Fandango’s Flashback Friday: December 18

Fandango’s Flashback Friday: December 18

Wouldn’t you like to expose your newer readers to some of your earlier posts that they might never have seen? Or remind your long term followers of posts that they might not remember? Each Friday I will publish a post I wrote on this exact date in a previous year. How about you? Why don’t you reach back into your own archives and highlight a post that you wrote on this very date in a previous year?

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This post was published December 18, 2018 as an entry for Nancy Merrill’s Photo a Week Challenge.

Now…in 2020…a stark reminder of all that we may have taken for granted before. Most glaringly in my eyes…that gift of time together.

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Photo a Week – Things That Matter Most

Nancy Merrill is hosting a photo challenge. The theme this week:

A Photo a Week Challenge – The Things that Matter Most

IN A NEW POST CREATED FOR THIS CHALLENGE, SHARE A PHOTO OR TWO OF THINGS THAT MEAN THE MOST TO YOU.

The things that matter most are not things. At least not to me.

I have heard it said that when you are on your deathbed, you don’t wish you had spent more time at work. More often it is…I wish I had spent more time with my family.
My friends. My kids. My grandparents.

The “things” that matter most to me are the family and friends I love and care about.
And who love and care about me.

What else matters?

That I am fortunate enough to have a roof over my head and enough food to eat.

8-14-90
Family…the Beginning

frisbee
Family…the next generation

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Food

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Shelter

Fandango’s Flashback Friday: November 27

Fandango’s Flashback Friday: November 27

Wouldn’t you like to expose your newer readers to some of your earlier posts that they might never have seen? Or remind your long term followers of posts that they might not remember? Each Friday I will publish a post I wrote on this exact date in a previous year. How about you? Why don’t you reach back into your own archives and highlight a post that you wrote on this very date in a previous year?

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This post was published on November 27, 2018 as an entry for the Ragtag Daily Prompt challenge.

I still say…a walk in the woods…always worth taking.

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Walk

This post inspired by Ragtag Daily Prompt: Walk

It was an adjustment, to say the least, when our youngest child left home for college. For him as well as for us.

He chose a college where it was warm…and far away from our New England town. I understood that, as I had also wanted to establish myself in a college town far from my home.

Colleges have an annual “Parents’ Weekend” in the fall. So parents can check in. And check out their kids. And kids can touch base with their parents. Our freshman son was on his own for the first time and we were grateful for the opportunity to visit.

Although not a big fan of endless parent questions…how are you?how are your classes?your roommate?is the food good?where is the library?…are you okay?, he was happy to show us around campus. He led the way. The grounds of his university were lush with greenery of all kinds. With a bridge. And a pond. In a very warm spot in Virginia. We attended these Parents’ Weekends every year, but the first one…well, that was extra special.

Conversation always flowed a bit more freely with a walk in the woods.

father and son 2006

Thanksgiving Revisited

Thanksgiving 2020 Centerpiece – a gift from my daughter and her family

Today is Thanksgiving Day, a traditional American holiday, but – as one friend texted in response to my Happy Thanksgiving text…Hopefully last one like this....

My husband and I are celebrating on our own this year, as many others are. A smaller version of the feast we used to make years ago…(cooking less is a silver lining here)…we are still as thankful as ever. That part hasn’t changed.

And, no matter what, there will be pie. But just one. Pumpkin.

Do we miss sharing this day with friends like we did last year? Most definitely. And the special times with friends and family from many years back? Absolutely.

But I know we are not alone and my heart goes out to the thousands who don’t have a job or a home or enough food to feed their families…much less a Thanksgiving meal. The pandemic’s ongoing toll.

So my focus today is on gratitude for what I am blessed with…and also for looking back on memories made in years past.

Below is a post I published on November 22, 2018 – the 4th Thursday of November – and, in the United States, celebrated as Thanksgiving.

🥧 🥧 🥧 🥧 🥧 🥧

Thanksgiving

A day – if you’re fortunate – set aside for family.
For gratitude. For sharing a meal.

Usually a massive meal – in our house it was based around turkey, gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, some kind of vegetable. Rolls or banana bread. Every year the “fixins” changed somewhat.

The most important part: many pies. The dinner was basically a stop on the way to pumpkin…apple…cherry pies.

And my personal favorite…playing cards while eating dessert: aka pie.

Dinner was also all about the conversation and stories we shared. So much time and opportunity for prolonged discussion when you are passing endless bowls of food around. Pouring wine. Pouring water. Carving more turkey. I just never knew what subjects would come up; but many became classics.

Such as…

In 1990, my husband and I hosted our first Thanksgiving.
I had never cooked a whole turkey before. An overwhelming task. I had heard horror stories about overcooked turkeys and dried out white meat. That would never happen to me…I’ll cover it! That should do it.

My parents and my in-laws were coming – to join me, my husband and our 2 kids.

I dusted off the big blue covered roaster pan my mother had passed down to me. Coated the fresh turkey with spices and some oil. Tied the legs together.

I put the cover on. It went into the oven. I set the timer. And let it cook. And cook. Many hours later – when, according to the recipe it would be done, I removed it from the oven. Look it’s ready! With great fanfare, I lifted the lid…Oh No!

It looked like a turkey snow angel! All the turkey meat had slid off the bones. We had turkey stew! There was nothing to carve. Legs askew. Wings fallen off. My mother was horrified. I laughed. And laughed.

It still tasted great…and…the white meat was NOT dry!

♥  ♣  ♠  ♦

The following year:

Twelve family members gathered at the dining room table to enjoy our Thanksgiving feast – including my parents, my husband’s parents, my grandmother, my sister and her family.

1991
1991

Upon noticing someone struggling to remove the meat from a turkey leg, my father-in-law shared a memory…a story that has become part of family lore.

He began describing his job at the First National grocery store in the 1930’s. When he helped get the turkeys ready to be sold for Thanksgiving. The turkey carcasses were brought to the store and his job was to pull the tendons out of the legs. Apparently, this made the turkey legs easier to eat. He went into graphic detail. Right in front of everyone. Who put their forks down and stared at him…as he explained this was probably not done anymore. Those pesky tendons still attached.

GROSS! we protested.

Shocked faces…especially those with turkey legs eaten or half eaten on their plates. There may have been some gagging. My big city brother-in-law’s face turned white. He got up and left the room…

♥  ♣  ♠  ♦

Empty nest Thanksgivings…

 left more time for documenting…

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But traditions remained the same.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Fandango’s Flashback Friday: October 30

Fandango’s Flashback Friday: October 30

Wouldn’t you like to expose your newer readers to some of  your earlier posts that they might never have seen? Or remind your long term followers of posts that they might not remember? Each Friday I will publish a post I wrote on this exact date in a previous year. How about you? Why don’t you reach back into your own archives and highlight a post that you wrote on this very date in a previous year?

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The following post was published on October 30, 2018. This year brings such a different trick or treat night for all those costumed kids. It is still scheduled to happen tonight (and tomorrow night) in many towns in NH, including where I used to live. Between the first snowfall of the season and COVID-19, I wonder how the Pencil Lady would have handled it.

Happy Halloween!

🎃****🎃****🎃

Trick or Treat

The Pencil Lady!!!

The Pencil Lady!!!

I would hear their voices…while they walked up the driveway.  Waiting by the side door, I watched through the glass. Little witches, clowns, princesses, ghosts, pumpkins, monsters, ballerinas…about to ring the doorbell.

They remembered my house.
And they were excited about pencils.
It was October 30th. The night before Halloween.
Trick or treat night where we lived for 37 years.

halloween-pencils-partial.jpg

I wasn’t always the pencil lady.  I handed out fun size Snickers and M&M’s like everybody else that first Halloween in our new neighborhood. It was 1980. But my conscience won out a few years later.

I worked as a dietitian at the local hospital. Cautioning my patients to avoid sweets and eat a balanced diet. Somehow giving out those exact items to young children seemed…well hypocritical. And I was young and very idealistic at the time.

Hence the pencils…

…which I ordered from a catalogue. A box of 12 dozen Halloween Pencils.

In 1985 I started using the lid to record how many we gave out every year. Including how many went to school Halloween parties. I didn’t know it at the time, but 2015 would be my final year as the Pencil Lady. I had already refilled the box before we moved.

As Halloweens went by, I discovered that decorative pencils were not popular with every trick or treater. Especially the older ones. For example:

A group of large size, teenage-looking ghastly creatures came by one year. Fake blood. A few in their football uniforms. Rubber monster masks. Practiced nonchalance. All holding out pillowcases filling up with candy.

“Happy Halloween!!” I greeted them.
“Trick or Treat” they monotoned.
I held out the pencils, ready to drop one in each pillowcase.
One  creature looked at me with alarm: “Pencils?”
“Yes! Pencils! They are great for school. You don’t have to take one if you don’t want to!”

The next morning I looked for and usually found a few broken pencils in the front yard.

halloween pumpkin064
Kid Carved – lighting the way for trick or treaters 1997

When I was growing up, our dentist lived at the end of our street. As I trudged to his house dressed in my hippie/flower girl/hobo costume, I knew I could count on Trident sugarless gum. Which was fine with me. Another neighbor handed out homemade popcorn balls. Another one gave us apples.  My favorite: Mounds bars and peanut M&M’s.

The trading back at the house with my brother and sister was intense. Almost as fierce as swapping houses and hotels in Monopoly. My brother often had an unfair advantage as he would trick or treat twice – changing costumes in between. I personally wished I’d thought of it first, although he only got away with it once. That I know of.

When my children reached trick or treat age, we celebrated with costumes and pumpkin carving. Candy trading. Traditions evolved.
Chili became Trick or Treat night supper since it was a fast one pot meal. My son and daughter trick or treated together in our family friendly neighborhood until she left for college. Either my husband or I usually tagged along. Not because they needed us, but because it was fun.

After they were both grown and out on their own, it was trick or treat from my viewpoint as the Pencil Lady. Those little faces so bright and expectant. Carefully climbing the 3 stairs to our side door; the light left on to welcome them.

From 5 – 8 pm every Oct. 30th, the doorbell rang and rang.
Costumes of all shapes and sizes – from lions and tigers to Sesame Street and Disney movie characters to robots made out of cardboard boxes – they were so proud.
The littlest ones trying their best to say Trick or Treat.
And, as they turned to leave, say Thank You.

I wonder if they miss the Pencil Lady.
She misses them.

Trick or Treat does not happen here in our over-55 condo community.
Although I suppose I could still hand out pencils in the lobby.

Lens-Artists Challenge: What a Treat

Lens-Artists Challenge #120: What a Treat

We’d love for you to share something that was a treat for you – a visit from your grandchildren, a special event, a recipe you really loved, maybe even a Halloween surprise ….it’s up to you.

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My choice for this week’s challenge may seem kind of odd, but a recent package in the mail turned out to be quite a treat. And fitting for this election time of year. These days most everything is…well…odd.

I was recently in touch with my one and only cousin for the first time in several years. Her mother was my father’s much older sister and as a result we shared a set of grandparents.

She lived nearby our grandparents for most of her life (I did not) and knows more about them than I do. I wanted to learn about our grandmother’s history, as my father had only researched his father’s ancestry – and not his mother’s. For some reason, the maternal lineage is not as interesting? I think not. That’s usually where all the stories are.

I emailed my cousin, asking if she had any information about Grammy’s ancestors. She promptly called me on the phone, shared some hilarious memories and said she’d see what she could find regarding a family tree and “anything else.” The box of “anything else” arrived within the week.

What a treat.

Apparently Grammy’s father – J. J. Green – was involved in local politics in the tiny town of Graysville, Tennessee where she grew up. My cousin had an old photocopy of one of J. J.’s campaign “posters” – a musty yellowed 8″ x 11″ sheet of paper with Grammy’s notes penciled in around the border. 

What a fascinating peek into small town political history. I had to smile at the line: “the best moral comes through the influence of women.” A bigger smile for Grammy’s comment…”he always won everything he run for….”

I know nothing else about my great grandfather, but I sure am curious!

My cousin also sent a few photographs, several crocheted handkerchieves and a stack of written out memories from various family members.

Among the photographs…an undated black & white image of J. J. labeled “in the living room.”

I’d vote for this guy!

Kindred Kind

BeckyB’s October Squares: Kind

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Cincinnati, Ohio – circa 1914

I really love this photo of (as my Grammy from Tennessee would say) my kinfolk. I discovered it in a musty box full of envelopes and files labeled “old family photos” – which might as well say Treasure Chest! I was kinda excited, to say the least.

The photo was taken when my grandfather Opa was about 8 years old. There he stands front and center, squinting and smiling at the camera. His grandparents stand behind him. The others most likely include his parents (in the back), uncles and aunts, but I am not entirely sure.

I was thinking of Opa and my other grandparents when I was writing yesterday’s post about life during the COVID-19 pandemic (and wondering how they would have dealt with the same crazy issues I was). I realized that he and Oma were 12 years old when the 1918 pandemic hit. My other grandparents were 26 and 32 years old. None of them ever mentioned it, even though I imagine it must have been a traumatic time. When I was growing up, Opa was full of stories about the “old days” but surprisingly (I think now) what happened during the 1918 pandemic was not among them. I wonder why.

I recently asked my cousin if our grandmother Grammy had ever mentioned the 1918 flu epidemic. She said no, Grammy never talked about it…except for one fact…my aunt (my cousin’s mom) was born in 1918 and was infected by the virus as a baby. As a result my aunt (Grammy’s firstborn) developed lifelong cardiac problems.

My cousin also told me she has read that once the 1918 epidemic was over, nobody ever talked about it. Nobody wanted to. Perhaps it was easier that way.

Still…I wish I had asked more questions.

Two of a Kind

BeckyB’s October Squares: Kind
One Word Sunday: Two

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This pair of three year old feet were two of a silly kind during a memorable FaceTime moment last year.

Dinner Time Shenanigans

First…one bare foot appeared and propped itself up on the table…then disappeared at Mama’s gentle request…

Seconds later, it returned when mama looked away.

Disappeared again.

Then back in a flash.

Grandma (me) started giggling.

Then foot number 2 joined the fun.

Mama gave up.

And…as we all know…laughter is contagious.

Up Close and Personal…looking back

Nancy Merrill’s Photo a Week Challenge: Up Close and Personal

IN A NEW POST CREATED FOR THIS CHALLENGE, SHARE A PHOTO OR TWO OF CLOSE UPS (HUMAN OR NOT).

SixWordSaturday

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How could I NOT post photos for this challenge! Up close and personal – whether it be human or not – is my passion in photography.

I searched through my archives for these two shots. By archives I mean an extensive collection of photo albums (with negatives!) – which take up an entire bookshelf in the living room.

As I mentioned in my last post, I took pictures of my children “at every milestone”…however, I also tried to capture their “ordinary” days. Playing outside and taking a break for a drink or snack on the deck…as was the case for my 1½ year old son below. Or watching daddy play guitar and sing at a local apple harvest festival at the age of 4½…as my daughter was in the second photo below.

Catching my kids in a quiet moment was always a challenge, as they loved to grin or pose or make silly faces when I pulled out my camera. Often waiting patiently while I focused – no autofocus back then. As they got older, they would hold up 2 fingers in a peace sign pose to give me something to easily focus on…quicker.

I really love these two photographs because I can see a glimpse of who they are now. And it makes me smile. The eyes. The expressions. Children are so beautiful in their transparency.

From Camp to Kites

A good snapshot keeps a moment from running away. 

Eudora Welty

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This post inspired by two challenges this week…

Lens-Artists Challenge #115: Inspiration

We look forward to seeing your thoughts and images on what inspires YOU.

V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #113: How It All Started

…think back to those moments that changed your life. No need to use the prompt; just demonstrate how “it” started.

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I was only 10 years old when I got my first camera. And fell in love with photography. I don’t remember the circumstances of who gave me the camera or why. I just thought it was cool (or as we used to say back then…”Keen!”…”Sharp!”) and I’ve never been without one since.

My first attempts at photography – with a Kodak Brownie camera and black & white film – manifested as square blurry images of trees, lean-tos, and other 10 year olds at Girl Scout camp. Hard to believe that a week of rustic living became a defining moment in my life as a photographer, but I guess it did. This despite my most vivid memory being the latrines (just plywood for seats, people – I mean seriously?) and how I dreaded making the trip to That Building (no pictures, sorry).

It was also where I discovered (after the film was developed) that when I held the camera on the lean-to railing the blurring disappeared…

Over time, I slowly improved at steadying the camera and moved on to capturing my younger siblings when they least expected it. As the years went by I became the family photo historian by default. Even more so when I advanced to color film! Very exciting.

My friends knew I would always show up with a camera as the unofficial keeper of the memories. Even at a young age I became acutely aware of how quickly life – and people – could change. It became very important – for me at least – to preserve what I could. I do remember feeling all of that. Which kind of astounds me now.

Oh…and it was fun.

I was 14 ½ when my 4th and youngest sibling was born and he became a willing subject for photography practice. Never mind that he was exceedingly cute and followed me around constantly. I was “in charge” of him most of the time so taking pictures was easy.

The photographs I took at college and summer jobs are best left off the internet, but they are definitely treasured keepsakes.

I graduated to a Canon SLR camera shortly after I got married and burst onto the taking-pictures-of-my-children-at-every-milestone-possible scene. They were my inspiration for decades and have appeared in many blog posts, so I will restrain myself from adding them in here. Same goes for my grandson, who is now 4 and very comfortable getting his picture taken as a child of the smartphone generation.

However, now (accompanied by a Canon DSLR camera) I am also inspired by the ordinary…what’s outside my window…down the path into the woods…winding around that chain link fence. The mesmerizing waves at the beach. I am constantly looking up and down and to the side…not in as much of a hurry as I used to be.

The best photo moment – for me – still springs from the unexpected…no matter what (or who) the subject happens to be.

Last week I was able to return – after several months of Covid restrictions – to walk along the water’s edge at Hampton Beach. The tourist season is over. Crowds are gone. The parking rules have been relaxed. I couldn’t resist the trip on such a beautiful…sunny…blue sky windy day. Even with a mask on, it was worth it.

As I made my way across the sand to walk back along the street, I spotted something bright in the sky.

Off came the lens cover.

It wasn’t the surf or the rocks or what usually fascinates me about the beach.

I had to get a closer shot.

I set the camera on what I call Grandson Mode or Freezing the Action Mode.

And I was off…

Hampton Beach, NH

And…by the way…it is still fun.