Posted tagged ‘vacation’

“Someone once called Lincoln two-faced. “If I am two-faced, would I wear the face that I have now?” Lincoln asked.”

February 20, 2017

The gray sky has returned. After the beautiful day yesterday, I was hoping for more, but I guess one sunny, warm day will have to do for the meanwhile.

When I was a  kid, we didn’t have President’s Day. We celebrated Washington and Lincoln’s birthdays. Well, we actually didn’t do any celebrating. It was always the first day of February vacation which was a celebration in itself.

My first president was Truman, but I was too young to notice. President Eisenhower, however, I knew because he got a toast from me every day. I watched Big Brother Bob Emery on TV, and we all lifted our glasses of milk and toasted President Eisenhower while Hail to the Chief played. I have to think I was a bit fuzzy as to the connection between President Eisenhower and me.

The politics or the political parties of these presidents didn’t matter to me as I didn’t even know what a political party was. I just knew some neat stories about the presidents. George Washington cut down the cherry tree and told the truth when confronted. I always pictured him as a little kid wearing his general’s uniform and tri-corner hat and standing by a cut-down tree with an ax in his hand. To me, Lincoln always wore his top hat making him even taller than his contemporaries. I always liked Teddy Roosevelt. I saw him with sword in front as he and his horse charged up San Juan Hill.

When I first got to Ghana, the country was in the middle of a campaign to replace the military government, formed after a coup, with a civilian government to be called the Second Republic. It was exciting. Women wore dresses made from cloth covered in party symbols. I saw Busia, one of the candidates, speak at a rally in Bawku. He spoke English which was translated to Hausa. The crowd went wild listening to the Hausa. In my town, there were impromptu rallies with singing and drumming. On election day, the lines were long. You couldn’t see the end of the line from the beginning. People voted the symbols of each party, not the names, so literacy wasn’t a prerequisite for voter registration. Busia was elected. Later, he would be deposed in a peaceful coup.

If given a choice, I’d pick drums and dancing. I’ve had enough rhetoric.

“Air, I should explain, becomes wind when it is agitated.”

November 15, 2016

Today I am accomplished. The first load of laundry is in the washer. I finally got tired of walking around the overflowing laundry bags in the hall.

The wind is blowing. When I look out the windows, I see brown leaves falling almost as frequently as snow falls. The weather feels chilly because it is damp. Rain is predicted for today, and the cloudy sky makes it probable. It is getting darker.

Maddie howled again last night. It is from loneliness. When Gracie and I slept downstairs, she slept the whole night. I feel so bad for her and wish she would join Gracie and me upstairs. She knows Gracie won’t chase her as she stands on the couch beside the sleeping dog when she wants to be patted. Gracie doesn’t even notice.

When I was a kid, I never got all that excited about Thanksgiving. There was no countdown like for Christmas. It sort of it just arrived. In school, we colored turkeys and wrote down why were thankful. I always said my mother and father. I was probably thankful for them, but I was even more thankful for knowing what to write down. The short school week was also a blessing but not one I mentioned.

Even though every week was the same when I was a kid, except for holidays, of course,  I never really tired of the day to day. I ate the same breakfast every morning unless it was so cold my mother felt the need to make oatmeal to insulate us for the walk to school. We walked the same route to school every day. It didn’t take us long, maybe 20 minutes or so. On cold days we walked a whole lot faster both to keep warm and to get to school sooner.

I remember walking backward against the wind on days like today. My clothes would sometimes billow, especially my skirt. Every now and then I did need peeks to make sure I was walking straight on the sidewalk and to know to face the front when I reached the curb to cross.

I need the lamp lit to keep the darkness away. It was the same when I was a kid. I was never afraid of the dark, but it wasn’t good for reading, my favorite pastime when I couldn’t go out to play after school. I remember lying in bed, comfy and cozy, with the lamp lit behind and above me and an open book in my hands. It felt perfect, almost like paradise.

“And now we welcome the new year, full of things that have never been”

January 1, 2016

Happy New Year!

The weather doesn’t look much different being grey and overcast, and I slept away the morning having stayed up way too late last night, but I feel a bit different, a little more excited for each new day. I have no expectations so whatever happens will be a surprise. I know I’m hoping to go back to Ghana in the fall with my friends, my friends from Peace Corps days. We traveled together all the time back when, and we lived in a duplex on school grounds. They are funny and are great travelers, and they love Ghana. It feels like home to them as well. How lucky we are!

When I was a kid, New Year’s Day wasn’t especially significant to me. It meant the end of vacation so it had a pall about it. I’d had a whole week of no bedtime and playing as long as I wanted with my new toys. I’d read my new books well into the night without being told to turn off the light. One week just wasn’t enough.

It really didn’t take long for routine to grab us right back into it. Get up, get dressed, eat breakfast, walk to school, sit there all day with just lunch and recess to break up the monotony, sit back down after lunch then with great hoopla run home at the end of the day hoping for some outside play time before it got dark.

The funny thing is I never thought of that as a routine. I just thought of it as the lot of every kid. Weekends also followed a pattern. On most winter Saturdays we walked uptown for a movie. The sun was always low in the sky when we’d walk home. I remember that for some reason. When I was older, we’d often skate on a Saturday. We would walk to Rec Park and skate on the temporary rink the town put up every year. It was circular, and we always skated one way.

Sundays were seldom exciting. They were masses in the morning and family dinners in the afternoon before we were free. Bedtime came early on a Sunday. My mother always used the excuse we needed our sleep for school the next day. We never bought it.

“I went to the museum where they had all the heads and arms from the statues that are in all the other museums.”

May 4, 2012

We’ll still in the damp, chilly day mode. It’s in the low 50’s and nothing outside my window looks inviting. Earlier, Gracie was frantically barking so I went outside to check. There it was, the rabbit, just sitting where Gracie could see it. That beast has been hanging around my yard for days and driving Gracie crazy. The dog keeps trying to jump the 6 foot fence, but she’s older now and far more muscular so when her paws reach the top of the fence, she can’t pull herself over any more. For that I’m thankful. As for the rabbit, I’m thinking a traditional paella.

I remember car rides with my family. My brother and I each had a back window, his behind my father, mine behind my mother, our sister Sheila was stuck between us, and Moe was in the front with my parents. Poor Sheila had to rest her feet on the big lump in the middle of the backseat floor. The car was always hot in the summer even with all the windows open. Back then, we never had sleek highways, but that was just fine with us. The roads my father took had stuff to look at. I remember seeing red barns and cows in the fields, and I’d yell and point so no one would miss them. The horses we’d see always seemed to have their heads down munching on grass. Once in a while we’d see a deer, and that was the most exciting of all. Usually the car was filled with suitcases and boxes of food as we headed to Maine for the week. We always went to Maine because my father’s friend had a cabin, and we could vacation cheaply. When I was young, I liked it there, but as I got older, I found it boring. By the time I was fourteen, I was begging my parents to leave me at home with friends. They never did.

My dad invented the staycation though he never received due credit. When I was young and money was especially tight, my father and mother planned something for us to do almost every day of my dad’s two-week vacation. We visited museums, went to the lake, the beach, zoos and into Boston to walk the Freedom Trail and ride on the swan boats. Once I remember going to Lexington and Concord. Those were my favorite vacations of all, and from them, I received the most wonderful gifts which have stayed with me all my life. I love museums and visit them everywhere I go. I can’t pass up a historical site and lots of times I stop the car to read the plaques on the rocks along the sides of the road.

On my first weekend in Accra, during training when we were in Koforidua, I went to the National Museum of Ghana. It seemed like the best place to start to learn about my new country.