Posted tagged ‘home’

“The Truth Is Out There”

August 2, 2016

Okay, I have been balancing on the edge for days. Today I went over.

The morning started just fine. I sat out on the deck and read the papers. It is humid but cool enough that the humidity isn’t bothersome. When I finished reading and had done the crossword and the cryptogram, I came inside to grab another cup of coffee and read my e-mail. That’s when everything fell apart. My computer pulled a Hal. The view wobbled and disappeared. Random programs opened by themselves. The bookmarks refused my command to disappear. Bing opened instead of my homepage. I ran upstairs and got my iPad hoping for answers. It wasn’t a whole lot of help, but I did get my toolbar back. Bing, however, wouldn’t go away. I closed all the programs and decided to start again. When I opened Safari yet again, everything was as it should be. The view stopped moving and disappearing. Bookmarks were hidden. I have no idea where Bing went, but it’s gone. I checked my utilities and Bing wasn’t even there. During this computer fiasco, I was crazed. Added to that was Fern meowing and Gracie crying. I checked them both. Fern was happy with some treats. Gracie was crying at the empty bag she had stolen treats from the other day. I was flummoxed. I did the only thing I could and showed her the empty bag and said, “See!!” Strangely enough she walked away and got on the couch.

Today is a neither day: neither sunny nor rainy. Given my druthers, I’d choose rain. I had to water the deck flowers again today. The plants were wilted. I soaked them and they perked right up. I figure I have to water every other day now until it rains.

Last night I decided to watch Netflix and chose the pilot of The X-Files. Scully was the skeptic with a grin. Mulder, of course, believed the case revolved around alien abduction. I loved it. I admit to being a super fan of The X-Files, but I doubt that is a surprise to anyone. I have a few favorite episodes and another few which gave me pause. One of my favorites was Bad Blood where Mulder and Scully had totally different recollections of the same event. It was a comical episode in its own way. One episode which still gives me the crawlies was called Home. The Peacock brothers were the main characters. Mulder and Scully went to investigate the finding of a dead deformed baby which had been buried. The Peacock brothers were deformed in some of the same ways, indicators of in-breeding. But with whom?  The answer is one of the creepiest characters in any X-Files episode. I won’t be a spoiler in case you want to get the chills from watching it.  Leave the lights on. That’s my only advice.

“Home is a name, a word, it is a strong one; stronger than magician ever spoke, or spirit ever answered to, in the strongest conjuration.”

August 2, 2015

I know it is late for me, so late that I almost thought of taking a mini-vacation, but here I am. Earlier I was out on the deck sitting in the shade of the umbrella. The day is another hot one. Gracie, despite lying in the shade, was panting. She wanted in so we both came inside to the AC. She is now comfy and asleep in her crate.

We’re going to the dump later. That’s the only entry on my dance card.

There is something so strongly compelling about going home. When I go back to my old home town, as I still call it after all these years, I take familiar routes, the ones I used to walk. From St. Pat’s to the project there are many changes. Some of the older houses are gone. The railroad tracks too are gone but there is a wide path where they once were. I am sometimes tempted to park my car and follow the path to see if it looks the same. There was a stream where we stopped for water. I wonder if it is still there. The playground where I spent so many summer days disappeared. Where it was is all overgrown now. My house and street look exactly the same except the bushes on the side of my old house are really tall. I don’t know if there is a limit as to how tall they will get. The tops look a bit spindly to me. I always have the urge to get out of the car and walk into the backyard just to peek to see if the in-ground garbage pail is still there, but I figure it would look a bit odd to the current occupants. I wonder what color the walls are now. In my day the living room was green. I suspect the house will look quite small inside to me now. I know the kitchen seemed small even then. Kid’s voices still fill the air on a nice day.

In Bolga, on my trip back after forty years, the first place I went was to my old school grounds to find my house. It was quite easy to find. It needed paint and the back courtyard could not be seen because the current occupants had added to the fence tops to block the view. I wondered about the four doors around the courtyard. I wondered what color they are. Coincidentally they were green when I lived there.

Home is a fluid place. It is both where you live now and all the places you’ve lived before.

“The ache for home lives in all of us. The safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.”

August 15, 2013

Last night was chilly, close the window chilly. It will be the same tonight then tomorrow through Sunday will get warmer each day. I don’t why summer expects all these return engagements. I’m already geared up for fall, and Labor Day, the unofficial end of summer, is close. It is as early as it can be.

I thought I had an empty dance card tomorrow, but I don’t. That means I have had something to do every day this week. My car is racking up the miles. I have already ridden over 70 miles through today. To me that’s a cross-country trip and tomorrow they’ll be more to come as I have to go to Hyannis. Yup, all the way to Hyannis, the big city in these parts.

I haven’t heard from Grace so I don’t know the progress of her quest to get a visa. She has all the papers she needs to prove her roots are in Ghana. She just has to present them. Grace had them the last time but was so overwhelmed by the quick 10 minute interview she didn’t think to use them. This time she swears she’ll be more assertive. I did call her last week, but she was in the Bolga market with Rose Atiah, another student of mine. In the background I could hear all the voices and the bustle of market day, and it was so loud the conversation was difficult. I said hello to Rose and she asked if I were well. Madam is what Rose still calls me. That’s what all the students called me. Rose is a grandmother; Grace is 61, but I will always be madam.

When I was in high school and forced to move to the cape, I was devastated. I had lived almost my whole life in one town, had the same friends forever and was involved in all sorts of activities. I hated the cape and came home from school every day, threw my books on the bed in my room and stayed there. I remember that first day of school when I stood outside alone by the side door while everyone chatted and talked about the summer. I wore new school clothes, not a uniform for the first time. My homeroom and my classes were easy to find but no one talked to me. I ate alone in the cafeteria. Every weekend I took the bus back to my home, my old town, and stayed with friends. My life had ended, or at least that’s what I thought. It took time, but I found a way to get involved. I joined after school groups. My favorite was the Latin Club but I have no memories of what we did. I was taking Latin IV so the club seemed to fit. Every time I see the yearbook picture of that club, I laugh. We looked like geeks. Giving the drama of my life at the time, I joined the drama club. I made friends, and found a place to sit in the cafeteria with my new friends.

While I was in Ghana and my brother was in the army, my father was transferred back to Boston. My parents bought a house in my old town, but it was never my home. When my brother and I came back to the United States, we both went home to Cape Cod. My mother said she wouldn’t take it personally that no matter where she lived, we wanted to live somewhere else, but our choice had nothing to do with her or the rest of my family. It had to do with our need for the comfort of familiar places and people as that’s what the Cape was for us, a refuge and our home.

“Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving.”

November 22, 2012


The year has turned its circle,
The seasons come and go.
The harvest all is gathered in
And chilly north winds blow.

Orchards have shared their treasures,
The fields, their yellow grain,
So open wide the doorway —
Thanksgiving comes again!

~~Old Rhyme.~~

Thanksgiving morning my mother woke up very early. She’d make the stuffing, always a sage stuffing, fill the turkey and get it into the oven. Her pan was in a huge oval shape and had a cover, but I don’t remember my mother ever using that cover. The pan was blue with tiny white spots on it, and my mother cooked her turkey in that same pan every year. Now and then my mother would open the oven to baste the turkey with its own pan juices. I remember the whole house was filled with the aroma of that roasting turkey. I can still see the kitchen windows covered in steam.

We’d be in the living room watching the parade and eating the snacks my mother always put out for us. I remember the bowl of mixed nuts, the silver nutcrackers and the silver picks. There were tangerines, and there were M&M’s. They were always  special on Thanksgiving.

I wish all of you the most wonderful Thanksgiving Day.

“He who is outside his door already has the hardest part of his journey behind him.”

October 1, 2012

I apologize for the lateness of the hour, but I upgraded my OS today and started to write Coffee on my iPad as the Mac was doing it thing. I wrote the blog but it disappeared. Come to find out I hadn’t put it on the dashboard but in some unknown place which ate the entry. I started again and got most of it written then, glory be to God, my Mac finished so here I am.

This morning I woke up at 8:30 which is the latest I’ve slept since I got home. It felt like the middle of the afternoon.

After I get up, the first thing I usually do is check out my window to see what sort of day Mother Nature has sent us. I was thrilled to see the sun and feel the warm air when I went to get the papers. I came inside and opened both doors. Fern ran to the sun streaming through the front door, and I wanted to join her. Lolling in the sun is a fine way to spend the day.

I keep track of the number of miles I travel each week. When I worked, I generally traveled over 100 miles a week with the comings and goings, the off-cape meetings and the occasional trips to Boston. Last week I managed 48 miles. Some weeks, my sloth or hibernation weeks, I do around 24 miles. At that rate my car will last forever.

I find it a bit intriguing that I am more than willing to travel around the world, but I carp and complain about a trip to Hyannis. It isn’t as if I have to travel far, but that doesn’t matter, I still have to steel myself for the trip. To that end, I always promise myself a treat for having made the trek. Usually it’s a stop at Barnes and Noble or lunch out, sometimes at the Indian restaurant or the Thai place on the way home. I chuckle at the absurdity of it all, but that doesn’t change my reluctance to get on the highway and head to the big city, big at least for these parts. Never could I have visualized that Hyannis would seem the ends of the earth to me.

“When you are at home, your troubles can never defeat you.”

September 20, 2012

The routine of daily life returns far too quickly. Each morning I am closer to my usual time. This morning it was 6:30 when I woke up; two days ago it was 4:30. Last night I lasted until nearly 10:30 before I dragged my tired self upstairs to bed.

Last year I returned to a different Ghana after forty years away. The cities are huge and filled with crowds of people and with cars caught in constant traffic jams, except for Sundays when the roads are clear. That is church day in Ghana.

I could hear the sounds of car horns everywhere. They blow a second after the traffic lights turn green which I find strange in a country where patience, like food and water, is a necessity of life. Ghana is dirty, mostly in the cities. I partially blame the water sachets, small plastic bags of pure water, sold everywhere then tossed to the ground when empty. After a while, though, I didn’t notice. I just saw Ghana: the people, the animals and the wonderful small villages and towns.

Along the roads are deserted houses made of clay. They fall apart easily when not tended. Other houses in various stages of construction are everywhere. They aren’t abandoned but in process. New houses are build over time, when the owners have money. It often takes years to finish a house.

The roads are filled with tro-tros ferrying riders from one stop to another, from one small village to the next. The driver’s helper sits by the sliding door and yells the destination. Each tro-tro is filled with people crammed elbow to elbow. People don’t seem to mind the heat.

Goats are everywhere. They stand on the shoulders of the road to eat the grass beside the road. Babies stand with their mothers. Pregnant goats waddle. At night, the goats sleep on the same shoulders where they spent the day. I never saw a goat which had been hit by a car. Drivers are careful.

Along the road, villages and small towns appear out of nowhere. Speed bumps are the only indicators. They slow drivers down going into and out of each village, even the smallest. In between the villages I saw women carrying bundles of wood, bicyclists riding along the side of the road and children with buckets both filled and empty. Many times I never saw their destinations and wondered where they were going. I guessed there were isolated compounds somewhere off the road. Hawkers are everywhere. If you stop, they come to the windows hoping for a sale. Off their heads come their trays. Some are filled with oranges or bread, groundnuts, water sachets or dried fish. At toll booths, the hawkers sell wares particular to the region. Near the water were shrimp, octopus and snails. The food I wanted was a sweet donut. When I found some , I bought two. They used to be a roadside staple. Now they are rarer. The other food I miss is toasted coconut balls. They were delicious.

The Ghanaians are wonderful, friendly people. When you speak to them in a local language, they smile from ear to ear and often clap. They say, “You have done well.” If you are lost, a Ghanaian will give you directions or even walk you to your destination. A woman got in our car and directed us to where we wanted to go. They will grab your bundles so you don’t have to carry them. I was offered a bench every time I stopped to take a small rest. Ghana is rich in its people.

Ghana is a country of street food. We used to go into town at night for snacks and buy we’d kabobs, plantain chips or fried yams. The women, the aunties, were set up along the sides of the road behind basins filled with oil boiling over charcoal fires. Lit lanterns sat on their tables. I always liked the sight of the dark street dotted with those lanterns. Mostly that hasn’t changed, but now street food is available starting in the afternoons. I bought tasty sausages and kabobs, often with fried onions. I bought kelewele and yams and bread, delicious butter bread, and rolls for my sausages. Many small kiosks now dot the sides of the streets and sell food. They all have painted names on the front and most boast they are the best: the best meat, the best kenkey and the best of just about everything.

Last year Ghana was new again. This year it was familiar. It felt far more like home, the way it had all those years ago.

“Hot July brings cooling showers, Apricots and gillyflowers.”

July 23, 2012

The sun just arrived. The morning had been cloudy, and I was hopeful for some rain, but then I noticed the sunlight. The paper said low 80’s for today. If the breeze stays, though, it will be a lovely day. Last night was chilly for a while then the night breeze disappeared and the evening got warmish again. We dined on the deck. I barbecued a pork loin, and we had potato salad and fruit salad then finished with chocolate chip cookies made by my friend Clare. It was a perfect summer meal.

I don’t remember summer suppers when I was a kid. In the winter my mother cooked everything, meat, potatoes and a vegetable, but our kitchen was small and would get really hot on a summer day if the stove and the oven were used so I figure we had hot dogs or hamburgers and maybe ears of corn. We were big lovers of corn. My dad was the best corn eater, and we loved to watch him mow down the rows as if he were a typewriter. As he ate, small pieces of corn would fly in the air. That always made us laugh. If records for finishing an ear of corn in the quickest time were kept, my father would be high on the list.

After we moved to the cape and had a big backyard, my father barbecued most weekend summer nights. We had your usual menu: potato salad with hot dogs and hamburgers, and for the first time my mother added chicken with barbecue sauce. My father used to take orders for cheeseburgers. My mother made great potato salad. Those were always the best of summer meals.

When I was an adult, my parents no longer lived on the cape. If I visited them in the summer, my father always barbecued. He would sit outside on a lawn chair with a highball in one hand and a cigarette in the other and keep watch on the meat. Over the years the meat menu had changed. My father would barbecue sausages, including Chinese sausages, or steak tips and once in a while pork and chicken. One thing didn’t change: my mother still made her potato salad. I remember those dinners when the table was filled with food and the meat was cooked perfectly. After dinner, we’d sit around the table and play cards, usually High-Lo Jack, until it was really late. I remember the kitchen filled with cigarette smoke, glasses on the table and my father dropping his trump with a flourish and a grin. “Made my bid,” he’d say.

“A vegetable garden in the beginning looks so promising and then after all little by little it grows nothing but vegetables, nothing, nothing but vegetables.”

July 5, 2012

It is the loveliest of mornings, sunny and cool. When I let Gracie outside, I followed her and stood on the deck for the longest time surveying my world and enjoying the start of the day. My vegetables are growing, and I need to stake my tomatoes as they are growing over the wire tomato thingies ( I don’t know what they’re called. Thingies works just as well for almost anything).

When I was growing up, the only fresh vegetable I remember eating was corn in the summer. I didn’t like tomatoes, and my mother didn’t serve salads. She knew we’d all turn up our noses. I ate canned peas, the small ones, the Le Seure peas; they were my favorite. My mother tricked us by hiding the carrots. She mashed them with the potatoes, and for years I thought potatoes were orange and white. My mother also served canned green beans, and we had to eat a few. All his life my father ate canned asparagus, long after the rest of us had found the joys of fresh vegetables. I remember my mother serving them to him at Thanksgiving. If you held up a spear, the top would fall over; they were a bit mushy. He always had the entire can to himself.

My father loved native tomatoes. Around here, when the vegetable season is at its height, people put out tables in their front yards with a variety of vegetables on them. The prices are usually on a piece of paper taped to the table and the money goes in a can. I’d load up on tomatoes and bring them up to my parents’ house when I visited. My dad would cut the tomatoes, load mayonnaise on his plate and take them into the living where he’d snack and watch TV. He always said there was nothing better than native tomatoes.

My dad would love my garden though I suspect he’d say dibs on the tomatoes!

“Home, the spot of earth supremely blest, A dearer, sweeter spot than all the rest”

May 1, 2012

Happy May Day!

I remember the May Day parades through the streets of Moscow. The news would show the marching  troops stepping in unison and missile after missile being hauled through the city, all meant as signs of Russia’s military might. I also remember May poles with brightly colored ribbons and flowers. I always preferred the flowers.

It’s raining. I’ve got music playing which helps dispel the darkness of the day. It’s cold at 47°. My heat went on this morning so the house must have been really cold. Gracie went out for only a minute. She is not a lover of rain. The birds were here earlier but have since disappeared. I suspect they’ve found shelter.

I know every sound my house makes. I know which floor boards creak. I know the sound of heat roaring into rooms through registers. Gracie’s dog door makes a crinkly sound, and I usually have to figure out if she’s coming or going. The ice cubes falling into the tray make a plunking sound. The other morning, though, it took me a moment to recognize the water flowing through the pipes. It was the outside irrigation system, a spring-summer thing, and I needed to jog my memory. Sometimes I hear a strange sound, and it takes a while to figure it out. I walk around the house trying to find it. One time it was a mouse in a cabinet. Another time it was a giant bug hitting the inside part of the screen. I let the bug out. The mouse got away.

In the summer, with the windows open, I recognize which dogs are barking and which kids are outside playing. I know whose lawn is being mowed. I hear car doors shutting, sometimes one but more often two, and I figure a neighbor is just leaving or just coming home. I recognize every neighbor’s car and wonder why a strange car goes down my street.

Home fills all my senses.

“Mothers are the necessity of invention.”

January 31, 2012

The day is warm by winter’s usual standards. It’s 49°, but there is a little breeze which makes the day feel colder. On days like today I’d love a jacket like the ones I had as a kid. With those, each sleeve had a jersey cuff inside which kept the wind at bay, and all the jackets had hoods attached. Nothing is worse than ears which are red and frozen.

We always walked to school and never thought twice about the weather. Most families had only one car, and it left early to work with the dads. In my neighborhood, the only woman who drove was a widow who had no choice. The other mothers walked to do most of their errands. The only exception was the weekly groceries. It was a Friday tradition in my house for my Dad to drive my mother to the supermarket. I never went, but I’m willing to bet my dad waited in the car. Grocery shopping was a woman’s job.

When I was a kid, there was a clear delineation between household jobs for men and for women. I didn’t know any mother who had an outside job. Every mother in my neighborhood stayed at home and took care of the house and kids. Every morning the fathers, wearing suits and fedoras, drove to work. In the winter they shoveled and switched to snow tires, in the summer they mowed and trimmed the bushes, in the spring they planted and changed tires again and in the fall they raked and burned the leaves. They took down and put up the storm windows. They got the oil in the car changed and picked out every new car. On warm Saturday mornings, they washed those cars. They read the papers on Sunday mornings and watched football on Sunday afternoons. They were the threats our mothers used to keep us in line. Everything else our mothers did.

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