Posted tagged ‘market’

“The bicycle is the noblest invention of mankind.”

October 19, 2017

I admit it. I am addicted to YouTube’s black and white science fiction movies from the 50’s. No more MSNBC for me. Give me flying saucers, creatures from other worlds, space ships, really bad special effects and even a Nazi scientist. He was in The Yesterday Machine and unsurprisingly, wanted to save Hitler. The opening scene in that movie is a majorette twirling a baton, and that’s a highlight. I’m got to break this addiction. Library here I come.

Today is beautiful, the first in a string of beautiful days. It will be in the high 60’s, even reaching 70 by next week. Despite that near week of rain and clouds, this fall has been a delight.

When I was a kid, I had all the kid things every other kid had. I had a bike, roller skates, ice skates and a sled, something for every season. My bike was my favorite. It took me all over town and even far out of town. Unless there was snow, I could ride. My first bike was blue. It had a wire basket in the front and a bell on the handle bars. I loved that bike.

I remember a tingling on the soles of my feet when I roller-skated. I remember the sound of the skates. They were the loudest on the street and the quietest on the tar parking lot near my house. I carried the key on a rope around my neck. I’d sit on the curb to reattach the skate to my shoe. The skates were heavy.

Like every other girl, I had white ice skates. We all carried our skates tied together on our shoulders, one skate in the front, the other in the back. The trick to skating was always to make sure the laces were tight or I’d have to stop to retie them. My best skill was skating backwards.

When I was in Ghana, kids played with hoops and sticks. They’d use the sticks to roll the hoops. The first time I saw the kids playing, I remembered seeing the same game in old pictures. I never saw bought toys there. I saw cars and planes made from tin cans. Ghanaian kids are ingenious. I did see bicycles, lots of bicycles, but mostly adults rode the bikes as they were dear, expensive. I would borrow a bike to go market. It was an easy ride downhill from my school compound, but going home uphill was, at first, difficult. I had to walk part of the way pushing the bike loaded down as I was with vegetables, fruit and even a chicken from the market, but soon enough I could ride all the way home.

I have a bike but haven’t ridden it in a long while. It has gears. It doesn’t have a basket or a bell. It’s a good bike, but I’m still partial to back pedal brakes and no gears. They were more than enough to whisk me away!

Some memories are unforgettable, remaining ever vivid and heartwarming!

August 4, 2017

The air is dripping. The humidity is so thick it seems to coat my skin when I go outside. This morning’s gray clouds are giving way to blue skies and intermittent sun. It is already hot. Here in my den, it is still cool. It won’t get hot until the afternoon after the sun moves from front to back.

The bird feeder I filled yesterday is already half empty. The birds flying in and out seem endless. One eats and two wait. They are mostly chickadees, black capped chickadees, the state bird of Massachusetts. I like to sit and watch them. The birds fly right over my head almost close enough to touch.

I can’t seem to find a story or a memory. That is rare for me as I have a huge memory drawer overflowing with scraps and pieces of my life. I guess I’m going to visit Ghana today, and I’m bringing you with me. There are so many stories yet to tell.

One day there was a knock at my door. It was a man I didn’t know. He greeted me. I returned the greeting. He told me he was looking for a white woman and was I interested. I said no. He asked me if I knew any Canadians. I said no again. He thanked me and left.

A blind beggar was being led by a small boy. The beggar was holding one end of a stick and the boy was holding the other. The beggar stopped in front of me and asked for money. This was while I was in training. It was my first beggar. I said sorry and sent him off with good wishes as you have to give a beggar something. He called me batoria, white woman. I wonder what gave me away? I also wondered if he was really blind.

I always went to the same vegetable lady in the market. I bought tomatoes and onions from her. She gave me my change the first time I bought from her, and I put it in my bag. She didn’t speak English but indicated with her hands that I should count it. I shook my head no. That cemented our relationship. After that she would dash me extra tomatoes and onions. Once she had a small watermelon. I have no idea where she got it, but she had saved it for me. When I was leaving to come home, I went to say goodbye. She was crying and gave me a hug. She also gave me a small gift. It sits on the table here in the den. She always comes to mind when I see it.

I loved the mornings in Ghana. The roosters crowed. The air smelled of charcoal fires. I could hear water filling the metal buckets where my students waited in line to take their bucket baths. I’d sit outside my front door drinking my first cup of coffee before breakfast. I had the same breakfast every day: two eggs cooked in groundnut oil (peanut oil) and two pieces of toast toasted against the sides of the small charcoal burner. I’d watch the school children cutting through my school compound to go to schools outside the gates at each end of the school. At one end was the primary school and at the other was the middle school. I was an object of curiosity until the students got used to me then they’d wish me, “Good morning, sir. How Are you? I am quite well thank you, ” all said one after the other without a break. I’d have one or two more cups of coffee between classes.

It seems my bemoaning my lack of memories was massively premature.

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.

“It is from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia.”

April 27, 2013

Today is another get out of the house and enjoy the weather day. It is a bit chilly but the sun is too wonderful to waste. Luckily, I have a few errands so I’ll venture out a bit later. For once Gracie is still outside enjoying the day. Usually she’s napping about now.

I mentioned that I had been to Russia in the 1970’s, and Birgit was curious about my trip given how long ago it was and how closed the country was especially to foreigners. She asked if I had ever told the story and I hadn’t. Today I will.

It was the summer of 1972. I flew from Boston to New York and boarded a flight which stopped in Denmark, Sweden and Finland, my stop. I was a bit unnerved when what had been a full plane came down to about 10 people for Finland. My friend and I had chosen Finland because we planned to book our Russian trip from there as it seemed easier and quicker than doing it from here. We stayed at a hostel in Helsinki which had been residences for the Olympic athletes in the 1952 summer Olympics. It was kind of neat to stay there. As soon as we could, we went to a travel agent and booked a trip by train to Leningrad where we would meet the tour then we’d go to Moscow and Tbilisi. It would take nearly a week for the visas so we left our passports and decided to travel north by train. As it was an overnight train we booked couchettes which really just meant 3 bunks on each wall of the compartment. Our train-mate was Finnish and spoke no English. Swedish is the second language in Finland. I never what I was eating: I just pointed. On the train she and I carried on a conversation by passing my Finnish-English dictionary back and forth. It was kind of fun and she laughed a lot. In the morning we arrived at Rovaniemi, the capital of Finnish Lapland. From there we took a bus to Lake Inari, north of the Arctic Circle, and we stayed at a hotel on the banks of the lake. I had reindeer for dinner. People always ask me how it tasted, and I answer delicious, but I tell them I found the blinking red nose a distraction. On the TV in the hotel was Eagleton stepping down from running with McGovern. I had a blue pin with white letters on my backpack: it said McGovern and Eagleton. I left it there the whole trip. I still have it. Reindeer were herded down the street, fir trees were all along the lakeside and it was midnight sun time. We stood outside where the sun hung down near the horizon and took pictures of ourselves late at night. It was absolutely beautiful.

When we returned to Helsinki, we toured the city. That just meant taking a certain streetcar with a loud-speaker system which pointed out the historic places and other places of interest for tourists. One of my favorite stops was the outdoor market. There were tables filled with vegetables and one had the largest strawberries I’d ever seen. I bought some and munched as I walked. Boats were moored and from them people sold fish. I remember the colors of the market. The umbrellas were mostly red, clothes were a variety of bright colors and the fruits and vegetables popped with color. In the late afternoon I walked where the market had been, and there wasn’t a single piece of paper or a slice of errant fruit. It was immaculate. We shopped at the Marimekko store, and I bought a red bag. It’s the same bag I still use when I travel; it’s a bit worse for wear, but I wouldn’t travel without it.

We picked up our passports and the next day we boarded our car to Leningrad. It was a single car connected to the Finnish train. When we got to the border, the car was disconnected then reconnected to a Russian train. There were three passengers: my friend with whom I was traveling and an African studying in Russia. The border guards came on the train, checked our passports and went through our bags. They seized a tomato from me and rifled through all my books. They obviously didn’t speak English as I was reading East of Eden at the time. The only crew member on that train was a woman, a train stewardess, who would come to us periodically and say,”Tea?” I drank glasses and glasses of strong Russian tea. I don’t remember how long the train ride was. I remember we arrived at the station in Leningrad, said good-bye to our car mate and went looking for a taxi to take us to our hotel. There were two lines, one short and one hugely long. We got in the short line and got screamed at in Russian by just about everyone. Someone was nice enough to tell us in English that we were in the line for women with children. We grabbed our backpacks and sheepishly walked to the end of the hugely long line, now longer by two people.

That’s it for today. I don’t ever remember writing as much, and the story has barely begun. I’ll continue the saga tomorrow.

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