Posted tagged ‘lovely day’

“This was all horribly wrong. This was red wine with fish. This was a man wearing a dinner jacket and brown shoes. This was as wrong as things get.”

September 13, 2016

The weather right now is just perfect, the sort I dream about through snow storms, freezing temperatures and winds which chill to the bone. The sun shines with that sharp light which only seems to come in the fall. The days are warm, in the 70’s. The nights are chilly, wonderful for sleeping. I love Cape Cod best this time of year.

The countdown has begun. It is seven days until I leave. My mind is filled with images of Ghana. I can close my eyes and see it all. I am as excited as I was the first time I went back. It is difficult to explain the pull Ghana has on me. Every bit of the country feels familiar. The greetings I learned so long ago quickly come to mind. I say them, and Ghanaians answer then they smile. I smile back. I hunt for my favorite foods, buy cloth and roam the market. The years disappear. It is as it was.

This morning I had two meetings, one right after the other. They were library board meetings: the annual and the monthly. I am now president of the Board of Trustees of the South Dennis Library. My responsibilities are few. I print the agenda and run our monthly meetings. I bring refreshments when needed. I sign whatever the librarian puts in front of me. She knows far more than I what’s going on. I have been on the board for nearly 12 years. Two of the trustees are in their 90’s. One of them is 95. I always joke that the only way off the board is incapacitating injury or death.

The last fish I had a week or so back was red snapper. It was delicious. The first time I ever ate red snapper was in Jamaica. The second time was at a Caribbean restaurant in Saugus which isn’t there anymore. Fish markets here don’t sell it. I always ask. I figure they must think it an exotic fish. Around here cod is king.

I’m thinking fish and chips tonight. In one of my places they also come with onion rings, the thin kind, the best kind. I was going to have hot dogs but not anymore.

“I like freedom. I wake up in the morning and say, ‘I don’t know, should I have a popsicle or a donut?’ You know, who knows?”

August 8, 2016

It has already been a full day for me. I am unused to having a list of must go places all in a single day. Usually I get to spread them around. I even went to one place twice. I got home from Agway and couldn’t find my bag so I drove back to Agway then I saw my bag on the back seat floor. I would never have looked there as my usual spot is on the other front seat, and I seldom deviated from the usual.

Today is a lovely day, in the low 80’s but with no humidity. I’ll be heading to the deck later with one of the books I just got from the library. I’m thinking cheese and crackers for lunch. I also have some Italian hard salami. It will be a wonderful sort of picnic except at a table and with no ants.

Sometimes I wish I were Samantha the witch. I’d just wiggle my nose. One of my gripes is the number of calls I get every day from unknown people and unfamiliar places. If I could, I’d send them back to the caller accompanied by an ear-splitting sound. I wonder how many calls they make to me before they give up as I don’t answer any of them. I’m beginning to think it is in the hundreds.

It is popsicle weather. Licking a cherry popsicle on a really hot day is a shortcut to nirvana, but you have to lick fast or popsicle drips go down your fingers to your hand. Having sticky fingers isn’t any fun. When I was older, I learned to lick from the bottom to the top.

Watermelon chunks are in my fridge. I bought the watermelon already that way. It is far easier to eat the chucks of fruit than watermelon off the rind. I consider watermelon the finest of summer fruit treats.

 

In winter I eat hearty food; in summer I eat random food, whatever appeals to me. It just has to be refreshing or quick to make. Most of my summer food comes out of the fridge ready to be eaten. Winter food generally needs to be cooked.

Okay, I’m hungry so I’m off to the deck with my book, a pseudo-picnic and a cold drink. I’m thinking it is a perfect way to spend a lazy afternoon.

“He who would travel happily must travel light.”

August 4, 2016

When I woke up this morning, Gracie was right beside me. The bedroom was still cool from the late night air so I was body warmth for the dog. When I went downstairs, it too was cool and dark so it was quite a shock when I went outside to get the paper. I was assailed by unexpected heat.

The light from the sun is strong. It looks hazy around the bushes and flowers. A slight breeze ruffles the leaves of the oak tree. I think it will be a lovely day.

My first load of laundry is in the dryer. My second load is in the washing machine. The bags of laundry had sat in front of the cellar so long I had no choice. I don’t deal well transient clutter.

I have started to get ready for my trip back to Ghana. First off was new undergarments, not that you really need to know this but I seldom buy any without a good reason. Even as an adult, I always embarrassed my mother with the state of my undergarments. My contention was nobody ever saw them. The last time I bought any was for my first trip to Ghana. It’s a good thing I travel. I have also bought three new shirts. The last new shirts were Christmas presents from my sister the Christmas before that same trip to Ghana as the undergarments. There is an obvious pattern here worth repeating: it’s a good thing I travel. On my list still is a pair of new pants, rub on insect repellant, a small roll of duct tape and moist towelettes. I think I already have everything else I need.

When I think back to my Peace Corps first time arrival in Ghana, I remember what I had brought. I was allowed 80 pounds. Most of them were taken up with clothes, sheets and towels and lotions and potions enough for two years. I had been given a packing list, and after my mother and I shopped, we crossed off most of the items. If I were going today for the two years, my 80 pounds would be a whole lot different; however, there would still be undergarments.

This morning was Corn Flakes and banana for breakfast. I thought it the perfect way to start the day.

“It was June, and the world smelled of roses. The sunshine was like powdered gold over the grassy hillside.”

June 7, 2016

So far today is another lovely day. When I got the papers this morning, I could smell the scent of the flowers from my front garden. I had to stop to look and to smell. The air was summer. This afternoon the storm is coming with rain, heavy winds and even the possibility of hail. Right now with sunlight, small breezes and the singing of birds the rain seems improbable.

My microwave just died after a long and useful life. I will replace it today if I can find one I like. The dead one was small. It fit on an old child’s desk in my kitchen. My African cookbooks were on top, and kitchen towels were in the space beneath the top where school books used to be stored. I figure I’ll need my neighbor’s help hauling the old out and the new in. My back doesn’t do heavy.

The flight to Ghana is booked. We’re leaving on September 20th and returning on October 7th. The only glitch is a long layover in New York, five hours, before we leave. We’re hoping that may change by September. If not, we’ll be lounge lizards.

Traveling with my friends will be the best part of this trip. They are funny, amiable and sarcastic, one of my favorite traits. They will be driving from New Hampshire to meet me in Boston. We have a few places already on our to visit list including the new lodge at Mole National Park (http://zainalodge.com). It is expensive, but we figured we deserved it.

We have decided to fly from Accra to Tamale. The land trip is long and tedious, and we’ve done it enough times that we don’t need to do it again. I flew that route a few times when I lived in Ghana. It was a luxury on my monthly pittance. After the lodge, we’ll rent a car and driver to go to Bolga where we hope to stay in a former student’s new house. She is hurrying to finish so we can stay there. All we need is windows and a bathroom that flushes. I hate aiming at a hole. AC would also be nice.

I always knew I’d go back to Ghana. Over the years I said it many times when people asked me. I don’t know what took me so long to get there. Now I’m going to make my third trip in five years. The first time back I remember getting so excited as the flight neared landing. When I got outside the airport so many memories rushed back at me. The air smelled of wood fires and trees and thick bushes. I could hear Twi being spoken and Ga, the local language. The Ghanaians were hustling to make money carrying bags. That too was so familiar. They use to rush us at bus depots and train stations. I felt the heat and the humidity. I started to sweat. Yup, that was Ghana.

 

“This is the message of Christmas: We are never alone.”

December 4, 2015

Today is lovely. The air is still, the sky a light blue and the sun winter bright. It is in the 40’s, colder than yesterday but warmer than last night. It hasn’t yet been winter cold, the sort which takes your breath away. I’m glad for the reprieve.

When I watch TV programs supposedly taking place in winter, I always look for breath. In the one from the other night, a Hallmark Christmas movie, snow was in piles on the ground and the characters were bundled as if for an Arctic expedition but there was no breath. It was a fake, a movie winter, but I wasn’t taken in by the trappings of a Hollywood winter. I know cold.

I remember watching One Magic Christmas, a Disney movie where winter is real. Some key scenes take place at night. When the characters walk, you can hear the sound of crunching snow. Under the shine of the streetlights, you can see their breaths. Everywhere is snow: on the ground, piled on the sides of the road and in front of houses. It is really winter. I appreciated that.

In Bolgatanga, in Ghana, Christmas takes place during the harmattan when winds blow sand from the Sahara, the days are brutally hot and the nights cold. The first year there I was twenty-two and had never been away from home at Christmas. I tried not to think about it. My mother, however, saved the day. She sent me a package by air to guarantee a delivery before Christmas. The postage was a small fortune. My aunt helped fill the package and was nice enough to pay half of the postage. When I opened the box, it was filled with Christmas. I’ll never forget that box. It had a small artificial tree, some new ornaments and some from the family tree, cookie cutters, some sprinkles for the sugar cookies, small  stockings to hang from the fireplace paper also in the package and a few small wrapped presents to put under the tree.

I learned how to make sugar cookies that year. I spent Christmas Eve with friends at my house where we had a small party. We sang Christmas carols, ate Guinea fowl, yam chips, donuts and sweet balls of coconut. The sugar cookies were the big hit. I had even decorated them. That Christmas is one of my all time favorites.

“When life gives you lemons, make orange juice and leave people wondering how you did it…”

September 26, 2015

The morning is again lovely with a strong breeze and a wonderfully bright sun. When I went to get the papers, I sat on the front steps a while to check out the neighborhood and to let the sun wash over and warm me. The leaves were rustling and the chimes in the backyard were ringing every now and then when the breeze was the strongest. The sound of the chimes is sweet. I finally went back inside drawn by the thought of my first cup of coffee.

We never had fresh orange juice. My mother always bought it frozen in the can. I can still remember how much of an ordeal it was to get the juice to the drinking stage. First you had to open both ends of the can to slide out the glob of frozen juice. The silver hand can opener sometimes cut not just the top but also the sides of the can making it harder to get the tops off. More often than not one of the tops would fall into the pitcher with the frozen juice. When digging it out, you had to be careful as it was easy to cut your finger on the sharp edges. I know from experience. We never had the foresight to take the can out of the freezer and leave it on the counter to let the juice melt. Come to think of it we probably didn’t have the patience either. I remember holding the pitcher under hot water to help along the melting, and we’d use a spoon to smash the glob into smaller pieces so it would melt quicker. When it was finally melted enough by my mother’s standards, we’d run the cold water until it was as cold as it could be from the faucet then make the juice.

We went through a Tang phase for a while because John Glenn and the Gemini astronauts drank it. Besides, it was easy to throw a few teaspoons in water then stir and drink. There was no can opener, waiting or hot water baths before drinking it. The only problem was it really didn’t taste all that good.

“Adding kidney beans to his cottage cheese and pineapple was an act of bravery Dave had not intended.”

August 28, 2015

We are blessed with another lovely day, sunny but cool.

In the Cape Times was an article about the cranberry. The article explained how the cranberry is one of only three native fruits, the others being the blueberry and the Concord grape. It is close to cranberry harvesting time which usually starts in late September. I have sometimes been lucky enough to happen upon a harvest, always a wet harvest. I love seeing those beautiful red fruits floating in the water. The color is extraordinary.

There are two kinds of harvests: the wet and the dry. In the water harvest, the bogs are flooded the night before. The next day a paddle boat of sorts churns the water. The berries are dislodged and float to the surface because they are hollow inside then they are gathered together and finally loaded onto trucks. The other sort is a dry harvest. A mechanical picker acts a bit like a lawnmower and combs the berries off the vine and deposits them in burlap bags hanging off the harvester. The best berries come from the dry harvest.

Once my brother, urged on by me, ate a red berry. It was poisonous and he had to have his stomach pumped. Now it makes me wonder who was the first to try cranberries or anything growing wild. I can imagine it now: the circle stands around the tribesman who volunteered. He takes a few berries, chews then swallows. The circle waits to see if he’ll survive. If he doesn’t, that’s one more berry crossed off the list. I’d watch the birds. I read it is safe to eat what they eat.

In Ghana I saw pineapples and bananas growing. I thought it was kind of neat to see them, not many chances around here. The pineapples surprised me. I figured their weight kept them close to the ground, but I was amazed to see them standing tall in the middle of a plant, one fruit to each plant. Bananas grow just like I imagined.

I like fresh cranberries and cranberry sauce from the can. I have made my own sauce but I have a warm spot for the canned sauce with the decorative rings. I love pineapples and bananas.

I would never volunteer to taste a berry.