Posted tagged ‘Sandwiches’

“When I was a child, our summer days were spent swimming; chlorine in my hair was like perfume to me.”

June 13, 2017

The house is still closed, and the AC is cranking. A few steps outside are a few steps too many. It is already 83˚, a bit cooler than yesterday but that’s a small consolation when it is this hot.

If I were a kid again, today would be sprinkler weather. I remember best the old metal sprinkler with arms which turned in a circle, My father used it for years. We’d put it on the side lawn which gave us some running and jumping room, and we’d make sure the water pressure was never too high so we could easily jump over. I also remember how cold the water was. It took our breaths away. The grass all around the sprinkler got drenched and tamped down, and it sometimes made us slide. My father was never happy on sprinkler day because of his lawn.

My sisters, more than I, used to eat their lunches on the backyard steps. It was a picnic of sorts. I can still see them wearing their bathing suits each one sitting on her own step, each one munching a sandwich.

Summer to me is so many things. It is Saturday night at the drive-in all of us dressed in our pajamas. We’d bring robes and slippers in case we had to make a bathroom run. At intermission, the playground near the refreshment stand was always filled with pajama-clad kids playing and yelling after being stuck in the car for a whole movie. When I was really young, I fell asleep during the second movie, the one for the adults. When I was older, I stayed awake the whole time though I never did see the end of any movie. My dad wanted out before the traffic jam of cars trying to exit on the one road. I think we were the first to leave.

Summer is casual. That started when I was a kid. We had no specific bedtimes. When the streetlights came on, we could still play outside. Breakfast and lunch were seldom planned, cereal in the morning and a sandwich at lunch. We ate when we were hungry. My mother always made supper, but it was seldom as hearty as winter dinners. A grab and go was the ideal supper because we wanted to get back outside.

Summer is just starting. Let the fun begin!

 

“There is divinity in the clouds.”

May 9, 2017

Gracie woke me up around six this morning. She was panting, a sign she needed out. I put on my sweatshirt and took her out to the back yard. It was so cold I could see my own breath. My heat has gone on a few times. When I went to my early morning library board meeting, I saw people dressed in layers and wearing hats and gloves. Today is spring gone awry.

The sun was shining earlier, but now the clouds have taken over. The sky is a range of grays from dark to light. The prettiest clouds are the darkest of grays so dark as to be almost blue. No rain is predicted, just a cloudy day.

When I go back to my hometown, I pass houses where my childhood friends used to live. I remember them all. I used to envy Kathleen whose house was two houses away from school. She used to go home for lunch every day. My friend Eddie lived right across the street from the church. He also went home every day. Paula and Dennis lived close to each other about a fifteen-minute walk to school. Everyone walked. There were no busses, and very few parents drove kids to school as most families had only one car driven by dads and gone to work early, too early for school. I never gave walking to school a thought except when it rained.

My favorite lunchbox sandwich was bologna with mustard, the yellow kind of mustard. It was always a white bread sandwich. I didn’t even know bread came in a variety of tastes and colors. Friday was tuna fish sandwich day as we couldn’t eat meat. I can’t even remember the number of tuna sandwiches I ate all through elementary school, but I ate my fill. I don’t eat tuna fish anymore. I still eat bologna.

I used to love milk. It was perfect for washing down dinner and even better for dunking Oreos. I stopped drinking milk when I was in the Peace Corps as Ghana had no milk except evaporated in the can. I have milk now but only with my cereal. The best part of that is the flavor of the milk left on the bottom of the bowl after the cereal has been eaten.

Nothing much going on here. Today is a perfect day to stay home, to do nothing. My laundry finally made it upstairs, and I even put it away. That was my yesterday’s accomplishment. I’ll take what I can get and be content, maybe even a bit proud of finally getting that chore done.

“cozy+smell of pancakes-alarm clock=weekend”

August 29, 2016

This morning I was forced to go to Dunkin’ Donuts. I had no coffee and no cream so Gracie and I jumped into the car and drove off for my morning elixir. When we got there, the outside line was long, but I had no choice. I hadn’t bothered to get dressed or even brush my teeth. Gracie didn’t mind the wait. She just poked her head out the window and took in the neighborhood and its smells. I listened to the radio. The line went faster than I thought it would. I was happy.

Today is already hot and humid so I am back in my fortress having shut the windows and doors and turned on the air conditioning. There are clouds but they do nothing except to obscure the sun. Rain is not in the forecast for the next couple of days. The weekend, though, will be lovely with daytime temperatures in the low 70’s and nights in the mid 60’s.  It is the Labor Day weekend, the traditional last hurrah of the summer.

My sister started work today. She is a pre-school teacher in Colorado. When I spoke to her last night, she was going to take a shower so she could get to bed early. I remember my mother sending us to bed early and reminding us we had school the next day. I also remember moaning and groaning and dragging my feet upstairs.

When I was a kid, I never kept track of the weekdays. I only knew when it was Saturday or Sunday. On Saturday my father was home. He did errands uptown and mowed the lawn. On Saturday nights he often barbecued. Sometimes we went to the beach all day Saturday or the drive-in on Saturday nights. Sunday had the only consistently distinguishing event, going to mass which also meant a change in wardrobe from shorts and a sleeveless shirt to a dress or a skirt and a blouse. After mass, the day was back to casual. We didn’t have Sunday dinners during the summer. It was more of a catch as catch can. Mostly it was sandwiches.

I think my favorite weekends were in Ghana, especially the Sundays. There was a service in the dining hall where the furniture had been reconfigured to look more like the inside of a church. The students wore their Sunday clothes. Each of the four classes had a different fabric for their traditional three piece dresses, their Sunday best. They wore a top, a skirt to their ankles and a cloth wrapped around at the waist. After the service, the older students could go to town. Visitors were allowed. A photographer wandered around taking pictures, always in black and white. I have a few of the pictures given to me as gifts. When I went to town, I could see the students walking in groups and stopping at kiosks to buy personal items like powder. Others went to the market to load up on snacks to keep in their school trunks, especially gari, made from cassava and easily stored.

Being retired, my days tend to run together. I sometimes have to check the paper to see what day of the week it is. My chores and errands aren’t confined to a single day. I don’t ever have to go to bed early.

“Life is about the adventures you take and the memories you make. So travel often and live life with open eyes and an open heart.”

June 23, 2014

The last few days have been gifts. The days are warm and lovely while the nights are cool for sleeping. Yesterday I spent quite a bit of time on the deck. Gracie was on the lounge all stretched out and napping. She does know how to enjoy herself. On the sports front yesterday was also a good day. The US tied Portugal at the World Cup though I really thought they’d be able to hold on to their lead, but I’ll take the tie. It was a great game. The Sox won it in the top of the tenth against Oakland when Ortiz hit a home run. He hadn’t had a hit the whole game so his timing was impeccable.

I went to the dump yesterday and wondered if they were giving something away. I hadn’t ever seen such traffic before. I even had to wait in line just to get in. Usually I go on Thursday or Friday, but I didn’t this week, a mistake I won’t make again.

When I was a teacher and didn’t work summers, I went traveling, mostly to Europe. I was gone a month or more and once, for my South American trip, I was gone the whole summer. Those were the days of backpacking and staying in hostels, university housing and even in the woods a couple of times. I traveled by bus or train and slept many times in my seat on the train and slept all night on the bus all the way to Edinburgh. Seldom did I eat in a restaurant. My travel companion and I would buy peanut butter and jelly or cheeses and cold cuts and loaves of wonderful bread and every meal was a picnic, but we’d sometimes treat ourselves and buy roasted chicken and some tomatoes for an elegant on the road meal. If we did stay in a B&B, breakfast would hold us until dinner time. We had to make sure our money lasted. I’d buy a couple of souvenirs and always sent a postcard to my parents from every country. I did that any time I traveled including through South American and when I was in the Peace Corps. The African stamps were the best, bright and colorful.

My backpacking days ended when I became an administrator and had to work summers. I’d only go to Europe for spring or winter vacation: one week and one country. I’d pack a suitcase and travel by rental car. It was like saying good-bye to the free-wheeling, go anywhere me and hello to an adult traveler.

“Strange to see how a good dinner and feasting reconciles everybody.”

May 3, 2014

Yesterday it was a joy to be out and about doing errands. I think I smiled the whole time. The day was brilliant with a bright sun and a temperature in the high 60’s. Poor Gracie had to be left home as I had too many long stop errands and didn’t want her stuck in the car in the heat. This time of year she comes when I go to the dump or take a ride. She was out in the yard most of the afternoon and spent part of it stretched on the deck enjoying the sun.

For breakfast when I was a kid, I had cocoa, oatmeal or eggs and toast during the winter, and in the summer I had cereal or toast with juice or milk. For lunch it was mostly a bologna sandwich. I was never good at slicing the bologna so my sandwich was always misshapen. Some of the bologna pieces had thick edges on one side and thin on the other. I added hot peppers from a jar and yellow mustard. Dinner was my mother’s choice. She knew what we’d tolerate and served it. Mashed potatoes were almost always part of the meal, and there was at least one vegetable. Hamburger in a variety of dishes was the most common meat. I didn’t realize why until I was older. Hamburger was inexpensive. My mother was creative. She made terrific meatloaves. She also cooked American chop suey without the onions and a Chinese dish with bean sprouts, water chestnuts, hamburger and crispy chow mein sticks on the top. Salisbury steak in gravy was another meal. Just plain hamburgers were mostly summer fare with hotdogs cooked on the grill. Sunday was the big dinner and we never had hamburger. Mostly it was a baked chicken or now and then roast beef. The last Sunday dinner I had before I went into the Peace Corps was roast beef, mashed potatoes and peas.

In Ghana I was still a creature of habit when it came to food. I had two eggs, toast and coffee for breakfast, fruit for lunch and beef and yam for dinner. I’d also have chicken now and then. Sunday was food from a chop bar, a hole in the wall eatery at the lorry park. Mostly it was fufu and soup. After the Christmas package came, Sunday was eat something from home day. Macaroni and cheese was a dish fit for the Gods.

I hadn’t good at making meals. I’m far too lazy. I’d have brie and crackers for dinner or eggs and toast. Lately, though, I’ve been using meat from the freezer and have had real meals: chicken thighs, mashed potatoes and a vegetable. Last night it was my old stand-by, peas, and a baked potato for variety. Dinner was delicious, and I felt accomplished.


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