Posted tagged ‘playground’

“Mosquitoes, how wonderful! No one puts them in cages or makes pets out of them.”

July 1, 2017

I am late again. This time I can’t blame my computer. It is my fault. It was close to 10:30 when I woke up then I had two papers to read and a couple of cups of coffee to drink before I could face the day. Last night I was restless and woke up several times. Gracie was the sleep disruptor twice, the first at 3:30. When we went outside, it was so dark I had to feel with my foot to figure out where we were: the grass or the driveway. Once back inside, I had to read a while before I could get back to sleep, back to my restless sleep. It’s no wonder I’m tired.

Today’s weather is like yesterday’s but with a breeze instead of a wind. The leaves at the end of the branches are waving but only slightly. I don’t hear my chimes.

Summer has officially started. The house next door has its first renters of the season. I heard them this morning. They weren’t loud but the open window a bit above the couch where I sleep faces their small deck and slider. I haven’t figured out how many are there yet, but I think there is only a single car.

My house is dark though the clouds are light-colored, not like storm clouds. I can feel the humidity. I’ve nothing planned for today but I might switch out the spawn eaten lights for the new ones I have. The spawns prefer red for chewing.

We didn’t have many organized summer activities when I was a kid. The playground under the trees on the field at the end of my street was about the only close place to spend a summer day. The pool was another spot, but it was about as far away from my house as you could get and still be in my town. Sometimes we’d bike ride to a pond in the next town and go fishing. The library was another place to spend some time before leaving with an armful of books. Other times we didn’t do anything but stay around the house.

My mother kept the living room dark. All the shades were down. She believed this was the best way to keep the house cool. We didn’t have AC back then, and we didn’t have any fans. Upstairs was a hot box. It took a while to fall asleep.

My father had an obsession about mosquitos. He always yelled for us to close the outside doors quickly; somehow, though, that didn’t work. My father hunted down mosquitos.  They were his prey. He had a rolled-up newspaper as his weapon of choice. He’d jump on beds to whack the mosquitos on the ceilings. He woke us up a lot when the beds rocked as he walked across the mattress swatting bugs. All the ceilings had smashed bug marks and a few splotches of blood. My father announced each kill, each triumph. He was a mighty hunter.

“Never hesitate to go far away, beyond all seas, all frontiers, all countries, all beliefs.”

June 22, 2017

Today is lovely. I woke up to a blue sky and the brightest eye squinting sunshine I’ve seen in a while. My house is comfortably cool. Outside my window, I can see chickadees on the branches munching sunflower seeds. None of the leaves of the oak tree are blowing. It is a still day.

Though Gracie ate on Tuesday, around midnight she started panting and walking from room to room. She’d sit on the couch for a bit then get up and walk some more. Around 12:30 am, I took her to the emergency vet for the third early morning in a row. She was given anti-nausea medication which settled her down. The vet told me that this was treating only a symptom. I already knew that. She suggested a battery of tests, most of which I probably can’t afford.

Last night was different. During the day, she ate two small cans of dog food, not her usual as I was tempting her taste buds. She ate treats, new treats. She napped and last night slept through the night. I had anti-nausea pills for her, but she didn’t need them. She and Maddie, the cat, are having their morning naps now. I’m going to take one later. I am exhausted.

The best part of any summer has always been having empty days to fill.  When I was a kid, it was games and crafts at the local playground. I’d be there all day. During high school, I did little on summer days, but I was never bored. When I was in college, it was a summer job which I didn’t really mind. Working in the post office was easy and paid well. The pace was slow. Europe filled my summers when I was a teacher. My trips generally lasted 4 to 5 weeks. I knew how to travel on little money. I slept in hostels or on night buses. I ate as cheaply as possible sometimes buying bread and sandwich fixings. I found bars where I could get a drink and eat my way through happy hour. I had only a broad itinerary open to change. It was a wonderful way to travel. They were some of my favorite summers.

Posting my Ghana pictures yesterday got me thinking about the faraway places I love. Ghana, of course, is my favorite. The rest are in no order, no preference. Old Quito is on that list. The narrow streets, the old buildings, the colors and the women’s hats still have a prominent place in my memory drawers. I loved Portugal and Morocco and the Roman ruins in Italy. Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso was my second favorite spot in Africa. It was my weekend getaway. The beauty of the Andes took my breath away. On overnight bus rides, stops at roadside restaurants where the menus were in languages I didn’t understand and peeing in a hole in the little house in the back were part of the adventure. In Morocco and in Ghana I found out that thitting the hole is a lifetime skill.

I don’t travel summers anymore, but I keep my passport up to date just in case.

“Home is a name, a word, it is a strong one; stronger than magician ever spoke, or spirit ever answered to, in the strongest conjuration.”

August 2, 2015

I know it is late for me, so late that I almost thought of taking a mini-vacation, but here I am. Earlier I was out on the deck sitting in the shade of the umbrella. The day is another hot one. Gracie, despite lying in the shade, was panting. She wanted in so we both came inside to the AC. She is now comfy and asleep in her crate.

We’re going to the dump later. That’s the only entry on my dance card.

There is something so strongly compelling about going home. When I go back to my old home town, as I still call it after all these years, I take familiar routes, the ones I used to walk. From St. Pat’s to the project there are many changes. Some of the older houses are gone. The railroad tracks too are gone but there is a wide path where they once were. I am sometimes tempted to park my car and follow the path to see if it looks the same. There was a stream where we stopped for water. I wonder if it is still there. The playground where I spent so many summer days disappeared. Where it was is all overgrown now. My house and street look exactly the same except the bushes on the side of my old house are really tall. I don’t know if there is a limit as to how tall they will get. The tops look a bit spindly to me. I always have the urge to get out of the car and walk into the backyard just to peek to see if the in-ground garbage pail is still there, but I figure it would look a bit odd to the current occupants. I wonder what color the walls are now. In my day the living room was green. I suspect the house will look quite small inside to me now. I know the kitchen seemed small even then. Kid’s voices still fill the air on a nice day.

In Bolga, on my trip back after forty years, the first place I went was to my old school grounds to find my house. It was quite easy to find. It needed paint and the back courtyard could not be seen because the current occupants had added to the fence tops to block the view. I wondered about the four doors around the courtyard. I wondered what color they are. Coincidentally they were green when I lived there.

Home is a fluid place. It is both where you live now and all the places you’ve lived before.

“He’s too nervous to kill himself. He wears his seat belt in a drive-in movie.”

July 14, 2015

When I woke up, there was sun. Now the day is darkening and getting breezy, hints of the rain predicted for the afternoon. My room is dark as I haven’t lit any lamps. I like my house in the unexpected darkness of a soon to be rainy day. For reasons I can’t explain the house is comforting in the darkness and in the quiet. I don’t even hear birds singing. The only sounds come from the rustling of the leaves on the trees hanging over the deck.

I haven’t been to a drive-in movie for years. Wellfleet still has one, but I can’t seem to interest anyone in going. I even promised to do the snacks but had no takers. We were frequent drive-in movie goers when I was a kid. My grandfather had a pass to every E.M.Lowe’s theater including the drive-in, and we used that pass often. Just like every other kid at the drive-in I was wearing my pajamas and my sneakers, no slippers in case I needed to walk to the bathroom. At intermission the playground was filled with kids dressed for bed in their pajamas and robes. The first movie was always one for kids, sometimes a Disney or a dog movie like Lassie. After intermission came the movie for adults. Kids presumably had fallen asleep. The adult movies were seldom recent releases but were a year or two old and would probably be PG-13 rated today. Sometimes I’d see a bit of that movie before I fell asleep, but by the time I was 11 or 12, I’d watch all of it, well most of it anyway as we always left before the end. My father was not one to wait in traffic so we’d get a head start and be the only car leaving so early.

We never bought anything from the concession stand as most things were too expensive. I’d sometimes check out the food and sometimes really want a hot dog, but I knew not to ask. We had plenty of snacks in the car. My favorite was the popcorn. My mother was never shy with the butter. We each had a nickel bar of candy bought at the corner store on our way to the movie. The jug was always filled with something to drink, but my father got annoyed if we wanted some too often as he was the pourer who felt abused by constant asking.

My family didn’t have much money when I was growing up, but I never knew that. We did neat things and the drive-in was always one of my favorites.

“I love how summer just wraps it’s arms around you like a warm blanket.”

May 16, 2013

Today is supposed to be warm, maybe even hot. Yesterday Skip, my factotum, was here all day getting the backyard and deck ready for summer. Looks like the timing was perfect. The vegetable garden was weeded, its fence mended, candles hung in the trees, furniture uncovered and cleaned, Gracie’s holes filled, including the one closest to China, backyard ornaments put into the ground and my favorite new addition set up from the heavy pine tree: two stars hung together with five tails extending from them all in white lights. I put them on the timer and last night the stars were beautiful. A few things remain, like planting the veggies and adding flowers and herbs to the pots and getting the shower ready, but that’ll wait until it’s warmer every day. I can’t help it. Seeing the deck ready makes me excited to be out there every day.

When I was a kid, and it was summer, we never stayed in the house, even when it rained. We’d find a leafy tree and stay under it to keep as dry as we could. Most days, though, we’d spend at the playground on the field at the bottom of our street. There were two college students there and at each of the playgrounds in town. They ran all the activities. One summer I painted a tray, and it was the best painting I’d ever done. Every summer I’d make lanyards or bracelets out of gimp. I could do all different knots. The first one I learned was the square knot then the round and then the flat. The round was for the lanyard and the flat was the best for a gimp bracelet. I made pot holders on that square loom with the hooks where you wove the cotton. I think I gave my mother one for every Christmas for years. I played horseshoes, checkers and softball and learned to play chess and tennis. For years I spend the entire day at that playground. The local paper, The Independent, had a playground section once a week,and I got my name in the paper a few times for winning at horseshoes and for being the winning pitcher in softball. Nothing makes a kid happier than to see her name in print.

I out grew the playground and spent summers round the house more. By the time I was a teenager, my friends and I were at the go out at night stage. I was on a drill team and we had drill practice two nights a week, and once every couple of weeks we’d go the drive-in. Some nights we just hung around the way teenagers do. My mother didn’t seem to miss the potholders.