Posted tagged ‘mittens’

“It’s not always easy to distinguish between existentialism and a bad mood.”

March 8, 2018

The rain came yesterday in the mid-afternoon and stayed all night. It was sometimes so heavy it pelted the roof loudly enough to drown out the TV. Boston and further north had snow, a wet, heavy snow, the sort which looks beautiful for a minute then you notice how laden down the trees and branches are, and you hope they survive. Some wires fell from the weight of the snow and even blocked major roads. Here the sun has been trying to come out of the clouds. Twice now the sky has brightened. I get hopeful. I need sun to dispel my dark mood, a mirror of the rain and the clouds.

My Travelocity gnome and my pink, plastic flamingo are in the den. They winter here. In the warm months they live on my deck. It is a special occasion when they travel from winter to summer, from the den to the deck. I always think there should be a parade and music. They are announcing summer is finally here, a cause for celebration, for good food, and for warm days lolling on the deck. Right now, though, all of that seems a sweet memory.

From when I was kid, I remember winter most of all. My school was an old one with high windows and drafts of cold air so for most of the winter we all wore sweaters. I remember walking across the field below my street, a sort of shortcut home, and having to walk backwards because of the wind. My cheeks turned red and numb. The wind blew up the sleeves of my coat. My ears always hurt even when I was wearing a hat as it mostly just covered my head so I’d put my mittened hands over my ears trying to warm them just a bit. Mostly I failed. By the time I’d get home, I was freezing. Right away I’d take off my school clothes and get into my pajamas and slippers. I’d wrap myself in my blanket. In a short while, I was warm and all the parts of my body had come back to life.

I have no energy today, and I don’t care. It is the weather which is causing this foul mood.   A bit of sun is all I need.

“Satire is tragedy plus time. You give it enough time, the public, the reviewers will allow you to satirize it. Which is rather ridiculous, when you think about it.

March 19, 2017

When I woke up around nine, the snow was just starting. Because of the wind, the fluffies were coming from different directions, from the north and south. Then the snow suddenly disappeared, but it’s back now, small flakes tossed by the wind. I doubt it will last long enough to accumulate.

I didn’t go out yesterday. I had no motivation. Today, though, I have a list of weird items. I need a bulb for my bathroom nightlight, an extension cord, and a plastic container for my snowmen. I’m putting them away for the season. I think they jinxed me.

I remember my first pair of nylon stockings. In those days I had to wear a garter belt. The back snaps were always the hardest to attach. I remember sometimes one would swing back and whack my leg. Pantyhose is one of the greatest inventions of the 20th century.

I never get gussied up anymore. I don’t go anywhere demanding gussy. The closest I get to dress up is coordinating the color of my pants with a clean shirt. That works no matter the season: long sleeves in winter, short sleeves in summer; corduroy in winter, cotton in summer; shoes and socks in winter, sandals in summer. I don’t even own a pair of panty hose. I do have three dresses: two flowered dresses for summer, one green dress for winter.

I don’t wear my winter jacket much. My sweatshirts are usually enough, but I do have the warmest sweater, blue with snowflakes, the sort which used to be called après skiing, for single digit temperatures. I have several pairs of mittens, but I don’t remember the last time I wore them. I have earmuffs and knit caps. My mother would be pleased.

I love Mad Magazine. I used to buy it every month. I remember the Alfred E. Newman for president drive. Mad taught me about satire and parodies and thinking for myself. I didn’t understand it all because I was young, but as I got older, I learned what it all meant. Spy versus Spy was a favorite of mine. Sometimes the white spy won and other times the black spy won. I believe that Mad Magazine helped form my politics and those of my generation. “What, me worry?”

“You have to eat oatmeal or you’ll dry up. Anybody knows that.”

January 23, 2017

Today is not one of my best days. My mother would say I am not up to snuff. To give you a better idea: I woke up at 9:30 and never got my first cup of coffee until 10:15. I just didn’t have the energy. I have someone who does all my yard work, a factotum who does odd jobs and plows, and a couple who clean every two weeks. Now I’m thinking I need a barista.

My Patriots gave the Steelers a bit of a football beating last night. We were on our feet more than a few times cheering their heroics on the field. Now it is on to the Super Bowl. My first thought for the big game is the menu. I’m thinking a sort of tailgating in the living room. I really wish my Dad was around so he too could cheer for his Pats and nosh with us (nosh-another one from my mother).

When I was a kid, baseball was my sport to watch mostly because it was easy to understand. The game didn’t have all the positions or plays football has. My dad watched the Giants on TV. I never did. I was a Red Sox fan. My football knowledge is much greater than it was, but I still don’t understand a lot of the responsibilities of the many positions. I understand the fundamentals of the game, and I find that’s enough.

Winter this year is weird. It is warmer. Today the high will be in the low 40’s and the low will be 38˚. It’s raining which makes it feel colder. It is also going to be extremely windy. When I was young, it was always cold walking to school. I was bundled as much as my mother could fit on me, but I swear my cheeks often went numb. They were red the entire winter. I didn’t have many colds, but I had sniffles. My nose was not a pretty sight nor, sadly, were my sleeve and mittens. Kids never carried handkerchiefs or kleenex.

My mother made the best cocoa. I drank it every winter morning. She’d dissolve the Nestle’s cocoa in some milk then add hot water to the cup. The cocoa always had bubbles on the top.

I have eaten all sorts of foods on my travels. Sometimes I had no idea what I was eating. I didn’t know the language. In some countries, I was glad I didn’t know. When I was a kid, I ate foods I’d never touch now. I ate sardines, the ones out of a can with a key on the top. I ate Spam right out of a can, also with a key on top. Those keys took a deft hand. My favorite way, favorite here used with tongue in cheek, of eating Spam was after it was fried. My mother often made us oatmeal for school day breakfasts. It wasn’t the smooth instant oatmeal they now sell. It was thick, lumpy oatmeal out of the cardboard cylinder with the Quaker on it. I never liked the lumps, but I found out that milk, a little cinnamon and lots of sugar helps the oatmeal, lumps and all, go down.

“Winter bites with its teeth or lashes with its tail.”

January 3, 2017

We have rain and 44˚. The low for the day will be 43˚. This is not winter in New England, but winter is impatiently waiting in the wings. Daytime tomorrow will be 50˚ but tomorrow night will be in the 20’s. The rest of the week will be 30’s during the day and 20’s at night. That’s a warm winter in New England!

The winter weather never mattered when I was a kid. I still had to walk to and from school every day. It wasn’t miles or feet of snow, but it was cold, freezing cold. The blasts of wind from across the field at the foot of my street whipped through my jacket. I remember using my mittened hands to protect my ears, red and numb from the cold. The hat my mother insisted I wear never kept my ears warm, just the top of my head. I’d hurry to get to the street below the field, the one with houses on both sides, buffers from the wind. It was a straightaway from there to school.

The middle of my classroom was always warm. Near the windows was chilly so most of us wore sweaters over our uniforms. The girls wore blue skirts and white blouses. The boys wore white shirts and blue pants. We could wear any shoes and socks. I don’t remember what shoes I wore, but I remember knee socks and pink long underwear which warmed my legs almost to the hem of my skirt.

In winter the classroom was never quiet. Even if we were silently reading, we could hear the hissing and wheezing of steam escaping from the radiators. I think that’s the sound I most miss from long ago winters.

My house has forced hot air from my gas furnace. I keep the daytime temperature at 68˚. That used to be warm enough. It isn’t anymore so I wear a sweatshirt around the house. The air blows and the house gets warm. I know this system is far more efficient than the radiators were, but the radiators did far more than spew heat. Coming in from the freezing cold, I could sit with my back to the pipes and quickly get warm. My mittens on the top of the radiator sizzled as they dried. My shoes with their curled toes looked like something Aladdin would wear after they’d dried under the radiator. When I was falling asleep, the radiators would hiss, crackle and even groan when they were warming the house. It was a comforting sound. I knew heat was coming.

“He that passeth a winter’s day, escapeth an enemy.”

January 19, 2016

Winter is here. Yesterday was freezing. Last night the wind never stopped. It surrounded me and was all I could hear as I was falling asleep. I wasn’t cold but I still snuggled under the covers as if I needed to keep the wind at bay. Gracie circled several times then plopped herself beside me. Fern followed suit but without the circling and on my other side. Gracie was the quickest to fall asleep. I heard her snoring.

Walking to school in the winter was chilliest at the beginning. Walking home was chilliest at the end. Every winter’s day I was bundled in a vast array of garments. Starting from inside out, I wore pink long underwear which came to my knees and a tee shirt under my blouse. My mother demanded we add a sweater, usually blue to match our uniforms, because our old classrooms had such high ceilings they were difficult to keep toasty. She figured we needed that bit of extra warmth. Knee socks came up high enough that only a small spot on each leg got cold. My jacket was thick and had a zipper. My mittens and hat were wool.

I remember at the end of the day being called row by row to the cloakroom so we could get our coats and stuff. We were always in rows: we sat in rows and we walked in rows usually 2 by 2 to go in or out of the school and to go to the bathrooms in the basement. If we needed to go during the day, we always asked for permission to go to the basement. Nobody ever called them the lavs or the bathrooms. That was one of the peculiarities of my old school. The cloak rooms were another.

Going home in the afternoon, I was never dressed as warmly as I had been in the morning. All my mother’s efforts to keep me warm were mostly undone. Sometimes I couldn’t get the zipper parts to join together so I left my jacket opened. I didn’t really like hats so mine was stashed in one of my pockets. My mother was never pleased.

“In New England we have nine months of winter and three months of darned poor sledding.”

December 17, 2015

Today is dreary and wet. The rain started last night and continues. It will be in the mid 50’s today and for the next few days. There will be no white Christmas this year in New England.

I have a picture of me standing on the front steps of our house holding on to my new bike. The picture was taken a couple of days after Christmas. I was glad for no snow that year. Had I gotten a new sled, I wouldn’t have been smiling.

The sleds we all used had metal frames, metal runners and a steering device near the top we could move from side to side though it didn’t steer all that well. The rest of our sleds were wooden slats we’d lie on to ride downhill. We had to bend at the knees so part of our legs and our feet were in the air. If we needed them, our feet acted as brakes though most times the hill ended and so did our ride. I was lucky to live on a hill, a really good hill. I could choose to walk to the top or just go from my street which would still give me a good ride. We had to be careful at the bottom because our street was perpendicular to another street, and if we slid across that street, no cars could see us. Sometimes one of us would stand there and give warning if we needed to stop. We all hoped to keep going because sledding over that street into the field was the best and the longest ride, and having the longest ride was in no small measure a matter of pride.

I remember getting dressed for sledding. I wanted to be warm but not bogged down by clothing as I did have an uphill trek pulling my sled behind me after every ride down. We all wore leggings tucked into our boots. They were waterproof and made that swishing sound when we walked. Our jackets sometimes matched but most times didn’t as we’d grow out of one or the other. The jackets had zippers and were always hard to zip so my mother would do the honors. Our hands stayed warm in mittens. Most of us avoided hats, but if my mother insisted, I’d wear a wool hat which mostly covered the back of my head and tied under my chin but would ditch it as soon as I got the chance. I didn’t care if most of my body heat escaped through my head as my mother claimed.

I remember speeding down the hill and thinking this is what flying must be like. I never wanted to go inside, but when I was chilled to the bone, I dragged myself home, parked my sled in the pile of snow by the back door, went inside to the cellar, got out of my wet clothes, hung them up to dry and went upstairs for a cup of cocoa with marshmallow floating on the top. That was the perfect ending to a day of sledding.

“Paradise can take the form of anything! It can be a flower or it can be a word or it can just be a sincere smile!”

January 8, 2015

I’m running late. I changed my bed, showered, shopped a bit on line and watched CNN. There was no urgency in getting things done. In due time I thought. The tree is still in the stand, bare of Christmas and sitting in the middle of the living room. I tried to get it out of the stand myself, but I couldn’t. It is the only glimmer of Christmas left, and later today it will be gone. My outside lights continue to be lit each night. I am loath to return to darkness.

It was so cold yesterday I brought the bird feeders into the house to fill them. My sister thought it strange and said I should have bundled up and done it outside. I fear the cold has warped her thinking. There I’d be out on the deck layered and wearing mittens and fumbling to get the seed into the feeders. Getting dressed to go outside would have taken longer than the task.

Today is sunny, but the light is muted, even chilly looking. I am not going out. This will be the second day in a row of my self-imposed exile from the world. I have all of life’s essentials: books, TV and Christmas cookies.

Last night I cooked chicken. I rifled through my herbs and spices and found one I hadn’t used, Caribbean Calypso Spice. It came from Penzey’s Spices, an occasion of sin for me. I’m sure a few of you are shaking your heads and wondering what in heck is an occasion of sin. I’ve known since childhood as the nuns were diligent in teaching us to avoid an occasion of sin, “Any person, place, or thing that of its nature or because of human frailty can lead one to do wrong, thereby committing sin.”  When I was younger, the list was long. Now that I’m older, I don’t even think I have a list. I live life with abandonment and am better for it.

I am wearing my new sweatshirt. It says Doctor Who and has a picture of the TARDIS. I am also wearing new slippers. I am warm and comfortable. I just ate a couple of cookies. I’m thinking this is a bit like paradise.

“It is the life of the crystal, the architect of the flake, the fire of the frost, the soul of the sunbeam. This crisp winter air is full of it.”

November 13, 2014

The cold is coming. Yesterday was near 60˚ while today is down to 40˚ and tonight will be in the high 30’s. It’s time to take my mukluks from storage, match pairs of mittens, find the socks with no holes and build layers. I hate it when my nose gets cold.

Despite the chill, winter sometimes redeems itself. I love the crunch of frost under my feet when I cross the lawn to get the papers. I stand by the door and watch snowflakes fall. At night they glisten under the backdoor light. Some snowstorms are pure quiet. Nothing moves and the snow falls silently to the ground. I use the deck rail as a ruler of sorts to see how much snow has fallen. If I go outside, some nights are so cold they take my breath away. My down comforter keeps me cozy and warm. I always think Christmas has to come in winter when the dark night begins in the afternoon and stays until later in the morning. All the colors and lights of Christmas are so bright they keep the darkness at bay. I like colored lights on the fence and a giant white star on the gate.

This time of year it is too cold for just a shirt and too warm for a jacket so I wear a sweatshirt. I didn’t start wearing them until I was in college when I proudly wore my Merrimack College blue sweatshirt. Now I have so many. One of my favorites is a red one with Red Sox emblazoned across the front. I have a couple that are worse for the wear from the National Peace Corps Association. They are now inside sweatshirts. Right now I’m wearing one with Celtics on the front. It is a boring grey. It too is an inside sweatshirt.

Today I am staying around the house. I have some laundry, but mostly it is because my back and hip are painful. The couch gives welcomed relief. Besides, it’s a great spot for a nap. Just ask Gracie. She is sleeping there right now.

“The three little kittens, they lost their mittens, And they began to cry…”

November 3, 2014

The wind has stopped. Today is cold but sunny. I went to the deck to fill the bird feeders and noticed the table had been blown as had all the chairs. They were flush against the deck rail, and the chairs were lined up in a row. The whole deck is covered in leaves and pine needles. I checked the yard but only one small limb didn’t survive the wind which reached 60 miles per hour. Some parts of the cape had snow but we had all rain. It was a mighty storm.

My guys are here to close down the deck. Soon it will resemble a deserted house with the furniture all covered. All the candles are off the tree limbs, the umbrellas closed and covered and the clay pots put away. The only things left are the bird feeders swinging from the branches. This is one of the sad days, the day I start to hunker down, the day I admit that winter is coming.

I don’t remember complaining about the weather when I was a kid. It was just part of the day and had to be tolerated. My mother made sure we dressed accordingly. If left to our own devices, we would have gotten soaked or frozen to death. Nothing is worse than wearing pounds of clothing during the winter. I never admitted to being cold even if my lips were blue.

Mittens and socks have a lot in common. Both cover digits and both seem to get misplaced, lost. Even now I have one sock downstairs on the washing machine waiting for its mate. I’m hoping it will appear when next I do laundry. Mittens too seemed to get lost one at a time, never in pairs. I didn’t ever understand that. The mittens were always together either on my hands, in my pockets or up my sleeves in my coat hanging in the cloak room. Maybe it was a borrower or a mitten elf or some creature from a different dimension. I had no explanation and my mother was never happy when a mitten went lost. By the middle of the winter, we were wearing unmatched mittens, but that was no big deal to us. At least our hands were warm until the next one disappeared.

“…we went to watch the waves that bitter day and the wind took your red cap and mittens – blew them into the sea…”

November 4, 2013

I should be singing “What a Difference a Day Makes.” Yesterday’s warmth has given way to a seasonably cold morning in the mid-40’s. The view outside my window even looks cold with a here again, gone again sun, a strong breeze and cloudy skies. The weather isn’t inviting though I’ve already been out for breakfast and have to fill the bird feeders later. I’m thinking today is a good day to lounge.

I remember walking to school every day regardless of the weather. The worst walk was during the winter when it was cold and sometimes so damp my bones would chill. My mother made us wear snow pants, thick coats, hats, mittens and sometimes boots, but when I got to a certain age, snow pants were out. I didn’t want to wear them anymore. They were, in my mind, for little kids. Worst of all was I looked silly wearing them because my uniform skirt was worn over the pants instead of tucked in, never an attractive look. My mother, still trying to keep me warm, bought me pink thermal underwear instead. I remember the legs of the underwear reached to my knees. I also remember the underwear was really ugly.

I have a winter coat but I seldom wear it. Going from the house to the car to a warm store doesn’t seem to warrant a heavy coat; instead, I wear a sweatshirt most of the winter, but if it gets really cold, like single digits, I add a lined jacket, a light jacket. I still wear mittens instead of gloves. They keep my hands warm with all the fingers interacting. I have earmuffs but am seldom outside long enough to need them. They’re an emergency item. I hate having red, cold ears.

I have a couple of pairs of boots, but I don’t wear them either. They’re the sort with laces up the front, and, in the age of velcro, that seems an awful lot of work. I usually just wait until my walk is shoveled before I go anywhere and then I wear my wool winter clogs which I have in four different colors. If nothing else, my feet are fashionable in winter.