I am as fickled as the weather. My friend Clare came by with a few St. Patrick’s day gifts and rang the bell. Gracie barked, and I woke up then tried to figure out the what day it is. I got it on the first try.

If St. Patrick’s Day was on a school day, we got it off as a holiday. After all, I went to St. Patrick’s Grammar School, and we had to honor the school’s patron saint or at least that’s what the nuns told us, but the significance of the day was always lost on us as we had no idea how to honor a patron saint, but we knew how to enjoy a day off from school. March was always the most dismal of school months with only this one day off unless Easter came early and we got Good Friday. We did thank St. Patrick but not for the reasons the nuns expected.

If you lived in and close to Boston, you also got today off from school but not for St. Patrick’s Day. Today is Evacuation Day. It is the day the British evacuated the city of Boston during the Revolutionary War. It used to be an official holiday for all schools and state workers but it was eliminated last year and now is celebrated in name only.

When I was in high school and a member of St. Patrick’s Shamrock drill team, we marched in the parade. It was the worst of all parades in which to march. Sometimes it was freezing cold. Every time, some drunk would join us for a bit of the march with a glass of beer in his hand he was more than happy to share with us. I remember the crowds along the street were loud and always cheered us for our name and for the shamrocks on our uniforms.

When I was in college, going to the St. Patrick’s day parade in South Boston was a big deal. It was a day to celebrate by wearing green and drinking a significant amount of alcohol. I remember several toasts to me by people I didn’t know that we’d met in the bars. Kathleen Ryan is as Irish a name as can be.

My mother always made corned beef and cabbage today. She was a great cook, but I do remember one year she cooked it a bit too long, and my father was mystified when he couldn’t find the potatoes. They had dissolved in the pan. He was more than disappointed.

I have no plans for today though I’m thinking I might go out for corned beef and cabbage. I can’t imagine St. Patrick’s  Day without it.

“Oh, if it be to choose and call thee mine, love, thou art every day my Valentine!”

February 14, 2012

Before Valentine’s Day, we’d spend one art class making our valentine boxes out of shoe boxes brought from home. We’d use crayons and construction paper and, for those of us lacking any creative talent, our imaginations. Boxes were covered in paper then decorated with red hearts and a few flowers. We’d make slits in the tops of the boxes so all the valentines we expected would fit inside. In those days, the valentines were small, made from light cardboard, and they had silly sayings on the front. The backs were empty so we could sign our names. They even came with envelopes we addressed with our classmates’ names. My mother would buy a few boxes of the valentines, and we’d sit at the kitchen table and write them out then put them in the box to carry them to school. They never went into the school bag. They were too precious. The boxes were carried by hand with great reverence.

During the day we  had to keep the boxes under our desks. That was the worst as the day went so slowly, and we could see each others’ boxes just sitting there while we wasted our time on arithmetic and English and whatever else was forced into our heads. I doubt we learned anything. We were clock watching, just waiting and biding our time until the party.

All of us brought something for the party: sugar cookies in the shapes of hearts, cupcakes with red frosting or bags of conversation hearts which said Be Mine or True Love or I’m Yours. None of us ever believed the sentiments. We just ate the candy.

The party was always the last part of the day. Away went the books and on our desks came the boxes. We’d take out our valentines and students, called by rows, would walk around and put an envelope in someone’s box. Sitting at my desk, I’d hold my breath hoping I’d get a valentine or two or several.

Once everyone was finished, the party began in earnest. We’d get to chat and eat and open our valentines. I remember hoping for one from my latest crush and being thrilled when I got it. When school ended, we’d walk home talking the whole way about the party and showing off our valentines.

We carried our boxes home with even more reverence than we had carried them that morning. The valentines inside were special.

“With luck, it might even snow for us.”

December 27, 2011

Okay, I finally figured it out. The sun has gone on vacation somewhere warm and left us with gray skies and temperatures in the high 40’s, which really aren’t so bad, but it would nice to see the sun again.

Today I have a couple of errands to do so no lolling around for me. Yesterday I watched a few movies, took a short nap and was totally unproductive.

After Santa’s visit, Christmas vacation was always my least favorite when I was a kid. There was nothing to do unless there was snow or a new bike needing breaking in. It was just too cold to play around outside so mostly we played our new games inside, and I read my Christmas books. If there was snow, we were out all day and only came in when we were totally soaked and our lips had turned blue.

Our street was the best one around for sledding. It was a long hill. In those days, no salt was added to the roads so the hill always had a layer of snow. The first few sledders helped pack down that snow, and soon enough, the hill was perfect for a mouth dropping ride. Our sleds were the wooden ones, and the runners used to get a bit rusty over the summer so the first few runs down the hill had brown blade marks as the rust wore off in the wet snow. At the bottom of the hill was a street so we used try to stop before we’d cross the the street, but if the sledders at the bottom signaled no cars we’d let our sleds zoom across the street to the field. Then it was walk back up the hill holding the icy rope and dragging our sleds behind us. At the top of the hill, we’d hold the sleds on each side, quickly drop them to the ground then jump on them, stomachs down and feet in the air, to ride down the hill. Our feet were the brakes. We’d drag them to slow the sleds down.

Once we’d had our fill of sledding, we’d stick our sleds upright in the pile of snow left beside the front steps from my dad’s shoveling, and we walk around to the back to get into the house through the cellar. Our wet clothes went on the line. I remember my legs were red from the cold and my fingers were always stiff, but that never mattered. It was all about those slides down a really fast hill.

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