Posted tagged ‘Singing’

“In wildness is the preservation of the world.”

June 30, 2017

I love this morning. It isn’t sunny but it is windy and cool. I can hear the leaves rustling and the tinkling of the chimes from my backyard. Out my window I can see the branches being tossed by the wind. They look like dancers swaying and bending in the same direction. The weather report said sun, but I don’t miss it. A cloudy day has its own beauty.

The kids from down the street woke me again this morning. It was around 8:30. They were playing in front of one of their houses. I heard a couple of them singing, but I have no idea of the song. I also heard a couple of them yelling and a couple of them screaming. They’re gone now except for one, the oldest. He is shooting baskets. I can hear the ball when it hits the road and when he dribbles. I have no idea what happened to the rest of them.

Our girl scout camp, Camp Aleeska, was in the woods at the end of a sandy road across the street from the zoo entrance. The camp was in a pine forest and had been built by the fathers of scouts. Inside was one huge room with a tall fireplace and storage benches lining two walls. The kitchen and bathroom were off the big room as was a small room where the adults slept. Cots, the old canvas type with the wooden bars at each end, were stored in the benches. A couple of times, my troop went on overnights at the camp. After we had brought in the food, we set up our cots with a lot of laughter as sometimes they collapsed. We went on hikes and followed trails in the pine woods. Other times we did stuff to earn another badge for our sashes. We all had jobs like cooking, cleaning, doing dishes or sweeping. I remember the stew we usually had for dinner, poor man’s stew. It was hamburger, a can of soup, potatoes, carrots and sometimes canned corn. The stew cooked a long time on the stove. It was always delicious. I remember cooking breakfast with eggs and bacon and toast. We each had a single task at every meal. I always hated it when I had to wash dishes.

I loved the inside of that camp. It had the aroma of a wood fire. It was always quiet as there was nothing near us. We made the only noise.

The camp is gone now as are the trees that kept it hidden. It is the site of construction equipment and piles of sand. I don’t know when the camp was demolished. I’m sorry for its loss as no one else will make memories there.

“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.”

March 20, 2017

Happy Spring!

Good reasons are responsible for the lateness of my musings today. First off is Miss Gracie. I grabbed her as she started to fall going up the stairs. I was filling Maddie’s dish on the stairs so Gracie tried to go by me but lost her footing. We went up the stairs, got to my room, and she was hesitant to jump to the bed. I helped. She tried to settle down but just couldn’t. Finally, I grabbed my pillow and a blanket, took Gracie downstairs, and we both slept on the couch. She snored so I knew she felt better. On the first day of spring every year, my friends and I go the beach to welcome the sun. We sing Here Comes the Sun and Rockin’ Robin. We recite a poem by Frost, Two Tramps in Mudtime.

The sunrise was at 6:28. It was a cold, windy early morning. We sat in the car facing the east and waited. When we realized clouds were hiding the sun, we stayed in the car to sing our welcome. We watched seagull after seagull carrying breakfast then dropping it on the parking lot. We figured they were opening small crabs. We saw geese along the shoreline and ducks in the marshes. It was an amazingly high tide. The water in the marsh was all the way to the edge of the road. We didn’t get the sun, but the clouds were jaw-droppingly colorful. Red and orange spread across the sky in all directions strikingly set against the white of the puffy clouds. My friend Clare braved the wind and cold to get our shells, a first day of spring tradition. We stayed a while then went to breakfast, another tradition.

When I got home, I took Gracie out then settled on the couch and slept over two hours. When I woke up, I put on MSNBC to watch the hearing questioning James Comey and Admiral Mike Rogers. That is still holding my attention., makes me hopeful

Today will have a high of 44˚. I’m thinking that’s hardly spring, but I am hopeful. Spring does that to me. It makes me hopeful.

“Christmas Eve, and the tree blazed with lights.”

December 24, 2016

Christmas Eve is the second most popular day of the year. It is the longest day, not by the calendar but for every kid who can hardly wait for Santa. I remember wanting to go to bed around 5 or 6 figuring the night would pass far more quickly if I were sleeping, but the actual bedtime never really mattered. It took forever to fall asleep.

Today is rainy and warm, in the high 40’s. The sky is gray, but it isn’t a gray day as today has sort of a light of its own, the glow of Christmas Eve. The trees and all the Christmas lights in the house are lit. They are so beautiful.

I have some baking to do, but I wanted to finish here first. The TV is on, and I have to admit it isn’t Hallmark. It is the Syfy channel and The Abominable Snowman, the something out there, hardly festive fare.

My parents used to have a party on Christmas Eve. My father was never a fan until everyone came, and the party got going. He always had a great time. The guests were mostly relatives, my aunts and uncles. There was always singing, eating and drinking. The dining room table, groaning from all the food, was pushed to the wall. The kitchen counter served as the bar. The benches at the table in the kitchen were always filled. The living room was mostly empty. People gravitated to the kitchen and just stayed there. That’s always where the singing started. I can still see my dad standing beside the counter singing with wondrous enthusiasm.

My mother and I always cleaned up, but it was a special time for the two of us. We’d chat while cleaning, finish up, pour Irish coffees and sit in the living room. We’d put on a Christmas movie. We’d open one special present. We stayed up late. I loved those Christmas Eves.

Tonight my friends and I will put together our gingerbread houses. We won’t talk. We won’t socialize. We’ll be so intent upon the decorations that the houses will hold our full attention. That always makes me chuckle. We have this great time even without conversation.

Happy Chanukah and Merry Christmas, my friends!

“Life is more fun if you play games.”

February 10, 2015

Winter has been kinder to us than we expected. We didn’t the amount of snow the rest of the state did. Saturday it rained all night and yesterday it sleeted. Even now we are a tick above freezing. The roads, though, are still horrible. The ruts are difficult to navigate and going around corners is dangerous because of the sliding and the blocked views of on-coming cars. I can’t even remember the last time I saw sun. I think one glimpse of that light would be enough to bolster my spirit.

Last night was game night, and it was so much fun. We had great eats: cheeseburger sliders, chips and fruit and brownies for dessert. We played Phase 10, Sorry and Uno, a game we haven’t played in years. I had such a fistful of cards at one point I could have used an extra hand. There were so many cards I couldn’t even fan them. I didn’t win. I did win a game of Sorry.

My parents were game people so we grew up playing games. For that I am grateful. I was the only kid who actually knew what to do with dominoes besides setting them up to fall one after the other in a spectacular display. I was taught whist at an early age because my parents were grooming my brother and me to be their partners. It was always girls versus boys, and we usually won. My mother was a patient partner who never yelled even if I made a mistake. My father, on the hand, was a passionate player who did yell. I was glad he wasn’t my partner. I never liked Monopoly. It was boring and seemed to last forever. Parcheesi was fun until someone set up a blockade.

When I was older, we played card games all the time. My dad and I would play cribbage until he won, we’d all play skat and untold games of high-low jack, our favorite. Friday nights at my parents’ house were always get-together nights. My uncle would usually come and stay all night. We’d sit at the kitchen table playing cards. At some point in the evening the singing would start. I remember the phone ringing at my house on a few Fridays in the wee hours. I knew exactly who it was. When I picked up the phone, my uncle began to sing. He always called me Leeny when he was in his cups. I enjoyed those phone calls despite the hour.

I love that my friends are all game players.

“When we recall Christmas past, we usually find that the simplest things – not the great occasions – give off the greatest glow of happiness.”

December 13, 2014

The clouds are back, and the day is gray. The limbs of the oak trees are silhouetted against the sky in a jumble of branches. The morning is cold. Maddie has her head under the lampshade to get warmth from the lightbulb though the house isn’t cold. Fern and Gracie are having their morning naps. It is the usual start to the day.

The week or so before Christmas seemed to have a spark, an edge of excitement. I remember the early darkness and all the houses and front bushes lit up with the big colored lights which always got hot. The square was strung with garlands across Main Street and a huge lit wreath hung from the middle of each garland. A bandstand of sorts was erected in front of The Children’s Corner, a long ago store, and every night a different group sang Christmas carols for the shoppers. When I was in the fifth grade, we got to sing. I remember how cold it was and how we huddled to stay warm. We each had one of those carol booklets John Hancock gave out. The nun would tell us the page rather than the name of the carol. It was quicker that way. I remember feeling proud and important and hoped there were neighbors who would notice me singing. In those days the square had all the stores, and the sidewalks were filled with shoppers. You always ran into someone you knew.

Tomorrow is the Dennis Christmas stroll. All the stores are open, there are singers in the bandbox, a horse-drawn wagon takes people up and down the road, the library has a crafts fair and there is food in a tent and in many of the stores. The insurance company usually has hot dogs and the fire station gives out hot chocolate. At the Cape Playhouse there is a sing-a-long. Mrs. Claus is usually there. Mr. Clause wanders a bit. Many of the towns have strolls but this one always seems local to me, filled more with people from Dennis than from other towns. I always meet lots of people I know.

Today I’ll be going off Cape. Gracie has a sitter, her Uncle Tony. The cats are fine on their own. It’s our traditional Christmas play day and then out to dinner. My mother started the tradition, and my sister and I keep it going. My favorite was the year my mother took us to see Death of a Salesman with Brian Dennehy. After the play, with tongues in cheeks, my sister and I thanked her for such a merry Christmas offering then we all went out to dinner.

“We are a noisy and blessed little family”

November 4, 2014

Today is the perfect fall day, sunny with crispness in the air. It is 57˚but without any wind it seems warmer. I have no front lawn just a bed of mostly pine needles and some yellow leaves. Even the front steps have disappeared. Many of the oak leaves are hanging on but have turned brown. The sun slants a different way so the shadows have changed position. Fall is ending and moving slowly toward winter.

When I look in the mirror, I see a face with wrinkles, laugh lines my aunt used to call them. I see my hair far more grey than brown, but I like it that way. If I’m not wearing my glasses, I see a blur. I am getting older.

I keep thinking about the old aunts for that’s what we called them. They were my mother’s aunts. I’d see them at some family parties and most times had to identify myself as Margaret’s oldest. Nobody called my mother Margaret except for them and my father’s mother. To everyone else she was always Chickie. One old aunt played the piano and everyone would stand around and sing. That’s how I learned the words to so many songs. My family wasn’t shy about singing. I can still see them standing at the piano each with a glass in one hand and a cigarette in the other. My grandmother would sit in the comfiest chair and watch. She wasn’t a singer. My grandfather with drink in hand would be chatting with one person or another. My grandmother always kept an eye on him.

My mother’s family loved to party. Everyone lived close to one another so they all showed up for the festivities. I always felt lucky to be so close to my aunts and uncles, especially the old aunts.

” St. Patrick’s Day is an enchanted time – a day to begin transforming winter’s dreams into summer’s magic.”

March 17, 2013

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!! I am, of course, wearing green. With a name like Ryan, green is an essential part of today’s wardrobe. Gracie too is dressed for the day and is wearing her St. Patrick’s Day collar. Tonight I will dine on traditional corned beef and cabbage with my friends. I checked the TV for St. Paddy’s Day movies and had two channel choices. I can watch TCM and Finian’s Rainbow or Syfy and Leprechaun, a movie about a maniacal, murderous leprechaun. I’m opting for Finian.

I went to St. Patrick’s Grammar School, and we never went to school on St. Patrick’s Day. Boston schools never did either only because it is also Evacuation Day, the day the British left Boston harbor during the Revolutionary War. Why that event has a holiday of its own I’ll never understand, but that piece tends to get overlooked and even forgotten. It is St. Patrick who is honored today.

My parents had many parties. I remember their smoke-filled kitchen was always packed with people, mostly relatives, and they always sang. I, with the worst of all voices, comes from a family which loves to sing. On St. Patrick’s Day they sang every song, and that’s how I learned the words. Of all the people, it’s my Dad I remember the most. I can still see him standing by the counter near the table. He had this great voice, and he sang with such vigor his face would sometimes turn red from the effort. He loved the Irish songs. My Dad also loved corned beef and cabbage, and my mother always made it for him. When I was there for one St. Patrick’s Day dinner, my Dad gave my dog Shauna a dish of corned beef. It was her first St. Patrick’s Day, and my Dad thought she ought to celebrate. One time the potatoes in the corned beef and cabbage disappeared: they fell apart and were absorbed. My Dad hunted through that pot in vain. He just couldn’t understand where they went. He was horrified when he realized there were no potatoes. He was a lover of meat and potatoes, and the loss of  those potatoes was a blow he never forgot. It became a family story: St. Patrick’s Day and the disappearing potatoes.

Even if you’re not Irish, celebrate the day. We don’t celebrate enough so grab any day you can and enjoy it!!