Posted tagged ‘warm’

“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.

“Spring, when the earth tilts closer to the sun, runs a strict timetable of flowers.”

March 1, 2018

As usual, while my coffee was brewing, I went out to get the papers. The morning is glorious. It is warm, and the air smells fresh and sweet. The birds are singing. I stayed outside a while taking in the beauty and then I saw it. A bright yellow crocus has bloomed in my front garden. Spring has arrived. If I could click my heels in the air, I would.

Tomorrow will be quite different. A nor’easter is on its way. A high wind warning is in effect for the Cape from Friday morning to Saturday morning with winds possibly as high as 65 to 75 MPH. The rain will come down in torrents, and there are flood warnings. The moon will be full and three high tides will occur between Friday and Saturday with the highest tide coming in the middle of the storm. I need to batten down the hatches, but first I’ll enjoy today.

I have no lists so I feel a bit at sea. Peapod is coming so the grocery list is empty. My house is clean, and the laundry can wait a few days. I guess I could tackle chores I’ve been thinking about like organizing the kitchen or sorting my DVD’s with an eye to the summer and movie nights, but I’d feel guilty wasting a day like today. I think I’ll take a ride.

Reading has always been one of my big loves. I keep a book upstairs, a book downstairs and one in my car for those long traffic stops. My mother told me I loved Henny Penny, and she had to read it over and over to me when I was little. Figures, it’s the end of the world sort of, a bit of science fiction, and animals run amok. It sounds like the plots of books I’m still reading. I remember reading Little Woman and loving it. I got it for Christmas when I was in the fifth grade, and that was the year we were bussed to another town for school so I’d read it all the way there and all the way back. Jo was my hero. I find now I read a whole series by the same author. Currently I am reading the Flavia de Luce book series and am on book five, Speaking from Among the Bones. The books were recommended by friends.

I think I’ll stop and have my favorite sandwich today, the one with bacon and cheddar, avocado, tomatoes and horseradish sauce. I’m smacking my lips already.

“He shoveled the bacon out on a plate and broke the eggs in the hot grease and they jumped and fluttered their edges to brown lace and made clucking sounds.”

February 11, 2018

Today is a dismal dark day. The rain started last night around eleven, and it’s still raining.  The weather report says rain on and off for most of the day. The only saving grace is the warmth. It is 47˚. I have to go to the dump. I’m thinking it will be quiet. The rain keeps people away.

When I was a kid, I mostly walked to church on Sundays. Sometimes, though, I’d go with my father to an early mass where he was an usher. I always wished I was an usher, but only men were ushers. My father stood in the back of the church waiting until the right time to pass his basket. He never kneeled. The baskets were at the end of a long pole which reached to the halfway point of the pew. My father would pass the basket then move to the other side of the church to get the rest of the pew. I always had a dime for the offering. After church my dad bought his paper from the guy in front of the church who was always there. The guy had a gray cart with a cover so he could protect his papers from the rain. After that my father and I sometimes went to get donuts to bring home. My father only ate plain donuts which he buttered. He’d also buy jelly, lemon and glazed donuts. I loved butternut, but he never remembered. My father kept with the traditional donuts. It made choosing easy.

I love eggs and their versatility. My favorite breakfast is two eggs over easy, crispy bacon and toast, usually rye. Eggs are often dinner for me, and once in a while I make an egg salad, but only if I have celery and lettuce to add as egg salad by itself is a bit bland. I love deviled eggs. My mother made them for all her barbecues, and my friend Clare often does the same. Most people have a favorite recipe for potato salad, but for just about every recipe, eggs are a critical ingredient. Coloring Easter eggs is a family tradition. You not only get to decorate the hard-boiled eggs but you also get to eat them.

St. Patrick’s drill team used to take part in the Halloween parade in Woburn, a town next to my own. We all hated marching in it because during the parade we’d get egged. I remember getting hit in the leg and having the egg slide down into my boot. It was gross marching on shells and uncooked eggs. I was glad when the decision was made not to march.

In Ghana I was close up and personal with eggs. I had chickens, and I also bought eggs in the market and sometimes from some small girls selling door to door. If I wasn’t careful in buying the eggs, I’d sometimes crack an egg the chicken had sat on for a bit. I was never bothered by that. It was just the way it was in Ghana sometimes.

“Part of growing up was learning not to be quite that honest – learning when it was better to lie, rather than to hurt someone with the truth.”

February 10, 2018

I saw the sun this morning. It appeared for about five minutes. It was as bright and beautiful as I remember. The weather calls for 48˚ and clouds, but we do have a bit of a breeze, always chilly this time of year.

The street was wet this morning as was my walkway. It must have rained, but I didn’t hear it. We have those whitish clouds again.

I don’t have to go anywhere today. I could go to the dump, but I don’t feel like hauling the trash to the car. It is sitting on the kitchen floor. I walk around the two bags. I can’t put them outside as critters open the bags and trash gets all over the deck which I have to pick up. It’s gross with coffee grounds, cat food and garbage. I could put them in the trunk, but my car begins to smell. I have to go tomorrow as the dump then closes for three days. I do better with deadlines, and I don’t want the trash sitting there until Thursday.

When I was a kid, my mother told us all sorts of lies, for our own good perhaps but still lies. Take the gum lie. I believed that it took seven years in my stomach before the gum dissolved so I didn’t swallow my gum. I didn’t want some giant elastic like wad sitting there for years. I think my mother believed the gum story too, but I know she didn’t believe the lie about ears and potatoes. When I was a little kid, I spent some time at the bathroom mirror contorting myself so I could see if potatoes were growing in my ears. Rather than risk it, I let my mother clean them. I never liked it when she did, but I liked the idea of potatoes growing there even less. There was also the watermelon seed garden growing in my stomach and my going blind from sitting close to the TV or not eating my carrots. I never went out in the cold or to bed with wet hair. The consequences were life threatening. I never crossed my eyes either. I couldn’t imagine living that way the rest of my life. Growing up had its own risks back then.

“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.

 

“Christmas cookies can’t help but be retro – they are memory first, sugar-flour-egg-redhot-gumdrop-sparkle reality second.”

December 23, 2017

Late again! I slept in this morning. Gracie had a restless night, and I sleep lightly now so I would hear her, wake up and check to make sure she was okay. She was fine. This week’s acupuncture really helped. She’s moving around better than she has been. I hope it lasts longer each time.

Christmas Eve Eve made waiting for the big day even harder. We’d beg my mother to let us open one of the presents under the tree, but she’d never give in. She’d even get a bit annoyed at our relentless begging. My sister Moe never asked. She already knew what a few of the presents were but so did we without looking. Every year it was the same. We’d each have new pajamas and new slippers, the socks kind which I still like.

Cookies are on the to-do list. I made snickerdoodles yesterday. It was the first time I’d even made them, and my nephew, who had dropped by, said they were delicious. I’ll accept that as a valid review.

Today is dark and rainy. It is in the high 40’s now and will get to the mid 50’s, but by dark it will be much colder, down to the 30’s. I always think rain at Christmas is just wrong.  Not a single Christmas song is about the joys of rain. Everything is snow. I figure the only kids happy with rain on Christmas morning are the ones with new bikes.

What I always really hated was leaving all my new stuff on Christmas Day to go to my grandparent’s house. All my aunts and uncles and cousins were also there. The place was chaos with kids running up and down stairs chasing each other. I have a lot of cousins.

No Christmas movie today. I watched Bright on Netflix. Will Smith is a police officer with an Orc as an partner. There are also fairies and elves. I think I saw a centaur manning or half-manning the entrance into the main police station. A magic wand that can destroy the world is the focus of the plot. I enjoyed it. This movie was a huge leap from all those  Hallmark moments.

It’s time to work on my Christmas cookies. The orange cookies are next.

“Christmas time! That man must be a misanthrope indeed, in whose breast something like a jovial feeling is not roused – in whose mind some pleasant associations are not awakened – by the recurrence of Christmas.”

December 12, 2017

Today will be rainy and warm with a temperature in the 50’s, but tonight will be  different. Old Man Winter, who’s tired of waiting in the wings, is coming back to lay claim to December. It will be in the 30’s all week during the day and even colder at night. One night is predicted to be in the teens. On that night, I’ll be cozy and warm in the house with all the Christmas lights glowing and spreading their warmth. I’m thinking I’ll have egg nog in hand, in keeping with the season of course.

It has been really difficult of late to maintain a bit of optimism. I hold on to mine with every muscle in my body especially now, at Christmas time, when all of my memories  surface and help me believe in goodness, generosity and faith. Even though we live distances apart, my sisters and I celebrate together when we honor family traditions. We keep our mother and father close. How could I be anything but an optimist at this time of year?

My first Christmas in Ghana was my first Christmas away from my family, but my mother made sure I had a bit of home. She sent ornaments from our family tree. She also sent a small plastic tree to hang them on. I used the brick-like paper from the box to make a fireplace on the wall. From it I hung the small stocking she had sent. A few Christmas cookie cutters were also in that wonderful box. Though I had never made sugar cookies, I did that Christmas. They were delicious and shaped like a star, a tree and Santa. I found out much later that my mother and my aunt Mary had split the huge cost of sending that box airmail so I’d have it in time for Christmas.

I have many memories of that first Christmas in Ghana, but I think my favorite happened while I lying in bed waiting to fall asleep. It was cold, and I was bundled in a wool blanket I had bought and even still have. At that time of the year the harmattan is in full force. The days are hot, usually over 100˚ hot, but the nights and really early mornings are delights when the temperature drops sometimes even 30˚. On that night, I heard a boy’s voice singing. I think it came from a family compound just outside the school walls. The boy sang all the verses of We Three Kings in a sweet, clear voice. It was the only sound in the cold night air. It brought delight and joy to me, and I knew I’d be fine that first Christmas away. I always think of that boy as my Christmas miracle.

Fathers represent another way of looking at life — the possibility of an alternative dialogue.

December 1, 2017

Today has already been a long day, and it is only halfway finished. Gracie woke me up at 6:30 so we went out. It was raining, a light rain, but Gracie doesn’t care for rain so we went back inside quickly where both of us got cozy and easily returned to the arms of Morpheus. I woke up at 10:20. It was then I learned a new verse to Dem Bones: the back bone is connected to the head bone. I could barely walk and I had a headache, but Gracie and Maddie were waiting, Maddie less patiently than Gracie. She meowed. I took Gracie out, got my newspapers and yesterday’s mail. I stopped twice to rest my back. Gracie waited. Once inside, I grabbed Maddie’s dishes and filled both of them, put the coffee on then fed Gracie. She wolfed down her breakfast as if she hadn’t eaten in days. I got my coffee and started reading the papers. I turned on MSNBC just to check recent news and got throughly caught up in the Flynn testimony. By then it was time for more coffee and an English muffin which Gracie and I shared. I finished the papers but kept an ear to the TV. That’s where we are right now.

I was a bit surprised when I woke up to see the rain had given way to a sunny day with warmish temperatures, especially for December. My nose should be cold, and I should be bundling to stay warm; instead, a sweatshirt is more than enough. Mind you, I’m not complaining. I’m just surprised, happily surprised.

My father would have been 91 today. I think of him often especially when I fall or hit my finger with a hammer, a couple of dad things I inherited. I miss his sense of humor and our seemingly endless games of cards. I remember once when we were playing High Low Jack, and he did something to his back and fell off the bench to the floor. He didn’t complain about the pain. All he kept saying is, “I’m trumping. I’m trumping.” We roared laughing while he was still on the floor. He and I played endless games of cribbage. My wins were luck; his were expertise. That drove me crazy, and he knew it so he always said it after one of his wins. I wish I could play one more game of cribbage with him. I’d even be glad if he won because I’d get to see him smile and gloat one more time. I’m thinking about you, Dad!

“Thanksgiving Day comes, by statute, once a year; to the honest man it comes as frequently as the heart of gratitude will allow.”

November 19, 2017

The rain started last night. That just added to the misery. Gracie wanted out every couple of hours. The second time we went out, around three, it was barely raining, but once we were outside, the clouds opened and the rain was heavy. Gracie and I got wet. She didn’t mind as much as I did. When I heard Gracie panting around five, I braced myself but was surprised to find the rain light. It was also quite warm. From then on, we all, Gracie, Maddie and I, slept until 10:30. Gracie was wedged between me and the back of the couch. One of my legs was hanging off the couch. It was then I got up and my morning began.

Sunday is game night, but the game is different tonight because the Patriots play at 4:30 so we’ll watch and cheer on Tom and the boys. My high school team, from the school where I graduated a long time ago and where I worked for 33 years, won big time on Friday. They are 11-0 for the year and have one game left: the state championship, the high school super bowl.

All the cooking shows are giving their slants on Thanksgiving. I save many of the recipes, but when I cooked Thanksgiving dinner, my menu changed little from all the other Thanksgivings we had when I was growing up. To me, Thanksgiving dinner is filled with family traditions. There’s my grandmother’s date nut bread, my Aunt Bunny’s squash dish, my Dad’s favorite creamed onions, my mother’s sage dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy. My mother also cooked another couple of vegetable dishes; sometimes it was green bean casserole and one of my favorites, turnips. There were always apple and lemon meringue pies. I was talking to my sister the other night, and she’s making a lemon meringue pie.

When I was driving home the other day, all of a sudden, the image of my Dad at Thanksgiving jumped into my head. My mother’s table was round but somehow where my Dad sat seemed the head of the table. His back was to the kitchen. In from of him on the table was a dish of asparagus just for him, canned asparagus. I remember the spears were like wilted flowers, their tops hung over. He’d fill his plate with mashed potatoes dripping with gravy, creamed onions and a turkey leg. I still can picture him munching on that leg.  It is one of my favorite memories of Thanksgiving.

“He yawned like a black bear coming out of hibernation.”

November 18, 2017

The sun has disappeared. Nothing is moving. The day is warm and quiet. Gracie and I went out first thing. She went into the backyard and I got the papers in the front. When we came back inside, Maddie gave me her demanding meow, loud and annoying, so I fed her first. Gracie was next, and I, as usual, was last. It’s two cups of coffee and two pieces of toast later, one with grape jelly my friend made.

I’m not sure why, maybe it’s the return of the gray day, but I have very little energy today. I even sat a while between cups of coffee, most unusual for me. Luckily, I have no plans for the day, no errands and no chores. I do have book two in the series by Elly Griffiths so perhaps the couch will be my spot for the day and turning pages my only activity.

I send cards for every holiday. That started when I was in college. My grandparents were around then, and one of my grandmothers was thrilled to get them. She was the one who wanted to be teacher so she loved that I was. I enjoy choosing the cards and lament my Hallmark store having closed. The closest one is in Orleans which always feels far but is only 12 or so miles away. When I was in Ghana, I made cards for every holiday except Christmas as I could find those. I used to go through magazines and cut out words and letters to make my cards, They looked more like ransom demands than cards. The Christmas cards I sent were wonderful. Some were hand-painted but even the ones commercially made were different. They had African nativity scenes, drummers, palm trees and even a camel or two. Each time I went back to Ghana, I was excited to find cards for Christmas. They went to family and special friends. I always send Edward Gorey cards to every one else for Christmas. I love his whimsey. The Edward Gorey house is in Yarmouth, and I go there to buy my cards. I remember last year I was afraid I had already sent all the available scenes but was glad to find one more. I’m hoping for the same this year.

I’ve started yawning which gives you a sense of today and the weather and today and me.