Posted tagged ‘moving’

“There are mysteries buried in the recesses of every kitchen – every crumb kicked under the floorboard is a hidden memory. But some kitchens are made of more. Some kitchens are everything.”

May 25, 2018

Summer has returned. Today is already warm and sunny with a slight breeze. The pine pollen is starting. I saw a thin film of yellow on my car when I got the papers. I’ll have to keep my windows closed for a while or the pollen will cover every surface in my house. Even the deck gets a layer of pollen so I leave foot prints when I walk.

My backyard is filled with pine trees. Come to find out they have both male and female pine cones. I had no idea pine cones have genders. I never gave thought to the difference in the sizes of the cones. Now I know the smaller cones are the male cones. They produce the pollen. So, if your car is yellow, blame a male.

I did every errand yesterday. It was a triumphant day. I no longer have to skulk around at the dump.

The plumber is here. He has fixed the outside faucet leak and now has to leave to get a part for the shower. He called from his truck. His name is Doug. He saw Maddie and told me he had a cat who lived to be 20. He said he cried when it died. I like Doug.

I remember the small kitchen in the first place we lived in Stoneham. When I close my eyes, I can see the whole room. The door to the yard was on the back wall. To its left was the sink, fridge, stove and counter tops. There was a small window over the sink. To the right of the door was another window and the table and chairs were against that window wall. The kitchen was so small two was a crowd. We lived there until after my sister was born. We then moved down the street to a bigger place, one with 3 bedrooms. Until I bought my own house, that is where I lived for the longest time.

My kitchen has gadgets, things like a strawberry huller, a jalapeño corer, a corn zipper, a mandolin, three different size food processors, a panini grill and a mixer. I have actually used all but the jalapeño corer. That was just bought. It is a funky looking tool.

The only tools I remember my mother using when I was a kid were the hand potato masher, the peeler, the cookie press and her standing mixer. She seldom baked from a package. When I was older, out of college older, I loved working in the kitchen with her. I was her sous chef. My favorite time was around Christmas. We listened to music while we worked. We talked and we laughed. Those are cherished memories kept close to my heart.

“Memories are like a garden. Regularly tend the pleasant blossoms and remove the invasive weeds.”

January 16, 2018

I woke up to the sun and a blue sky, but I knew it was just the sun with light, no warmth. The temperature is 33˚. My feet crunched on the grass when I went to get the papers. The dusting from yesterday’s snow has frozen. Nothing will melt. The snow covers the ice. I’m careful.

I don’t remember much about being really little. I have only fleeting pictures in my memories. I remember the nursery school where I lasted a single day. It was a brick building covered in ivy and was across the street from our apartment building. My mother told me I cried so much the second day she never sent me again. That part I don’t remember. I remember the backyard. It was filled with clothes lines stretched from metal poles. They were in boxes outlined by chain link fences, and each apartment building had its own lines in its own box. I remember how the lines were surrounded by the brick buildings filled with apartments. The front of my building had steps which were in a small round row.

When I was five, we moved from the city to the town where I would grow up. I don’t remember moving, but I do remember exploring and being found by the police who said I was lost. I didn’t notice. My sister lives on the same street only a block away from where I was found. Coincidence is funny. I have no recollection of my first day of school, but I remember being terrified by Sister Redempta. Mrs. Kerrigan was my second grade teacher, and she was old. I remember flowered dresses and gray hair and seeing her walk across the street from the church to the house where she lived. Her apartment was on the second floor. I loved my nun in the third grade, Sister Eileen Marie, and I remember our classroom was in the cellar of the rectory. I remember tables and chairs instead of desks, and I know I sat on the outside of a table toward the back of the room. I was eight that year. Going to school in the cellar was a sort of adventure.

From then on, my memories are more vivid, but they are fragmented as my memory drawers are nearly full. I cram the most recent memories way in the back of the drawer almost in a pile. I figure it is a good thing when I have sloth days as there is nothing memorable, nothing to keep in mind except warmth, comfort and a good book.

“Fine old Christmas, with the snowy hair and ruddy face, had done his duty that year in the noblest fashion, and had set off his rich gifts of warmth and color with all the heightening contrast of frost and snow.”

December 16, 2016

Outside looks lovely from the window. I see sun, a blue sky, and only a slight breeze, but all of those are deceiving. Cold, freezing cold, is today’s weather. Wear layers is what we’re being told. I’m thinking 6 or 7 layers may not be enough. It is 14˚, and today’s high will be 19˚. Tomorrow and Sunday will be warm but rainy. It could reach 60˚ on Sunday. Mother Nature is indecisive.

My house is mostly decorated. The tree could use a few more ornaments so I’ll add that to my to-do list. My fake scrub pine has a dead set of lights so I’ll have to replace it. Friends are coming to dinner. The menu is set but I need to get dessert and some cheese. I have sort of a casual flow chart on cooking the meal. We’re having pork tenderloin, honeyed carrots and baby potatoes with romano cheese.

My family calls it the Christmas bug. It all started with my grandmother, the one who had eight kids. My mother, my Aunt Bunny and my Uncle Jack were bitten. Their houses were filled with Christmas. They baked and they kept baking. They loved to shop for presents. They always chose the best gifts. Many of my cousins were also bitten, as was I and my two sisters. We love all the hoopla of Christmas and traditions teem. The gingerbread house construction started 33 years ago and has now passed to a second generation. Pinatas, too, are on a second generation. I used to fill them for my niece and two nephews, and now,  their kids can’t wait for Christmas Eve and pinata whacking. Five pinatas hang from the high railing on the second floor.

When I was a kid, my mother’s kitchen always had steamed windows when she was cooking. It was a small kitchen, almost a galley kitchen. The table was by the window. It had four chairs, just enough for my parents and my brother and me. My sister was a baby in a highchair. I can still recall images of that house, one side of a duplex. The stairs had a landing where I used to sit and color or read. Upstairs was the bathroom and two bedrooms. This house had gotten too small with the birth of my sister, and we would be moving soon but only down the street. I don’t even remember moving.

“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.

“The ache for home lives in all of us. The safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.”

August 15, 2013

Last night was chilly, close the window chilly. It will be the same tonight then tomorrow through Sunday will get warmer each day. I don’t why summer expects all these return engagements. I’m already geared up for fall, and Labor Day, the unofficial end of summer, is close. It is as early as it can be.

I thought I had an empty dance card tomorrow, but I don’t. That means I have had something to do every day this week. My car is racking up the miles. I have already ridden over 70 miles through today. To me that’s a cross-country trip and tomorrow they’ll be more to come as I have to go to Hyannis. Yup, all the way to Hyannis, the big city in these parts.

I haven’t heard from Grace so I don’t know the progress of her quest to get a visa. She has all the papers she needs to prove her roots are in Ghana. She just has to present them. Grace had them the last time but was so overwhelmed by the quick 10 minute interview she didn’t think to use them. This time she swears she’ll be more assertive. I did call her last week, but she was in the Bolga market with Rose Atiah, another student of mine. In the background I could hear all the voices and the bustle of market day, and it was so loud the conversation was difficult. I said hello to Rose and she asked if I were well. Madam is what Rose still calls me. That’s what all the students called me. Rose is a grandmother; Grace is 61, but I will always be madam.

When I was in high school and forced to move to the cape, I was devastated. I had lived almost my whole life in one town, had the same friends forever and was involved in all sorts of activities. I hated the cape and came home from school every day, threw my books on the bed in my room and stayed there. I remember that first day of school when I stood outside alone by the side door while everyone chatted and talked about the summer. I wore new school clothes, not a uniform for the first time. My homeroom and my classes were easy to find but no one talked to me. I ate alone in the cafeteria. Every weekend I took the bus back to my home, my old town, and stayed with friends. My life had ended, or at least that’s what I thought. It took time, but I found a way to get involved. I joined after school groups. My favorite was the Latin Club but I have no memories of what we did. I was taking Latin IV so the club seemed to fit. Every time I see the yearbook picture of that club, I laugh. We looked like geeks. Giving the drama of my life at the time, I joined the drama club. I made friends, and found a place to sit in the cafeteria with my new friends.

While I was in Ghana and my brother was in the army, my father was transferred back to Boston. My parents bought a house in my old town, but it was never my home. When my brother and I came back to the United States, we both went home to Cape Cod. My mother said she wouldn’t take it personally that no matter where she lived, we wanted to live somewhere else, but our choice had nothing to do with her or the rest of my family. It had to do with our need for the comfort of familiar places and people as that’s what the Cape was for us, a refuge and our home.


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