Posted tagged ‘sunny’

“Squeaking squirrels squandering away their square shares!”

September 16, 2018

Today is another lovely day with warmth and bright sun. The breeze is so slight the leaves barely move. It is a quiet day but then most days around here are quiet. A dog occasionally barking is about the only sound. I have nothing on my dance card today. Yesterday a friend came by and we had cocktails and appies on the deck. Henry even visited. It was a wonderful way to spend the late afternoon.

I woke up close to eleven this morning. Henry got me up at seven to let him out, but I went back to bed. Seven was too early, too middle of the night to me.

When I was a kid, Sunday rituals were sacred. Mass was first then it was hanging around the house until dinner, usually around two. If I went anywhere beyond the backyard, it was on a whole family excursion. Every now and then we’d go for a Sunday ride. I had one back window, my brother had the other, one of my sisters was in the middle of us and my other sister sat in the front seat. Cars in those days had full front seats from one window to the other. The shift was on the steering wheel. Some of the rides were on back roads. I remember getting excited when we’d see a farm with cows. I remember stopping for ice cream. That was the best part of the ride, even better than the cows. My favorite ice cream for the longest time was chocolate chip then mocha chip then mint chip. The pattern is easy. Give me chocolate. My father’s favorite was vanilla, but he never ate just plain vanilla. He covered his ice cream in Hershey’s syrup so thick there was like a river of chocolate surrounding the vanilla.

The spawn chewed the outside string of lights again. I’ve given up. I’m flying the white flag. That is about the fifth strand done in by a spawn of Satan, a rat with a puffy tail, a squirrel. I went hunting for a solution. The only one I found was to cover the strands with PVC piping. That seems like a lot of work, a lot of measuring and cutting to fit the short spaces between the lights. I’ll just stay in the dark.

“Adventure is a need.”

July 21, 2018

The weather is playing games with my head. When I first woke up, it was sunny. I turned over and went back to sleep. When I finally woke up, it was cloudy, and that’s how it has been all morning: sunny then cloudy. It is 71˚ which is pleasant. Rain is predicted for some time tonight. I just hope that means after the grand debut of movie night. I’d hate for the proverbial red carpet to get wet.

My lawn got mowed this morning. The machine was so loud it got Henry barking at the intrusion. We were both glad when the guy was finished. Now it is quiet. Henry and Maddie are both asleep. Henry is exhausted from protecting the house and me while Maddie, at 19, sleeps most of the day getting up only to eat and have fresh water.

The weather is the first thing I check each morning. I stand outside with my papers in hand and take in the day. I smell the fresh air, check the flowers in the garden and pull up a weed or two off the brick walk on my way back to the house. The weather matters now, and I don’t know why. When I was kid, I never really thought about the summer weather unless it was raining. Light rain was a minor inconvenience, but heavy rain ruined the whole day, and we were stuck inside the house.

All summer, I wore shorts with a blouse, usually a sleeveless blouse, and sneakers. My brother spent the entire summer wearing dungarees, striped jerseys and sneakers with socks. Only the little boys wore shorts. We played ball on the hottest afternoons, and the only thing we minded was being hitless. I don’t ever remember the heat being an issue at night. I suppose the explanation might be we were so exhausted we collapsed. Relief from the heat didn’t mean air-conditioning. It meant a popsicle; red and blue were my favorites, one for taste, the other for tongue color. Running through the sprinkler was great fun on any summer afternoon.

When I was older, I sometimes walked with my friends to the opposite end of town to the MDC pool. We paid our dime, swam all afternoon and walked the over two miles home thereby defeating the entire purpose of the pool adventure. Of course, being kids, the illogic of the situation escaped us. I just remember the fun of that walk home, talking all the way as we carried our wet bathing suits wrapped in wet towels, occasionally swatting one another as we walked.

Life was amazing every day back then. The nights we slept outside in our backyards we’d  pretend we were on a big adventure. We’d talk while lying on our backs looking at the millions of stars lighting the night. We’d talk until the exhaustion of summer fun  closed our eyes. 

“The only man I envy is the man who has not yet been to Africa – for he has so much to look forward to.”

June 22, 2018

What a beautiful day! The sun is bright, a little breeze ruffles the leaves, the humidity is gone, and the air is comfortable at 70˚. My biggest chore today is to hose down the deck, the table and chairs. They are covered with leaves, small branches and parts of acorns. Under the chairs is still some pollen the jet spray should wash away. The birds have been busy so the feeders need seed. The suet feeder was opened by a spawn so it too needs to be refilled.

Forty nine years ago today, a Sunday, the greatest adventure of my life began. Forty nine years ago today I said goodbye to my parents and headed to Philadelphia for Peace Corps Ghana staging. My father drove the three of us, him, my mother and me, to Logan Airport. It was a quiet ride with little conversation. None of us dared to say anything. At Logan, we stood around the gate saying our goodbyes. My mother’s hug was a bit tight. As I walked down the jetway, I turned and waved. They waved too. That was our last goodbye.

When I got on the plane, I was loaded down with carry-ons. My 80 pounds of luggage, filled with clothes and stuff like sheets, towels, a few pans and spices, had been checked. When I sat down, my seat mate asked me if I was running away from home. I told him the Peace Corps. He bought me drinks. I landed in Philadelphia and went to the taxi line. I noticed a guy wearing a button-down collar shirt and a pair of khakis. Around him was more luggage than one guy needed for a trip to Philadelphia. I asked him if he was going to the Hotel Sylvania. He was. I had just met my first fellow trainee. We shared a cab.

Downstairs at the hotel I stood in line to register. I had my fingerprints with me, the last piece of my file. I registered. At that same desk, they gave me my large manila envelope filled with information about Ghana, the staging schedule including a one on one with a psychologist, training information and my room key. I got to my room and unpacked a few things, enough for the five days we’d be in Philadelphia. My roommate never showed. I found that amazing. How could she not show after the long process of being invited to train for Ghana?

Our first meeting on Sunday night was just introductions, more specific instructions and an overview of the rest of staging. They gave us a per diem, but I don’t remember how much. I do remember finding my way to the dentist to have my teeth checked, the yellow fever shot they gave each of us and the first session. It was so unexpectedly boring. I decided to skip sessions and see Philadelphia. That’s when I met Bill and Peg. We became friends and co-conspirators. We toured Philadelphia. I remember the Liberty Bell and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

We were originally told we’d have to make our own way to New York for the flight. It made no sense to us and eventually no sense to the staff so we loaded luggage and boarded busses to the Philadelphia airport. It was a TWA charter flight to Accra. I was nervous, a little scared, a lot curious and even more thrilled. I was going to Africa.

“At home, my mother dabbed at her brow with a wet flannel she kept in the fridge for that purpose.”

June 7, 2018

Mother Nature has blessed us of late. Each day is lovely, sunny and spring warm. The nights are chilly, perfect for sleeping with the window cracked a bit, but this morning my house was so cold I put the heat on for a while. I didn’t expect I’d still need heat in June. I’m not complaining, mind you. I’m just surprised.

I bought flowers yesterday and spent over $200.00. This morning I noticed I need a few more annuals for the clay pots on the deck. I also need a few more clay pots. The pollen is gone now so the deck and the deck furniture can be cleaned, finally. I’m so looking forward to being outside under the umbrella, book in hand, a snack on the table warding off starvation and a cooling breeze keeping the heat at bay. That is paradise for me.

When I was a kid, our house had no spots outside for lolling. There was a shared lawn with the neighbors, but it was small because of a grassy hill. We played outside and sometimes ate lunch outside, but we sat on the back steps. Our side yard had grass and two fir trees. That was where my sisters jumped over the sprinkler and where the kiddy pool was sometimes put. My father would have preferred they be elsewhere, not on his lawn, but there was no other spot. I remember the squeals from my sisters when they jumped over the cold water spewing from the sprinkler. I also remember my dog using  his paw to stop the sprinkler from turning so he could get a drink. He was a clever dog.

I never really minded the heat when I was a kid. It was just part of summer. It never stopped me from doing anything. When I was in the Peace Corps, our training in Ghana was during the rainy season, the cooler part of the year though I do use cool here with reservations. For the two years after training, I lived in the hottest part of the country where 100+ degrees each day during the dry season was common. I never loved the heat but it was part of living in Bolgatanga. I survived, but even better, I thrived.

“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.

“Seafood makes you live 10 years more.”

February 24, 2018

Today is glorious. It is sunny and warmer than it has been. When I got the papers, I stood a while and listened. The birds were singing. I was thrilled at the sound. Nothing says spring more than birds welcoming the day. We will have showers later, but I’m okay with that. We have sun, if only for a while!

Yesterday it rained again but on and off as I went home from my appointment. I drove down Route 28 and stopped at Jerry’s. I have history with Jerry’s. I started going there when I was in high school when the original Jerry was the owner and the cook. It had take-out windows, and Jerry screamed at us if we, in any way, blocked the windows.  “Get out of the way. Get out of the way!” Jerry’s was open all year, a rarity in those days, in the mid-1960’s. It is still open all year, and the only difference from back then is there are no take out windows and Jerry is long gone. I ordered a shrimp plate and substituted the fries with onion rings. From where I was sitting, I could watch the cook. I watched him breading then frying my lunch. When he delivered my plate, it was full. I was delighted and snagged a shrimp right away. It was so hot from the frying, I grabbed my drink to cool my mouth. I waited a bit then dove into my onion rings and another shrimp. They were sublime.

I love hot dogs. I love to toast my rolls by slathering the sides with butter and cooking them in the frying pan. The rolls open at the top so the sides can perfectly toast. My hot dogs are usually fried. Sometimes though I steam them. When they are done, I add my toppings. Chopped onions, piccalilli, some sort of mustard and sometimes jalapeños are my toppings of choice. I always have a jar of sliced jalapeños in the fridge as I usually add them to my sandwiches and eggs.

I think I’ll go out later. I have no destination in mind. I’ll just keep moving until some place catches my eye then I’ll stop.

“Talent is useful, but always keep your dagger sharp.”

February 18, 2018

The predicted snow stayed north of us. My sister who lives 14 miles from Boston got 5″. We got rain. The rain storm started around eleven and was still going strong at 12:30 when I fell asleep. Today is bright with sun. The blue sky is almost cloudless. The breeze is strong, and the pine branches are swaying and bending enough to make noise. It is a chilly day.

Tonight is game night, and we’ll also celebrate Chinese New Year. One year we did origami and folded the different color papers into dragons and kites and other symbols. I was horrible at it. I thought I had folded the papers just right according to the illustrations, but the finished produces had no resemblance to the pictures of them. It was frustrating, but I knew it would be as I had learned from experience I can put almost anything together by following the word directions and not the picture directions.  There’s that old left brain in action.

When I was kid in elementary school, we had art every couple of weeks. It alternated with music. There was no music teacher and there was no art teacher. The teacher or the nun I had did it all. Sister Hildegarde, my eighth grade teacher, had music class more often than once every other week. She had a keyboard which one of my classmates played. She also had pitch pipe which was round and had the keys listed next to the hole to blow. She’d blow the note then start us off with the first line. She sang so badly we had to hide behind our music books so she wouldn’t catch us laughing at her. I think it was also in her class I learned Gregorian chant notes. We even had tests of reading and writing chant.

I don’t remember much about my art classes. The only one I remember is when we made paper mâché puppets. We also had to write a small play and team up with classmates. I made a devil, and it was the best thing I ever created in any art class.

As I grew older, I found out that words strung together in the right way created beauty, a beauty of language which conjured images and memories and feelings. It was my talent.

“Cats have it all – admiration, an endless sleep, and company only when they want it.”

February 5, 2018

My Patriots lost the game. It was heartbreaking. The game, however, was what a Super Bowl should be and was exciting the whole way through. Brady being stripped of the ball was the end of hope. I did wear my new sweatshirt, now relegated to the closet. It is time to bring out my Red Sox garb.

Today is sunny. It would be warm if not for the wind. The top branches of the backyard pines are swaying. I stood outside for a while when I got the papers. The air smelled fresh, even sweet. It was quiet.

Last night it poured. The rain pummeled the roof. I loved it. I even wished I had a tin roof so the sound could surround me the same way it did in Ghana. The rain dissolved the snow. Only the smallest of piles are on the street corners where the plows had left them. They’ll be gone today.

Maddie is sleeping on my sweatshirt on the den table. She followed me to the kitchen meowing at me while I put my coffee on. She wanted a treat. I gave her some roast beef. I think Maddie is deaf. Even when she is near me she never responds to my voice. I could chalk that up to a cat being a cat, but she used to come when I called. She is the soundest sleeper.

When I was in the second grade, I became a brownie. My mother bought me my one piece brown uniform and a darker brown beanie with a dancing brownie on the front. The gold brownie pin was attached to the pocket. I loved wearing that uniform and could even wear it to school instead of my regular uniform when I had a troop meeting. Lots of my friends were brownies too. We all stood taller in our uniforms. We learned to hold up three fingers and recite the brownie pledge. It was always recited with great solemnity. I don’t remember what we did at meetings, but I remember marching in the parade every Memorial Day. It was my proudest moment as a brownie. I also remember telling my parents that everyone was out of step but me.

“Today, watching television often means fighting, violence and foul language – and that’s just deciding who gets to hold the remote control.”

January 19, 2018

Everyday I make a list and every day I do nothing. I’ve read a bit, and that’s about it.  Losing Gracie is still so close. I keep looking for her, and I call poor Maddie Gracie. The house is quiet. Today, though, I have no choice but to go out. I’ve made a list with three stops, maybe four if I add the dump.

Today is a pretty day with a bright sun and a soft blue sky. The air is chilly but hints at being warmer. It is a good day to be out and about.

I watch television. It has been with me all of my life. When I was a kid, we had a cabinet  for the TV. It had doors which hid the screen. It was in one corner of the living room. A chair faced it, another chair was beside it, and you could get a great view from the couch.  My brother and I sat on the floor in front of it. My mother made us move back from the screen so we wouldn’t go blind. We had an antenna, rabbit ears, for fine tuning the stations. It sat on top of the cabinet. Most of the time it had aluminum foil around the ears. My father thought the foil brought in a clearer picture. I remember how often the TV screen was filled with snow. It made a static sound. The screen sometimes had lines and the picture kept jumping. If the TV didn’t work, my father would take some tubes from the back and bring them to the TV store to be tested. He’d do that until the offending tube was found. TV tubes were like Christmas bulbs. If one burnt out, none of them worked. It was hit or miss. When my father removed the back cover of the TV, I remember the tubes looked a little like Frankenstein’s lab with the lit filaments and their lights bouncing up and down the wires.

When my father couldn’t put the bulbs back in their original spots, it was time to call the repairman. We’d watch. My father would stand beside him and chat about the TV as if he knew something about it. The repairman wore a belt with all his tools and brought in a bag with bulbs. He always found the offending bulb.

TV’s now don’t get fixed. They get replaced and usually upgraded at the same time. The set I have now was one of the first HD sets on the street. I remember my neighbors coming to dinner and wanting to watch TV. They were amazed. This TV is 13 or 14 years old, and it still works fine. My next set will be a 4K UHD. I watched one at my friend’s house and I was drop jaw amazed.

Well, it’s time to get myself in gear, a fine metaphor, a suitable ending.

“I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness for it shows me the stars.”

January 8, 2018

The day was sunny when I first woke up. It’s cloudy now, but it’s warm so I’m fine with the clouds. The temperature is above freezing. I can hear the drips of the melting snow from the roof. They sound like rain.

This is the week of the January thaw, earlier than usual. Each new day will get progressively warmer and by Friday it will be 50˚. My mind can’t fathom 50˚ after this last week which forever changed my definition of cold. I got to the point where 8˚ felt warm.

Today is tackle the tree day. It is still lit and decorated and is the last remnant of Christmas. The living room is drab and dark without it. Winter, with its early nights and late dawnings, is back, but there is some consolation. The cold air gives the night clarity. The light of the moon shines on the snow, and stars blanket the sky. Everything is perfectly still. Lights from windows arc across the snow. Smoke curls from chimneys, and sometimes I can smell wood burning. I stand outside and brave the cold just to take in the night.

My street has no streetlights. Sometimes it can be so dark the house across the street disappears. I keep lit candles in my front windows all the time. They are but a small break in the darkness.

When I was a kid, I always greeted the first star, “Star light, star bright, The first star I see tonight; I wish I may, I wish I might, Have the wish I wish tonight.” Even now that wish just jumps into my head. I’d hate to outgrow believing in things I can’t see.

I haven’t been out in a while to go anywhere. The cold has kept me inside the house. I’ve read, watched TV, napped and saved recipes I’ll never make from magazines.

After days when we were stuck inside because of the weather, my mother would demand we go out and get fresh air. I never thought to question the importance of getting fresh air. I just bundled up and went out. I was much older before I realized my mother’s fresh air fetish was really a bid by her to stay sane. She had four kids who whined constantly about being bored after only two days stuck inside the house. She needed relief and it came under the guise of fresh air. I can still hear her. It was never go out and get some air. It was always go out and get fresh air. I don’t know why, but I love this memory.