Posted tagged ‘gifts’

“It takes a long time to grow an old friend.”

October 12, 2017

My friends have left, and my house is ever so quiet. As always we had the best time together. On Tuesday we had a ride along the ocean, and I took them to my favorite spots. The sun was glinting off the water. It was so warm people sat on beach chairs in the sand sunning themselves. It was a summer day in fall.

We ate appetizers on the deck. The birds had found the filled feeders, and they flew back and forth from feeders to branches. Most of them were chickadees.

Peg had brought dinner, shrimp pesto. She had also brought vegetables, a cheese log dip, crackers, some fruit and dessert. The brownies had chocolate chips, and there was a thick fudge sauce to put on them adding to the chocolate overload though I would contend there is really no such thing as a chocolate overload. I am just using the term to give a vivid picture of how wonderful dessert was. Gracie was restless that night. At 1:30 she wanted food so I fed her and I had a brownie. Afterwards, we were both quite content.

Bill is a talented furniture maker and handyman. He did some repairs in the house, a few of which have been driving me crazy. Some of the fixes include the toilet upstairs which now flushes, the toilet holder downstairs again secure on the wall, my old curio cabinet repaired and my front storm shutting automatically.

Bill and Peg brought gifts. One was a wooden Red Sox peg board. Another was a framed silhouette of a boxer. There was homemade grape jelly and African coffee. The dip was in a pottery bowl and the bowl was also a gift. I can’t think there are better guests than Bill and Peg.

Last night we had dinner at Karoo’s, a South African restaurant. It is one of my favorite places. Bill and Peg had been there before and requested it for this trip. I had monkey ribs and beef samosas for appetizers. The drink I ordered, the speciality of the night, was amazingly refreshing with vodka, grapefruit juice and a simple syrup. My dinner was bobotie beef, a curried meatloaf served with turmeric rice and chutney. Bill and Peg both had West African peanut soup with pumpkin added though in Ghana it would have been groundnut soup. Peg had a falafel sandwich. All of us had come to love Lebanese food in Ghana, and we ate many felafel sandwiches, all wrapped in foil.

This morning was leisurely. Sadly, at close to eleven, Peg and Bill started loading up to go home. Gracie and I went outside to say goodbye. My house feels empty without them.

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“There are many reasons to celebrate, but National Mustard Day just isn’t one of them.”

November 21, 2016

This morning I got to thinking. Thanksgiving is a day, one single day of family and food. For most of us the menu is the same. Turkey has the most prominent spot on the table. It generally arrives uncut so we can ooh and ah at the beauty of the roasted bird. My dad, at the head of the table, did the carving. He’d fill a platter with slices and then tear off a leg or two to complete the dish. He was the only one who loved a leg. The rest of the meal depends on family traditions though I suspect they’ll be gravy and mashed potatoes on many a Thanksgiving table. We always had a squash and carrot dish which originated with my aunt but was tweaked by my mother who substituted butternut squash, far more seasonable, for the undefined squash in the recipe. That was always the favorite vegetable. My father got his canned asparagus. None of the rest of us ate it. My mother would cook a few more vegetables, sometimes peas, creamed onions and a new dish or two. Cranberry sauce came from the can. One year my mother made a wonderful orange cranberry sauce and served it in oranges. It wasn’t a hit, especially for my father who seldom liked anything new for the holidays. I loved it and was glad it was packed in my doggy bag.

Okay, I majorly digressed. What I was originally thinking was Thanksgiving is a single day, while it is the Christmas season, many days. I know it seems to come earlier each year, but we do have 4 Sundays of Advent, the start of the season for me. During that time there is so much to do and most of it fun. Cookies have to be made, and best of all, they have to be decorated. The house gets decorated. I alternate decorations year by year, but the tree never really changes. New ornaments are added but the usual appear every year. Cards need to be addressed and sent. I love buying Edward Gorey cards and found 2 wonderful sets of them this year. I know people sour on having to buy gifts, but I love shopping for just the right ones. Years ago one of my friends said she loves anticipating what I give her as it is always so neat which is why I love to shop. Just because I’m older (not old, older) doesn’t mean I forget the joys of the season. We decorate gingerbread houses. I play Christmas music and always sing along. I sit in the living room just to look at the tree.

Thursday is close. In the morning I’ll watch the parade, crack nuts, eat a few tangerines and some M&M’s just the way I did when I was a kid. My friends and I are going out for dinner, a new tradition started last year. I’ll probably cook a small turkey so I can have a mini Thanksgiving complete with leftovers. On Friday I’ll let everyone else shop, but on Saturday I’ll finish my list. Saturday night I’ll put my feet up, enjoy some egg nog and a Hallmark movie, and I’ll not wonder how it will end!

“Tradition is a fine thing. Nothing comes out of the blue, except perhaps thunderbolts and they are not really very useful things.”

November 6, 2016

Today is dark and rainy. The street is now covered with wet leaves and pine needles. They’ll dry then be blown away. My lawn too is covered in brown pine needles and has mostly disappeared. Every small breeze drops yellow oak leaves to the deck. I can watch them fall from the window. My den light is lit giving the room a cozy feel. Gracie and Maddie are asleep. I love mornings like this.

This week I have a meeting on Tuesday, and that is the only entry on my dance card. The rest of the week is wide open. I have some stuff I could do like go through the Christmas presents piled on a guest room bed and catalogue them by person so I can know what I still need to buy. I love to find just the right gifts for people, and it takes a bit of shopping to do that, and Christmas isn’t really all that far away. I did some Christmas shopping in Ghana, and I’m glad for that as the gifts will be unique. I bought yards and yards of traditional Ghanaian GTP cloth to be used to make presents. Now I wish I’d even bought more.

Some gifts have become part of the Christmas tradition. I give everyone a bag filled with smaller gifts including a new ornament with some sort of a personal touch like a fish for my brother-in-law the fly fisherman. The kids also get Christmas books. I give all the women earrings or some sort of jewelry. This year the jewelry is from Ghana. I buy soap for every bag like lobsters or starfish. I also try to find fun gifts. I bought an old fishing drop line for my nephew, a gift of memory for him. There are bigger gifts for the kids. The younger boys get Hess trucks. They are on the way. My only grandniece is getting a doll and a dress from Ghana. My nieces and nephews get gift certificates stuffed into their gift bags, something I started doing when they got into their 20’s and finding just the right gift got too difficult. They love the small gifts and opening the bags is always done on Christmas Eve. It is the tradition, and my family is big on Christmas tradition.

“Silent icicles, Quietly shining to the quiet moon.”

December 11, 2014

I may have seen the sun a bit earlier, but I can’t be sure. It’s not raining-that much I can say with certainty. I watched Gracie from the back door after I let her out and noticed birds in the side yard and one woodpecker on my back step. The birds were juncos, and there were many. I had a mixed seed bag so I threw some into the yard in case the juncos come back. They haven’t been around much so I figured I’d give them some incentive. Today is a one errand day, for dog food, and a wrap like crazy day. I need to get the Colorado gifts wending their way westward.

The old tinsel controversy has reared its head. My family called the silvery garlands tinsel. They were wound around the tree and draped for effect. We also had a red tinsel garland and a construction paper one we had made once. It was the worst for wear, but it was part of the tree tradition. The tinsel was put on the tree just after the lights. My mother did the honors as she knew exactly how the tinsel should look from branch to branch. The ornaments were next. The big breakables were put around the top by my mother. We always thought of them as the fancy ornaments, the untouchables. We all put on the rest of the ornaments including the small glass ones. I have some of those and I have one fancy ornament. My mother gave each of us a box filled with the ornaments of our childhood including one fancy ornament I still put high up on the tree. Last of all to be put on the tree were the icicles. We’d each take a handful and drape one at a time on a branch. After a while draping became boring, and mayhem ensued. We’d take handfuls and toss them on the tree to get rid of our piles. My mother would yell,”One at a time. One at a time.” We didn’t care. We were lost in the throwing frenzy. Finally my mother stopped us and took all our icicles. She then removed the piles on the branches and put the icicles on the tree one at a time. We watched television.

Now, were they icicles or were they tinsel? What about the garlands? Were they tinsel too? I say there is no question, no confusion. Those silvery strands were icicles because that’s what they looked like hanging from the branches. They looked like the real icicles which hung from the edges of our roof. I do admit the real ones never hung in clumps.

“I run this town. Mostly I run errands. ”

December 13, 2013

A Review of Yesterday 

People only saw a swift glimpse of red speeding up and down cape highways. One woman thought she saw a dog in the backseat but she couldn’t be sure. She wasn’t even sure she saw a car. The witnesses could only agree it was a red flash going at a speed difficult to calculate. Fearful cries rang out and 911 was inundated so to halt this growing fear I am admitting to you here and now it was my car driven by me with Gracie as the pit crew. It went from South Dennis as far as Orleans with stops in between. I had a list. It started with the dump, the coldest spot in town with winds raging across the open field. I think I saw a wizened old lady borne aloft by the wind. She didn’t wave. The next stop was almost as windy. At the parking lot in the shopping center, people were holding on to door handles hoping to stay on the ground. I made it safely to stop two: the sports store for stocking stuffers. Stop three, the hardware store, was protected by trees so my life was not in peril. Batteries are the bane of Christmas toys. I needed six AAA. They came in a package of four or eight. Of course, they did. The bank was a quick stop. I got all crisp bills for gifts to nieces and nephews and grubby bills for myself. Gracie got a dog biscuit. It was her favorite stop. We then flew down 6A to Brewster and the book store. It is a dangerous place. I wanted books for my two grand nephews and nothing else. I left with a filled shopping bag. No comments please. I have a defense. I found some neat stuff like small clasped sock-like bags, the kind Scrooge McDuck kept his money in, to hold those crisp bills. I bought myself a book, some special Christmas cards and a couple of stocking stuffers. It was a great stop. From there I had to go all the way across the cape to the speciality gourmet shop for crackers, the kind you eat not the kind you open at dinner. I, of course, didn’t just buy crackers. I bought a fig spread for cheese and a paring knife. The lady and I chatted. She is getting a puppy today and she showed me pictures. The puppy’s name is going to be Gracie, and that started more conversation. I left there and went to my final stop, Ring Brothers, which is an occasion of sin for me. I bought so many things I had to make two runs from the car to the house. I also bought lunch: two pieces of pizza. It was, by this time, close to 2:30. One of the things I bought, which was not on my list, was egg nog, a new kind for me. It comes in a glass bottle. I thought that was pretty cool, but it was also pretty heavy when you add a 6 pack of winter ale (for guests as I am not a beer drinker) and a bottle of champagne for those Christmas mimosas. Those I’ll drink. I crossed off the last items on my lists, which were actually orange juice and bread, and went home.

I ate lunch and them took a nap. I deserved it.