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.

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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

Fandango’s Flashback Friday: November 20

Fandango’s Flashback Friday: November 20

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 November 20, 2018 – as an entry for V.J.’s Weekly Challenge. I know this sounds cliché, but two years feels like a lifetime ago.

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Deviation

This post is inspired by V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #24:  Deviation

Which way?

Deciding.
A constant struggle.
When drilled to
Never stray.
Never deviate.
Playing the part
Paralyzed.

That knot in my gut
For years
Warning me
Within the haze
To take a different path.
Safety
Just an imposter.

Which way?

To face the fear
Finally.
Finding the courage
And strength
To discover that
Old realities
Were in fact
A fragile fantasy.

Choosing
A new search for why.
Predictably
Becoming the bull’s eye
For anger.
For arrows of shame.
Exiled.

Finally
Just
Grateful.
The cloud lifting
While there’s still time.

jan 13, 2011

Fandango’s Flashback Friday: November 13

Fandango’s Flashback Friday: November 13

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 November 13, 2018.

For several months in 2018 I entered the weekly 99 word flash fiction challenge hosted by Charlie Mills at Carrot Ranch Literary Community. At the time I was trying my writing hand at flash fiction.

I had never considered myself a fiction writer (my real life stories had always been stranger than fiction anyway), but I thought it would be fun to try it out. And it was.

I will admit, though, that this flash fiction post was more inspired by real life than my other flash fiction entries were…

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Flash Fiction Challenge – Mashed Potatoes and a Superpower

Flash Fiction Challenge: November 8, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that pairs mashed potatoes with a superpower. It can be in any circumstance, funny or poignant. Go where the prompt leads.

My contribution:

Mash Master

More garlic! He shouts. I’ll do it.
Masher in one hand. Stick of butter in the other.
And cream. Garlic and cream.

Twenty years old. Slouching. Half awake.
Scruffy beard. Stained sweatshirt.
Waving them aside.
He scoops up twelve cloves. Minced and done.
Their eyes water from the steam. Whirr of the beaters.
Minutes pass.
Taste! He commands.
They obey.
The garlic bite smoothed out by the creamy russets.
Salt!

The pot of potatoes transformed.
They watch awestruck.
His eyes brighten. He stands up straighter. Grinning.
It’s magical.
You’ve done it again, they cheer.

The Almighty Master of Mashed.

Fandango’s Flashback Friday: November 6

Fandango’s Flashback Friday: November 6

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 November 6, 2018. It was election day here in the United States. Mid-term elections don’t usually involve as much drama as the presidential elections do, but they are important nonetheless. As all elections are.

I am struck by the contrast between then and now. No pandemic. No uneasiness about the process. An atmosphere free of tension. The results were not questioned or contested (at least as I remember it). The system wasn’t vilified.

I have to believe it will be that way again.

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I Voted

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As I drove towards the polling location this morning, I was thrilled to wait in a long line of cars to turn in to the parking lot.

Up and down the packed rows of cars I went, looking for an open parking space. Unlike the usual me, I felt no aggravation or need to complain under my breath.

The clouds and misty drizzle didn’t dampen my spirits as I parked. And walked by crowds of supporters holding campaign signs. Peacefully. Democrats on one side of the walkway. Republicans on the other side.

I was smiling as I waited in line behind other voters once I got inside the building…the town’s former high school. Tables side by side divided up voters via the alphabet — first letters of last names.

There were men, women, children, babies – all patiently waiting. Rows of red, white and blue curtained voting booths also waiting throughout the old gymnasium. I made it to the check-in person, showed my driver’s license and received my ballot – yes, here we have paper ballots as long as your arm. A black sharpie also waited inside each booth. To fill in the empty circles beside all the hopeful candidates’ names.

I am always filled with a sense of awe at this moment. At the privilege – and the right – of having my voice actually count. It is only one voice, but it is as important as that guy in front of me in line. And as important as the young mom holding the curly headed baby in the line to my left. The perfect equalizer. That not everyone in this world has.

Just before I turned 18, the voting age was changed from 21 to 18, courtesy of the 26th Amendment to the United States Constitution (which followed the crucial 19th Amendment 51 years earlier…also making my vote possible). When I actually turned 18, I registered to vote at my high school. We had passionately discussed the significance of this change in History class and amongst ourselves. After all, there were 18, 19 & 20 year olds headed to Vietnam who should at least be able to vote.

I haven’t missed an election since.

When my two children turned 18, I took them soon after to our city hall to register. My son registered on his actual birthday – the next day was election day. And we both went together. “Did you get your absentee ballot?” I’d ask each of them every year when they were in college. We are lucky in this country, I tell them. We have a voice.

Use it.

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!

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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.

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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.

Fandango’s Friday Flashback: October 9

Inspired by Fandango’s Friday Flashback: October 9

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 October 9, 2018 – always pleased to revisit a V.J. challenge.
(even after 2 years this project remains a work in progress…more intense – in both the gathering and writing – than I anticipated)

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Gathering

This post is inspired by:

V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #18: Gathering

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Turning my attention toward the positive this week…

I am gathering source material. I like the way that sounds…source material. For a very long story about “the house” — or rather, our home, of over 36 years. As I have written about in previous posts (NestPhotos), my husband and I downsized and moved to a condo a couple of years ago. It was probably the most exhausting thing I have ever done (besides giving birth to two 9 lb+ babies, but that didn’t take as long).

I was more than ready to move. However, our adult children (who had moved out over a decade earlier) were clearly NOT ready for us to move. Especially our daughter. Our nest was their nest, empty (of them) or not. The reality of no childhood home to return to for their (infrequent) visits was jolting. Did they try to talk us out of it? Absolutely not. But their emotional ties were evident. “Coming down the stairs on Christmas morning” together…(every single year) would come to an end. The “remember whens” without the familiar backdrop of home…hard to imagine. Our new grandson would not be able to run around in his mama’s old backyard.

On the final day before the sale, I toured the empty house on facetime with my long distance 34 year old daughter.  We shared a last look at the rooms she grew up in…and some memories of each. Both of us in tears.

I then realized the enormity of this home’s real significance in our lives. But mostly in our kids’ lives. This surprised me since I never had any deep emotional ties to my childhood homes. None at all. I could not fully understand their attachment. How deep it is.

I am going to write about those 36 1/2 years. For them. For us. For me. A story…the house that became a home and what happened. I am very curious to see what evolves.

But first I need to begin gathering my materials (after shopping at my favorite office supply store):

  • Hanging file folders. One for each year – to sort & organize.
gathering files
  • Calendars for 37 years – chronicling all our activities. Each one a diary in itself.
calendars
  • Photographs. Lots.
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  • Journals.
  • Letters – still gathering.
  • File boxes of house receipts and info that escaped shredding.

Once gathered, let the writing begin.

And…
I am so glad I saved all this stuff!

Fandango’s Friday Flashback: September 18

Inspired by Fandango’s Friday Flashback: September 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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The following post was published September 18, 2018
This surely feels like a lifetime – not just two years – ago.

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Tuesday Photo Challenge – Light and Dark

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

The theme this week is “Light and Dark”

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A few years ago…for a brief 3 months, we rented a very small condo across the street from a stretch of Hampton Beach in NH.

It was a temporary home while we waited for our new condo to be finished…after  downsizing from almost 37 years in a 3 bedroom house.  In the interim, we stored most of our belongings and essentially moved twice. First to this rental! It was a stressful time of uncertainty, planning, paperwork, scheduling, packing, unpacking, working…oh and hosting Christmas with 3 more adults and a sweet baby.

However, this cozy oasis on the coast proved to be just that…an oasis in the midst of life’s chaos. Breakfast watching the sun rise. The stunning late afternoon light as the day ended. From dark to light and back again.

The view from any window had been more than enough to calm and restore my rattled self during that mini-chapter of life.

I took this photo the day we left.
One last look.

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Fandango’s Friday Flashback: September 11

Inspired by Fandango’s Friday Flashback: September 11

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 are two posts from September 11 published during the 2 years I’ve been writing this blog.

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September 11, 2019

Wordless Wednesday

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September 11, 2018

The Day Everything Changed

September 11, 2001

In my lifetime, this is the day everything changed.

We are being attacked!
I heard my coworker yelling as she ran down the hall past my office. I worked in a hospital at the time and yelling in the halls was unusual. And disturbing.
Planes are hitting buildings in New York City!

It has become one of those awful “where were you?” moments. The horrific alteration of reality that gets seared in memory.

Must call family. Must connect. My daughter – a college sophomore on the east coast. My son in the 8th grade. My husband at home. My parents called him. My siblings. My friend in DC. My friend in NYC. The need to wrap oneself around loved ones as we watched the horror, the fires, the smoke, the pain unfold on television – over and over and over and over.  Hope draining away as the hours dragged on.

Emails flew through cyberspace.  Are you okay? Are you okay? My good friend who lived close to NYC frantic to help in some way. A doctor, she made ready to go to Ground Zero. But there was nobody to save. Was on call for helping at hospitals but no living to care for…she wrote to me.

Such profound loss.
Since then life has been divided: Before 9/11 and After 9/11.
A whole generation of children are now growing up under the cloud of what happened that bright sunny day in 2001. Its aftermath. Its fallout.

My heart breaks, still, for those thousands of innocents who died that day. And for their families. And for the first responders. And their families.

Soon after that day in 2001, the nation was called upon to light candles together in remembrance and solidarity. It was a time of unspeakable tragedy and for a brief time…there was unity. We stood on our small deck with a candle. A moment of silence.

I drove to work a few days later and saw a big American flag newly attached to the top of a huge crane – at the construction site for the hospital’s addition project. Similar to the ones at the WTC.

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As a child, I hid under my school desk. Practice drills. Crouched low with head down. In case we were attacked. Then we weren’t. And life went on much as before.

That won’t work anymore.

This morning, the news networks held a moment of silence at 8:46 am to mark when the first plane hit.

Today is a Tuesday, as it was in 2001.

We must never forget.

Fandango’s Friday Flashback: September 4

Inspired by Fandango’s Friday Flashback: September 4

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 originally published on September 4, 2018

Last Friday’s flashback had also been an entry for Frank’s Tuesday Photo Challenge. Still wondering if/when he’ll be back. Hoping he will be!

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Tuesday Photo Challenge – Backyard

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

https://dutchgoesthephoto.net/2018/09/04/tuesday-photo-challenge-backyard/

The theme this week is “Backyard”

Backyards are often places where families gather. Children run, jump, play, swim and learn about their outdoor world. For many, a backyard is where bare feet first touch blades of grass – or – where a squirrel is first spotted racing up a tree…

And in these vintage 35mm photos…

A backyard is for reading library books in a hammock with daddy.

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And a backyard is where little brother and big sister cool off and share a sprinkler on a hot summer day.

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