Posted tagged ‘time’

“Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.”

January 22, 2018

When I woke up, I could hear the drops of rain. Still lying in bed, I looked out my window and saw a dark morning with a cloud covered sky. I looked at my clock. It was 10:55. I had gone to bed early for me but couldn’t get to sleep. I read a while until my hand was cold then snuggled under the blankets. I fell asleep but woke up a few times.  When I finally got up to face the day, I noticed my covers were askew and half the comforter was on the floor, evidence of my restlessness.

Maddie was strange yesterday, and it scared me. Her dish was filled as she hadn’t eaten the night before. She didn’t use the puppy pads but did use the floor in a variety of spots, totally not a Maddie move. She wasn’t having her usual morning nap but was following me. She didn’t eat her treats. In the kitchen, she started to squat on the floor. I stopped her. She then dragged her butt across the floor. I grabbed her and checked. Yup, she needed a little help in getting clean. I was thrilled which sounds like a strange reaction to having to clean a cat’s butt, but I was relieved she wasn’t sick. I couldn’t have dealt with that right now. She is my one and only. Maddie was fine this morning. Her food dish was clean, she’d eaten all the treats and used the puppy pads. She’s now asleep on the couch. All is well with my world.

The Patriots did it again. They were behind 20-10 at the half, but we weren’t worried.  Okay, maybe we were a little worried, but they are the Patriots, and we held on to that. They scored two touchdowns in the 4th quarter while the Jaguars scored only two field goals in all of the second half. The Pats won a trip to the Super Bowl with a score of 24 to  20.

I have nothing needing doing today. I have some stuff I could do but don’t have to do. I know that sounds a bit convoluted, but it just means I’m choosing to be lazy, a less than noble choice I know but one I love and continue to espouse.

When I was a kid, I was a busy kid. After school I played outside, and on Saturdays I roamed the town. I rode my bike all year including snowless days in winter. I never  tried to be busy. I just was. The only exception was when I had a good book or even two good books. I’d read all day long. Time passed, and I was unaware. I remember looking out the window once and being surprised it was dark. I still do that with books. I read all day and often into the night. It is never time wasted but rather time to be savored.

“But what minutes! Count them by sensation, and not by calendars, and each moment is a day.”

August 20, 2015

We have rejoined the world. The doors and windows are open to the breeze. The stale air is disappearing. It is still hot but not unbearably hot. Here in the dark den all three animals are sleeping near me, each in her special spot. The breeze is coming mostly from the north, from the window behind me. Pleasant best describes the morning. I usually shy away from using generic adjectives. I was, after all, an English teacher, but I think pleasant conjures all the best of today: the sun, the clean, dry air and most of all the breeze.

When I was a kid, I had little concept of time other than a few minutes, an hour and maybe as far away as tomorrow. “Are we there yet?” drove my father and every father crazy, but it was because we had been in the car for what seemed like hours or even days so we figured we had to be there no matter how far away there was. We had countdowns to birthdays and the best of all days, Christmas, but the whole concept was a little blurry. Three weeks until Christmas really didn’t mean a whole lot to us. Even the number of days in three weeks didn’t help. We understood two days or maybe three days, but we never really caught on until the big day was close, like a day away. When you’re six, every day is endless.

Time in Ghana was frustrating at first. Six o’clock meant six o’clock to us but not to a Ghanaian to whom six o’clock meant whenever. If I invited someone to my house, I was always asked if I meant African or European time. I had been raised to be punctual, a courteous sign of respect, so it took me a while to unlearn European time. I learned to be patient and to wait. People would come in their own time. Lorries would leave when they were full. Stores would open when the owners got there. Dresses would be finished when the seamstress got around to finishing them.

I had to be on time for my classes and to take the government bus, but that was it. I came to like Ghanaian time. I was never late to anything. Things got done whenever. Life was slow and easy. I didn’t even wear a watch, still don’t.

“There’s milestones on the Dover Road.”

April 4, 2014

Sun, we have sun. Fern is even lying by the front door where the sun is streaming through the glass onto the floor. It is chilly still, but spring chilly, not winter cold. Today is the home opener for the Red Sox. The pre-game will have much hoopla as they will be receiving their World Series rings and the championship flag will be raised. My friends and I are watching together and will be eating baseball food as if we were at the park only we’ll be warmer and closer to the bathroom. I’ll be wearing my new Red Sox sweatshirt, a gift from my sister at Christmas. It’s red as befitting the team and the holiday.

When I was young, I didn’t give a whole lot of thought to the future. It always amazed me when people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I didn’t know what I was going to do on Saturday let alone in ten or fifteen years. When I was twelve, I couldn’t wait to be thirteen, a teenager with all the rights and privileges which came with that magic number. When I turned thirteen, there wasn’t any magic. I was shocked. My sixteenth birthday, my sweet sixteenth birthday, was a total disappointment. We were on vacation with my aunt and uncle and my birthday was their anniversary so the cake had Happy Birthday and Happy Anniversary written across it. I hated it. I wanted fireworks and balloons as this was a significant birthday, a milestone, but, instead, it was a total bust. Eighteen didn’t mean much in those days. We were all waiting to be twenty-one, the big birthday with so much attached. My twenty-first birthday lived up to its hype. My boyfriend at the time gave me a magnum of champagne, and my friends took me out to dinner. They got drunk and forgot to pay the bill so I did. I registered to vote. According to the law, I was now an adult. I took that with mixed emotions.

The last big celebration was when I turned sixty. My sister flew out from Colorado, and the three of us, my two sisters and I, spent the day in Boston, took a tour of Fenway and went to the ballgame. That was my gift from them, and it was great one.

Birthdays are special to me, each one a milestone, another year of life well-lived. It’s not my birthday. I just got to thinking.

“Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.”

November 27, 2012

The weather is back to cloudy, grey and bleak. Rain is expected here while off-cape will be getting a little snow, an inch or two. I figure it’s just enough to remind people that winter is impatiently waiting in the wings. Yesterday I actually did some cleaning, a bit of polishing and dusting. I also filled all of the bird feeders and put out new thistle and suet feeders. Today I have to bring up the laundry from the cellar and do a few errands. Gracie will be glad for the errands. I’m not so glad about the laundry.

When I worked, I was able to fit in all the errands and chores despite the long work day. Weekends were filled with laundry, grocery shopping, cleaning and a run to the dump. I was usually in bed on school nights by 10 as the day started around 5:15 or 5:30. The alarm went off at 5, but I always hit the snooze button so I could feel as if I were cheating the clock in some small way.

Since my retirement I have noticed strange phenomenons. Though I have all the time in the world, I don’t get a whole lot done. I procrastinate as there is always tomorrow or the next day or the next, on and on. I also noticed I have become protective of my time. The phone gets answered reluctantly though I’m okay if it’s a friend or a family member. I hate appointments. They usurp my time. This week I have two, both of which I voluntarily made: one is to have my car checked for servicing and the other is stuffing envelopes at the museum where I am a volunteer. Based on past performances, I’ll regret having made them and will have to force myself out the door. I’ll whine and curse a bit.

When I was a kid, if my mother put on lipstick, it was a signal she was going out, and we always wanted to know where. I usually wear slippers around the house. If I put on shoes, Gracie is on the alert. She knows I must be going somewhere so she  plants herself by the front door. Lipstick meant a complete change in routine and now it’s slippers. I guess I just don’t go out often enough or I should wear shoes inside more often.

“Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.”

August 16, 2012

Last night was wonderful. First came the rumbles of thunder then the lightning. I went outside on the deck for a while and watched the sky being lit up by small jagged bolts. Every now and then a giant bolt of lightning would surprise me as it spread across the sky and lit the night. It rained, slowly at first then with a bit more intensity. I can always judge the amount of rain fall by Gracie. If she stays out, the rain isn’t much. If she runs in, it must be pouring.

Today is drier than it’s been so the air feels cooler without all the humidity. The breeze is ever so slight. I’m thinking the deck and a book will be perfect for today.

I learned to tell time when I was in the second grade. My aunt taught me. Later I found out why. That aunt, always and forever my favorite aunt, gave me a Cinderella watch for my first communion gift. I remember that watch perfectly. It had a light blue band and Cinderella, the face of my watch, was wearing a light blue gown. She was Princess Cinderella. I was thrilled with that gift and would make a big production of bending my elbow and raising my wrist to my face so I could check the time. I wanted my friends to notice my watch and be jealous.

I don’t wear a watch and haven’t for a long time. I have two of them, both gifts. The one I cherish was a 50th birthday gift from my mother. The watch is beautiful with a red band and silver decorations on it and around the watch, also silver. I wear it as an accessory sometimes, never as a timekeeper. The other watch was the proverbial thanks for your service here is a watch. It was a gift from the district when I retired. On its face is a promo for the district. I never wear that one.

When I travel, I generally bring a watch. I pin it to the inside of my bag. In the old backpacking days, I needed to know the time so I could catch a bus or a train. When I got to Ghana, I found out time there is relative. I needed a watch only to know when to teach. I always woke up early so an alarm wasn’t necessary and when I traveled, buses, other than those run by the country, leave when they’re full so a watch is a waste. It only made me impatient. Ghana has two time zones so to speak: European time and Ghanaian time. The first means the actual hour like be there at seven; the second means whenever you get there. It takes a bit of getting used to, but once you do, it makes life so much easier and far less hectic.

I’ll pin a watch to my bag this trip just as I did last year. I like to know the time when the roosters wake me up.

“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.”

March 5, 2012

Sorry for the lateness of the hour, but I had my yearly physical this morning, the last of my scheduled yearly or semi-yearly appointments. I have now crossed off three doctors and a dentist. All that’s left is to schedule my eye appointment.

When I was a kid, I only saw the doctor if something happened or I was really sick which was seldom. My parents were of the generation which didn’t see doctors for well visits. My mother was sick one Christmas in Colorado and my sister dragged her screaming to the doctor who said she had pneumonia. That was her first visit to a doctor since my sister had been born over forty years before that. I have a stable of doctors, or at least that’s what I call them, as several parts of my body have their own specialists. It seems the older I get the bigger the stable.

It is cold today but sunny, and the sun is warm. My car was hot when I left the doctor’s office. A wind is swaying the tops of the pine trees and blowing the dead leaves hanging off the branches, but I think I’d call it a pretty day if anyone asked.

When I set up an appointment for next year’s physical, the receptionist asked if I had any preference for a day. I said no. I didn’t tell her they’re all the same to me, that they are my days to do what I want. She asked if morning was okay. I said no. Once a week I set my alarm to meet my friend for breakfast at nine, and I don’t fancy setting it for any other day. My alarm clock is battery run, and I only put in the battery when I need to use the clock so the battery and clock sit idly on my bureau. I don’t even wear a watch though I did bring one to Ghana last year which is funny when I think of it. Ghana runs on its own clock. The time is arbitrary. Meet me at nine means nothing of the sort to a Ghanaian. It really means meet me whenever. The buses run by the Ghanaian state transport leave on time, but they only go to major stops. The other buses which go from town to town and village to village leave when they are filled. That sometimes means waiting hours.

I am by nature impatient, but I became patient when I lived in Ghana. After I got home, the patience wore off. Last summer it came back, and it was one of the favorite parts of my trip: remembering that life isn’t a whirlwind. Things will get done. You just have to be patient.

“Better three hours too soon than a minute too late.”

October 18, 2011

My doctor is semi-retired and only kept some patients, and I was happy to be one of them, but not yesterday. When I got to Cambridge (where my doctor’s office actually is), the door was locked. I knocked, no answer. I waited, but she didn’t come. I rang the bell to her residence which is above her office, no answer. I called, no answer. Finally I gave up and left. Luckily the day wasn’t a total loss as my sister and I had made a date for lunch, and we tried out a Thai restaurant in her town. The food was delicious. I took the leftovers, another plus, and drove home. When I got here, I called my doctor. She answered. I said I had driven there but the office was closed. “I was in Florida,” she said. She looked in her book-nope, not there. She had forgotten to write down the appointment. Just imagine how happy I was!

I am always on time, most times I’m early as I give myself extra time when going off Cape in case of something like a flat tire (it did happen but only once) or heavy traffic (a common occurrence). Doctors are never on time. Neither are dentists. They just keep you waiting in one room or another until they get there. I laugh at the Infinity commercial which says they’ll give you a $20.00 credit if they’re not on time. Well, of  course, they’ll be on time when the arrival window is sometime between 10 and 4. How can you be late when you have all day to get here? Meanwhile, we sit and wait. Okay, I admit I am griping a bit today because of yesterday, but I figure I deserve a bit of griping, but I’m done now and feel a lot better for it.

I am not the most patient person in the world, but when I was in Ghana, I had no choice. I learned to be patient as Ghanaians live by their own clocks. Busses leave when they’re full; people arrive for dinner when they get there; clothes are finished being sewn days after being promised and internal plane flights sometimes leave early or sometimes don’t leave at all. I understood it was cultural so I accepted it and didn’t waste my time or energy on expectations. I just learned to carry a book.

When I went to Ghana, I fell right back into African time as opposed to European time, better defined as punctuality. Here, where we move through our days prompted by the hands of clocks, it is easy to be on time. It just takes a little planning. I always think of punctuality as a sign of respect.

“The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you’re still a rat.”

August 16, 2011

The morning was damp and cold, a left over from yesterday’s build the ark weather. The rain was so heavy it pounded the roof, windows and the deck. Gracie went out in the morning then stayed inside most of the day but had no choice but to go out again at 4:30, but she was back inside in a flash as it was still raining. The rain finally stopped in the early evening and Gracie stayed out a while to make up for lost time. Rain is predicted for today as well, but the sun did poke out once or twice a bit earlier so maybe the day will improve. I always have hope.

We’re going for a ride today on the back roads. I need to get out for a while, and Gracie is always a willing passenger. Maybe I’ll ride all the way to the French bakery, but that will depend on the traffic. There are fewer tourists on the roads as some schools are starting either this week or next. I can’t believe the summer is passing so quickly.

When I was a little kid, time had no meaning. Significant events like my birthday, Christmas and Easter, because of the bunny, were countdown events but not much else was important enough to be noted. I liked school so I didn’t count the days until summer vacation.

All school year every week day was like all the other week days. We got up, had breakfast, got washed and dressed then walked to school, learned a bit, ate lunch, had recess, learned a bit more then walked home. We got out of our school clothes into our play clothes, took advantage of whatever time we had to play, went back in, did homework, ate dinner, watched a little TV, went to bed, slept all night then woke up the next morning to do it all over again. It was sort of a kids’ rat race.

When I worked, every week day was the same. Get up, stumble to the coffee maker, have a couple of cups while reading the papers, get dressed, go to work, teach a few classes, eat lunch, teach a few more classes then go home and get out of my school clothes. If I had an errand, I did it in the afternoon on the way home from school. I’d then get home, correct papers, eat dinner, shower, watch a little TV and go to bed only to get up the next morning to do it all over again. I was part of the adult rat race.

I keep a calendar to remind me of invitations or appointments. Without it, most would slip my mind because I don’t dwell on time any more. I go to bed when I please. Sometimes Gracie wakes me up but most times I just wake up, stumble down for my coffee and spend a long time reading both papers. Nothing is hurried. I am now and forever a former member of the rat race.

“Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in.”

May 26, 2011

Yesterday I had to go to Boston. Yesterday was a perfectly gorgeous day, sunny and warm. I missed it. Today is warm, but the sun is somewhere else probably resting after yesterday’s exhaustion. I hope it decides to return. Regardless, today I have a few errands then I’m getting the deck summer ready.

I don’t see anyone from my childhood. A few are Facebook friends, but I haven’t seen them in years. One friend, whom I used to see, wrote on my Christmas card that she missed me. I miss her. When I visited my mother, I always stopped into her house for coffee. I don’t see any of my college friends anymore either. When I went into the Peace Corps, they wrote for a while but two years is a long time. They went on with their lives, and I wasn’t there. I was going on with mine in a different way. When I got home, I reconnected with several, but we had little in common anymore, only our pasts. I have friends with whom I was in the Peace Corps, and we keep in touch, call periodically and see each other every year or so. Others with whom I served are e-mail friends. The longest friendships I have are with people with whom I worked. We have been friends nearly forty years, and we stay close, always in touch, see each other all the time. My closest friends lived down the street. We were sporadic friends for years but became family when we retired. I see them all the time, and we share adventures and holidays and nights on the deck. We watch baseball together and moan and groan and curse the Sox on occasion. We play games and harass each another as we play. The air is sometimes blue.

I suppose some people live in the same town where they grew up and never lost touch. Their kids go to the same schools they, maybe even have the same teachers, but for many of us, we grow older, move from school to school or town to town or job to job and vow to keep in touch. We do for a while, but life gets in the way. We do make friends and memories at every stop and for that I figure we are the luckiest of all.

“Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in.”

July 20, 2010

Yesterday, in the early afternoon, thunder and lightning arrived with great fanfare and brought along a tremendous storm. Huge drops came first followed by steadily falling smaller drops which stayed around all afternoon. I took a nap on the couch and fell asleep to the sound of the rain. Today is sunny and still humid. It’s sweat weather.

Whether we like it or not, the clock rules our lives. We go to work, get up, eat and sleep around the same times every day. Buses go and the train starts down the track. Only planes are iffy when it comes to schedules. At school, the bells ring and everyone moves. I, however, don’t wear a watch, haven’t for a long time. If I have to be somewhere, I leave in time to get there, and I’m always punctual. I think tardy people are boorish. I’m not talking the once in a while you couldn’t help it late but lateness as a personality trait. When I ran meetings, I started on time regardless of how many people were missing. The punctual should never be punished for the impolite. I had a friend who was never on time. She drove me crazy. I learned to start without her. She usually missed the appetizers. I won’t get started on doctors and dentists. I think most of them should be publicly flogged.

In Ghana there was Ghanaian time and European time, and it didn’t take long to figure out the difference. Ghanaian time was whenever. Lorries left when they were filled. Waiting a few hours for one to fill was common so I learned patience. A party started two hours or more later than the invitation. To come on time was to arrive far too early. Classes did start on time, and bells still ruled because there was no way around it, but school was about the only place driven by time. I had most of my clothes made by a local seamstress. She was as consistent as a Chinese restaurant where every take out order is ready in twenty minutes. She always said two days. I usually went back day three and she’d still say tomorrow.

I learned to live by Ghanaian time, even came to like it. There was never much hurry. Things got done when they got done, and that was enough. Lately I’ve found myself moving more and more toward Ghanaian time. I do what I want when I want. Things’ll get done sometime, and that’s beginning to be enough for me.

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