Posted tagged ‘stars’

“The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common.”

March 18, 2019

The sun and the blue sky are still hanging around as is the chill. Every day this week is predicted to be in the 40’s, spring on Cape Cod.

St. Patrick’s day was wonderful. Dinner was superb though I’m not sure superb is the right adjective to describe corn beef and cabbage, a hearty meal. Everything cooked perfectly. The Irish soda bread and the Kerry butter completed the meal. Dessert was scrumptious. I didn’t eat it last night, but I had a piece for breakfast. I wonder if it is still called dessert if you eat it in the morning.

I found more shoots popping their heads above the ground. I count them as wonders. I watch their progress every morning. I saw a bit of yellow yesterday. I’m thinking a daffodil.

I am always thankful to Peace Corps for having assigned me to Bolgatanga. Every day was amazement filled with sounds, sights and feelings that I ever knew existed before living in Ghana. It was all a wonder of unexpected beauty.

I loved sleeping outside in the back of my house. My mattress, dragged from my bedroom, was a necessity as the backyard was concrete with a few big rocks which weren’t removed when the house was built and the concrete laid. I slept outside mostly during the dry season. I’d lie on my back and look at the sky. It was always spectacular with so many stars the nights were never dark. They were filled with shadows. Not a night went by without a falling star streaking across the sky. I oohed and ahed every one of them. They were never commonplace.

I have the same sense of wonder when there are meteor showers here. I take out a chair, something to drink, usually coffee, and I watch the sky. I still ooh and ah.

I can’t imagine a life without a sense of wonder, without seeing the joy of every day.

“…freshly cut Christmas trees smelling of stars and snow and pine resin – inhale deeply and fill your soul with wintry night…”

December 5, 2017

The morning has been a busy one here at the Ryan estate. The staff has decorated the grounds with multi-colored lights. Large ornaments hang from trees, and a spotlight gives the ornaments a twinkle. The back deck is awash with lights. A smaller star joins the big star on the fence gate. A wooden sled draped with white skates is now by the front steps and is lit by a string of colored lights. A wreath is on the front fence gate and hanging in the middle of it is a wooden fish. The front door also has a wreath but hanging from its middle is bright coral. The crowning achievement is the tree. It is in the stand in the living room where it will sit for a day or two before being decorated. The tree, even naked, is beautiful and full of branches and soft needles. Already the aroma of pine has begun to waft through the living room. A bayberry centerpiece is ready to take its place in the middle of the dining room table once the Christmas runner has been found.

The outside is finished. All I need to do is check the lights tonight to make sure the timers are correct, and the front and back lights are turning on around the same time.

The living room is a chaotic mess. All the presents are now downstairs. They are piled on the couch and chair and even the floor. They need to be catalogued and wrapped, but that is for another day. I did vacuum the dirt and needles which came in with the tree but that’s it. I’m done for the day.

I’m watching the 1966 Andy Williams Christmas show. Already his brothers have dropped by as have his mother and father. His mother is wearing a fur stole. His wife Claudine, not yet notorious, wants help picking the tree. The Osmond Brothers are now singing. They are dressed in pink shirts and white bib overalls and singing about peppermint. Donny is tiny compared to his brothers. I probably saw this back in the day as we never missed an Andy Williams Christmas.

Though the temperature is in the 40’s, the dampness has made the day feel even colder. There have been clouds all day, but the clouds are darkening. The rain will soon be here.

I’m thinking I deserve a bit of egg nog.

“Anything seems possible at night when the rest of the world has gone to sleep.”

July 18, 2017

Today was gray when I first woke up. I went back to sleep, and it was sunny when I awoke the second time. I stayed awake. After two coffees and two newspapers, I was ready to face the day. The animals got fed, I took Gracie outside, put dishes away and  cleaned the kitchen counter. That’s it, my chores, for the day. I do have to take Maddie and Gracie to get their nails cut, but that goes into the errand column and is the singular entry in that column. Most of my day will be lazy and quiet.

I take Gracie out for her last outside trip just before I go to bed. It can be any time between 12:30 and 3. It was around 2 this morning. I turn on my outside light, and it is the only light. All of the houses around me are dark. I walk gently and slowly to the driveway feeling with my foot the change from grass to hardtop. It is downhill to the gate and I shuffle my feet for safety. Once Gracie and I are inside the gate, I sit on the deck steps and wait. After she triggers the yard lights, I can see when she’s done and when we can to go back inside to bed. Sometimes I sit outside a bit longer because the night is so lovely. Gracie recognizes my mood and leans against me, her pat me signal. I listen to all the night sounds. I check out the stars. After a while, I drag myself inside to bed.

The night sky in Ghana was ablaze with stars. Nights were never dark. When I slept outside, during the harmattan, I watched for shooting stars. I saw many. Despite the heat, I slept soundly in my back yard. Roosters were my wake-up calls. When I think back, I realize it all seemed ordinary to me, a usual night. When I go back to Ghana, I have the sense that all of it is familiar especially that rooster outside my window crowing as the day dawns.

“Taste is the most unexplored sense”

January 16, 2015

When I got up during the night, I swear I saw stars, and was delighted, I stood at the window a while just looking. When I woke up, it was cloudy, and I wanted to scream. Right now, though, the sun is making an appearance, and off to the west are patches of blue sky. I can barely contain my excitement.

Gracie woke me up around 6:30. She wanted out, but when she got on the deck, she couldn’t get down the stairs. They had a topping of ice from the dusting of snow we got yesterday. I put on my shoes and walked her to the yard down the stairs step by step. If the poor dog only knew. Here I was her safety net, and I fall all the time. Luckily this time I didn’t. Before I went back to bed, I threw safety paws de-icer on the steps and also noticed where Gracie had been sick a few times. I won’t get into a description, but I think whatever had been bothering her was on her crate blanket which is now washed and in the dryer. Gracie is back to her always happy self.

In the old days we didn’t take our dog to the vet’s except to get the rabies shot required by law. There was no well dog visit back then. Duke, the boxer we had while I was growing up, was a terror to other dogs, but he met his match once and his neck was torn open. My dad said nature would take care of it. My mother sneaked Duke to the vet’s who took care of it. The dog’s wounds healed, and my father gloated a bit with his I told you so. We all just looked at each other and said nothing.

We pulled many fast ones on my poor dad. My mother would come and visit me, and we’d shop. She’d fill her trunk with boxes and bags. When she got home, she’d bring in two or three packages and show my father what she’d bought. He’d nod but actually be totally uninterested. Shopping was hell on Earth to him. When my dad went to work on Monday, my mother would empty the trunk. My dad never noticed anything new in the house. His spot was at the end of the couch next to the table. That was his little kingdom and nothing there ever changed. He was content.

We knew never to tell my dad some of the ingredients in the dishes he was served for dinner. He would refuse to eat them if he knew. Garlic, according to my dad, was to be used for garlic bread and shrimp scampi. It had no other uses. Little did he know he often ate it in a variety of dishes. He did catch my mother putting it in slits in a pork roast and was horrified. My mother took out all the garlic. My father had eaten that pork roast with garlic several times. He just didn’t see it.

My father used his eyes to determine whether or not a dish could be eaten. Hummus was wallpaper paste. He knew that without trying it. Just looking was enough. It was a huge no on potstickers and anything my mother made for my brother, the vegetarian. My father was the original meat and potatoes man with a few vegetables tossed in like carrots, canned asparagus and corn, either fresh or canned. My dad actually ate a huge variety of things. He just never knew.

“No one lights a lamp in order to hide it behind the door: the purpose of light is to create more light, to open people’s eyes, to reveal the marvels around.”

December 4, 2014

Yesterday I had a vision of the post-apocalyptic world, and very few had survived. There were only four cars at the dump, a miracle as it was closed for the two days prior to yesterday. I went to Benny’s for lights and cords, and it was near empty. I was almost tempted to buy a million batteries for when the lights go out. In front of my coffee-sandwich store there were several parking places right in front. I was the only customer at the counter. The roads were nearly empty, and I had no trouble crossing two lanes of traffic. It was cold out yesterday, and it did start to rain but not until I was nearly home so the weather wasn’t a deterrent. Where were the people?

This morning an uninvited cat was sitting outside on my front steps. It looked quite at home. I was upstairs as was Gracie. That was a good thing because Gracie doesn’t like cats other than her own, and she’s not even sure about them. Gracie would have gone through the glass to get at that cat daring to invade her yard. I made noise and the cat just turned and looked at me and didn’t move. Finally I went down the stairs halfway and the cat scooted. Gracie never saw it. Catastrophe averted.

My outside Christmas lights look lovely. I added some white lights on top of the fence which look as if they are emanating from the giant star, and I outlined my sled and the skates hanging from it in colored lights. I put ball ornaments in a basket on the front step. My neighbor called last night to tell me how wonderful my house looks. Now I just have to get inside decorated. That will be a multi-day project but one which brings me joy and even wonder as I remember the history of the ornaments especially the ones from our family tree.

This afternoon I will finish the deck lights and call it a day. That book is waiting.

“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.”

February 25, 2014

The cold weather is back and snow may be on the way tomorrow, but I, however, am finally resigned to winter now that it is nearly over. There is no sense complaining. It just makes me grouchy and serves no purpose. Over the weekend it was 50˚, and I got to thinking ahead to barbecue and beach weather. Spring will eventually come. It always does.

My life has a routine. It has always had a routine, but the routine has changed as I have changed and grown older. The longest routine was during the thirty-three years I worked in the high school. I got up the same time every day, came home around the same time and spent my evenings in the same way as I had the day before and the day before that. I never thought of my routine as a rut. I liked my job though for all those years 5 o’clock always struck me as a barbaric time for waking up and getting out of bed. I don’t do that any more. This summer I will celebrate ten years of retirement. The only time I set my clock now is on Mondays for breakfast with my friend at nine. It’s a wonderful thing that I have to set the alarm to get out of bed by eight. I like the routine I find myself living now.

This morning the paper had pictures of purple croci ( I had four years of Latin in high school so I’m going with first declension masculine plural on this one). They are a hopeful sign as are the green shoots in my front garden. I saw a few more this morning which had been hidden under the snow. They made me smile and forget for a moment that it’s cold and a bit raw today.

The world continues to amaze me. Sometimes I am stopped in my tracks. There we are, Gracie and I, just riding along when all of a sudden I am struck by the beauty of the marsh or the colors of the sunset. I’m usually moved to talk out loud and use words like wow or oh my God. It doesn’t matter how many times I have seen the sheer beauty of the ocean or the glory of a sunny day or a sky lit with stars. I can’t help but be overwhelmed. I think it a wonderful thing that we can live years and years and still be moved by the every day.

“A good book is the best of friends, the same today and forever.”

January 7, 2012

My sister and brother-in-law are coming down today. I’ve held their Christmas presents and Christmas goodies for ransom until they visit. Every Christmas my sisters have certain expectations from me. Moe and Rod, in Colorado, expect English toffee. Sheila, who’s due here any time now, expects her fudge and date-nut bread. She won’t be disappointed. Once I knew Sheila was coming, I made both of them. She’ll open her presents first then we’re going to lunch.

Last night was warmer than I expected. When Gracie went out before we went to bed, I decided to follow her and check out the night. She went into the yard, and I stood on the deck looking at the lights strung across the driveway gate. They’re coming down after Little Christmas. I’m going to miss all of them, but I’ll miss the star most of all. It lit up the night. I’m thinking maybe I just ought to keep it lit, let it keep away the deep darkness of winter nights. It will have to be moved a bit so I can open the gate but that doesn’t seem like a big deal.

Whoever chose December to celebrate Christmas chose well. Joyousness and celebrations and music and color and families gathering together brighten even the darkest days and nights. Fireworks, I think there should be fireworks.

I finished my book today. It was the newest James Patterson, at least I think it was. He seems to write a new book every month. This one was an Alex Cross novel.

Books go quickly for me. If I like one, I take every opportunity to read it. Whatever break I have, out comes my book. When I’m watching a TV program, the commercial is another opportunity to read. Often I get so involved in the book I lose the program I’m watching. A day spent reading a good book is a day well spent.

“Christmas is the keeping-place for memories of our innocence.”

December 1, 2011

Sorry for the rather late start today, but Skip, my factotum, is here to put up the outside lights, and I am periodically called outside to check progress and to see if everything is in the right place then when the spotlight blew I had to go to the store to buy another one and some new garlands for the fence. Last year there was enough garland to span the fence but it seems to have disappeared over the summer. My artificial tree, the ugliest scrub pine you ever saw, is now up in the dining room. Over the summer, a few of the ornaments were gnawed in places and some of the ribbons were eaten, nesting material I suppose. All that seems to be the work of the mini-spawns, the field mice who call my cellar their home. Around here we all have mice. My brother claims that anyone who lives on Cape Cod and says he has no mice is living in a fantasy world. Luckily my cats are adept at catching the critters, and I often find one lying perfectly still on the rug in the hall having peacefully gone to its rest.

The lights outside are all connected to timers. I’m crossing my fingers that everything will light as hoped. The newest light is a giant star with a trail of lights. It is atop the fence. If all goes well, it should be spectacular.

Tomorrow will begin the transformation of the inside of the house. The tree will arrive either Sunday or Monday. I’m wondering if a parade might be a bit over the top.

I was going to decorate only a little this year, but once I started I got the Christmas bug. It’s a disease most of my family has, inherited from my mother’s side of the family. My father’s parents were more the socks and underwear sort of  Christmas givers while my mother’s parents, with their eight kids, went all out for the holiday. Most of my cousins have also inherited the same disease.

The goldfinches are back to the feeders, drab and pale. Gone is the brilliant yellow of their summer feathers. Today there were five or six of them. I wonder where they’ve been.

I opened day one of my Advent calendar today. Only 24 more to go!

“Mine is the night, with all her stars.”

August 12, 2010

I slept with an open window and fresh air last night, the first night in a long time without the air conditioning blasting. Tonight and the next few nights should be about the same. The humidity will return on Monday. I mean, really, what’s August without sweating at the least bit of activity, needing multiple showers each day just to feel clean and being constantly grouchy and tired from the heat.

Tonight is the Perseid meteor shower with the best viewing around 4 or 5 AM. I’ll be out there with my lounge chair just waiting to be awed. It’s  a yearly ritual for me. I take a nap in the late afternoon so I can be up all hours. Around 3 I head outside and get comfy. One year the meteors were so beautiful and plentiful I couldn’t help but ooh and ah out loud, but nobody heard me. All the houses around me were dark. I was the only spectator lucky enough to be watching the most beautiful display in the night sky.

The stars are overpowering in their beauty. Some nights they fill the sky, and I sit outside just to look. When I was a little kid, a falling star was an event. The first one to see it would yell and point and we’d all make wishes. Back then there were far fewer man made lights to compete with a starry night, and the sky was always ablaze with twinkling stars. I remember my dad pointing out the North Star and the big and little dippers. He said we’d never get lost if we knew where to look. I remember the trail of light, the Milky Way, looking like a road across the sky. Nothing was better on a hot summer night than lying on the cool grass looking at the night sky and hoping to see a falling star.

“Twilight drops her curtain down, and pins it with a star.”

June 29, 2010

Last night it rained, but it rained so gently we sat outside, my friends and I, and let the drops cool us. After the rain, we wiped off the table and chairs, sat down and ate dinner together, a summer dinner of hot dogs and fresh corn. A breeze cooled the night air. The fireflies are back.

Today is hot but drier than yesterday. Nothing is moving. Gracie sleeps in the cool sand under the deck. When she surfaces, the bottom of her muzzle is covered with sand. She shakes her head and the sand flies all over. At least she’s cool.

Duke was the boxer we had for nearly fifteen years when I was growing up. On hot summer days, he’d walk through the water to the sprinkler, stop the whirling arms with his paw and take a cold drink. He’d let go of the sprinkler then shake off the wet as he walked away. An arc of water spread around him when he shook. It shined in the sunlight.

We never went camping when I was a kid. My father knew neat stuff like making a making a lean-to in the woods, and he loved to fish, but my mother wasn’t at all the outdoor type. I can’t imagine camping ever appealed to her. My brother and his friend used to camp in the woods near a lake a few miles from our house. He’d use a tarp for a tent and blankets for a sleeping bag. My brother brought Duke for protection against the unknown, but Duke wasn’t much for camping. He’d walk back home unless my brother tied him to a tree.

I never went camping in the woods, but I used to sleep in the backyard. My friend and I would put down a tarp then bring out our pillows and a few snacks. We’d both lie on our backs looking at the stars before falling asleep. There were so many stars when I was kid. The sky was filled with light, with a blanket of stars bright enough to read by. I loved lying there looking across the sky. It was so beautiful I felt almost giddy with wonder.

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