Posted tagged ‘working’

“I can’t tell you how many hot dogs I’ve eaten in my life.”

May 19, 2015

The day is dark, chilly and damp. Rain is expected. I’m guessing just as Gracie and I leave for the dump the skies will open and the rain will fall in sheets. I noticed the red spawn has been at the potted flowers again and there is soil all over the deck railing. This morning the spawn ran from the feeder as soon as I picked up the hose. It is wary now from too many showers. I’m thinking a slingshot.

When I was a kid, I seemed to be busy all of the time. I’d have school until 2 then rush home to play for the rest of the afternoon. My mother would call us inside close to supper time. I’d do my homework, have supper, watch some TV then get ready for bed. The day was spent in a flash. The whole week passed by almost before I’d noticed. Each Saturday and Sunday had a bit of a routine but those two days never seemed long enough.

During the summers when I was in high school, I sometimes whined and complained about having nothing to do. That drove my mother crazy. We didn’t have summer jobs back then so there was little to do all day long. What had delighted the kid me didn’t seem interesting any more. I didn’t ride my bike or walk to the pool or go to the playground. I just sighed a lot.

The summer after high school was when I got my first job: forty hours a week at Woolworth’s. It was the easiest job, and I jumped around doing all sorts of stuff to keep from getting bored. The only place I didn’t work was the food counter. I loved Woolworth’s food counter. It was straight and long with red vinyl stools moved in a circle for east seating. The women were all old, at least to me, and wore uniforms. Most had huge handkerchiefs as decorations atop their pockets. They kept pencils behind their ears. The wall had all the menu items listed including the flavors of ice cream. The dessert dishes had fluted tops. They were used for sundaes like my favorite of all, hot fudge. Real dishes were used for the sandwiches. They were whitish with a red ring around the inside rim. The hot dogs were wonderful cooked on the grill. The French fries were crisp and hot. Sometimes I’d have a grilled cheese sandwich, perfectly brown and gooey.

My mother and sister used to go to their Woolworth’s for a patty melt. The counter there was huge but divided almost into little islands each with its older lady taking orders. I went with them a few times, but it was sometimes a hot dog for me and other times a club sandwich. Colored toothpicks were in each section of the club sandwich to hold it together. The toothpicks were wooden. The sandwich was always delicious. I miss Woolworth counters.

“Well, this is not a boat accident! And it wasn’t any propeller, and it wasn’t any coral reef, and it wasn’t Jack the Ripper! It was a shark!”

July 5, 2014

Arthur passed by closest to Nantucket but dropped on us inches of rain and heavy winds. My deck is covered in oak leaf clusters, one of the heavy clay pots fell and broke and the chimney candle holder which had been clamped to the deck also fell but luckily didn’t break. Later I’ll have to clean up all the debris on the deck and the ground. I’m waiting for the sun before I venture outside. It is still cloudy, damp and chilly. I lost electricity last night for all of ten minutes, but the timing was bad. Gracie was just coming up the steep deck stairs when it went dark, and I heard her trip, but she was fine when I checked her.

When I was a kid, I got fifty cents allowance every week. It seemed like a king’s ransom. My father, the only ant in a family of grasshoppers, wanted me to save it for a rainy day. I never did. Sometimes I’d buy a new book for 49 cents, no tax back then, or I’d shop Woolworth’s for something I didn’t know I needed. On the way home, if I had money left, I’d stop for a vanilla coke, ten cents. Wealth was counted in pennies.

Nobody I knew worked summers during high school except for my friend Maryalyce. She had bought an old car, a really old car with the start button on the floor, and needed insurance and gas money so she worked weekends and summers. We were college roommates one year, the only year Maryalyce lived away from home, and she worked long hours as a waitress to pay for school. The muscles on her right arm were huge from carrying heavy trays one handedly. I talked to her not so long ago and she is still working. I wasn’t surprised. She didn’t seem surprised that I wasn’t.

My sister baked sugar cookies for the 4th using the cutters I had sent her. One cutter was a woman with her leg bitten off, another was a surf board with bite marks and a missing piece and the third was the shark who was responsible. My sister used red sprinkles around the bite marks on the missing leg and on the shark’s teeth. She said a couple of the woman’s arms had broken off but that was okay. The shark probably got those too. One cookie lost its head. It was like Hooper finding Ben Gardner’s boat. When Ben’s head appeared, Hopper and the rest of us jumped. It is still one of the scariest scenes in Jaws. I love the headless cookie.

I watched Independence Day for the umpteenth time last night, but I still had to watch. It is one of my July 4th traditions not at all dependent on the weather.

“The school looks very good. The uniforms are a good thing. It will be easy for my wife. She won’t have to fight about clothes.”

August 8, 2013

Unlike the past few days, the weather this morning is humid and cloudy with intermittent rain, a soft rain you barely notice, but the paper does say a chance of thunder showers throughout the day and has predicted them for tonight and tomorrow, but right now the sun is working its way from behind the clouds seems to be struggling, maybe even losing the battle for today’s weather. The breeze is a bit stronger, always a bad sign on a cloudy, damp day.

Yesterday I earned a blue ribbon. I did my laundry, finally, all two loads, watered the inside and outside plants, paid all my bills, did four errands, filled the bird feeders and took all the stuff off the walls in the bathroom which is right now being painted and then around 6:30 met my friend for dinner. Today I have one stop, to buy more flowers for the front garden and some bird seed, then I’m going Peapod on-line grocery shopping. I think I have been the ant, not the grasshopper, for the last two days and deserve a few days of rest which I will gladly take.

We never needed back to school clothes except for a new pair of shoes and one outfit, for the first day, as after that we wore uniforms. My mother was glad for those uniforms as they saved her so much money. Outfitting four kids was expensive. We didn’t care about wearing them because that’s all we knew and all our friends wore them too. Even in high school I had a uniform; all Catholic high school students wore one sort of uniform or another.

My students in Ghana had three different uniforms. Most bought the cloth and had the dresses made. The classroom uniforms were lilac and all the students wore same style and color, regardless of which level they were. I remember watching students iron the uniforms using a charcoal iron. The uniforms were always stiff with starch and wrinkled easily. The students also had their afternoon chore dresses, and there were four different patterns, each one designating the graduation year of the student. The dresses were simple: one piece. Their Sunday bests, wore for church service and into town, were traditional, generally three pieces, and were also four different patterns. You could identify whether the student was T1, T2, T3 or T4 just by the pattern. The patterns followed the students from one year to the next so they only had to buy whatever they had grown out of or worn out. The incoming T1’s would have their own patterns.

I thought of my students when I saw Harry Potter and his friends go into town for the day, for the one day they were allowed off grounds. For my students it was Sunday. They could have visitors come or the older students could go into town to do some shopping, and usually a photographer or two came to the school and took pictures of students into their spiffiest clothes. I have a few of those pictures which were given to me as gifts so I wouldn’t forget my students. They did the same thing at the ceremony last summer. They had a photographer come and take pictures of the event and individual pictures of me with one of them, and they ordered copies. This time it was so they wouldn’t forget me.

“Find ecstasy in life; the mere sense of living is joy enough.”

August 4, 2013

Having spent yesterday accomplishing nothing, I am raring to go this morning. I want all my errands done post-haste so this will be a short, quick musing as doing nothing for a couple of days doesn’t provide much fodder for conversation. Here was my entire day yesterday: took nap, took shower, watched baseball game, finished leftovers for dinner and went to bed late. In between there was a trip or two to the deck, a few dishes washed and the mail read, but that was it for the whole day so I’m doing my errands this morning, but I don’t really mind. That gives me the rest of the day to while away.

I was quite content yesterday. I have found that I don’t need excitement or fireworks to enjoy living each day. I don’t even have to get dressed. I do have to brush my teeth and most days take a shower, but that’s it for the musts. Oh yeah, food is in there somewhere but nothing formal: cheese and crackers or fruit make for great lunches. Dinner is catch as catch can. I’m not fussy.

When I worked, every day was hectic especially the weekends. Those two days were filled. I had to clean the house, change the bed, do laundry, grocery shop, go to the dump, correct papers (when I was teaching), plan lessons and run around doing all the other errands on that long list I used to make every week. Now I think how silly. I wasted two great days.

Now I have all the time in the world, and I don’t waste a single day. I consider doing nothing a gift, a huge gift which I wrapped with beautiful paper and huge colored bows and gave myself. I worried a bit about retiring so young and being able to take a day without structure. All of my adult life had been structured, mostly around work, so I wondered how I would spend my days.

The first day of my retirement was glorious. I got to sleep-in. No alarm at 5:00 woke me. I got to read the entire paper and have a couple of cups of coffee. I absolutely do not remember what I did with the rest of the day, but it doesn’t matter. I just remember I loved that day and the next and the next. I still feel that way.