Posted tagged ‘Mass’

“He shoveled the bacon out on a plate and broke the eggs in the hot grease and they jumped and fluttered their edges to brown lace and made clucking sounds.”

February 11, 2018

Today is a dismal dark day. The rain started last night around eleven, and it’s still raining.  The weather report says rain on and off for most of the day. The only saving grace is the warmth. It is 47˚. I have to go to the dump. I’m thinking it will be quiet. The rain keeps people away.

When I was a kid, I mostly walked to church on Sundays. Sometimes, though, I’d go with my father to an early mass where he was an usher. I always wished I was an usher, but only men were ushers. My father stood in the back of the church waiting until the right time to pass his basket. He never kneeled. The baskets were at the end of a long pole which reached to the halfway point of the pew. My father would pass the basket then move to the other side of the church to get the rest of the pew. I always had a dime for the offering. After church my dad bought his paper from the guy in front of the church who was always there. The guy had a gray cart with a cover so he could protect his papers from the rain. After that my father and I sometimes went to get donuts to bring home. My father only ate plain donuts which he buttered. He’d also buy jelly, lemon and glazed donuts. I loved butternut, but he never remembered. My father kept with the traditional donuts. It made choosing easy.

I love eggs and their versatility. My favorite breakfast is two eggs over easy, crispy bacon and toast, usually rye. Eggs are often dinner for me, and once in a while I make an egg salad, but only if I have celery and lettuce to add as egg salad by itself is a bit bland. I love deviled eggs. My mother made them for all her barbecues, and my friend Clare often does the same. Most people have a favorite recipe for potato salad, but for just about every recipe, eggs are a critical ingredient. Coloring Easter eggs is a family tradition. You not only get to decorate the hard-boiled eggs but you also get to eat them.

St. Patrick’s drill team used to take part in the Halloween parade in Woburn, a town next to my own. We all hated marching in it because during the parade we’d get egged. I remember getting hit in the leg and having the egg slide down into my boot. It was gross marching on shells and uncooked eggs. I was glad when the decision was made not to march.

In Ghana I was close up and personal with eggs. I had chickens, and I also bought eggs in the market and sometimes from some small girls selling door to door. If I wasn’t careful in buying the eggs, I’d sometimes crack an egg the chicken had sat on for a bit. I was never bothered by that. It was just the way it was in Ghana sometimes.

“It was Sunday morning, and old people passed me like sad grey waves on their way to church.”

October 15, 2017

I’m wondering where the sun is hiding. The day is damp and cloudy. It’s a quiet day, no breeze rustles the leaves and no voices are loud enough to be heard. I have to go out and do a couple of errands later and tonight is game night. That’s like a full day for me.

When I was a kid, the expectations for Sunday were pretty much nonexistent. It was a nothing day much the same week after week. It started with church. The only unknown was which mass I’d attend. Would I go early with my dad, the usher, or later by myself or with my brother? Sunday dinner was the biggest meal of the week. It was always a roast, sometimes a roast beef and other times a whole chicken. It was the one meal all week where we all sat down to eat together though my mother sometimes stood by the counter to eat. On weekdays my dad was late getting home from work so he was never there for dinner. We were usually watching TV when he got home.

Once in a while, on a Sunday afternoon, we visited my grandparents in the city. I was amazed by the city. Houses were close together. The Italian bakeries sold pizza. A house down the street sold Italian ice through an open window. On the corner of my grandparents’ street was a private club. My uncle was a member. I remember going there once for a family party.

If we didn’t go out to visit, we’d sit around watching TV until my dad took over and turned to a football game. That sent us to the kitchen to play a board game or down the cellar to play. If I had a book, I’d go read it in my room away from the noise. My mother cooked in the kitchen. She peeled potatoes and opened cans of vegetables. We usually ate around two. Most times there was no special dessert. We’d grab cookies.

Sunday night we’d watch a bit of TV then it was early to bed because of school the next day. We always grumbled. That never got us anywhere except upstairs to bed at our regular time.

“cozy+smell of pancakes-alarm clock=weekend”

August 29, 2016

This morning I was forced to go to Dunkin’ Donuts. I had no coffee and no cream so Gracie and I jumped into the car and drove off for my morning elixir. When we got there, the outside line was long, but I had no choice. I hadn’t bothered to get dressed or even brush my teeth. Gracie didn’t mind the wait. She just poked her head out the window and took in the neighborhood and its smells. I listened to the radio. The line went faster than I thought it would. I was happy.

Today is already hot and humid so I am back in my fortress having shut the windows and doors and turned on the air conditioning. There are clouds but they do nothing except to obscure the sun. Rain is not in the forecast for the next couple of days. The weekend, though, will be lovely with daytime temperatures in the low 70’s and nights in the mid 60’s.  It is the Labor Day weekend, the traditional last hurrah of the summer.

My sister started work today. She is a pre-school teacher in Colorado. When I spoke to her last night, she was going to take a shower so she could get to bed early. I remember my mother sending us to bed early and reminding us we had school the next day. I also remember moaning and groaning and dragging my feet upstairs.

When I was a kid, I never kept track of the weekdays. I only knew when it was Saturday or Sunday. On Saturday my father was home. He did errands uptown and mowed the lawn. On Saturday nights he often barbecued. Sometimes we went to the beach all day Saturday or the drive-in on Saturday nights. Sunday had the only consistently distinguishing event, going to mass which also meant a change in wardrobe from shorts and a sleeveless shirt to a dress or a skirt and a blouse. After mass, the day was back to casual. We didn’t have Sunday dinners during the summer. It was more of a catch as catch can. Mostly it was sandwiches.

I think my favorite weekends were in Ghana, especially the Sundays. There was a service in the dining hall where the furniture had been reconfigured to look more like the inside of a church. The students wore their Sunday clothes. Each of the four classes had a different fabric for their traditional three piece dresses, their Sunday best. They wore a top, a skirt to their ankles and a cloth wrapped around at the waist. After the service, the older students could go to town. Visitors were allowed. A photographer wandered around taking pictures, always in black and white. I have a few of the pictures given to me as gifts. When I went to town, I could see the students walking in groups and stopping at kiosks to buy personal items like powder. Others went to the market to load up on snacks to keep in their school trunks, especially gari, made from cassava and easily stored.

Being retired, my days tend to run together. I sometimes have to check the paper to see what day of the week it is. My chores and errands aren’t confined to a single day. I don’t ever have to go to bed early.

“Life’s a beach. Just roll with it.”

May 17, 2015

Today is a glorious day. The sun is bright, the sky so blue it looks painted and the air warm and smelling of the ocean. It is a day to be outside to feel the sun on my face, to get drowsy in the warmth and maybe fall asleep.

The Sundays of my childhood were quiet days. First we had to go to church. Sometimes we’d go with my dad while other times we’d walk, my brother and I. In the summer the early masses were crowded so people could have the whole day. Those were my favorite masses. Often there were no open seats in the pews so we had to stand in the back and even outside on the steps where I was so far away from the altar at the front of the church I never heard any part of the mass. I’d get tired and sit on the steps. The adults standing in the back used to crane their necks to see what was going inside. I was never that curious.

Most Sundays were family days. In the summer that often meant the beach for the whole day. We never tired of the beach and the ocean no matter how often we went. My favorite ocean time was low tide when there would be pools of warm water. We’d check out the starfish and toss empty crab shells at each other. We’d try to catch the small darting fish we called minnows even though they weren’t. We’d take our pails and walk along the water’s edge looking for shells, but not just random shells, we were picky. We’d pass by the clam shells and look for spirals with different colors inside and out. It was rare to find a complete spiral. Often one side was missing or chipped. We’d nearly fill our pails, wash out the sand in the water then put the pail near the blanket so we could bring home all our treasures. Mine usually went on my bureau for a while.

Eating at the beach was mostly when we were hungry. We had our choice of sandwiches, usually cold cuts but  sometimes egg salad. There were always chips to go with the sandwiches and my mother always packed a bag of Oreos, the easiest of all desserts.

My dad would make sure our feet were cleaned so we wouldn’t bring sand into his car. He’d open the car door, we’d sit and he’d dunk our feet into a pail of water then we’d scramble our way to our seats without touching the parking lot sand. I think it a bit ironic that we ended up living on the Cape where sand is almost part of the car floor.

I remember falling into an exhaustive sleep after a day in the sun and water. Sometimes, when my head was on the pillow, warm water would drain from my ears. It was a strange sensation.

“My favorite meal would have to be good old-fashioned eggs, over easy, with bacon. Many others, but you can’t beat that on a Sunday morning, especially with a cup of tea.”

April 26, 2015

It’s cold again today. The high will be 51˚. The nights are still in the mid to high 30’s. The sun was here for a bit then the clouds came in and the sun was covered, but the day is still light.

When I was a kid, I either went to the early mass with my dad, the usher, or I walked to mass later in the morning. If it was a lucky Sunday, my aunt would be at the later mass, see me and invite me to the Stoneham Spa for a lime ricky. The spa was uptown. It was old and looked like the malt shops on TV. It had wooden booths with all sorts of names carved on the tables, faded signs on the walls highlighting some of the menu items and stools at the counter. It had been a hangout even during my mother’s high school days. I don’t remember when it closed down, but I know it was before I was in high school or we would have been there.

If I didn’t see my aunt, I’d trudge home after mass to spend the most boring day of the week in the house. We didn’t go anywhere to play or roam on Sunday because we had to be there for the big Sunday dinner. It was usually the only time in the week we had roast beef so it wasn’t all that bad being stuck in the house waiting for dinner. I’d read the comics, the only part of the paper I cared about, or watch the Sunday movie. Sometimes we’d go visit my grandparents after dinner, but mostly we just stayed around the house. On Sunday nights we went to bed earlier than usual. My mother gave us the excuse, which we never believed, that because we had been up late on Friday and Saturday nights we needed to go early to get our rest for school on Monday. We used to argue and plead but to no avail. I think my displeasure was evidenced by my feet pounding each step as I went upstairs, but I was usually wearing slippers so the noise wasn’t bad enough for my father to yell.

Sundays haven’t really changed much. They are still mostly boring. Now I read all of the papers, but I still start with comics. Old, ingrained habits seldom die. I don’t cook a big meal for myself but I like Sunday breakfast. That comes from when I’d visit my parents, and my dad always made me my Sunday breakfast. He’d cook eggs, anyway I wanted them, bacon and toast. Mostly I liked them sunny-side up. That’s what I make for myself, but he never broke the yolks. I sometimes do.

“Christmas time! That man must be a misanthrope indeed, in whose breast something like a jovial feeling is not roused— in whose mind some pleasant associations are not awakened— by the recurrence of

December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!

I woke up to a dark, rainy day yet again, but I remembered right away it was Christmas, and the day got brighter. Both trees are lit and both look beautiful. The one in the living room, the real tree, is still surrounded by presents I haven’t yet opened. That will come next, when I finish here. I find my restraint remarkable.

Christmas Eve was great fun. We drank egg nog and ate appetizers but mostly we worked on our gingerbread houses. We each had a kit with house parts and some candies for decoration. Clare added different candies and off we went. The frosting was sticky and my fingers were covered. Some bits fell on the floor as the frosting hardened quickly. This year, while the walls of the houses were drying, we decorated. We laughed when colored round candies hit the floor, bounced and then rolled, and there were several. Gum drops, we found out, needed lots of frosting. We landscaped. The last step was for us to attach the roof parts. We each had two pieces. Mine caused the walls to collapse, a construction set back, but I added icing and reconnected the house. It dried, and I gingerly added the roof, and it stuck. The three of us created masterpieces. They are the best houses yet.

When I was a kid, the first look at the tree on Christmas morning was jaw dropping. It was lit and surrounded by presents. It always looked brighter and taller on Christmas morning. I had to stand just a second on the stairs to marvel then I went to my spot, my special present spot under the tree. We each had one, and it never changed over all the years.

We’d take turns opening up a gift so could watch each other open. The stockings were the only exception. There we were on our own though neat stuff was held up for everybody to see. Stockings always had neat stuff. My mother was a stocking maven.

We’d play a while then go to church for Christmas mass. Because my parents went at midnight, my brother and I walked and went together. Mostly we went to early masses which were quick and had no sermon. It was just the old ladies and us.

Dinner was always a roast of some kind, usually roast beef, which we didn’t have often. Mashed potatoes and gravy were a necessity. Only the vegetables could change from year to year. After dinner we did whatever. Mostly we played near the tree. Sometimes I’d start a new book. For supper we had hot roast beef sandwiches covered in gravy. My mother always toasted the bread first.

We went to bed early on Christmas, exhausted by the festivities of the day. It was always a special day filled with surprises.

I love Christmas still and take joy out of finding neat stuff, the kind you hold up to show, for bags and stockings. Speaking of bags and stockings, I’m done here. Merry Christmas!

“It was Sunday morning, and old people passed me like sad grey waves on their way to church.”

March 16, 2014

This morning I filled the four sunflower feeders, and the spawn came back, the red one which jumps from the rail to the feeder over and over again. I chased it away, but it will be back. It always is. I thought about ways to encourage the spawn to pack its little bags and move elsewhere. I came up with a slingshot flinging paperclips, a pea shooter, a wire covering the food slots, electrifying the rail from where it jumps and a wee guillotine though I did reject that last one but only after giving it some consideration. I’m thinking the wire might be the best choice only because my aim with the slingshot and pea shooter mightn’t be up to the task.

The day is a pretty one. I found some more croci in the garden. Three of them are open and basking in the sun. I also saw a snowdrop, a lovely and delicate flower, by the stairs. The hyacinths are getting taller, and I can see their buds. It may only be 34˚ but it feels like spring to me. Flowers carry hope about them.

The mornings are noisier now. The birds have started greeting the day. Their songs are most welcome sounds.

In the church I attended in my hometown, there was a tiny pew in the back. It was the last one in the church and held only two people. I used to wonder why it was there and eventually decided they ran out of space but wanted balance at the end of the rows instead of a weird bare spot. I loved that pew and thought of it as the pew of the impious. I always sat, stood or knelt when everyone else did, but I never paid attention. Sometimes I sneaked in a book and read the latest adventures of Trixie Beldon. I tried to look saintly and reverent with my head bowed, and because all the people were in front of me and couldn’t see what I was reading, I think I pulled it off. When the ushers came by with their baskets, the book was hidden. I dropped my dime in the basket, waited for the usher to move along and then went back to my book. Mass went quickly when I was otherwise preoccupied so it was often a surprise when the priest said, “The Mass is ended go with God.” I took him at his word and scooted out the door and down the stairs. I was probably close to halfway home before the church had even emptied. I never minded going to mass when I had a good book to keep me company.

“Easter tells us that life is to be interpreted not simply in terms of things but in terms of ideals.”

March 31, 2013

The sun is shining on this Easter morning. The air is still, and the day is getting warmer. No winter coats will cover pastel Easter dresses. I can hear birds singing even though the windows are closed. Yesterday I saw a few buds on one of my bushes. The buds are tiny and closed tightly, but they are another sign that spring is gaining hold.

The alarm rang at 6:15 this morning, and I turned it off and went back to sleep for an hour. I had set it early so I could sneak down my friends’ house and decorate the tree which hangs over their deck: it’s an annual Easter surprise. Though if it’s annual, is it really a surprise? Anyway, when I realized how late it was, I was afraid they’d be awake, but Gracie and I went anyway. The car was covered in frost so I scrapped the windows and off we went. At their house, all the shades were down so they were still abed. I went on the deck and started decorating. One of the giant decorated paper lanterns fell over the deck rail. That meant walking off the deck then all around the outside of the deck and through the underbrush to retrieve it. That was an adventure. The leaves and branches were soaked and sucked up one of my slippers. I had to yank it out of the muck. I found a bird feeder covered in wet leaves and put it on the deck rail. I also saw a mango. I’m still perplexed a bit about the mango, strange spot for one. While I was mucking about, the door opened and out came Darci, their dog. Whoever let her out never looked so I wasn’t caught. I walked back to the deck, petted Darci for a while, hung the lantern then sneaked away. I just got a call thanking me for the surprise and telling me how lovely the tree looks.

I remember so well Easter Sunday mass when I was young. The church was always beautiful and filled with light. The sun shined through the stained glass windows. The dark purple of lent had been replaced by white and all the statues were uncovered. Flowers decorated the floor in front of and all around the altar. I remember the lilies because they were the tallest. The church was always crowded. Women wore hats, fancy hats with veils, small see through veils that went down as far as their eyes. The men wore suits and carried their hats into the church. Little girls wore dresses in pinks and blues and all the different shades of pastel. They wore short white gloves and round hats with ribbons. Their shoes were patent leather, both black and white, and were worn with fancy white socks with lace around the edges. Some boys wore suits, ones with jackets checkered in the front. Others wore white shirts and ties and new pants with deep creases. The shoes were always new and always with laces. The choir sang at Easter. If I had known the word back then, I would have said it was majestic, mass on Easter Sunday.

Happy Easter!