Posted tagged ‘life’

“You either get Africa or you don’t…”

July 7, 2017

“Okay, I am in crisis mode as my laptop isn’t working. It stopped last night. Now it makes a noise and the battery isn’t recharging. The computer boots but I am warned about the low battery. I’m going to have to visit an Apple Store. I am using my iPad, and I hate it for typing. The keyboard is either too small or my fingers are too large.

Today is humid and chilly, the sort of chill that goes to the bone because of the dampness. It wasn’t raining when I went out with the dog, but as soon as we got outside, the rain started. Of course it did.

Last night the back outside lights didn’t come on. I have to check them, but I’m thinking the spawns ate them again. They ate red lights off the last sets so I’m wondering what color attracted them to this set. I swear the spawns who come here are crazy. There was the summer of the paint eating spawn who gnawed all the black paint off the chair arms. This one may be related.

The mouse trap is still vacant of any resident. It is filled with peanut butter. Either the mouse isn’t hungry or there are no more kitchen mice.

The summer has been uneventful. It is still early, I know, but nothing is planned. Last year I had Ghana ahead of me. That set the bar so very high that little will compete with the excitement and the countdown of the days watching the trip get closer and closer.

When I look at my pictures from Ghana, there is still a sense of amazement. I was in Africa. I wonder if my far younger me would believe I had lived there and it had an every day quality about it. I know I mention Ghana here often, but it is so much a part of whom I am I can’t help but write about it. It shines so brightly in my memory banks. The colors and sounds are so vivid. Going back has only intensified my feelings about Ghana and the wonderful Ghanaians.

I can only hear the rain.





“The great thing about getting older is that you don’t lose all the other ages you’ve been.”

August 17, 2014

My dad used to tell me the story of my birth. The hospital was in the same town where my mother’s family lived so my father kept driving back and forth with updates. My aunt was getting married that very day and was not happy her beauty sleep was being interrupted by my dad. My grandmother told her to deal with it. After all, this would be the birth of her first grandchild. Later, back at the hospital, my dad was sitting in the waiting room, the only one there. Finally a nurse came in and asked for Mr. Ryan. My father, after a hectic, exhausting night, said, “Who in the hell do you think I am?” She had him follow her, and they were just wheeling my mother out when he saw her and me. That never usually happened. Most times the father first saw his wife when she was in bed and the new baby in a bassinet in the nursery. My mother always complained she looked awful and should have had time to clean up. “What is it? was his first question. The it was girl. The it was me. It was around 3 AM when I arrived. I still like a good entrance.

I have been most fortunate. My life is filled with loving family, the best of friends and countless adventures. I have lived in Africa. Who could have predicted that? In Ecuador, I stood with one foot in each hemisphere. That is just so cool. I have the best aim when it comes to holes in the ground making me an overachiever in such an important skill. My friends make me laugh and give my life joy. My two sisters are amazing. They love making fun of me, but they’d be here in a heartbeat if I needed them. My friends and I have traditions like celebrating the first day of spring by watching the sunrise over the ocean, playing Sunday night games before The Amazing Race, Saturday night movies on the deck, Easter at the Ocean House and impromptu nights with munchies and games. My Peace Corps friends are back in my life and I am so much the better for knowing them. My former Ghanaian students too are back in my life. Two called and wished me a Happy Birthday today. KTCC has given me close friends for whom I am always thankful.

Okay, there have been ups and downs and bruises, but they never soured me on life. They made more grateful for what I have and taught me resilience and how best to land with the least amount of injury.

This morning my friend Clare left a mum on my front walkway. She does this every year, and it is one of favorite birthday traditions. Yesterday afternoon my friends took me to the Ocean House for a late lunch by the water. The food was scrumptious, the view spectacular and the drinks mighty tasty. They went down far too easily. They also gave me a Sharknado t-shirt I’ll wear with pride. When I got home, I took a nap. It was 6 o’clock. I woke up at 8. Tonight another friend is taking me to dinner. I expect it will be an early bedtime.

Every morning I am thankful for the new day and for whatever surprises it will bring.

“Everything you can imagine is real.”

May 20, 2013

Last night it rained, not a furious rain falling in sheets but a steady drop by drop rain. I had my bedroom window opened, and I fell asleep to the sound of the drops. This morning when I woke up, the day was cloudy and damp. Since then the sun has taken over the sky and brightened the day. It’s a pretty morning.

The window view from here in the den is one of my favorites. The branches of the tall oak tree fill the window, and I get to watch the tree change every season. The leaves now are young and a bright green. Hanging off a couple of the branches are bird feeders, and I get to watch the birds zoom in and out or stay for a while at the suet feeder. The winter view through that window is bleak. I can see only bare branches and dead leaves fluttering in the wind. When the first buds appear, it’s time for a celebration as I know the tree will soon be full and beautiful. It’s almost there now.

Sometimes I ponder my life and every time I do, I realize how lucky I have been. First of all I had great parents though I didn’t always appreciate them, especially when I got sent to my room or yelled at or had a slipper thrown at me by my mother who had absolutely no aim. She never once got any of us. We always ducked if it came close. I got to wander my town and go to the zoo or the swamp or play in the woods. I had a bike which took me even as far as East Boston to see my grandparents which scared the bejesus out of my mother as we had to travel on Route 1A, a busy highway which didn’t always have sidewalks. That bike was one of my childhood joys. My parents took us to museums which developed in us all a love of museums. They let us dream our dreams. I went to college and had no debt when I graduated because my father thought it was is responsibility to pay for school. My parents once told me they never thought any of their kids would go to college as no one in our whole family had ever gone. They were thrilled one of us did and so was I as I had chosen well. I loved Merrimack. The Peace Corps was the defining moment in my life which gave me a love of teaching, two years living in Africa of all places and friends for life. 

I have traveled many places in the world and have filled my memory drawers with those adventures, those vistas, the bumpy roads and crowded busses, the tastes of unknown foods and the joy of seeing all those pictures from my geography books come to life. Every year I went somewhere foreign, somewhere to satisfy my wanderlust. I got to retire early and since then have been to Africa three times: once to Morocco and twice to Ghana. My retirement has been so much fun: greeting the sun on the first of spring, sloth days, game nights with my friends, sitting on the deck doing absolutely nothing, movie nights and on and on and on.

Every now and then, like today, I give thanks for the life I have been privileged to lead. I don’t ever want to forget that. 

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.”

September 22, 2012

Yesterday the rain left the day humid and damp. Late last night it rained again. This morning is dark and gray. I have absolutely no inclination to go out and about. I might not even get dressed. My iPad has a few new books, perfect ones to while away a day, books with good guys and bad guys, buried treasure and a few murders. I might even watch a bit of TV. Today is deadly bug day on Syfy with wasps, alien insects set on world domination and monstrous spiders. The bugs are the opening act for tonight’s new movie about spiders from the Middle East called camel spiders who have a taste for humans.

I think the young me would approve of the much older me. Back then I had huge dreams and all sorts of ideas about who I wanted to be and where I wanted to go. I saw myself as a lawyer, maybe even the first female Perry Mason, or a teacher, an inspirer, and I knew I’d travel the world to visit places from the pages of my geography books. Even though I was growing up in the 50’s I never thought of being female as limiting, never even realized that a dress and pearls were de rigueur. I always knew I’d go to college even though no one in my family ever had. My best friends in high school were two guys, and we did all sorts of neat things and pushed the boundaries as far as we dared. My friends and I roamed Cambridge, Harvard Square, when it was the neatest place. We were comfortable just about anywhere. Once we celebrated Mardi Tuesday with a picnic at the library where we sat hidden between the stacks on the third floor. We thought of ourselves as rebels. We saw foreign movies with subtitles and felt worldly. We were daredevils sledding with our toboggan on hills everyone avoided. The bumps sent us airborne.

I learned long ago that life is an adventure to be savored, and in all these years, I have seldom been disappointed.

“I take care of my flowers and my cats. And enjoy food. And that’s living.”

May 8, 2012

We’re back to a chilly, damp day. Gracie is already sleeping on the couch, on the lower berth, the cushions, while  Fern has the upper berth, the top of the couch, for her nap. Yesterday I managed to buy a new tire for the car and new speakers for the computer. After I got the tire, I decided to meander and go down cape on Route 28 and sight-see a bit on my way to buy the speakers. During my wanderings, I happened to find a store I’d never seen before so I stopped to do a bit of shopping. Not a thing I bought is useful, but I figured I deserved everything. The last few days haven’t been memorable.

My peas are beginning to show a bit of greenery above the ground. I noticed them when I watered the new raised bed in the backyard yesterday. My herb garden has been around a long time, and I’ve always had tomatoes in pots on the deck, but the peas are my very first from seed vegetables. I felt like a real farmer of sorts when I saw the shoots yesterday.

I had an early morning meeting today, but that completes my entire schedule for the day though I really do need some groceries. I figure I’ll read, take a little nap then drag myself to Stop and Shop. Tomorrow is dump day. We couldn’t go Saturday or Sunday as I forgot to get the new sticker, and the dump is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. Ah well, such is life.

I’m not complaining mind you, but every now and then I need to grouse. It keeps me on an even keel.

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

March 1, 2012

A late start for me today as I slept in until quite late. The rain continues. It started early yesterday and hasn’t stopped since. Gracie has yet to go outside. She detests the rain though I did notice she now goes under the deck near the stairs to do her business when I force her out. Animals are ingenious.

No birds are at the feeders. They too must be hunkered down somewhere away from the rain. The other day the birds swooped in non-stop at all three feeders. I just added a new suet feeder, but I can’t see it from here so I’ll move it after the rain stops. The feeder holds two bars of suet but it is a bit strange as the bird has to be upside down. I was assured by the man at the store that the birds don’t mind.

I never stop to think that I am in my 60’s. That has so little meaning to me. In my mind, I still think of myself as young. I know some of you will argue that 64 is still young, and I agree, but I remember thinking how old my parents were when they were in their 60’s. My dad passed away at 66, and I’m still a bit angry at all the time we missed together. 66 is far too young. I was reminded of that when I read that Davy Jones was 66 when he died yesterday. I figure he should have had at least another 15 or 20 years.

I am definitely far slower than I used to be, and my knees hurt. My mind has selective memory lapses. The other night I couldn’t remember the name of the star of The Closer and my friend Clare couldn’t either. We had to look up Kyra Sedgwick on the computer. When my sister told me my niece and her husband had decided on Declan for their baby’s name, a baby due in a few months, I told her right away that Declan was Elvis Costello’s real name. Why in the heck did I remember that and not Kyra?

When I wake up in the morning, I sometimes have to stretch to get all my parts working in sync, but I figure that’s okay. The joy of living far outweighs the aches and pains of getting older.

“Be glad of life because it gives you the chance to love and to work and to play and to look up at the stars.”

August 3, 2010

The day is again beautiful, cool and sunny with a lovely breeze. I’ve made my bed, finished the papers and taken my outside shower. I’ll be inside until I finish Coffee then it’s back to the deck with my book. I spend hours each day on that deck. I read, eat lunch, dream and ponder.

I have seen wonders and traveled the world. Every working day I went to a job I loved. I realize I have been lucky in life and lately, with all that pondering, I’ve recognized my life has come nearly a full circle. I’m not talking my imminent demise, but rather a return to simpler days when life was about adventure and surprises and the joys of every day. It’s like I’m a kid again and every day is mine.

It was easy back then to take delight in the small pieces of life. Walking the beach and finding a perfect shell was cause to run back to my mother holding  my prize and yelling for her to see what I’d found. It was a forever treasure. I never rode down the hill on my bike. I flew with the wind on my face and my feet off the pedals. Books took me away, and I was absorbed for hours in adventures on rocket ships and deserted islands and with characters I still remember with a vividness that keeps them alive. I had no money, but I really didn’t need money. My mother gave me a nickel or a dime for ice cream when Johnny rang his bell, and I could go to the Saturday matinee and buy a candy bar. A hot dog was a sumptuous feast. Cold, juicy watermelon on a hot afternoon was a gift from God. I didn’t care about fashion. Comfort was more important. Sleeping outside under the stars on a warm summer night was filled with wonder. Life was breathtaking every single day.

My life is again filled with simple joys. I watch the birds and listen to their songs. Some days I never get dressed and sit around in my cozies and read. I don’t spend much money on myself and most weeks I travel only thirty or so miles in my car. My friends invite me for burgers, Tony burgers, and we play board games. We love movie nights on the deck. Gracie and I take rides, and I swivel my head from side to side so as not to miss a single thing. Gracie just hangs her head out the window. I never mind watermelon juice on my hands, and I like to spit the seeds. I’m back to thinking a hot dog cooked on the grill is sumptuous. My life is once again breathtaking every single day.

“Life: It is about the gift not the package it comes in.”

May 25, 2010

The songs of the birds are calling me. I can hear their chorus from inside the house. I’m showered, papered, so to speak, coffeed and ready to be outside. Gracie, smarter than I, is there already. It will be hot today; the paper says 75°. I can think of no better place to be than on the deck. From my window here, I can see a light breeze ruffling the leaves. The umbrella is open and waiting. I’m the only missing piece.

I never knew people with decks or patios when I was kid. We didn’t even have an umbrella for the beach. My friend’s aunt had a pool, and we went there a few times. I was awed. I guessed she must have been really rich. No family had two cars. Only Marty Barrett had been out of the country, and that was because his mother was British. She and his father had met her during the war. My mother was around all the time. Everybody’s mother was. My father worked long days selling tobacco goods wholesale for J. P. Manning. He was seldom home before dark no matter the season. We lived on one side of a duplex. We had really bad neighbors for a while, but then they moved. A firefighter and his family moved in, and they were great neighbors. I used to visit them and was amazed at how their house exactly mirrored ours. We shared a backyard and divided the clotheslines. A family vacation away was a rarity for us as was going out to eat. I remember lots of days at the beach. My mother never learned to swim so she was always sitting on the blanket. My dad was the best swimmer I knew. I loved watching him body surf. He made sure we all learned to swim. Summer days were spent roaming town, exploring the woods or enjoying the playground staffed every summer with two counselors. I made a lot of potholders.

I never felt deprived as a kid. Life was rich and filled-that seemed to be enough back then.

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