Posted tagged ‘lawns’

“An optimist is a fellow who believes a housefly is looking for a way to get out.”

May 27, 2017

We have some blue sky and a sun which can’t quite make up its mind about coming or going. It is also chilly, not a morning chill: it’s just cold.

My dance card is empty today. I do have some Gracie stuff to wash but nothing else. Yesterday’s amazing spurt of industry has left me with nothing needing doing except to put my banners and flags on the fence.

The lawns are green and lush from the rain. Even the leaves seem to glint in the sun which seems to have made up its mind and is staying for the duration. I’ll go on the deck later and empty the water from the furniture covers hoping they’ll dry so they can be put away for the season. Next week is buy my flowers and open the deck week.

My neighborhood is eerily quiet for a Saturday. Once in a while the dogs across the street bark but usually at Grace and me walking to my backyard. I don’t know where all the kids are, but I’m glad they’re missing. I’m happy for the peaceful morning.

My around the house cozy pants have permanent creases from sitting down when I wear them. One crease has given way. I didn’t figure sewing it would work as it wasn’t torn so I did the next best thing. I duct taped the worn area.

Some of the best things I learned in Ghana were to make-do, throw nothing away and repurpose. Tires became soles of shoes and sandals. Beer bottles were filled with palm oil or groundnut oil for sale in the market. Cones made from newspapers held rice for sale. In the butcher’s market, newspapers were used to wrap meat being sold. That mightn’t sound all that healthy, but the butcher’s market was filthy anyway. Newspapers might have been a step up. I always think it’s amazing what I learned to ignore or tolerate during my time in Ghana. Water with floaties (our word for whatever was in the water sold in beer bottles ), food from the street vendors or from the tables of aunties (older women) who were selling along the sides of the roads and, my favorite, eating in a chop bar ( usually a hole in the wall with a few wobbly tables and mismatched chairs serving local food) never gave me pause after my first few months of Peace Corps training. I even shooed flies off my food before I ate it and sifted my flour for as many weevils (small worms) as I could get. The rest just became protein. All of that became a part of life in Ghana and didn’t merit second thoughts.

The tolerance and forbearance I learned are forever a part of me. I admit my standards are definitely higher now, but I’m not squeamish about most things. I still flick flies.

“Don’t try to make me grow up before my time…”

July 26, 2015

Today is overcast and dark and the air has a damp chill. It feels as if rain is pending. I hope so. It has been too long since the last rain fell.

Last night was perfect for movie night. It wasn’t too hot or too cold. Goldilocks would have found it just right. The crowd liked Breaking Away and they clapped when the Cutters won.

I lived in a project from the time I was five until I was sixteen. It was in my small town and back then the word project had no stigma attached. We never thought twice about calling it the project when we talked about where we lived. Even now, when my sisters and I remember growing up, we start our memories with, “In the project…” The houses were all duplexes made of wood. The front yards had lawns, bushes and flower gardens. We lived in a corner duplex so we had a huge front yard with a small hill leading to the sidewalk and the street. All the backyards had clotheslines, and each side of the duplex had two of those clotheslines. In the middle of the backyards, between the sets of duplexes and behind the clotheslines, was a grass-covered hill, perfect for little kids to sled on in winter and to slip ‘n slide on in summer. The project was loaded with kids of all ages. My best friend lived up above from where I lived, and she even lived in the same duplex where we had first lived. Everyone in the project was a neighbor. One of our favorite neighbors lived in the house next door and another favorite lived right beside us in the same duplex. Their side was a mirror image of ours. A few neighbors were not so friendly, but only a few.

When I talk about my childhood with someone, I usually have to explain the project, defend it somehow, as most people tend to think of projects as block after block of brick high-risers in the poorest part of any city. They never think of them as I do: a place filled with kids, ready playmates, with a grassy field of grasshoppers which jumped in front of you when you walked, an old tree for climbing, blueberries for picking, woods for exploring and a swamp perfect for catching pollywogs in spring and for ice skating on in winter. It was the best place in which to grow up. My sisters and I agree on that.

“A lawn is nature under totalitarian rule.”

May 5, 2015

The morning is warm but cloudy. Rain is a possibility, but I won’t mind because we haven’t had much rain lately. A while back we had days of rain then it stopped, plugged by an unseen hand. Gracie and I have a couple of errands later including our first stop at the garden center. I have a list of flowers I hope to add to the front garden, and I know what herbs and veggies I want.

When I was a kid, I never thought flowers would become important to me. My father and his pansies were all I knew. Few of the yards around us had gardens either because my neighborhood was filled with lawn people. A green, lush, beautiful lawn was a status symbol. It had to be mowed just right and frequently watered. On hot days we’d run through the sprinkler which sort of annoyed my dad. It wasn’t good for his lawn to have us tamp it down as we ran. The neighbor behind us was a radical lawn lady. Even though we shared a hill, she never wanted us walking on the grass. She’d yell from her kitchen window if we dared pass the line of demarcation between her part of the hill and ours. It wasn’t a real line, but it was the visual boundary between her yard and ours, between a lush lawn and just grass. My father didn’t care about that hill. It was his front lawn which he tended lovingly.

When my parents came to visit, my dad brought all his lawn tools including his mower. My mother and I would go shopping, and my dad would tend my yard. He’d mow and rake the grass then trim the bushes. He’d even venture into my wild backyard and mow the tall grass, reminiscent more of a field than a lawn. I think my neighbors were probably cheering as I never mowed until I figured the grass was high enough to make it worth my while. When my mother and I would get home, my dad would give us the grand tour of all he’d done. The difference was amazing. He always made my front yard looked cared for and loved. That was his gift to me, one he enjoyed giving. I loved him even more for it.

“Did you ever wonder if the person in the puddle is real, and you’re just a reflection of him?”

August 15, 2014

It was cold enough this morning that Gracie cocooned, usually one of her winter tricks. She waits until I’m in the bathroom then pushes the covers to the bottom of the bed and nestles in the blankets so most of her body is covered, all except her head and chest. She looked pretty cozy this morning.

This is one of the coolest summers I can remember. We have hit 80˚ maybe three or four times. The rest of the days have been in the 70’s. Perfect weather. Usually August is humid and disgusting, but it hasn’t been except when we’re expecting rain. The nights have been in the 60’s. I have used my AC in the bedroom maybe five times all summer and the central air maybe three or four times. I’m wearing socks as my feet were cold. What’s with that?

Even though we haven’t had much rain, the lawns are green and beautiful. Usually by this time there are browns spots, and the lawns look dry and tired, but not this summer. When the rains come, they are substantial. Last week we got 3 inches in a single storm. Low spots in the roads became lakes or ponds as there are no gutters and no sewers for run-offs. Just up the street is one of those spots, and it always floods. This time it was the deepest I’d seen it in a long while. Cars went around the block to avoid it. After the water disappeared there was mud and sludge across the road.

I used to love to ride my bike through puddles, the bigger the better. As the water cascaded on each side of the bike, I’d take my feet off the pedals and extend my legs so they’d get wet from the rush of water. I aimed for every puddle I saw, and I laughed out loud for the joy of the puddle and the wave.

“Get close to grass and you’ll see a star.”

June 16, 2014

The day is glorious. I was out and about early: met my friend for breakfast, went to the dump, shopped at Agway and went to my local vampire for blood drawing. On the way home I saw a field of dandelions aglow in bright yellow and stopped to look. I smiled all the way home.

Today will be in the low 70’s here, low 80’s in Boston. It is a day to be outside, to sit in the sun with a good book and a cold drink.

When I was a kid, I never minded the heat. On the hottest day, we would run through the sprinkler. The water was always cold. Sometimes we’d jump over it while other times we’d stand in the spray as the sprinkler spun. I remember the sprinkler always made a whirr sound when its arms turned, and the arms turned so quickly they almost blended together. My dog used his paw to stop the sprinkler so he could get a drink of water. We always thought he was the smartest of dogs to do that.

My dad was never thrilled with our sprinkler jumping because the lawn took a beating, and he loved his lawn. In our neighborhood, men were judged by the quality of their lawns. My father mowed his every Saturday with the hand mower. He swore by that hand mower the whole of his life. It always cut the lawn exactly right he’d say. I liked to listen to him mowing. The mower blades clicked as they turned, and I could tell when my father changed direction because the mower would be quiet for a minute or two. My father would finish off by raking, and that too had a distinctive sound, a scraping sound. His pile of grass would get bigger and bigger as he raked, and he had to work harder to keep the pile moving. When he was done, the mowed grass went into a barrel and he’d dump it later in the afternoon.

My parents moved while I was in the Peace Corps, and I never lived in that house, but I stayed there summers. My Dad had a front lawn on two sides of the driveway. He kept his mower in the garage for the winter and got it sharpened every spring. I can remember my Dad asking me if I had noticed how great his lawn looked when I had parked in front of their house. I always told him it was the best lawn in the neighborhood, so green and lush. That always made him happy.

“Think what a better world it would be if we all, the whole world, had cookies and milk about three o’clock every afternoon and then lay down on our blankets for a nap.”

October 19, 2013

Last night Morpheus grabbed hold, and I slept for twelve hours. My mother would have said I needed it, and I agree. I woke up not feeling up to par (another one of my mother’s sayings) so I’ll just sort of wait around and see what happens. The TV is filled with aliens and monsters so I’ll have plenty of entertainment.

I can hear leaf blowers and mowers, the sounds of Saturday. I went out on the deck and the air smells fresh, of cut grass and fall flowers. There is a morning chill I expect will be gone by afternoon.

I do have a couple of errands today and laundry to wash. I don’t feel like doing either, but I did finish the last of my bread for toast this morning, and I’m out of cheese, two good reasons to get out and refill the larder.

My mother shopped every Friday evening. My father drove her to the supermarket as she didn’t drive, but he never went shopping with her. When they got home, we all helped to unload the trunk. It was filled with paper grocery bags. The next few days were bountiful as  cookies and snacks were back in the house though some snacks were untouchables as they were for lunches. Oreos were always a standard. They were everyone’s favorite cookie, even the dog’s. My sisters used to feed him the sides once they’d eaten the middle. He sat right by them on the steps while they snacked. He knew what was coming. My mother always warned us to go slowly because once the cookies were gone, that was it until the next shopping day. We were kids: slowly wasn’t in our vocabulary.

We used to pop corn on the stove in a pan with a lid. It was less expensive than Jiffy Pop, but it took more attention and constant shaking of the pan or the popcorn would burn. My father made the best popcorn. He never burned a single kernel. My mother would melt butter and put it on the top then mix the popcorn around to spread the butter. She then sprinkle a bit of salt. The popcorn was served in a huge bowl. In my mind’s eye, I see a green bowl, but I’m not sure as my mother also had a set of white bowls with tulips, and that set also had a large bowl. When I was shopping with my mother once, we found a set just like it at an antique store and I bought the set. It sits on my fridge and holds all sort of memories.

“A lawn is nature under totalitarian rule.”

October 18, 2013

Today was a break in routine, an out to breakfast morning. My friend and I decided to celebrate the Sox winning the game last night with breakfast. In the old days, I would have celebrated during the whole game and suffered for it this morning. I can remember going to work barely able to open my eyes and with a headache which made me think the top of my head had erupted. I was a whole lot younger then.

When I was in elementary school, my friend I walked to school together every day. She lived at the top of the hill facing the small rotary in the cul-de-sac. She lived on the same side of the duplex  where we once had lived. I remember that house really well. The kitchen was small, the spot for the table was by the window and there were only two bedrooms. The stairs were the best part as there was a small landing, and I used to arrange pillows and sit there and read. We moved from there when my sister was born as we needed more space. We moved down the hill to a bigger duplex apartment, one with three bedrooms.

They called where we lived the project. It was composed of wooden duplexes, either twelve or fourteen of them; I don’t remember which. We lived in the first set almost at the top of the hill. Ours was on a corner and angled to face the street. All the rest were square to the road. We had the biggest lawn in front which we shared with our neighbor. Their side of the duplex was the mirror image of ours. We also had a lawn on the side of the house which was sacred to my father. I remember it was always green and always well-trimmed. My father prided himself on his grass no matter where he lived. He swore by a hand lawn mower. He claimed it did the best job. I loved the sound of him mowing the lawn, the clicking of the blades as he moved up and down in the same pattern he always used. We weren’t ever allowed to mow the lawn. We didn’t follow the pattern right.

The cellar in that duplex was where we played a lot. The big toys were kept down there as were our bicycles in winter or summer rain. Next to the back wall was where the wringer washing machine stood next to a sink. Later on, my brother turned part of the cellar into his bedroom. He didn’t like rooming with my youngest sister. I understood that. One of the lures for our cooperation in moving down to the Cape was that he and I would each have our own bedroom. They were both on the first floor, and he used to sneak out his window late at night. I never did though I did sneak in a couple of times.

A few weeks ago my sister and I drove by our duplex. We both noticed how big the trees were but we especially noticed how awful the lawns looked, especially the one at our old house. My father would never have allowed that.

“A lawn is nature under totalitarian rule.”

May 21, 2012

Today is damp and misty. It is supposed to rain later this afternoon and tomorrow. My landscaper is weeding my garden right now and getting it ready for plants. I’ll be buying them on Wednesday and also the herbs and flowers for my deck planters. Today I have a long list of places I need to go but they’re all within a mile of each other so I don’t have any complaints.

I filled all the bird feeders and the bird baths yesterday. I also put out a new oriole feeder for grape jelly, but I don’t know if the orioles are around yet. I have another new feeder yet to be hung with two bowls so the orioles will get their jelly and some orange nectar. I have a new hummingbird feeder which is also a suncatcher. That will go out a bit later. I’m running out of branches and using poles won’t help as the deck is too high to see them. Maybe there are some I can attach to the deck. I’ll have to do some hunting.

My father planted pansies, geraniums or marigolds in the front garden of my childhood home. That was the only spot for flowers. The sides and middle of the garden also had a few bushes which came with the house. Two fir trees were on the side lawn. The backyard was for the clothes line. His lawn was always beautiful. I think the fathers of the neighborhood gauged their manliness by the quality of their lawns. Some of the yards had lawns filled with weeds and brown spots of dirt, and the fathers who lived there were the objects of disdain.

When I was older and my parents had bought their own house, my father gave guided tours of his lawn. I always armed myself with appropriate adjectives when I was taken on the tour. Every year he’d asked, “Isn’t this the best lawn?” Every year I’d answer yes.

“Sweet spring, full of sweet days and roses, A box where sweets compacted lie.”

May 7, 2011

The morning is beautiful, sunny and warmish. I woke up to the sound of the lawnmower next door. It reminded me of every Saturday morning all summer. The lawn now is lush and green, the way it is only in the early spring before the heat of the summer sun finds it. As I write, it is being mowed and trimmed. Gracie is an interested spectator.

Last night from the bleachers I watched the Red Sox get thumped by the Twins. I ate a Fenway frank and shared some popcorn. It was fun being back at the ball park under the lights, but I would have preferred to see them win or even stay close. They have one more game to impress me as I have tickets in August.

I had Rice Krispies for breakfast this morning. I should have been sitting on the rug in front of the TV watching Saturday morning cartoons instead of reading the papers while I ate. They still snap, crackle and pop.

I can see the leaves on the oak trees. They are finally catching up with the other trees in the yard. In the front garden, many of the perennials have appeared. They make me want to buy my flowers and my herbs. That’s always a favorite shopping spree. I walk along the rows of flowers dragging my little red wagon behind me as I fill it. This is a red and pink year. I have plenty of white flowers. My friend, the garden maven, gave a list of plants to add to my garden this year. She has well over a hundred varieties in her various gardens so her advice is welcomed.

Later, I’ll venture to the deck and sit in the sun. The few errands I have can wait until the day is cooler in the late afternoon. I just can’t imagine wasting a warm day with blue skies and a gentle breeze.