Posted tagged ‘sneakers’

“There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.”

August 26, 2016

Today I’m back behind closed windows and doors. I went without the air conditioner for about an hour. The house went up 4˚ so on went the air. Last night it rained. I was in bed in that not quite asleep not quite awake stage when I thought I heard raindrops. I lifted my head from the pillow to listen and heard drops against the window. That was the sound which lulled me to sleep.

Th Mousetrap is the last play of the season at the Cape Playhouse. I saw it a couple of times in London so I’m not all that excited to see it again, but the play got a wonderful review in the Cape Cod Times so I’m back and forth about going tonight. Right now I’m in my cozy clothes and comfortable and cool. I’m even contemplating a nap. I figure laziness will factor into my decision as will a pizza delivery for dinner.

It is getting darker and cloudier. The sun has disappeared. The breeze is greater but is still hot. There is only a possibility of rain, but I’m hoping. I read an article this morning about how easy it is in Europe to recognize American tourists. Hoodies, running shoes, fanny packs, t-shirts with graphics, big tips, North Face, good teeth and water with meals were some of the identifiers. When I was young, I had a backpack which, back then, was probably screaming American. I wore sneakers and jeans. I couldn’t afford a big tip. When I was older, I used suitcases and dressed better.

I read an article this morning about how easy it is in Europe to recognize American tourists. Hoodies, running shoes, fanny packs, t-shirts with graphics, big tips, North Face, good teeth and water with meals were some of the identifiers. When I was young, I had a backpack which, back then, was probably screaming American. I wore sneakers and jeans. I couldn’t afford a big tip. When I was older, I used suitcases and dressed better. A red Marimeko bag I had bought in Finland was slung across my shoulders and carried what was important like money, my passport in a case I had made in Ghana and my camera. I still didn’t tip well.

My last three trips have been to Africa: one to Morocco and two to Ghana. It doesn’t matter what I wear or what I carry as my skin color is enough of an identifier though in Ghana they think I’m a European.

Now I bring one suitcase and a carry-on which has adapters, medications, my iPad, a change of clothes, a notebook and my camera. I still carry the Marimeko bag I bought in 1972 and it still carries what is important including the passport case made in the Bolga market in Ghana in 1970. They are the only continuity when I travel.

“It’s surprising how much memory is built around things unnoticed at the time.”

September 20, 2015

Today is dark and damp with the humidity at 80˚. It rained for all of three minutes, stopped for a long while then rained again for a few minutes. I think that will be the weather for the day, on and off rain. I have no urge to do anything constructive except take my shower which I suppose could be construed as constructive.

Tonight my friends and I are going out to dinner, a celebratory dinner for my friend’s birthday. I’m looking forward to the festivities.

My memory drawers are so filled I can’t even close some of them. Momentous events and whole experiences fill most drawers, but my memory drawers also save picture memories, single snapshots, and I sometimes wonder why. I remember my fourth grade lunch box was red plaid. I don’t remember any other lunch boxes. I have no memories of my school shoes, but I remember my sneakers, my play shoes. My favorite pair of dungarees had a flannel lining. The cuff had to be rolled once as the pants were a bit long. I was young and the waist of those pants was elastic, no snaps, no buttons. I remember one part of our walk to church early Christmas morning. It was still dark. I remember walking on the sidewalk and across the railroad tracks but that’s all. Arriving at church and the walk home are lost somewhere way back in one of those drawers. I can close my eyes perfectly see the cloakroom outside my first grade classroom. I remember the thick, painted walls in the rectory cellar where I spent my third grade. From high school, I remember where my freshman locker was, and I remember a before school practice for one of the Christmas pageants. I was sitting in the middle of about the third row. Once I got detention for talking on the stairs, one step away from the cafeteria where I was allowed to talk. I know exactly where that happened. I can even see the nun turn and tell me I had detention, but I don’t remember who the nun was.

In Philadelphia, at Peace Corps staging, we were together for about 5 days before leaving for Ghana. I remember standing in line for check-in. I remember sitting on the rug on the top floor with my back to the wall and reading The Naked Ape. Why I was on the top floor and not in my room escapes me. I don’t remember leaving for Ghana. I do remember after a stop for fuel in Madrid my seat belt got stuck and I couldn’t get it unstuck so I didn’t wear it for take-off from Madrid or for landing in Ghana.

Memories are so many things. Some makes us nostalgic, other makes us sad, some fill us with wonder. I always think the best ones keep those we love close to us whether they are here or not.

“What a strange power there is in clothing.”

May 8, 2015

My windows have been opened to bring inside the sweetness of spring and to rid the house of the closed smell of winter. Through those opened windows I get to hear the birds and be serenaded by their songs, sounds muted in the house during winter. This morning I was awake at dawn for a bit and could hear the mighty chorus of birds greeting the day; however, with the temperature going down to the 40’s tonight, I’ll have no choice but to shut the windows as the day starts to close and the sun dips behind the trees.

A long missing sock has returned home. It is red and one half of a favorite pair. The other red sock sat on the dryer all this time so I’d know where it was just in case its mate returned, but I admit I wasn’t hopeful. I went to get a sweatshirt this morning and pulled out one I haven’t worn in a while, a favorite sweatshirt, a Doctor Who sweatshirt. When I put it on, the sock popped out of the hood. Now I have a reunited pair of favorite socks.

When I was a kid, I didn’t really care if my socks matched. I just wanted one for each foot and just about any socks would do. I didn’t have fashion sense. It never even occurred to me there was a method to choosing clothes. I’d wear my girl jeans forever as they were comfortable and warm. Girl jeans were the ones with the zipper in the pocket. Back then that wasn’t the only difference between girls’ and boys’ clothes. Girls never wore shirts but rather blouses which always looked like shirts to me so I was a bit baffled. I know girls’ shirts have buttons on the left side while boys’ have buttons on the right. I looked it up just now and found that the reason dated back at least a century. Because men dressed themselves and most were right -handed, that’s where the buttons went, but servants dress the women and stood in front to button the frocks so left-side buttons made for easy buttoning. Sneakers too were different. Boys had high tops while my sneakers were low tops but both were usually Keds. I never wore a jersey, but my brother often did. His looked like Beaver Cleaver’s, usually long sleeve and striped. I did have one summer advantage, sleeve-less blouses.

Fashion has changed dramatically, and I couldn’t be happier. I don’t have to wear classic old lady clothes. They don’t exist anymore. Come to think of it, neither do old ladies.

“In summer, the song sings itself.”

June 21, 2014

Some words are magical not because they possess any special powers but because they conjure all the best memories and bring hope for more. Summer is one of these words, and the mere mentioning of it fills my head with remembrances. We visited my father’s aunt once and swam in her pond. It had leeches, and when we got out of the water, they were on our arms and legs. My mother freaked. My brother and I just pulled a few off each other. I can still see in my mind’s eye the pond, the overturned derelict white rowboat with flowers all around it, the Adirondack chair where my mother was sitting when she saw us and the black leeches on my arms. I think I was around five or six, the age of curiosity, not fear. On one New Hampshire vacation, there was a small waterfall by our cottage. My brother and I sat at the top, and I remember how funny the moving water felt under my legs. Playing softball in the heat of the afternoon made me sweaty and dirty, badges of honor. Sleeping outside at night was glorious. Every night there were a million stars. The drive-in meant pajamas, home-popped corn, bug juice and never seeing the end of a movie. The streetlights stopped mattering. Meals were haphazard, no special time. Sunday dinners went on hiatus. Shorts and shirts and sneakers were the clothes of every day.

Even my adult summer memories are filled with laughter and fun. Saturday night movies on the deck always mean popcorn, malted milks balls and nonpareils. Sitting around the table having a few drinks and playing Sorry is a summer tradition. One memory is among my favorites. At the end of my street, there are bushes not in gardens but along the side of the road, and they  make seeing cars and getting safely out of the street difficult. I remember sneaking up to the bushes one night and trimming them. We skulked like commandos. Why no one heard us laughing is still a mystery. We stay outside late on the deck. All around us are quiet houses with their lights out. We always feel bad for them missing all the fun of a summer evening.

Today is the first day of summer, and it makes me want to giggle. Summer does that to me!

“I was going to change my clothes, but I changed my mind instead.”

August 23, 2013

Today is simply beautiful, sunny and cool with a strong breeze. The nights will be delightful for sleeping: cool, even cold. Tomorrow night could be down in the 50’s. Gracie has been out all morning, and I will join her as soon as I can!

When I was a kid, I didn’t mind being dirty and sweaty. Both of those were from having a great time. My socks often slipped down in my sneaker, and I didn’t even care when I walked on the lump of a sock. I’d eventually pull up that sock, but in a short time, it would slip again. That was the way it was. I took a bath once a week, that Saturday ritual we all had. For dinner, our vegetables, except for potatoes and carrots, came from cans. I don’t remember fresh vegetables, maybe because my mother knew we would probably not eat them. She had enough trouble getting us to like carrots without pushing even more. In the summer, we’d play all day then go to bed exhausted. A bath wasn’t ever part of the nightly ritual, even in summer. I guess jumping into the sprinkler or going to the pool kept us clean enough.

We girls wore blouses, never t-shirts. Some of my blouses were sleeveless, and they were the coolest for summer, coolest in the sense of the word, the opposite of hot. We wore shorts and sometimes clam-diggers. I know why the pants were called clam-diggers, but I had never dug a clam in my life so in a way it was an odd name. We also wore dungarees, but girls’ and boys’ dungarees were different. Ours had zippers, usually in the side pocket. When I was really young, mine had elastic at the waist. Girls could wear sandals. Boys never did, too risky and too open to name-calling. My sisters wore white sandals with buckles. When I got a little older, I stopped wearing sandals and wore white sneakers instead. The sneakers usually had pointed toes, and when I was in high school, I used to polish them to keep them white. Dresses and skirts were still necessary wardrobe components.

The last time I wore a dress was Easter. My friends and I go out to a fancy restaurant every year so we get dressed up. Tony wears a suit and tie and Clare and I wear dresses. Many of the people at the restaurant are also clad in Easter finery. The few who aren’t stand out a bit. I always feel a bit outlandishly proper when I’m in a dress. It happens so seldom.

My uniform of the day almost always includes a t-shirt. At night, for a play, I do wear a regular shirt and nice pants, but not dressy pants. I don’t even own a blouse anymore. I do happen to have a pair of clam-diggers, but they are meant to be worn around the house or to the dump which doesn’t have a dress code.

“Squirrel, I am a threat to you! We are enemies! Please get off my bench! Oh, god! Oh, god! Don’t touch me—oh, god!”

June 10, 2013

The morning has been a busy one already. I woke so early I was able to read both papers, do another load of laundry, make my bed and go out for breakfast. When I got home, I found, to my dismay, my tranquility had disappeared and been replaced by the sounds of workmen next door who are taking down the old shingles. Hammering on the new will be next. The house certainly did need a face life. Nothing has been done to it since it was built. The house is a summer rental, and upkeep is not a priority. I would love to see the inside as I’m thinking retro 70’s.

A summer ritual will be performed today. I’m replacing the storm door in the back with the screen door. The day is already hot and hazy and a little cross air would cool the house. That door faces the south, and, in the summer, that’s the direction from which all my breezes come.

I already feel accomplished today and don’t think I’ll do much else. I have a new book to read, and it’s been a while since I just sat  and read all day. I’m thinking lounging on the couch might work perfectly.

A long while back I bought Converse high top sneakers in a variety of colors. I know I have pink and purple pairs. It might just be time to start wearing them again. I have reached that age when wearing whatever I want will cause no stir. People will look, see that I am older and just accept what I’m wearing as the vagaries of older age. I think it’s a perk. Most times I don’t go anywhere which requires a certain dress. Putting on a blouse or a shirt is dressing up for me. I spent too many years in dresses, panty hose and fancy but sensible shoes. Now I want comfort, just comfort.

I have so many t-shirts. Some are souvenirs my friends brought back or I bought on one of my adventures. Some are TV shows like M.A.S.H. and Hill Street Blues. A few are music groups, and I even have a Pete Seeger. Some others are ads and were free t-shirts. I have two favorites. One says, “Let’s eat grandma! Let’s eat, grandma. Punctuation saves lives.” The other has to do with the spawns. It says, “I have reason to believe the squirrels are mocking me.” Truer words were never written!

“I want to write a book about shoes that’s full of footnotes.”

March 15, 2013

This morning is winter. When I left for breakfast at 9 o’clock, it was 27˚. I saw people wearing winter coats, hats and gloves while walking their dogs, also sporting coats. While I was eating, the temperature rose to 32˚, but that cold didn’t stop me from being hopeful. I still believe that spring is taking hold. The front garden is filled with blooming crocus, and the birds are singing and greeting the morning. The sound is joyful.

The other day I bought a small pot of pansies for the kitchen. The flowers are yellow, my favorite color this time of year, the color of the sun. The daffodils I bought have finally bloomed and they too are a bright yellow. The sun is shining today, and the sky is blue. I am content despite the cold.

Today I have a few errands so I’ll go out in the afternoon. I’m sure Gracie will be glad for the ride. I try to take her all the time now because when summer comes, Gracie stays home except when we go to the dump where I can keep the car and the air conditioning running between stops. The heat is otherwise too much for Miss Gracie.

When I was a kid, I had three pairs of shoes: well, two pairs of shoes and a pair of sneakers. One pair of shoes was for school every day and church on Sunday. The other pair was for playing. That pair started out as school shoes then got worn and eventually demoted to play shoes. I wore those mostly in the winter or on cold days. In the summer I always wore sneakers. Nobody wore sandals back then except little kids. My sisters had white sandals with straps. My sneakers were red or blue when I was little. When I was older, they were white. We all wore white sneakers, mostly Keds, which narrowed at the toes. We kept them as white as possible. Sometimes we even used white shoe polish to cover marks. That had its disadvantages as the polish would seep to our socks and through to our feet, but that didn’t matter. White sneakers were a point of pride.

For my eighth grade trip, my mother bought me new clothes: a pair of sneakers, a blouse and clam diggers. I don’t know if that was a purely regional name. They were also called pedal pushers, and they looked a lot like Capri pants, the Mary Tyler Moore type, but to us they were clam diggers. It was the perfect name. Not many clothes boast a name which fits their function. If you wore those pants while clamming, they’d stay dry and out of the mud. We never did, but we could have.

“”The time has come,” the walrus said, “to talk of many things: Of shoes and ships – and sealing wax – of cabbages and kings”

November 26, 2011

I’m not going to be the one to tell her. Why have her notice is my thought. If Mother Nature wants to keep sending us days in the 60’s this time of year, I’ll not break the spell. People are wearing short sleeve shirts or light jackets at the most. I even had my bedroom window open all night so I could smell the fresh air. Today is beautiful with a sunny blue sky and not even a tiny breeze. The leaves still hanging for dear life on the ends of branches aren’t moving. Today is a reprieve. Gracie has been out almost the entire morning. I’ll join her after this as the feeders need filling.

When I went to get the papers from the driveway, it was one of those stand a while and take in the day sort of mornings. I haven’t had one of those since early fall. I did miss the front flowers I used to love looking at every day, but the air was clear and bright, and that’s more than enough for late November.

Buckle shoes were never my favorite when I was a kid. Unlike sneakers, you couldn’t just slide your foot out. You had to unbuckle the shoes first. Also, they were only for church or school so they were tainted by their use. Every Easter my mother bought us girls new shoes with buckles because they were fancy shoes. Buckle shoes, though, had design drawbacks. If a lace on my sneaker broke, I’d tie a knot and use the lace anyway or my mother would buy new laces when the knots got too many. Buckle straps broke, and there was just nothing you could do. I always knew when the strap was getting close as there was process before the break. First, the hole in the strap would get bigger because the shoe fit only one way so I always used the same hole. Pretty soon the area around the hole would start to lose color, then it would bend and finally the hole would give way, and the strap became two pieces, one shorter than the other, and the shoe was useless without the strap. My dad would try to fix it, but nothing ever held. My mother was stuck buying me a new pair. I think she was thrilled when saddle shoes became popular because they lasted the whole school year, and the strap shoes were relegated to Sundays so they lasted much longer. We all now had two good pairs of shoes and a pair of sneakers. We felt rich.

“I like the way my own feet smell. I love to smell my sneakers when I take them off.”

April 11, 2010

It’s overcast and chilly. The sun keeps trying to break through, but the clouds still hold sway. I went out for breakfast, as I do every Sunday, and I met my friend at our usual spot. It was almost empty. I figure a cloudy Sunday is seldom an invitation to be out and about early. It’s a take your time, drink lots of coffee and read the papers sort of day.

We wore sneakers when I was a kid, and every summer we’d get a new pair. Most times they were Keds. Red was my favorite color. I tied my own sneakers, but the bows were seldom tight enough. The laces would often come undone. My mother would then step in and help. I’d lift my foot to her and she’d rest it on her upper leg while she tied the laces in a double knot. Those knots were so secure they never untied even when I tried. At night, I’d pull and pull on the laces but couldn’t find the key to unlocking those knots. I’d end up prying off the sneakers, still tied. The next day I’d wiggle my foot into my tied sneaker and push until the toes reached the end. Sometimes, in the process, I’d flatten the back of the sneaker and have to stick my finger in like a shoehorn. It was never easy.

When I got older, only tennis sneakers would do, white and narrow at the toes. No longer was tying the bow a problem for me. The biggest challenge was keeping the sneakers white. Any mark was a catastrophe. Sometimes the sneakers could go in the washing machine. My mother would them hang by their laces on the line to dry. In between washes, white shoe polish hid the spots, but it had disadvantages. The white rubbed off on socks and clothes and the insides of the sneakers stayed damp for a while. It was never easy being a fashion icon.

I still call them sneakers and have a couple of pairs. One pair came with a fancy name. They weren’t sneakers. They were leather fitness shoes. The other pair is hot pink and made by Converse. They are the real deal.