Posted tagged ‘hot’

“What is patriotism but the love of the food one ate as a child?”

April 17, 2017

Yesterday was wonderful. The weather was so hot short sleeves were the order of the day. The restaurant was filled, and there was a line out the door, but our reservations got us seated as soon as we checked in at the desk. Looking out the bank of windows from our table, we could see only the ocean glinting in the sun and tiny whitecaps cresting atop the waves. My friend noted it was like being on a cruise.

The Easter Bunny was good to me. Besides the traditional candy, I got a new coffee mug which held pansies, a great t-shirt with Nevertheless, she persisted on it, spring and Easter hand towels, and a giant package of chocolate sea salt caramels. I admit that last night I ate two Reese’s peanut butter eggs. I could hear them calling my name from the kitchen.

Right now we have 70˚. It will get cooler starting tonight but today needs to be enjoyed. I can see myself sitting on the deck stretched out in the sun maybe reading my book but maybe just sitting with my eyes closed to take in all that warmth.

The Ten Commandments was on TV on the other night. It got me remembering when it was first shown. It was around Easter. It was a huge event. The whole family sat around the TV watching. That the movie was in black and white made no difference. We were thrilled and amazed to see such an epic movie on TV right there in our living room. My mother made popcorn.

Today we celebrate Patriot’s Day which commemorates the battles of Lexington and Concord, the start of the American Revolution. It is an official state holiday, and it is chock full of events. The reenactment of the battle was this morning starting at 5:30. The reenactors for both sides wear historically accurate clothes with the Red Coats in uniform and the minutemen in every day garb. When the guns are fired, smoke fills the air and it is 1775.

The Red Sox game began at 11 today. Right now my Sox are ahead 4-2, but it is still early innings.

Today is Boston Marathon day. The first wave of marathoners started the 121st running of the race at 8:50. Elite runners left at 9:30. The last wave left at 11:15. The winning woman just crossed the line on Boylston Street.

My day will be a quiet one satisfying my soul and spirit. I’m spending the afternoon on the deck. Maybe I’ll read or maybe I’ll just sit and soak in the warmth of the sun and with eyes closed listen to all the sounds around me: the swishing of leaves from the slight breeze, the spawns of Satan running on the thick branches and the songs of birds. I have hot dogs for lunch.

“Colder by the hour, more dead with every breath.”

January 15, 2017

This morning I just didn’t want to get out of bed. It was 9:15 when I first woke up. Considering how late I went to bed, I figured it was too early to get up so I snuggled under the covers and went back to sleep. I slept until 10. Maddie started howling. Gracie was snoring. I decided the bed was too warm and I was too comfy so I went back to sleep. It was easy. I slept another hour so it was close to 11 when I dragged myself out of bed. I have no guilt at sleeping the morning away. I have no obligations, no errands and no chores though I could do a laundry, but I won’t.

Last night I want the Patriots beat the Texans. It wasn’t the Pats best game as Brady was intercepted and sacked, but my Pats prevailed. The game started late, 8:15, and ended late so my friends and I decided to make it an evening. First, we ate Chinese and played Phase 10, our favorite game. I happened to win. Clare and I alternate winning. Tony hasn’t won since last March. We’re planning a gala for his anniversary of one year without a win. He isn’t looking forward to the festivities.

It was cold last night, 24˚, so today at 34˚ feels warmer. The low this evening will be 19˚. When I lived in Ghana, it was hot and dry in January. It was harmattan. Dust blew over everything. The sun was obscured. Rain was months away. My candle melted without being lit. The water was often turned off. I took bucket baths, and I had to take a few before I got the knack. I got good at it.

During Peace Corps staging, a time when we all came together for nearly a week before leaving for Ghana, I was asked if I minded going to the north. My response was to ask why the question. What was it about the north? The psychologist asking the question didn’t know the answer. I told him I didn’t care where in Ghana I was to be posted. That settled it. I went to the far north, the Upper Region. I even knew before I left staging I was going to be in Bolgatanga. The remote posting areas were filled first. That was Bolga. That was the place with a long dry season when days reached 100˚ or more. I think of that this time of year, the coldest time of year here in New England, but if I were given a choice between the two, the hot, hot dry days or the freezing days and nights, I’d chose the cold. I couldn’t escape the heat, but I can always bundle up to escape the cold.

“cozy+smell of pancakes-alarm clock=weekend”

August 29, 2016

This morning I was forced to go to Dunkin’ Donuts. I had no coffee and no cream so Gracie and I jumped into the car and drove off for my morning elixir. When we got there, the outside line was long, but I had no choice. I hadn’t bothered to get dressed or even brush my teeth. Gracie didn’t mind the wait. She just poked her head out the window and took in the neighborhood and its smells. I listened to the radio. The line went faster than I thought it would. I was happy.

Today is already hot and humid so I am back in my fortress having shut the windows and doors and turned on the air conditioning. There are clouds but they do nothing except to obscure the sun. Rain is not in the forecast for the next couple of days. The weekend, though, will be lovely with daytime temperatures in the low 70’s and nights in the mid 60’s.  It is the Labor Day weekend, the traditional last hurrah of the summer.

My sister started work today. She is a pre-school teacher in Colorado. When I spoke to her last night, she was going to take a shower so she could get to bed early. I remember my mother sending us to bed early and reminding us we had school the next day. I also remember moaning and groaning and dragging my feet upstairs.

When I was a kid, I never kept track of the weekdays. I only knew when it was Saturday or Sunday. On Saturday my father was home. He did errands uptown and mowed the lawn. On Saturday nights he often barbecued. Sometimes we went to the beach all day Saturday or the drive-in on Saturday nights. Sunday had the only consistently distinguishing event, going to mass which also meant a change in wardrobe from shorts and a sleeveless shirt to a dress or a skirt and a blouse. After mass, the day was back to casual. We didn’t have Sunday dinners during the summer. It was more of a catch as catch can. Mostly it was sandwiches.

I think my favorite weekends were in Ghana, especially the Sundays. There was a service in the dining hall where the furniture had been reconfigured to look more like the inside of a church. The students wore their Sunday clothes. Each of the four classes had a different fabric for their traditional three piece dresses, their Sunday best. They wore a top, a skirt to their ankles and a cloth wrapped around at the waist. After the service, the older students could go to town. Visitors were allowed. A photographer wandered around taking pictures, always in black and white. I have a few of the pictures given to me as gifts. When I went to town, I could see the students walking in groups and stopping at kiosks to buy personal items like powder. Others went to the market to load up on snacks to keep in their school trunks, especially gari, made from cassava and easily stored.

Being retired, my days tend to run together. I sometimes have to check the paper to see what day of the week it is. My chores and errands aren’t confined to a single day. I don’t ever have to go to bed early.

“Feet that run on willing errands!”

August 25, 2016

Yesterday was perfection. It was sunny, cool and dry. Today is August weather, humid and hot. The sun comes and goes. It hides behind the clouds, but the clouds have no rain. They just obscure the sun. The weather report says maybe tomorrow for the rain. I am skeptical.

Yesterday I went to Hyannis. I couldn’t believe the bumper to bumper traffic heading to Main Street. Why weren’t those people on the beach?

I actually got a few things done yesterday. I had a doctor’s appointment, got my hair cut, changed the bed and watered the plants. That’s the most I’ve done in a single day for a long while. It was all because I had read an article which said that you should have only five or fewer things on your to-do list. You prioritize the items, start from the top and what you don’t finish goes on the list the next day and you only add an item if you have fewer than the five. Having this list requires you to single task, to focus. The whole story is here: https://getpocket.com/a/read/1389934087

It is time to Peapod. The larder is empty. I don’t think I can have eggs one more night even with bacon.

I am so very late today as I made my bed, did an errand, called and spoke to my sister as it is her birthday, tried to fix a couple of lamps and started my laundry. Lee, one half of my cleaning couple, came and he fixed both lamps for me as I couldn’t. Come to find out I can fix a split infinitive or a dangling participle but not a lamp.

“You either get the point of Africa or you don’t. What draws me back year after year is that it’s like seeing the world with the lid off.”

August 14, 2016

Big surprise: today is hot, already 88˚, and combined with the 70% humidity it feels like 100˚. I was on the deck earlier checking the plants. They have to be watered again, but I’ll wait until later in the day hoping it will be cooler.

When I arrived in Ghana for Peace Corps training, I knew nothing about Africa. The books and mimeographed materials from Peace Corps didn’t do much in helping me understand where I was going. Knowing there were two seasons, rainy and dry, had me picturing what rainy and dry look like here, that was all I had for reference. Descriptions of Ghanaian culture were like excerpts from a geography book. I read about the different tribes and where they lived. The country was divided into regions, a bit like our states.

Before we left Philadelphia for Ghana, I found out I was going to be posted in the Upper Region, only a place on the map to me. The Upper Region spanned all the way across the whole top section of Ghana from east to west. I was to be posted in its capital, Bolgatanga.

When I went to Bolga for a week during training, it was the rainy season when everything is green, and the market is filled with all sorts of fruit and vegetables. I figured that would be Bolga all the time. I was totally wrong.

When training was over, I made my way home, to Bolga. I stopped overnight in Kumasi, about the halfway mark. I always added an overnight so I could visit friends along the way. The trip from Accra to Kumasi was a wonderful train ride. From Kumasi to Bolga was a bus or lorry ride, always hot and always crammed with people.

Bolga was still in the rainy season when I moved into my house. The rains stopped a month or two later. Everything dried. The ground split. Nothing stayed green. My lips and the heels of my feet split. I walked on tiptoes. I learned to take bucket baths. My meals never varied. Breakfast was two eggs cooked in groundnut oil and two pieces of toast. Lunch was fruit. Dinner was beef cooked in tomato broth, a necessity to make the meat tender, or chicken. Yams were the side dish, sometimes in a mash and sometimes cooked with the meat. I always drank water except in the morning when I drank instant coffee with canned milk.

I never minded the same meals or the dry season. I was astonished every day that I was  living in Africa. I loved Bolga whether rainy or dry. My friends and I would often look at the sky and say it looked like rain. That was a joke, and we never got tired of it. We knew the rain was months away. If we found something new in the market, it was cause for celebration. If we didn’t, it didn’t matter.

In about five weeks, I’ll be back home in Bolga.

“The month of August had turned into a griddle where the days just lay there and sizzled.”

August 11, 2016

Here I am again, inside the house retreating from the heat. Today will be in the high 80’s on the cape and the 90’s in Boston and north of Boston. My friend Bill sent me the weather from Bolgatanga, Ghana where it will be cooler than here and rainy. What’s with that, cooler in Africa than here?

I could do a couple of errands today, but I won’t. I’m staying housebound by choice. I have food and drink, a semi-full larder, so I’ll be content and cool. I’m even considering baking something.

I hit a wall in watching the Olympics so last night I hunted for something else. It ended up being Cupcake Wars. I traded one boring program for a really boring program, but I’m guessing those cupcakes inspired me to think about baking today. This morning I’ve already watched women’s water polo. That wall is getting closer.

Yesterday I did two loads of laundry. They by themselves are not remarkable, but, for once, I didn’t leave any laundry in the dryer. I am known for leaving laundry in the dryer for up to a week. The clothes come out really wrinkled, but I don’t care.

Books are on the table in front of me as is the TV remote. They represent the day’s diversions, things to keep me busy, things to help the day pass.

When I was a kid, I’d be bored by the middle of August. I had done all the fun things several times, and they had begun to lose their luster. The afternoons were often too hot to do much. I remember being at the park and sitting in the shade. We played some checkers at the table and worked gimp. I remember painting a tray for my mother. We couldn’t play softball. Little kids couldn’t use the slide and seesaw because of the heat. The metal slide would have burned the backs of their legs. August is always hot and humid.

Every month I get a report from my electric company on my usage and how it compares to my neighbors’ usage. My sister in Colorado happened to mention her report to me as her husband, Rod, showed her they were the highest in the neighborhood. I said mine was too. We both decided we didn’t care. We want to live comfortably: cool in summer and warm in winter. I’m sending my next one to Rod so he’ll see they are not alone.

Tonight after midnight the Perseids meteor shower will begin, but the best viewing is after 1 AM or even later. There will be an unusually high number of meteors tonight anywhere from 160 to 200 meteors per hour. The suggestion is to lie on your back and look straight up. Drinking caffein to stay awake was another suggestion. I’m thinking iced coffee.

“Food, like a loving touch or a glimpse of divine power, has that ability to comfort.”

July 26, 2016

I’m close to screaming in frustration. Today will be hot yet again. That the humidity will be less is small consolation. I have the AC off for a while, but the temperature in the house has risen three degrees already so soon enough I’ll be stuck behind closed doors and windows. I did finish one of my errands yesterday, but that still leaves one more for today.

The kitchen in the house where I lived the longest was tiny. When the oven was lit, the kitchen quickly got hot and stayed that way long after dinner was finished. My mother, during the summer, cooked on the stove top. She made stuff like pasta, hamburgers, fried dough and even hot dogs. She never grilled. Her dinner sides were sometimes potato salad or pasta salad. She never made a green salad. Dessert was always a maybe dependent on what was in the house. It could have been cookies, Oreos of course, or ice cream or a popsicle. My favorite popsicle was root beer followed by a close second, cherry. If neither was available, an orange would do just fine. 

Some people I know don’t ever eat leftovers. I don’t get that. Some food tastes better the next day. My chili is always best the day after I make it so I usually make it the day before I need it. That way any fat gets skimmed. I like leftover pasta. Add fresh garlic bread, some cheese and you have a perfect meal. 

Winter has comfort food. It keeps us warm and brings back memories. Summer has hot dogs and hamburgers best cooked on a grill. You have to toast the buns. 

My mother used to make piccalilli every fall when there were green tomatoes. She made New England style piccalilli with those green tomatoes, red peppers, onions, brown sugar, cider vinegar and some spices like mustard powder and a few others I don’t remember. She’d give us all a couple of jars. I’d use it sparingly so it would last longer. I swear a hot dog with my mother’s piccalilli was perfection in a bun.