Posted tagged ‘memories’

“Is the spring coming?” he said. “What is it like?”. . . “It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine . . .”

April 8, 2017

Today is another beautiful spring day with lots of sunshine. It is cooler than yesterday but not by much. I was out with Gracie for a while. She had a tough morning. The inside stairs were too slippery so I grabbed and held on until she got her footing on a mat I had moved from one step to another. That worked so I’m hoping the other mats arrive so she can feel safe going down all the steps.

My street is quiet. Earlier I could hear machine noises. When I went to get the papers, I noticed the trucks. My neighbors are having their yards cleared. That screams spring to me.

When I was a kid, I loved the woods and the field below my house. The field was a square surrounded by woods on three sides. One wooded side led to the swamp. We’d follow a path which started where the field ended, and the swamp was just a short way. Another path led to the right and the water tower. The third side was just woods. In winter the field was brown. No grasshoppers jumped when we walked through the dead grass. That was summer. In winter the field was just a route to the swamp.

That field, those woods and the swamp are gone. Brick buildings with apartments for the elderly have taken their place. My grandmother lived in one building where the woods with no path once stood. We buried our turtle in those woods, under two trees we knew we’d remember. We never thought all of it would be gone. I used to think about that turtle when I’d go with my father to visit my grandmother. The entrance to my grandmother’s street was about where I’d buried my turtle expecting it would rest under those two trees for eternity. Even the trees are gone.

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“Life is a fairy tale. Live it with wonder and amazement.”

November 22, 2016

Last night was winter. It was cold and windy. My sweatshirt wasn’t quite enough. North of us got a little snow. Thankfully, we were spared. It’s bad enough the temperature is below freezing without adding snow. Today too is really cold. My heat is blasting.

For some reason, the first few days of Ghana popped into my head from my memory drawers. We were all staying at a school in Winneba. The only view of the town was from the second floor balcony of the dorm. I could see rusted metal roofs and palm trees. That was it. It could have been many places, but on the way to my first language class, I saw geckos scurrying away from me. They were green and the first ones I’d ever seen. I remember looking at them and realizing I really am in Africa. It is one of my most vivid memories. I can still picture where I was standing. I remember the whitewashed cement wall about waist high, its flat top and the greenery close to the building and the steps. The wonder of that moment is something I haven’t ever forgotten and is still a delight. Just imagine being in Africa.

I have a few things to do today so I have to brave the cold. This is Gracie’s favorite time of the year because she can ride with me. It’s cold enough that she can wait in the car.

I got a notice for jury service yesterday. I’ve gotten them before and was dismissed three or four times and excused once. For one dismissal they kept us until after lunch when we were told the defendant had taken a plea bargain and we were not needed. That was like a Law and Order moment. Only once did I get so far as to be questioned about my suitability for the jury. I was excused. Come to find out I was excused because I was a school administrator, and the trial centered on some sort of discrimination surrounding the non-rehiring of a female administrator. I guess the prosecutor figured I’d be sympathetic. He was right.

“And falling’s just another way to fly.”

October 18, 2016

The morning is cloudy and damp. I could smell the ocean when I went to get the papers so I lingered outside a while. It was quiet. I knew my neighbors were awake as their shades were up, and their paper was gone. I don’t see them much. Thinking about it, I don’t see many of my neighbors. When I do, we always wave.

My groceries arrived right on time yesterday. My fridge is now filled. I bought some plantain hoping to make kelewele. I’m also going to try my hand at jollof rice. It’s fun making something new, especially dishes filled with memories.

I left my windows open last night. I had thought them closed for the season, but yesterday was warm. Today will be even warmer. I got to hear the birds sing when I woke up. They were far less intrusive than that Ghanaian rooster. It doesn’t really matter where I am. I love mornings the best. My dad used to switch to storm windows around this time of year. It took him the whole day. He had to get each window on hooks, and it wasn’t easy because he also had to lean on the ladder for balance. We all watched.

It is from my dad I inherited the gene associated with all my falls. His falls were sometimes spectacular. They were also sometimes funny like the sawing himself out of the tree fall I have mentioned before. He didn’t fall far. He did break his hip on a fall from a high ladder when he was painting his house. He always limped after that. I have been luckier with only a broken bone in my shoulder, and no after effects because of physical therapy. I just accept falls as a fact of life.

“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.

 

“Memories are hunting horns Whose sound dies on the wind.”

July 9, 2015

This morning is the nicest way to start any day. It is dry and cool because last night’s rain drove away the heat and the humidity. I get to turn off my air conditioner and open windows and doors.

Last night was play night, and I saw an Agatha Christie play based on a book I have no memory of reading, The Hollow. When I went hunting to find out more, I discovered the title had been changed for the US edition, not unusual for a Christie novel. Here it was called Murder After Hours. The novel featured Poirot who was not in the play at all. I suspect Dame Christie would be pleased as she believed her having added Poirot to the mix had ruined the novel. The play was well done and fun to watch though I did have a bit of trouble with a few mumbled English accents. The maid, Gladys, was indecipherable.

When I was in high school, I was in plays. I loved acting. It was a perfect extension of my personality. One year, my junior year, we competed in the Globe High School Drama Festival. I remember Sister Corita was our director. She took us out of classes to rehearse, the best perk of them all. We went to the church hall and she sat, watched, criticized and applauded. We’d do a scene then stop to listen to her comments. The only suggestion I still remember was to place the phone receiver on the base opposite its usual placement to make it easier for another character to pick up. I remember little of the competition maybe because we didn’t place, but we did come home with a couple of jars for the biology lab. My friend Jimmy and I took a self-guided tour of the school where the competition was held. We looked into the biology lab which was filled with jars of different specimens floating in formaldehyde. A teacher was working in the room. We told him how impressed we were with his collection, and that we came from an almost brand new school with no collection. He gave us each a bottle filled with I don’t remember what and also a note with permission to take the jars. I do remember the jars were big and heavy.

I won’t ever understand why some events are permanently and vividly preserved in my memory drawers while other memories are sketchy blurs of time. I remember the jars but not the competition. I remember the heat upon landing in Ghana but not the welcoming oompah band playing on the tarmac. I remember waiting in line to go into the auditorium for my college graduation, but I don’t remember the graduation. I remember my father ordering me a daiquiri once before I was twenty-one when we were out to dinner. It was at Mildred’s. That’s it, the only memory of the entire evening.

I believe these pieces of my memories have significance and are in themselves important events. The landing in Ghana is easy, the jars not so easy. I can’t control which memories stay or which memories vanish over time. I just sort of smile and let my mind go back. That’s the fun of it all.

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

June 22, 2015

The sun is in and out this morning trying to decide what to do. The air is still damp and a bit humid. Right now the sky is dark but the sun is peeking through. Rain is predicted for this afternoon so I’m thinking the sun will disappear for good a bit later.

It is officially summer, and it’s barbecue time. Bring out the ribs, the burgers and the chicken wings then add some sweet summer corn. My home-grown tomatoes are getting bigger on the vine and before too long they’ll be red ripe. July 4th is opening night at the movies. I have three possibilities on the ballot: Independence Day, Jaws and 1776. I’m leaning toward Jaws as it is celebrating its 40th birthday. “We need a bigger boat,” says it all. I have decorations and sparklers and I’m working on the menu. Red, white and blue will carry the day!

Memory is an odd thing. I have vivid memories of my childhood, but I sometimes hunt high and low for where I put my glasses. Some singular moments stand out from all the others, and I don’t know why. They aren’t particularly important moments, but they stay prominent regardless. One memory is silly. I was on the plane to Ghana and we stopped in Madrid. When we got back on the plane, my seatbelt was caught between the seat and the wall so I couldn’t use it. I pretended I was belted when the stewardess went around checking seatbelts. I don’t know why I just didn’t ask for help.

I sat in the back of the room when I was in the sixth grade, but in the front of the room when I was in the eighth. Neither really matters, but I still remember how the rooms looked from each perspective. I remember the candy counter at the movie theater. My favorite nickel bar of candy was a Welch’s Fudge Bar. They aren’t around anymore. My second favorite was a Skybar. You can still buy one of those. The fudge square was my favorite, probably still is. I remember how funny my feet felt in shoes after ice skating. My bologna sandwiches were misshapen because I had to cut pieces from a roll of bologna and some pieces were thick while others were too thin.

I can still close my eyes and see and describe places as they were. I don’t think of it as a trip down memory lane but rather as an adventure back in time.

“Old as she was, she still missed her daddy sometimes.”

June 21, 2015

This is my annual Father’s Day post. It brings back a rush of memories every time I read it. My dad was one of a kind in the best of all possible ways.

I have so many memories of growing up, of family trips and my dad trying to whack at us from the front seat and never succeeding, of playing whist in the kitchen, with the teams being my mom and me against my dad and brother, of Sunday rides, of going to the drive-in and the beach and of being loved by my dad. Memories of my dad are with me always, but today my memories are all of my dad, and my heart is filled to the brim with missing him. When I close my eyes, I see him so clearly.

On a warm day so he’d be sitting on the front steps with his coffee cup beside him while reading the paper. He’d have on a white t-shirt and maybe his blue shorts. He’d wave at the neighbors going by in their cars. They all knew him and would honk back. He loved being retired, and we were glad he had a few years of just enjoying life.

He was the funniest guy, mostly on purpose but lots of times by happenstance. We used to have Dad stories, all those times when we roared and he had no idea why. He used to laugh along with us and ask, “What did I say? What did I say?” We were usually laughing too hard to tell him. He was a good sport about it.

I know you’ve heard this before, but it is one of my favorite Dad stories. He, my mom and I were in Portugal. I was driving. My dad was beside me. On the road, we had passed many piggyback tandem trucks, all hauling several truck loads behind them. On the back of the last truck was always the sign Vehiculo Longo. We came out of a gas station behind one of those. My father nonchalantly noted, “That guy Longo owns a lot of trucks.” I was laughing so hard I could barely drive and my mother, in the back seat, was doubled over in laughter.

My father wasn’t at all handy around the house. Putting up outside lights once, he gave himself a shock which knocked him off his step-ladder. He once sawed himself out of a tree by sitting on the wrong end of the limb. The bookcase he built in the cellar had two shelves, one on the floor and the other too high to use. He said it was lack of wood. When painting the house once, the ladder started to slide, but he stayed on his rung anyway with brush in hand. The stroke of the paint on the house followed the path of his fall. Lots of times he set his shoe or pant leg on fire when he was barbecuing. He was a big believer in lots of charcoal lighter fluid.

My father loved games, mostly cards. We played cribbage all the time, and I loved making fun of his loses, especially if I skunked him. When he won, it was superb playing. When I won, it was luck. I remember so many nights of all of us, including aunts and uncles, crowding around the kitchen table playing cards, especially hi-lo jack. He loved to win and we loved lording it over him when he lost.

My father was a most successful businessman. He was hired to turn a company around and he did. He was personable and funny and remembered everyone’s names. Nobody turned him down.

My father always went out Sunday mornings for the paper and for donuts. He never remembered what kind of donut I like. His favorite was plain. He’d make Sunday breakfast when I visited: bacon, eggs and toast. I can still see him standing over the stove with a dish towel over his shoulders. He always put me in charge of the toast.

If I ever needed anything, I knew I could call my father. He was generous. When we went out to eat, he always wanted to pay and was indignant when we one upped him by setting it up ahead of time that one of us paid. One Christmas he gave us all $500.00, not as a gift but to buy gifts.

My father left us when he was far too young. It was sudden. He had a heart attack. I had spoken with him just the day before. It was pouring that day, and I told him how my dog Shauna was soaked. He loved that dog and told me to wipe his baby off. I still remember that whole conversation. I still miss my father every day.