Posted tagged ‘pine trees’

“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.

“Sometimes broken shoes and tattered clothes can tell us beautiful stories!”

February 16, 2018

Last night it rained. I was still watching television so it was early. The rain was intermittent. It was the last thing I heard before I fell asleep.

I have had a few false starts this morning. First I wrote about obituaries. The one of the woman described as loving to shop had caught my eye. I wondered if she’d approve of that legacy. I wrote about the man who bowled, his favorite pastime, and wondered about my own obituary, but then I got stuck so I stopped, thought a bit then went on to another subject. Yearbooks were next. I always felt bad for the kids with nothing under their pictures. They spent four years of high school being phantoms. From there I jumped to still waters run deep, the classic description of the shy kid no one knew well. At that point I stopped and deleted what I’d written. I began again.

Today is still. Not a branch is moving. Even the dead leaves on the oak trees are still. The sky is white cloudy. The bare pine branches stand stark against the light sky and look almost like fingers grasping for something. It will be a warm day, the last warm day before the cold comes back tomorrow. Snow is possible at the beginning of the new week.

My broken bone has been the perfect excuse to do nothing. I still can’t lift anything if it has any weight. The downside, though, is trying to read a hardcover book in bed. I rest it on the bed and hold it with my left hand but then I have trouble turning the pages. I gave up after a short while.

I thought I was at the stage of my life where I didn’t really need anything new. Old clothes are comfortable and old shoes fit my feet best of all. I wear a sweatshirt during the day to stay cozy and most of them are so old they’ve lost their shape. I do save a few good ones to wear in the world at large mostly because I don’t want to be the eccentric old lady wearing tattered, misshapen clothes who mumbles to herself in the grocery store. Now I can add a new shirt to my ensemble. I bought two flannel shirts on sale. Both have  patterns in muted colors. They are warm enough for days like today, in the 40’s; however, they don’t help with the mumbling.

“The gaunt limbs, and stark, rigid, death-like whiteness of winter.”

January 4, 2018

The rain pelting the roof and windows is heavy and loud, and the wind is a freight train blowing its whistle. Pine trees have notoriously shallow roots so they bend and sway in the wind. I watched one tall pine in my backyard bend so much it should have split and fallen. I thought I saw a bird furiously flapping its wings while trying to land on a branch. I couldn’t see the sort of bird so I put on my glasses. It wasn’t a bird. It was a brown leaf hanging from the end of a small branch being tossed and spun by the wind.

The snow will be here later, a wet, slushy sort of snow which will freeze overnight when the temperature drops from the 40˚ it is now to 12˚. The deep freeze will continue tomorrow with a high of 17˚ and a low of 1˚. It won’t get above freezing until Monday.

The only room left to de-Christmas is the living room where the tree still stands filled with lights and decorations. I need to haul from the cellar the plastic tubs which hold my decorations. Three smaller boxes are filled and waiting to go downstairs, but they will be last as they sit on the tops of the big bins. I also have a laundry leaning against the cellar door making me feel a bit guilty as it has been there a few days. I figure I’ll be spending the afternoon hauling up and bringing down bins and more bins.

I did a bit of shopping yesterday but not the usual pre-storm bread and milk. I bought shrimp cocktail and sauce at the fish market. Their sauce is tangy and delicious with lots of horseradish. I bought freshly made chicken noodle soup from Spinners, cinnamon rolls from the bakery and prepared pasta with sausages from Nada’s Noodles.

I’m watching Nancy Drew and The Hidden Staircase. It was the first Nancy Drew I ever read. The movie differs from the book in any ways. Characters have changed while others have disappeared. I like the book better.

I watched a bit of the news this morning. Thee newscasters were giving advice about how best to handle the storm. Drive slowly but stay home if you can. Uncover outside vents, and my personal favorite, don’t touch live wires.

The rain is slanting from the north. That alone is scary.

“The human soul can always use a new tradition. Sometimes we require them.”

April 4, 2017

The rain is heavy at times. I heard it pounding the roof just as I was involuntarily woken up by the ringing of the doorbell. It was a Comcast technician. It seems that somebody dug without calling Safe Dig, and they snipped my neighbor’s phone line. They were checking with me as I once had an invisible fence and that got snipped as well. The Comcast guy was glad to hear he didn’t have to worry about it. A couple of guys have been outside for close to 3 hours. They look miserable.

I’m supposed to take some comfort in April showers, but I figure May flowers would pop up anyway, and some sun would be a good thing. If it weren’t the crocus and the dafs in my front garden, I’d be wondering where spring is hiding.

The wind is fierce and is blowing all the pine tree limbs. They are stark and winter bare. I could lose more branches or small trees; of course, the yard was just cleared a couple of weeks ago. Isn’t that the way?

Gracie needs a vet appointment. Her back legs slide, and she has trouble keeping control on the tile floor in the kitchen and going down the inside stairs. The treads I ordered for the outside stairs are here, but I may use them inside as that’s where the problems are. I haven’t had a Boxer get this old before so I’m learning how to make life easier for her.

The Red Sox opened the season yesterday with a win over the Pirates. I am so excited that baseball is back for so many reasons, but the best reason is that opening day is the first indicator of summer for me. The countdown to summer has begun.

The second summer indicator is dinner at Captain Frosty’s with my friends. This year Captain Frosty’s opens on April 13th, and we’ll be there on opening day the same as we are every year. I can already see my plate filled with fish and fried clams (with the bellies of course), French fries, and a clam cake. I’ll have onion rings on the side to share. The last and final tradition heralding spring is Easter dinner at the Ocean House. We get dressy, and last year I added a hat. Well, it was not so much a hat as a spring fascinator, and it got lots of smiles. I’ve a new one for this year. Our small pink rabbit comes with us every year. She has a prominent place on the table.

The last and final tradition heralding spring is Easter dinner at the Ocean House. We get dressy, and last year I added a hat. Well, it was not so much a hat as a spring fascinator, and it got lots of smiles. I’ve a new one for this year. Our small pink rabbit comes with us every year and has a prominent place on the table. Dinner is always superb.

I feel happier. It may be cold and rainy, but spring is coming. One down, two more to go!

“The snow itself is lonely or, if you prefer, self-sufficient. There is no other time when the whole world seems composed of one thing and one thing only.”

February 13, 2017

Last night was warm and clear. I took Gracie out front before bed, and she was far more interested in the night so we came back inside. That was our regimen. She’d wake me up and she’d be panting and shaking. We’d go back down the stairs and back outside. That happened three more times. Finally, I decided to sleep on the couch and so did Gracie. We slept the rest of the night. Wouldn’t you know it?

We got a couple of inches of snow during the early morning, and it is still snowing. The wind is blowing the flakes sideways, and the pine trees are swaying back and forth. My car and walkway are covered again. Gracie had been going down the back steps again, but I won’t have her go down when the stairs are slippery.

The classroom I remember the best was my very first school room. It had a cloakroom right outside accessible by two different doors in the front of the room. We were on the first floor. Our side windows looked out over a driveway, a border fence and some houses. The back windows looked over the school yard, which became the parking lot on Sundays. We were all subdued on days like today. We’d keep looking out the windows at the falling snow. It was mesmerizing. It still is.

No cars are on the road. It is not a day to be out and about so I’m staying home today. I’ll take the dog out when necessary, but I won’t like it. It’s an ugly day with little to commend it. I’m glad I have heat and electricity, a fairly full larder and Netflix. I’m thinking popcorn and a good movie are perfect to while away a snowy day.

You can live for years next door to a big pine tree, honored to have so venerable a neighbor, even when it sheds needles all over your flowers or wakes you, dropping big cones onto your deck at still of night.

May 29, 2016

I woke up early for me, tried to go back to sleep, couldn’t so I gave up and headed downstairs. I started the coffee then went outside for a bit. The day is much cooler than yesterday but no less lovely. The sun is summer bright, a squint your eyes to the light bright. The birds are in and out of the feeder. While I was there, I decided to water the plants on the deck. I noticed the nozzle was leaking and tried to fix it. I never checked in which direction the nozzle was facing so I was taken aback when the water hit me full force on the legs. My pants were soaked, and I felt silly.

My phone and my wifi wouldn’t work this morning. The TV did which seemed strange as I thought all three were connected, but then I remembered the TV has its own box. I noticed my modem, which is the phone and computer connector, didn’t have enough lit buttons so I tried to reset it. I couldn’t find anything thin enough for the hole. Finally I used a twisted paperclip. It didn’t work. I tried it again, and it actually worked the second time.

If things come in threes, I’m in trouble.

Nothing is on my dance card for today; in fact, I have only a doctor’s appointment later in the week. I don’t mind unscheduled days. I figure I can find something to keep me busy, and the day is open should an invitation come my way.

My car has disappeared; instead, a pile of pollen is parked in front of my house. It has the shape of a car but no distinct features. The horrible part of all of that is the pollen has just started. I think I need to wear one of those white face masks.

“I will be the gladdest thing under the sun! I will touch a hundred flowers and not pick one.”

May 18, 2015

The morning is a bit chilly, quite different from yesterday when we sat on the deck until 8 o’clock. It was still warm enough even when the sun was down. The pine pollen has turned my car from red to yellow-green. Here in the house I have two opened windows and the pollen has covered furniture and even the floors, but I don’t care. I like the cool air.

The cape has more scrub pine than any other trees. They are ugly trees with scraggy branches. Their bark looks old, wrinkly. My back and front yards have several pine trees. They don’t weather well. Every year the winter takes down a few more branches, and the last couple of years my landscaper has cut down a couple of tall, dead pine trees. When a pine tree dies, no needles remain to soften the look. It resembles the Halloween silhouette of a black tree with grabbing branches.

I like my pine trees despite their ugliness. They shade the yard. They give me a sense of privacy on the deck. At night, when the dog’s lights are triggered, they are tall, thin shadows across the yard. They are quintessentially Cape Cod. I guess the pollen is a small price to pay.

The cape fields are filled with wild flowers and berry-bearing trees. Closer to the water are the beach plum trees. In my younger, forage from the sea and land days, I used to pick beach plums to make jelly. The trees are not easy to find and every forager protects secret spots. Wild blueberry bushes give fruit to eat out of hand. I find not so many make it to my bucket. Along the sides of the road are flowers growing wild, spreading and multiplying themselves. One of my favorites is the thistle. I want to stop and dig a few for my garden, but I haven’t had the nerve.

In my front yard are three wild rose bushes. They flower once a year with small white flowers. The trees grow haphazardly and I’ve often caught myself on the thorny bushes. It seems the more you cut and trim the more they grow. Wild rose bushes are everywhere, and when they are in bloom, it always seems as if the cape is covered in white, delicate flowers.

This is an empty dance card week. I have laundry to do, Peapod to order and flowers and herbs to plant. Nothing else is planned except, of course, Gracie and I will have a dump run.

“If it could only be like this always — always summer, always alone, the fruit always ripe… “

July 24, 2014

Yesterday I was productive. I did errands, potted a few flowers, cleaned the deck, changed the litter, made my bed, went to the post office and went out for lunch. I wanted applause.

Yesterday was Humid, with a capital H. I put on the AC and left it cranking until this morning.

Today is dark but not so humid so I don’t have that closed in feeling. A small breeze is coming through the north window. Thundershowers are predicted for later.

The spawns of Satan have been eating acorns and tossing the pieces on the deck. I go barefoot so I have been stepping on them, yelping and then cursing. I believe the spawns know exactly what they’re doing. Every morning I clean off the pieces, and every afternoon more are back. That sounds like a plot to me. The red spawn isn’t coming around as much. I don’t think it likes the jet of water I spray at him. Now I just walk out on the deck and he’s gone in a flash. Even though I can’t reach him, I spray in his direction for effect.

My neighborhood is so quiet today. I don’t know where the screaming kids and barking dogs have gone. Yesterday my landscaper took down two dead pine trees from my backyard and hauled away the huge branch which had broken off the large pine tree. The back of his truck was filled. It had been a noisy day so today is a pleasure.

When I think back, I remember my neighborhood was only quiet late at night. During the day there were kids playing in the backyards, mostly younger kids who couldn’t go far and didn’t yet have the independence of a bike. My sisters used to play dolls on the steps right outside the back door. I remember them sitting there, one sitting on a step higher than the other. They talked through their dolls using voices wholly different from their own, voices higher in pitch, doll talk.

The neighborhood would start to quiet down around suppertime. The kitchens of all the houses faced the back yard, and I could hear dishes rattling and snatches of conversation. It was not a neighborhood for privacy. We all shared the back yard and the windows were open all summer. The night quieted as it got older; kids went to bed and I could hear the TV from the house closest to mine. That were always the last sound I remembered hearing on any summer night.

‘Ye can call it influenza if ye like,’said Mrs Machin.’There was no influenza in my young days.We called a cold a cold.’

November 3, 2013

I woke to the sound of rain plunking on the windowsill. The day is dark with an on again, off again rain. It is much colder than yesterday, and I’d call it a wind, not a breeze, which is shaking the tree limbs.

My backyard is filled with scrub pine trees. They are far from the prettiest of trees, but they survive the salty air and the sandy soil and have become the most numerous of Cape trees. They easily sway with the strongest of winds. This time of year their needles turn brown, drop and cover lawns and backyards. Raking is futile. Gracie’s domain, the backyard, is covered in leaves and needles. I never lose track of her even on the darkest nights. Because the fallen leaves crunch under her paws, I can follow Gracie through the yard just by listening from the deck. Miss Gracie has a favorite route, and there is a path which circles the yard along the fence. I love to watch her running round and round until she is spent.

My house is so very quiet right now. It is warm and cozy. It is a day for lying on the couch under an afghan and reading. Later, I will have to drag myself out of the house to the dump as it is will be closed the next two days, and I have trash which can’t wait until Wednesday. The dump has no dress code so I can stay as I am even down to the slippers. Gracie will be thrilled for the ride to her second favorite place.

I’m thinking I might have a cold coming. My voice is raspy, and I keep clearing my throat as if that might make a difference. I may have only one symptom, but it’s a stand-out.


“After enlightenment, the laundry.”

November 15, 2012

The house is dark; outside is uninviting. It is an ugly, raw day with a cloud-filled sky. The yard got cleaned this morning, and the guys let Gracie escape through the back gate. They opened it without checking, and off she went. It was a catch me if you can game. Gracie would stop and wait until one of the guys got close then she’d run, stop to wait then run again. Finally I called my friend at the end of the street, and she went right to him.

I still haven’t grocery shopped yet, but today I must as the last of the dry cat food was used to fill their dish this morning. The wash, though, got done yesterday, but it is sitting in the dryer. I’ll get to it sometime.

I remember laundry stiff from the cold hanging on the lines. My mother would brave the weather, bring in the still damp laundry and hang it in the cellar so it would dry. She always hung up her laundry in the same way. Shirts were clothes-pinned to the line by their bottom edges and one shirt was attached to the next so three clothespins hung up two shirts. It was the same with sheets though she’d double those over the line. I don’t remember us having anything but white sheets back then. The clothespins were wooden. My mother would slide the clothespin bag along the line as she hung the clothes. She’d have a clothespin in her hand and one sticking out of her mouth, and then she’d maneuver being careful not to drop the clothes. It was like sleight of hand to hang and pin. My mother was a master.

No one around here hangs clothes anymore. The house next door, a summer rental, has a clothesline hanging between two pine trees, but I only see towels and bathing suits on it. My sister uses her clothesline in the warmer months. It saves money and the clothes, especially the sheets, smell wonderful.

I still remember getting into a bed freshly made with sheets smelling of the sun. It is one of my favorite sense memories, that smell. It is right up there with burning leaves. When I first moved here I had a clothesline, but my allergies didn’t take well to the pine pollen so I had to buy a dryer. I’m still sorry about that.

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