Posted tagged ‘white lights’

“Memory is the space in which a thing happens for a second time.”

February 9, 2018

The sky is cloudy but bright. It is only 31˚, but the next three days will be warm. The prediction is for 48˚ each day. That’s almost tanning weather, no sunscreen necessary. Maybe a road trip is in order to take advantage of the warmth. I’ll open my car window and take in the sweet smell of the clean air.

Since the winter solstice, we have gained an hour of sunlight. It makes me hopeful that winter’s end is not so far away. February, though, is sometimes the snowiest month. I’ll just keep my knit hat and mittens handy.

In summer, the trees surrounding my deck are lit with candles hanging off the branches. In the backyard, solar lights shaped like flowers glow and a few strands of white lights are twisted around tree trunks. I always think my yard a fairyland, especially in July when the fireflies return and twinkle among the trees. Now, in the bleak winter, the one strand of lights around the deck fence has stopped shining. I need to replace it. I always love looking out the back window and seeing those lights.

I always think it is the darkness of winter which palls the spirit so I do my best to compensate. I keep white candles lit in the front windows, and their light shines across the dark lawn. This year I left my Christmas lights lit in the front. One is a giant star with a trail of lights. The others are multicolored. My neighbor across the street has called to thank me for leaving the lights shining. She said she loves looking out the window at my house.

Winter is my time of memories, of introspection. I don’t add much to my story, but I recall to mind the best parts. I smile a lot at the images in my mind’s eye. My journeys, my explorations, are the brightest memories.

During my travels, I learned a few things. I hate washing clothes by hand. I decided that for any trip of great length I’d pack ragtag underwear which I can just throw away. It isn’t a big deal for me to find any. I can just check my bureau drawer. The rest of my clothes can get so grungy they can walk away by themselves. I won’t care. I’m not washing them. I learned never to ask what I’m eating.  Many of the traditional foods are pets here, like the guinea pig in Ecuador. I think I can eat just about anything as long as I don’t know what it is and it isn’t slimy. Bras are a great place for hiding money. I had my pocket picked when I was at a train station in Ghana. I’d like that thief to try it now. Toilet paper, always carry toilet paper. Sometimes you get stuck and have to rush, and those hole in the ground toilets don’t have toilet paper. Just imagine. The middle of the bus and a seat near the window are usually the best. The aisle fills with standing people who hold on for dear life as the bus goes around corners but sometimes they fall, into the aisle seats. The front and the back of the bus are where people sit with their chickens or goats. Eat where there is a line, especially street food. Don’t shy away. It’s sometimes the best and is usually the cheapest. If everything pales compared to home, just stay home.

“I love Christmas, not just because of the presents but because of all the decorations and lights and the warmth of the season.”

November 27, 2017

It was just after seven when I woke up. I would have gone back to sleep, but Gracie was staring at me with her I need to go out look so out we went. I was a little chilly as I didn’t grab my sweatshirt. Maddie was sleeping on it, and I decided one of us, at least, ought to be still asleep at this early hour. Once we were back in the house, I fed Maddie and Gracie, started my coffee, turned on the TV to find out if there had been any jaw dropping news overnight and then started reading the papers.

The animals wolfed down breakfast, the coffee was delicious, there was no big news, and I finished the Globe crossword but not the Cape Times cryptogram.

Gracie has a bit of anxiety. I figured this time she’d be fine as we’d already been outside. I was wrong. When I go upstairs to shower, Gracie waits and watches at the bottom of the stairs. She also goes the bathroom sometimes on the floor and sometimes on the treads. Today she hit both. While I showered, Gracie always waited for me. She used to lie on the bathroom rug. Now she can’t do stairs so she gets upset. I understand. I also wish for summer so I can shower outside.

Today is cloudy and cold. The wind is strong enough to sway the pine limbs. Nothing about outside looks enticing, but I’m stuck going out to an appointment. I’d much rather be comfortable reading on the couch. I’ve started a new series about Flavia de Luce, an eleven year old who enjoys chemistry and murder. The series was recommended by two avid readers so I bought the first two novels. I love the title of the first one, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie.

Two houses on my street are already decorated for Christmas. I’m thinking I need to call Skip, my factotum, to do mine. I always have white bulbs on the fence to the backyard. They are the trail of a giant star attached to the fence. The front of my yard has colored lights across the top of the fence. On the side, a small tree is decorated with giant ornaments highlighted by a flood light. In the back, the top of the deck rail sports colored bulbs.

I do love Christmas lights. They brightened the darkness of winter. They celebrate the season, and most of all they remind me of all the family rides we took to see the lights. That is one of my favorite Christmas traditions, and I still take a ride to see the lights. I bring Gracie so I can comment aloud without feeling silly. She’s a good listener.

“And in this moment, like a swift intake of breath, the rain came.”

May 25, 2017

The weather is back to dark and damp and really chilly, down to the low 50’s. It is raining now and the rain isn’t going anywhere. It will stay rainy and raw through tomorrow and there may even be thunder. I really need a sweatshirt even in the house.

With all this rain, the grass seed on my lawn is sprouting. The green shoots of flowers have appeared in the front garden. Some have even bloomed into purple and white delicate flowers. I don’t know their names. I never do.

Next week I will purchase the herbs and flowers for my various gardens, pots and window boxes. I have a list of some flowers to buy, all perennials. I know which herbs as I buy the same ones each year, herbs I use in cooking. I love being able to go to the herb garden and snip what I need for dinner. Doing that always makes me feel like the consummate cook and gardener.

I just had my first sign of summer despite the cold and the rain. My guy came and turned on the irrigation and the outdoor shower. I figure it will be a long while before I’ll use the shower outside given the cold and especially because the shower area is a spawn of Satan hangout. It has a huge pile of stripped pine cones. They cover the floor and the bench. This is on my factotum’s to-do list.

Critter Control came yesterday. My cellar is inundated with mice, a few of which have made their way to this floor as well as to upstairs. One lives in a kitchen cabinet. The critter guy left food traps where the mice munch, eat their fill, leave the traps and shortly thereafter depart from this world. The cabinet mouse’s poop in the utensil drawer was the straw.

I did errands yesterday then rewarded myself with Chinese food for dinner. I got jumbo shrimp for a dual purpose. I ate some and shared pieces of the cooked batter with Gracie and some of the shrimp with the cat. I sneaked her pills into Gracie’s portion. She didn’t figure it out, and it was an easy way to give Gracie the pills. We’re having leftover Chinese for lunch today and I’ll trick Gracie again.

It was after midnight when I took Gracie out for the last time before bed. Every house was dark except mine. The house across the street had disappeared. Clouds hid the moon and the stars. I could barely see my driveway, but luckily my star and the white lights off the deck and fence still shined and lit the way to the backyard.

It’s time to finish. I’m getting hungry.

“Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine to the mind.”

February 28, 2017

I feel much better, but I’m tired. I so envy Gracie and Maddie and their morning naps. They must be exhausted after having breakfast. Added to that, Gracie had a trip to the backyard. How tiring that must have been. Later, they’ll wake up and have their dinners then both of them will need another nap. Standing and eating can be so strenuous.

When I was a kid, the last thing I’d ever do would be to waste any part of my day by taking a nap. In college I took some afternoon naps mostly to recharge after a party or a night on the town. In Ghana, everything closed down for naps. Because it was the hottest time of the day, a nap, to get out of the sun, was inviting. My students had to be in their dorms resting on their beds. In town the post office closed as did a few stores and kiosks. I got to like that time of the day. It was quiet on the school compound. Nothing much moved. I started taking naps. I haven’t ever stopped.

My outside Christmas lights are gone. My factotum, Skip, came yesterday to do some odds jobs, and the lights were first. Last night was really dark. There are no streetlights so the only lights were shining from the windows of a few houses but not in the houses nearest mine as people don’t live in them full time. If you walked around at night, you’d need a flashlight to navigate the neighborhood.

It was in the 40’s yesterday, not warm, just seasonable. Today will hit 50˚ but it is raining on and off. Tomorrow may set a new record in Boston. It won’t be warm enough for that here.

My front garden has flowers. Snowdrops and yellow crocus are blooming. They look beautiful, especially the yellow crocus. My eyes crave color during the drab winter. That yellow just pops and screams spring is coming.

I love that the day is getting longer and longer.

“The best Christmas trees come very close to exceeding nature.”

December 8, 2016

I think the sun went on vacation. Yesterday it rained in the morning and stayed cloudy the whole day though it was warmer than I expected. Today is also drab and gray. I am so glad that I was out for quite a while on Tuesday, the first sunny day in a while. I took the highway down cape but came back Route 28. It was a beautiful ride. I passed the ocean a few times. It was low tide and the water was still. It had a grayish tone. I saw a wild turkey fly. I hadn’t ever seen one fly before. It took a lumbering leap into the air and over a fence. I wasn’t sure the turkey had the height but it did. When I was passing the cove, the only boats moored, other than a single sailboat, were fishing boats. Most needed paint and had nets and lobster traps on deck. They all looked weathered and old. In Chatham, the store where I wanted to shop was gone. It didn’t matter. I really enjoyed the ride.

Last night my house was aglow. The front fence has strands of colored lights. The gate has a huge white star on top with trails of white lights coming from it. The top of the fence to and from the star is also white. Beside the driveway, bare branches on a bush are covered in huge Christmas ornaments. A floodlight shines on them. My deck rail has strands of colored lights atop it. I added bows to the three wreaths, put balls of colored ornaments in the basket on the steps and put my old sled with my ice skates beside the step. When it got dark last night, I went outside and stood on the street to check out my house. It is beautiful.

I did what I thought was quite a bit of wrapping yesterday. Come to find out I have so much more. All of the gifts are now downstairs filling the den and the hall. Maddie, though, is complicating the process by lying on the paper. She looks so comfy I don’t want to disturb her. I’ll probably just use different paper.

Tomorrow I’ll get the tree, the highlight of my Christmas. I love to sit in the living room just to look at it. Its aroma fills the house. I have a couple of new ornaments from Ghana. They aren’t really ornaments, but they’re big, round and colorful. They’ll do just fine.

“At Christmas I no more desire a rose, Than wish a snow in May’s new-fangled shows; But like of each thing that in season grows.”

December 14, 2015

The rain is coming and should be here by the afternoon. It is welcomed as we are down from our usually rain amounts. The summer was pretty dry. Gracie and I were out early because we scoped out the kennel where she’ll be staying. The owners are quite nice and Gracie was on her best behavior. On the way home we stopped at the vet’s where Gracie got a shot against kennel cough and had her nails trimmed.

I was out the other night and meandered home so I could have a short see the lights ride. It is amazing how many houses have lights, the most I’ve seen in a long while. My street with only eight houses, including one which is empty all winter, is ablaze of lights. The houses are beautifully  decorated some with white lights, some with colored lights and others, like mine, with a combination. We’re talking fences, wreaths, trees and houses lit for the season. The house at the end of the street has a train lit up in its front yard. Blinking lights are wrapped around a tree, and they look as if they’re floating in air as the tree trunk is too dark to see. They have four kids who must be so excited to see their house decked out for the holiday. The other house with so many different lights has stars of light hanging from their tree. They have a tree of colored lights in their front yard. They too have four kids who must be delighted.

I remember how excited I was when my dad put the outside lights on the front bushes. They were the big bulbs which shone so brightly and were always so hot to the touch. After finishing outside, he’d find the window candles and tape them to the sills. The bases were made of plastic and had a tendency to be top heavy because of the bulb, always an orange bulb, so tape was a necessity.

At Christmas time the lights shine brightly against the dark of winter. They seem hopeful and remind us that winter will end. The days will get longer. We’ll all soon be back in the light.

“At Christmas, ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ makes me cry in exactly the same places every time, even though I know it’s coming.”

December 13, 2015

Today is a grey day but still warmer than it should be. Last night my house was ablaze with Christmas lights. My neighbor from across the street called to say she loves the lights and can’t stop looking at them from her window. Most of the house has colored lights, but a giant white star sits atop the fence to the backyard and strands of white flow from the star. I love that star.

When I was a kid, we had turkey for  Christmas dinner. With it we had creamed onions, mashed potatoes, stuffing and another vegetable or two. Over time my mother changed the menu. We’d have some sort of a roast, fresh vegetables and always those mashed potatoes. We’d eat dinner in the dining room instead of the kitchen. First came the festive table cloth which changed from year to year. My mother and I would then set the table with her Christmas dishes. The centerpiece was made of boxwood and decorated with red balls and ribbons. The middle of the table groaned under the weight of all the dishes. We’d pass each dish and fill our plates. We’d compliment my mother on how delicious everything tasted. The mashed potatoes and gravy never had lumps. The vegetables were just right. It was every time a perfect feast.

I had been my mother’s sous chef for dinner and after dinner I was her cleaner upper. My mother would stay in the kitchen, dry the dishes and keep me company. We’d put on Christmas music. My mother loved the Carpenters Christmas, Frank Sinatra’s and Andy Williams. It was a treasured time for me. My mother and I chatted the whole time. Everyone else was in the living room, but they’d appear every now and then for some more desserts. The table was filled with choices: whoopie pies, cookies or candies, all made by my mother and me.

My mother made Christmas a joy. We all honor her by doing the same.

“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.