Posted tagged ‘dark day’

“Whoever snatched my formerly reliable, sharp short-term memory: I’d like it back now, please.”

January 24, 2017

Last night it poured. I fell asleep to the pounding on my roof and to the tremendous wind. It truly howled. This morning I woke to another dark, rainy day. It will be warm. Right now it is 49˚. The low will be 40˚. Winter has gone on hiatus for a few days.

When I was a kid, I did my homework at the kitchen table every day. I remember memorizing the times tables, spelling words and the Baltimore Catechism. “Who made you?” “God made me.” Questions and their answers from that catechism are still lingering, unused and unneeded, in my memory drawers, but the times tables and spelling words are part of my every day. Sometimes I had to do written homework, often worksheets. Mostly they were arithmetic lessons. The one I remember the most was a sheet to practice using coins. I had to add or subtract nickles, dimes or quarters.

I was never good at numbers. I used to hide my fingers under my desk so I could count. The nuns kept sharp eyes for finger counters so I had to be sly. The spelling words were easy. Every week I had to learn 20 new words for a test on Friday. I think I always got a 100, not a boast but evidence of a good memory. If I spelled the words out loud a few times, I learned them. My memory always saved me. That’s not so true anymore. As I get older, pulling answers from memory drawers gets more and more difficult because I can’t find them, but I have learned to compensate. I use my mother’s technique of going through the alphabet a letter at a time hoping one will jog my memory. I also use mnemonics. The funny thing is that often out of nowhere the answer jumps unexpectedly into my head long after I had searched for it. I hate not finding it, but I get comfort knowing the answers are still there.

“My mom said the only reason men are alive is for lawn care and vehicle maintenance.”

July 8, 2016

I have emerged. The windows and doors are open. Today is much cooler and the AC is unnecessary. Earlier it sprinkled for a bit and the rain has left a chilly dampness. The day is dark, another leftover from the rain.

My usual quiet is disturbed as my bushes are getting trimmed. I guess my neighbor noticed I have been bending down the branches of the wild roses so I can get to my car without the thorns attacking me.

Yesterday I was organizing my little library when I saw a piece of paper on the lawn right near the library. I picked it up thinking it was trash. It wasn’t. It was a check for landscaping and was close to $1700.00. I looked up the company and gave the owner a call. He just called and is on his way over to pick up the check. Come to find out my neighbor across the street found another of his checks. It was in the amount of $1200.00. How does that happen?

When I was a kid, people did their own landscaping. Mowing was a Saturday event. All the fathers in the neighborhood were out with their push mowers. I remember all the clicks from those mowers. My father mowed his lawn in a certain pattern which was why he never trusted us to mow. We were just fine with that. He mowed every Saturday unless it rained. He made it a ritual.

When I was growing up, some things were always men things while other things belonged only to women. Men never cooked in the kitchen, but they were the only ones who barbecued. I figure outside cooking harkened back to caveman times when the hunters rotisseried their game over an open flame. Women cleaned up. Men never did.

Once when my mother was away and my father was left to his own devices he had to a wash. He had no idea how the washing machine worked. He used the sink to wash his clothes, and because he also did not know how the dryer worked, he put the wet clothes on a line he strung in the kitchen.

Later on in life my father would help clean up in the kitchen. He was happy to help. He’d fill the dishwasher and scrub the pans. After he was finished and had gone in to watch TV, we’d rewash the pans. He always left residue he never noticed. We never told him.

In the summer, whenever I visited my parents for the weekend, I was certain of three things about my father. He would take me outside to admire his lawn, he would barbecue on Saturday night and he’d always cook Sunday breakfast. He’d even take orders on the eggs.

“Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.”

May 22, 2016

The rain came during the night. It started around midnight. I could hear the drops on the air conditioner. I listened a short while then fell asleep. When I let Gracie out this morning, the driveway was still wet so I figured it rained for a while. The day is dreary, dark and damp. The breeze is strong. It blows the flags in the front yard so they flutter back and forth. Even the oak trees bend.

Yesterday I complained about having little to say then filled the page with small memories, the day to day stuff. I forget sometimes that something memorable doesn’t have to be big. I have these odd pictures hanging around my memory drawers. They relate to pieces of my life but aren’t important in themselves. They are part of the whole, but for some reason, they stand alone.

High school graduation was huge. It was my biggest step forward. The whole ceremony is somewhere in my head, but I have a few small, bright pictures of that day. One is of my dad in the audience. I had just received a scholarship, and he was mouthing to me, “How much is it?” My mother made lasagna for the party afterward graduation. I’m sure there was plenty of food, but that is all I remember.

College left several images up front. My friends and I sat at the same table in the canteen every morning. We drank lots of coffee and each of us did the crossword puzzle in the paper. It was a race to see who would finish first. I remember Fridays in my cosmology class. Three or four of us sat in the back against the wall. It was for support because between our 8:30 class and cosmology at 1:30 we went drinking. Vodka and orange juice was our drink of choice. It was, after all, still morning. I remember standing in my cap and gown downstairs from the auditorium. One of my professors who was from the history department came by to wish us well. I had had her for two classes, two of my favorite classes. She was stopping to chat with soon to be graduates she knew. I was one of them. She asked us all what we were doing after graduation. When I told her Peace Corps, she seemed thrilled and offered to send books or whatever else my school might need. I remember her well.

The flight to Ghana has three singular memories. One was flying over the cape, and I watched with my face to the window until it was out of sight. Another was my stuck seat belt. It got caught between the seat and the wall, and I couldn’t use it. That was after a fuel stop. The stewardesses, as they were called in those days, were going up the aisle checking the seat belts. I just held the one side of mine, and she kept walking. The third picture was flying over the Sahara. The sand seemed to go on forever. I could see ripples. I could see Africa for the first time.

“I wonder what ants do on rainy days?”

April 26, 2016

We had rain earlier, but I don’t think it was much as I never heard it. The day is cool and dark. Grace and Fern are here with me but Maddie is hiding. I managed to give her some medicine last night and haven’t seen her since. I checked her usual places, but she has found someplace new. She’ll turn up just in time to get medicine again. After that, I expect her to pack her bags and leave without even saying goodbye.

In the dampness of the morning, I walked around the front garden. All sorts of flowers are peeking out of the ground. I haven’t an idea of what any of them are. Some have spread and my burning bush which was cut to the ground last fall has several small branches. I was worried but was reassured by Sebastien, my landscaper and my neighbor. He was right.

It never entered my head that I would care about a garden or flowers. Even when I first moved in, I didn’t care so much. The garden was behind the front fence so nobody could see my neglect. When Sebastien planted the lawn, he suggested I move the fence behind the garden. That’s when I started to buy plants. I bought perennials and a few annuals but the garden was still sparse looking. I still didn’t care all that much until I saw a garden filled with color and flowers, and it was beautiful. I started buying flowers. I think I have an addiction as I buy some every year. This year, I already have a list, but I need to do some refining. I want flowers which bloom at different times during the summer and fall so the garden will always have color. I’m still taken aback by my flower enthusiasm.

It has started raining again. Maddie just showed up from wherever she has been hiding. She is allowing me to pat her. That will last only for a while as soon enough it will be time for her medicine.

I have always found the rain subduing. Even when I was little I wanted to hear the rain and nothing else. School seemed quiet when it rained. I remember the sounds of papers being moved and pages being turned but no conversations. I don’t even remember the nun teaching us. She too must have listened to the rain. I remember seeing her sitting at her desk looking at papers, but I always thought she was really listening to the rain.

“Christmas is not a date. It is a state of mind.”

December 18, 2015

We have rain again. The house is dark because only the windows lights are lit. I like it that way.

I’m in list mode. I have a few going so the sticky notes are starting to cover my table. One note is a list of what I need to do today. Another is the numbers for tracking the only package which hasn’t been delivered to Colorado. A packing list is for the dog and the kennel and there’s one for me and my carry-on. Another list is for the cats and their sitter. I’m thinking I need a list of the lists.

When I was a kid, there was always a church fair held in the town hall. We  got a half day of school so we could go to the fair. The nuns brought us in rows of twos in long lines. My mother used to give us money for a hot dog and a drink. That was a big deal. We also had our Christmas money in case we found just the right gifts. A kids’ table was filled with possible presents for my whole family which cost a quarter for the big gifts and a dime for the small ones. I remember my mother sitting behind a table where she was working one Christmas.

I have never lost my love for church fairs. Now I head first to the table where the knit goods are sold. That is always the first table to sell out. I buy mittens and hats from the ladies, usually old ladies, who sit behind the table and make change slowly counting each coin and each bill as they put them in my hand. Sometimes I buy centerpieces and homemade ornaments. I love the white elephant tables where I sometimes find the best stuff. I go from fair to fair on one December Saturday. I usually treat myself to lunch.

The lists are sitting in front of reminding me to hurry. I have much to do.

 

“Life isn’t all fricasseed frogs and eel pie.”

September 22, 2015

I would have guessed today is cooler than it is if I hadn’t gone outside. The view from my window is of a dark, cloudy day with a breeze strong enough to ruffle leaves and sway the tops of trees and smaller branches. It is definitely a long sleeve day, maybe even a sweatshirt day.

Fern, Gracie and I slept in this morning. They must have been cold as they were right next to me, Fern on one side, Gracie on the other. I hated to get up as they had to move when I did. When I patted Fern good morning, I could feel the warmth of her fur on the side where she had leaned against me. Cats do like being cozy.

I have started this third paragraph several times and not been happy with any of them. That happens sometimes. My mind doesn’t settle too deeply on any one thing. It stays in the shallow end. Even the papers today gave me little pleasure. I did finish the crossword and the cryptogram, but it was only in the sports pages where I could find some optimism and even that was threaded a bit. The Trump quotes had me cursing out loud. I didn’t count the numbers of assaults and murders reported in the metro section but thumbed right pass those stories. Business had the story of the peanuts and salmonella and VW’s fake air tests. Even the Cape had a murder, a body was found at one of the rest areas. The safest sections to read were the weather and the comics.

I just looked out the window, and the sun is shining. It sneaked in while I was complaining. It seems it might be a nice day after all.

“It’s surprising how much memory is built around things unnoticed at the time.”

September 20, 2015

Today is dark and damp with the humidity at 80˚. It rained for all of three minutes, stopped for a long while then rained again for a few minutes. I think that will be the weather for the day, on and off rain. I have no urge to do anything constructive except take my shower which I suppose could be construed as constructive.

Tonight my friends and I are going out to dinner, a celebratory dinner for my friend’s birthday. I’m looking forward to the festivities.

My memory drawers are so filled I can’t even close some of them. Momentous events and whole experiences fill most drawers, but my memory drawers also save picture memories, single snapshots, and I sometimes wonder why. I remember my fourth grade lunch box was red plaid. I don’t remember any other lunch boxes. I have no memories of my school shoes, but I remember my sneakers, my play shoes. My favorite pair of dungarees had a flannel lining. The cuff had to be rolled once as the pants were a bit long. I was young and the waist of those pants was elastic, no snaps, no buttons. I remember one part of our walk to church early Christmas morning. It was still dark. I remember walking on the sidewalk and across the railroad tracks but that’s all. Arriving at church and the walk home are lost somewhere way back in one of those drawers. I can close my eyes perfectly see the cloakroom outside my first grade classroom. I remember the thick, painted walls in the rectory cellar where I spent my third grade. From high school, I remember where my freshman locker was, and I remember a before school practice for one of the Christmas pageants. I was sitting in the middle of about the third row. Once I got detention for talking on the stairs, one step away from the cafeteria where I was allowed to talk. I know exactly where that happened. I can even see the nun turn and tell me I had detention, but I don’t remember who the nun was.

In Philadelphia, at Peace Corps staging, we were together for about 5 days before leaving for Ghana. I remember standing in line for check-in. I remember sitting on the rug on the top floor with my back to the wall and reading The Naked Ape. Why I was on the top floor and not in my room escapes me. I don’t remember leaving for Ghana. I do remember after a stop for fuel in Madrid my seat belt got stuck and I couldn’t get it unstuck so I didn’t wear it for take-off from Madrid or for landing in Ghana.

Memories are so many things. Some makes us nostalgic, other makes us sad, some fill us with wonder. I always think the best ones keep those we love close to us whether they are here or not.