Posted tagged ‘parade’

“Chicken Alive”

November 21, 2017

Last night we all went to bed far earlier than the night, or rather the early morning, before, but it must have been too early for Gracie because she woke me up around 3:30 wanting to go out so we did. It was darn cold, and I hadn’t put on my sweatshirt so I urged Gracie to be quick. She was as she doesn’t like the cold either. I’m keeping an eye and an ear on Gracie as I heard her sniffing and snorting last night and this morning. She may have a cold so I’ll wait today but take her to the vet’s tomorrow for a check-up if she keeps snorting.

When I was a kid, Thanksgiving was the parade, M&M’s, walnuts and dinner. In school, we colored turkeys on work sheets to help pass the time. I remember coloring each feather on the turkey’s tail a different color. I hadn’t ever seen a turkey so I envisioned it more like the peacock I had seen in the zoo.

Wild turkeys are all over the place here on the cape and even in Boston where they have been known to attack people. I see them often on my street. Usually they travel in a group with one Tom and a bunch of females. The Tom always seems to be strutting, letting the world know he has a harem. The wild turkeys can fly. They even roost on branches. When they fly, they look lumbering like some military cargo planes.

I learned so many things when I was in the Peace Corps in Ghana. One of my skills, a seldom used skill, is cleaning chickens, plucking their feathers. In the market, I got to pick my chicken, my dinner for the night. I could never dispatch the chicken to wherever chickens go when they become dinner so Thomas, who worked for me, did the dispatching. He got the feet and head for his troubles and usually cooked them for himself. Foot and head stew is what I called it. The now dispatched chicken is dipped in boiling water to loosen the pinions. After that pull off the tail feathers first then the smaller feathers. My hands got tired when I plucked so I usually left the final cleaning, the pulling off of whatever was left, to Thomas. What surprised me was how skinny chickens are without their feathers. These were always free range chickens. Nobody had coops or fenced in areas. My chickens, except the brooding hens, left the yard in the morning and returned at night. I never knew where they went.

Before I left for Ghana, I read books the Peace Corps recommended, and I read the material the Peace Corps sent. I knew about the regions, a bit about languages, the tribal system, crops and the prevalent diseases, but I knew nothing about buying live chickens let alone how to pluck them. Why would I? Chickens never entered my mind before I left, and in my whole life I never thought about plucking them. Chickens came in packages from the meat counter, but out of necessity and being partial to eating chicken, I learned to pluck. Should that skill ever be needed here, I’m all set.

“A procession is a participants’ journey, while a parade is a performance with an audience.”

May 28, 2017

The morning is lovely; the sun so very bright. The air is sweet. When Gracie and I went to the backyard, I felt the early morning chill as I was awake and stirring before the arrival of my newspapers. My neighbors across the street were also awake. Their shades were up. The dogs from the corner house were barking.

I’ve had coffee but nothing else yet. I’m thinking maybe an English muffin. I eat a piece and Gracie eats a piece, but what she doesn’t know is pills are hidden in the nooks and crannies. When it comes to food, Gracie is easily duped.

Okay, my weather prognostication skills are faulty. It is still chilly, and it has gotten cloudy. The sun is on and off.  It is 61˚ and won’t get much warmer. At least it isn’t raining.

I watch far too many Forensic Files. Yesterday I cut my finger, but it didn’t hurt so I didn’t notice. A while later I saw the blood, cleaned my hand, and put a band-aid on the cut. I found blood smears on the door and bathroom faucets. Immediately I thought DNA evidence.

TCM is my viewing choice of the day. I just watched 36 Hours which I had never seen. The theme today seems to be Nazis and spies of all sorts out to thwart them. James Garner was this movie’s hero as was Rod Taylor, a Nazi who helps James Garner and Eva Marie Saint escape a fake hospital run by Nazis pretending to be Americans to get information about D-Day from Garner. Taylor convinces Garner it is 1950 and the war is long over. If you want to know more and wonder about Eva Marie Saint, you’ll have to watch the movie. Next up is 1942’s Journey into Fear starring Orson Wells.

My town has a parade tomorrow. I’m hoping it isn’t raining as I really do enjoy these little  hometown parades. The Memorial Day parade is the shortest. The middle school band provides the music, and every other year the high school band joins them. On the off year, the band goes to Yarmouth, the other half of the school district. Veterans, girl scouts, and boy scouts march. The boy scouts lug the same float they lug every year. There is always one jeep, the same one every year with the same driver. The end of the parade has fire trucks with their sirens blaring. It doesn’t matter that the parade is always the same. I think that’s my favorite part.

It’s game night Sunday!

“A trophy carries dust. Memories last forever.”

February 7, 2017

I am watching the Patriots and their duck boat rolling rally ride through the streets of Boston. Earlier it was snowing, and now it is raining, but the crowds don’t care. The fans are standing along the sides of the streets 20 or more deep. The players are having a wonderful time yelling, clapping and dancing. The confetti blowing all over makes it difficult to see but Tom Brady stands out. He is in the front boat holding the Lombardi trophy and waving, a huge smile on his face. The crowd loves him. Lots of school desks are empty today. Kids will remember this parade the whole of their lives.

Gracie is less reluctant to go down the back steps into the yard. She knows I’m there. I stand in front of her as she goes down front paws first one step at a time. She runs all over the yard glad to be off the leash.

When I was a kid, I followed the Red Sox and the Celtics. The poor Sox were hapless, and it was easy to get a good seat even an hour before the game. I remember sitting in a box seat behind the dugout, empty seats around me. The Sox, perennial losers, were not a great draw. I did see a moment in history when Bob Tillman, the catcher, tried to cut off Al Kaline stealing second and hit Johnny Wyatt, relief pitcher, in the head.

I listened to Celtics games on the radio. Johnny Most was the best announcer of them all. I used to hide my transistor radio under the covers so I could listen to the Celts play the L.A. Lakers, perennial foes. Even when the Celts were on TV we listened to Johnny Most. I still remember him screaming, “Havlicek stole the ball,” in the 1965 Eastern Conference Finals when the Sox were only a point ahead and Philly had the ball. I went to Celtics games as I could take the bus and the subway to North Station. They were often sold out. The Celts were perennial winners.

I have never seen the Pats live, but I have watched every game on TV. I’m okay with that. I get to stay warm and comfy. The kitchen and bathroom are both down the hall. I do love to go to Fenway especially for night games. It is a magical place with the green grass and all the lights.

My mother was not into sports and didn’t understand the rules of any game, but if we watched, she watched. I remember her cheering for the wrong football team, an easy mistake. We didn’t say anything. It was great to see her be a fan.

“St. Patrick’s Day is an enchanted time – a day to begin transforming winter’s dreams into summer’s magic.”

March 17, 2016

St. Patrick became part of my life when I was six. I went to St. Patrick’s Elementary School for eight years. From age 10 until age 16 I was a member of St. Patrick’s drill team. We were called the Shamrocks. Our uniforms were adorned with shamrocks. The color guard had one in the middle of their blouses and on the sash between the blouse and the skirt. The drill team also had shamrocks on their sashes. We represented St. Patrick’s parish, though, most times we used just St. Pat’s. The parish considered St. Patrick’s Day a holiday so we had no school.

When I was in college, my friends and I used to go to South Boston to watch the parade and visit the pubs. I do believe we often missed chunks of the parade while exploring those pubs. With a name like Kathleen Ryan, I was always welcomed. Two of my friends were Polish but on March 17th they were pseudo Irish. I think every one was.

My mother always made corned beef and cabbage with carrots, potatoes, onions and turnip. I’ve told you the famous story of the disappearing potatoes, but I like it well enough to tell it again. One St. Patrick’s day my dad was at the pot using a large spoon to fill his dish with the vegetables. His dish already had meat, carrots and onions on it. He wasn’t fond of turnips. He kept turning the spoon in the stew pot without picking up any more vegetables. Finally he asked my mother if she had forgotten the potatoes, his favorite vegetable. No, she hadn’t and nor would she ever. She took over the spoon and went hunting, but, like my father, found no potatoes. They had disappeared. That a leprechaun made off with them was always a possibility, but the truth was they had pretty much fallen apart having been in the liquid too long. There were a couple of small clumps but that was it for the potatoes. I had never seen a more disappointed look on my father’s face than when he realized the potatoes were gone.

My friends are serving corned beef and cabbage tonight. I’ll wear my Ryan sweatshirt and my shamrock socks.

May the Irish hills caress you.
May her lakes and rivers bless you.
May the luck of the Irish enfold you.
May the blessings of Saint Patrick behold you.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

“As they say on my own Cape Cod, a rising tide lifts all the boats”

May 24, 2014

It is really late, I know, but I slept in. It was a mirror under the nose to make sure I was still alive type morning. It was nearly eleven before I got out of bed. Excuses? I need none. I do have a few things I could do but nothing of any importance, and I am a bit afraid to go out as the traffic to get on the cape was backed up for miles so the roads will be heavy with cars. I’m going to practice all my traffic curses to get ready for the season.

When I was a kid, we never came to the cape. We went to local beaches in Gloucester or we went north to Maine or New Hampshire. I was in high school before I first came down here, and it wasn’t with the family. It was with the drill team to march in a parade in Hyannis. We parked on a side street at the northern end of Hyannis. It was right across from what would become my father’s office in a couple of years. I noticed it was the Hood plant, but it didn’t make a big impression. Had I been a soothsayer, I’d know that plant meant moving and leaving all the friends with whom I was spending the day. After we marched, we spent the rest of the day at a beach. I think it was Scusset Beach right on the canal. It was a fun day.

When I first moved down here, I hated it. It was my first time in a public school, I didn’t know a soul and the guidance counselor had persuaded me to take Latin 4. Even though I had spent all of my school years in a Catholic school my parents made me go to CCD at the church which happened to be across the street. My brother also had to go. The class met in the kitchen of the church hall as all the other spaces were taken. We convinced the priest teaching the class that my brother and I were twins so he’d only have to suffer through one year of CCD. It was an unruly group and the poor priest was at wits end. Eventually we took pity and quieted down. I have no idea what we learned, if anything.

My parents decided that my brother and I didn’t really like them all that much. When we first moved down here, I went to visit my friends at home at least one weekend a month and more if I could scrounge up the money, but over time I made friends and came to love the cape. When I was in the Peace Corps, my parents moved off cape back to the town where I’d grown up. They thought I’d probably join them, but when I finished my years in Ghana, I came home to Cape Cod.

“Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving.”

November 22, 2012


The year has turned its circle,
The seasons come and go.
The harvest all is gathered in
And chilly north winds blow.

Orchards have shared their treasures,
The fields, their yellow grain,
So open wide the doorway —
Thanksgiving comes again!

~~Old Rhyme.~~

Thanksgiving morning my mother woke up very early. She’d make the stuffing, always a sage stuffing, fill the turkey and get it into the oven. Her pan was in a huge oval shape and had a cover, but I don’t remember my mother ever using that cover. The pan was blue with tiny white spots on it, and my mother cooked her turkey in that same pan every year. Now and then my mother would open the oven to baste the turkey with its own pan juices. I remember the whole house was filled with the aroma of that roasting turkey. I can still see the kitchen windows covered in steam.

We’d be in the living room watching the parade and eating the snacks my mother always put out for us. I remember the bowl of mixed nuts, the silver nutcrackers and the silver picks. There were tangerines, and there were M&M’s. They were always  special on Thanksgiving.

I wish all of you the most wonderful Thanksgiving Day.


September 8, 2012

Yesterday I was at my morning perch watching the world when the man in the compound beside me brought out two baby goats. They had been born the night before, still had their umbilical cords attached  and couldn’t stand long on their wobbly legs. They kept falling and getting back up, but they did manage to find their mother and breakfast. I watched for a long while. It was the first time I’d seen goats so young, and they were a marvel.

Today is market day so I will do a bit of shopping as I still haven’t bought any cloth. I get to one part of the market, do a bit of shopping and get too tired and sweaty to keep going. This time I hope to start out at the cloth.

We were driving to the town when we saw a huge line of men wearing white robes and black hats. They were singing. I asked the driver to park so we could watch and I could get some pictures. One man near us was happy to explain that it is a Moslem(still called Moslem here, not Muslim) organization which has three parts: women, youth and old men. Each year they have a conference at a different region. This group was the old men, all over 40. They were divided by region and they walked and sang a different song by region. We waited until all of them had passed.

Tomorrow I am meeting the old girls as my students call themselves. We are having lunch together and remembering the old times. I doubt I’ll get back here again as it is so expensive though I suppose I could get parsimonious and become a penny pincher, so not me.

The route, on Monday, will  be different than the one to come up here so I’ll get to see more of the country. We hope to get as far as Koforidua which is where I spent some time in training. I don’t know if I’ll be able to post on Monday but will if I get to the town early enough.

I hope the next stop will be the Monkey Sanctuary!

“St. Patrick’s Day is an enchanted time – a day to begin transforming winter’s dreams into summer’s magic.”

March 17, 2012

Yesterday it was in the darkness of early morning when I woke while today it was 10:30. I am as fickled as the weather. My friend Clare came by with a few St. Patrick’s day gifts and rang the bell. Gracie barked, and I woke up then tried to figure out the what day it is. I got it on the first try.

If St. Patrick’s Day was on a school day, we got it off as a holiday. After all, I went to St. Patrick’s Grammar School, and we had to honor the school’s patron saint or at least that’s what the nuns told us, but the significance of the day was always lost on us as we had no idea how to honor a patron saint, but we knew how to enjoy a day off from school. March was always the most dismal of school months with only this one day off unless Easter came early and we got Good Friday. We did thank St. Patrick but not for the reasons the nuns expected.

If you lived in and close to Boston, you also got today off from school but not for St. Patrick’s Day. Today is Evacuation Day. It is the day the British evacuated the city of Boston during the Revolutionary War. It used to be an official holiday for all schools and state workers but it was eliminated last year and now is celebrated in name only.

When I was in high school and a member of St. Patrick’s Shamrock drill team, we marched in the parade. It was the worst of all parades in which to march. Sometimes it was freezing cold. Every time, some drunk would join us for a bit of the march with a glass of beer in his hand he was more than happy to share with us. I remember the crowds along the street were loud and always cheered us for our name and for the shamrocks on our uniforms.

When I was in college, going to the St. Patrick’s day parade in South Boston was a big deal. It was a day to celebrate by wearing green and drinking a significant amount of alcohol. I remember several toasts to me by people I didn’t know that we’d met in the bars. Kathleen Ryan is as Irish a name as can be.

My mother always made corned beef and cabbage today. She was a great cook, but I do remember one year she cooked it a bit too long, and my father was mystified when he couldn’t find the potatoes. They had dissolved in the pan. He was more than disappointed.

I have no plans for today though I’m thinking I might go out for corned beef and cabbage. I can’t imagine St. Patrick’s  Day without it.

“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”

March 10, 2012

Last night I set my alarm with plenty of time for a coffee run to Dunkin’s and a hunt for the best viewing for the St. Patrick’s Day parade. When the alarm rudely woke me up, I looked out the window, saw snow, turned off the alarm and promptly went back to sleep. It’s more than a dusting but not a whole lot more. It must have been wet snow at first as the walk, driveway and street have a layer of  slush which froze a bit. I couldn’t find my newspaper then I noticed it had slid all the way down the driveway and was a lump covered with snow. Right now it is 33° and winter. The rest of the week will be in the 50’s and spring.

The sun is desperately trying to come out right now, and the warmer air is melting the snow off the roof. I can see drops falling onto the deck. My dance card is empty today so I don’t really care about the weather.

There was no cryptogram in today’s Cape paper, and I was bummed. Being a creature of habit, it is one of my morning rituals. Solving it each day means I still have some reasoning power left which gives me comfort as my memory is spotty.

The sun has just appeared. It won the battle. I’d like to think I helped!

The snow has dampened any sound and kept people inside their houses. My neighborhood is quiet. Where I grew up had hundreds of kids or at least it always seemed that way. They were everywhere, and it was seldom quiet. That was in the day when families had lots of kids. You never wanted for a playmate or a friend. The little girls played house or dolls sitting on the back steps or on the grass while the boys played any noisy game they could concoct. We older kids roller skated, rode our bikes or walked around town. Saturdays, of course, found us at the matinée. We never seemed to run out of things to do.

My neighborhood has a lot of kids now. The family down the street just had their 4th, their first girl. At another house, they had their third, another boy, a few months back. The house next door has three but one is in high school. Their youngest is almost five. The only time I see any of these kids is when they’re on a walk with one parent or the other. Other than that, they’re in their yards playing. Long gone are the days of roaming or bike riding all over town. I still go to a Saturday matinée every now and then, but the best parts are gone. Nobody throws things like JuJu Beads and not a single couple makes out in the back rows. Where’s the fun gone?

“I believe it is the nature of people to be heroes, given the chance.”

May 30, 2011

Memorial Day

A handful of old men walking down the village street
In worn, brushed uniforms, their gray heads high;
A faded flag above them, one drum to lift their feet—
Look again, O heart of mine, and see what passes by!

    There’s a vast crowd swaying, there’s a wild band playing,
The streets are full of marching men, or tramping cavalry.
Alive and young and straight again, they ride to greet a mate again—
The gallant souls, the great souls that live eternally!

    A handful of old men walking down the highways?
Nay, we look on heroes that march among their peers,
The great, glad Companions have swung from heaven’s byways
And come to join their own again across the dusty years.

    There are strong hands meeting, there are staunch hearts greeting—
A crying of remembered names, of deeds that shall not die.
A handful of old men?—Nay, my heart, look well again;
The spirit of America today is marching by!

                                                                   – Theodosia Pickering Garrison

I went to my town’s parade this morning. It lasted about five minutes, but that didn’t matter, only the occasion did. An old soldier and an old sailor walked in front of a WW II jeep to the music of bagpipes. A newer jeep carried two of their comrades, too old to walk. The middle school band played well. Boy scouts and girl scouts carried small flags and waved at the people along the roadside. It may have been small, but it was heartfelt.

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