Collection

This post inspired by Ragtag Daily Prompt: Collection

Even though I was a saver, I was not a big collector of stuff when I was a child. I imagine I was far too practical for that. One more thing to find a place for. And my logic may have been…why?

Except for my trolls. When I was 9 or 10, I was given a small rubber troll with bright orange hair. I don’t remember who gave it to me. I was intrigued by its simplicity and ease of transport. Its lack of pretense. Friendly face. Easily styled hair.

And troll (as I simply called it) was supposed to bring me luck. I really liked that part.

Over the next few years, my collection grew. By saving my allowance or from birthday gifts…until I had a semblance of a troll family.

They came without clothing, so my rudimentary attempts at making outfits was confined to cutting up rags and scraps of fabric samples. Using the basting stitch I must have learned in Scouts, I fastened together my idea of troll fashion. And borrowed clothes from the heap of dolls I didn’t play with.

I recently found this vintage(!) collection stashed away in a shoe box. Along with an old Gimbels jewelry box full of accessories I can’t identify anymore.

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Troll Patrol

(this photo taken on the cobbler’s bench from my childhood…which my trolls most likely recognized)

Quote of the Day….

Illness is the night-side of life, a more onerous citizenship. Everyone who is born holds dual citizenship, in the kingdom of the well and in the kingdom of the sick.

Susan Sontag

 
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Check one:
Is your health: excellent ___ good ___ fair___ poor___

And so begins the lengthy registration page at the doctor’s office.
Held tight on a clipboard. Which is attached to a pen via a piece of string.
Or choose a pen with a huge plastic flower glued to the top. Ostensibly so you won’t walk off with it. Pens must be expensive. And how sanitary is that?
I really wonder about the fingerprint smeared iPad I am often asked to register on. Taken from a rack. Unsanitized. If I wasn’t sick walking in, chances just increased I’d be sick a few days later.

Anyway…
Back to the health question…why would I be at the doctor’s office, ID and insurance card in hand, ready to pledge my first born for payment if need be…if I was in excellent health?  Or even in good health….

I used to take my health for granted.
Doctor’s visits were annual physicals for the most part.
As a child and young adult, I could leap out of bed, get dressed and be ready for the day in minutes.
Young and vital.
I ate well. Exercised. Took the stairs. Did sit-ups.
No special soaps, creams, drops, pills, patches.

I had no idea my health was time sensitive.

Years passed without a major illness.
Hospitalized briefly for birthing 2 babies. Totally worth it.
But then my 40’s hit and body parts started complaining.
And doing new things that I didn’t like.
Odd symptoms popped up. Baffled the docs.
And then my 50’s…more of the same.
But who has time. I sure didn’t.
A career. House. Marriage. Two kids. Parents.
My activities. Everyone else’s activities.

Health – and wellness – became elusive.
And so started the grieving process.
For what I used to be able to do…
…including the ability to check off “excellent” or “good” on those registration forms.

This post inspired by Ragtag Daily Prompt: Vital

Photo a Week – The Great Outdoors

Nancy Merrill is hosting a photo challenge. The theme this week: A Photo a Week Challenge – The Great Outdoors

IN A NEW POST CREATED FOR THIS CHALLENGE, SHARE A PHOTO OR TWO OF NATURE.

 
For twenty years my young family and I packed up the station wagon to travel 90 minutes north for our annual week-long summer vacation…

…to the Great Outdoors.
A conference center/family camp on Lake Winnipesaukee. A fairly rustic setup, we roomed together in a small bedroom (until we outgrew it & also needed the room across the hall), ate together at a communal dining hall and spent the better part of every day playing together. The 2 of us. Then the 3 of us. Then the 4 of us.

No television. No phones. Long before the internet and cellular phones. No distractions.
And no cooking. No cleaning. No dishes to wash.

It was eat, sit, talk, explore, swim, dig in the sand, play cards, games, read, sing, sleep.
Repeat.

Lots of walking…especially through the woods surrounding us. Sometimes via the walking trails or sometimes blazing our own…collecting “natures” as in…leaves, acorns, pine cones, twigs, pebbles….

Several times each day we made the trek down the path to the lake…our feet crunching over the layer of finely crushed gravel. Breathing in the damp mossy air. Spotting little critters dashing through the brush on the forest floor. Looking up, squinting in the bright sun, trees standing high above our heads…branches spread as if protecting us, little and big alike. Slapping a few buzzing mosquitoes.

Eerily quiet. Peaceful.

When our children were small, the walking time depended on the amount of equipment we needed to bring with us. And how fast little feet could walk. Or needed to stop and rest from the weight of pails, shovels and sand toys. But it didn’t matter. We were in no hurry.

With just one 3 year old…it was only a swimming tube, towel and a chair for mom & dad.
A ten minute walk.

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Let’s go to the lake, oh daddy, let’s go to the lake

(35mm film)

Windows

This post inspired by V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #30: Windows

It is interesting to note what it is you miss after it’s gone.
Not appreciating its significance while you had it.
As cliché as that may sound, it can still ring true.
Which brings me to the subject of windows.

Two years ago we moved from a house into a condo. I don’t miss much about the house…but one thing I do miss is the kitchen window. Over the sink…facing the backyard. Watching the sun as it hit the trees, the grass, the deck.

My hands deep in soapy water…cleaning dishes, washing pots. Rinsing vegetables for cooking. I was a loyal spectator to the changing seasons…which appeared with comforting regularity. From my window in the kitchen.

A robin would perch on the clothesline, pausing between flights. Squirrels and chipmunks raced across the deck railing…their own private balance beam.  Over the years the errant cat from next door would creep close, sit right below and stare at me, as if to say…what are you going to do about it lady? So what if I use your backyard as my litter box? I’d glare back, the window between us. This game continuing for years.

Winter brought icicles hanging down – eventually blocking and distorting the sight of blinding piles of snow beneath. Storms poured gallons of rain over the eaves past the sill. Hurricanes hurled wet leaves and twigs onto the glass and screen. Mother Nature everywhere. Putting on a show.

Warmer months showcased children throwing balls, making sand pies, swinging on the swings, climbing on the jungle gym. Eventually cutting grass and raking leaves. Opening the window swept in sounds of neighborhood life. The whine of distant lawnmowers. Splashing in a pool. Voices…young high pitched and older booming ones. Dogs barking. Car radio volume cranked, music a dull roar as it passed by. The faint hum of traffic down the hill. Smells of steaks on a grill. Next door neighbor burning brush. Every day a little different. Every hour just a bit changed from the one before.

That’s the thing about windows.
They give you a peek at your world. If you take a moment to notice. Not just quickly glance as you hurry by. But really look. Noticing the world outside. As young children do, with faces pressed against the glass taking note of…everything.

Sometimes the sight will stop you. And you put down the sponge. The pot. Turn off the water. Slip outside…maybe even sit on the back step and look around.
Listen.
Be grateful for this patch of earth.

One of the final things I did on that last October day – almost as an afterthought – was take a photo of my view out the kitchen window.
Through the screen, crooked shade and all.

It may be the only photo I ever took from that spot at the sink…following an intuitive hunch that it would be important to me.
Like I said, I took it for granted.

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Although we have plenty of windows in our over-55 condo, there is no window over the sink.
I miss it.
And sometimes the world I left behind there as well.

Snowman

This post inspired by: January photo a day challenge

Today’s challenge…Snowman.

My favorite holiday decoration is a small (~5″) glass Snowman…given to me by a good friend a few years ago. Last month it rested on our mantle, but before I tucked it away until next year…he struck a few poses on our windowsill.

I appreciate his positive attitude…despite being a snowman with only a hat and scarf to keep warm.

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Tuesday Photo Challenge – Gentle

Here is my entry for this week’s challenge hosted by Frank at Dutch goes the Photo

The theme this week is: Gentle

Fifteen years ago we – my husband, daughter, son & I – attended a large family reunion in upstate New York. It included 18 of us – my parents, sisters, brother, spouses and all 7 cousins/grandchildren plus family friends. It was the first (and only) “away” reunion held at an all inclusive facility on Lake Teedysuskung in the Pocono Mountains. Reunions had been held at my parents’ or sister’s homes until that year.

My parents were the hosts (ie: paying for it) and were anxious for everyone to partake in all the activities…especially the 7 grandchildren.

Keeping everyone well fed, happy and engaged (ages ranging from almost 5 to 74) was no easy task.

As might be expected, there were some conflicts and misunderstandings along with the fun and camaraderie. Unbeknownst to all of us, it would be another 10 years before the 7 cousins were together again.

One image stands out in my memory from that special time together.
The lake.
The kids laughing and jumping off the dock.
Where we went swimming, boating…and watched the sun set one evening.

A slight breeze gently skimming the surface…
A welcome sight after a long…busy…active…drama-filled day.

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