Not So Frivolous

Inspired by V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #120: Frivolous

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Another Tourist Trap! my father would inevitably snarl as we approached a Country Store…my favorite destination for souvenirs as a child. My sisters, brother and I would be poised and ready to jump from the family station wagon as it pulled into a dusty parking lot. The result of a small side trip off the main road. We were all excited. He was not.

Keep in mind my family only went on a few – maybe 3 – “family vacations” when I was growing up. My mother always pushed for more, but my father was not interested in the minutia of planning and disruption of routine. To be fair, it couldn’t have been easy with 3 or 4 kids to pack up, transport and stay overnight in a new place. One time my paternal grandmother traveled with us, which severely dampened my mother’s usual enthusiasm.

But I loved a Country Store. There was one in particular in Vermont that we stopped at on the way to Expo 67 in Montreal. Penny candy. Those little wax bottles filled with colored chemicals that tasted like liquid candy. Straws filled with colored sugar. Barley rock candy on a stick. Candy buttons on strips of paper…(do you detect a theme here?). I think this was a Big Deal mostly because we weren’t allowed much candy at home. So it was okay to fill one of those small brown paper sacks with sweet treats “just this once.” A sugar high ensued for the rest of the trip. Tourist trap indeed…a kid’s little slice of heaven.

I didn’t usually have more than a few dollars to spend, but I always inspected all the shelves and displays…not just the candy bins. The “Gem Stones” or “Seashell Collections” glued to cardboard. Lucky Rabbit Foot key chains. The supposed pelt of a small animal (which I now hope was not really…real).

Nothing in those stores was essential. It was all unnecessary…and yes, frivolous, and would eventually rest in a drawer or sit on a shelf in my room. Never serving any useful purpose in the long run…at least that’s what my increasingly practical self concluded.

Except for one item discovered during a “day trip” which included a trip to a Country Store. A denim shirt. This was 1967 and denim shirts were extremely Cool (or as the term was back then: tough). I didn’t need a shirt. I couldn’t justify it in my mind as I could with the candy…I never get candy at home...because I did have enough clothes. And it was a men’s shirt. But boy did I want it with all my teenage soul. I hadn’t wanted something like this in a long time.

I don’t remember how much it cost, but even though I had my own money from babysitting I had to justify it. It was (sort of) a Vacation! One-day trips were out of the ordinary after all. And so were purchases at a Country Store. And it was clothing (even as a kid, I was sensible). My mother was most likely not thrilled I was acquiring a non-feminine men’s shirt. But it was my money (a life lesson right there).

I wore that denim shirt constantly. All the way through college. It eventually became threadbare in places…and what does one do in the ’70s with holes in one’s clothes? Patches!

Later, after I was married with a family and a house, it became my “work shirt” during home painting and staining projects. It faded with each washing. Eventually…and sadly…the fabric started to shred in my hands after being laundered.

I had to stop wearing it. But I still have it.

My frivolous purchase survives to this day…retired and safely tucked in a drawer. Perhaps to remind me that it’s okay to splurge and only with time will the value become clear.

Even if it’s from a Tourist Trap.

Most of my other fervent purchases would collect dust and be saved for decades…until the purge of downsizing began.

But not this shirt. It’s a keeper.

I did need it after all.

And it’s no wonder that the moment I first heard Mary Chapin Carpenter sing this song many years ago, I fell in love with it.

On May 21, 2020 she performed “This Shirt” as part of her “Songs From Home” series she has been posting on Instagram during the pandemic.

During this series, her sweet dog wanders through the kitchen during her singing and can be heard off camera sometimes as well.

Tuneful Tourism

Inspired by Frank at Dutch goes the Photo Challenge: Tourism

So share some of your favorite spots from among your travels and tell us a bit about why you enjoyed it!

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I decided to take a break from posting photos from my favorite destination in California, and go with a tourist spot more local for this challenge. Perhaps others have the same experience in that we take for granted what is practically in our backyard.

Although I don’t live in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, it is within driving distance from my home. Despite the eclectic restaurants and shops lining the streets, I tend to avoid it because of the parking hassles. And seemingly supersonic growth of hotels and high end condos.

What happened to what was once a quaint little city?

Tourism.

Vacationers travel from all over the world to visit Portsmouth – especially in the summer.  And for good reason. It’s also the time of year when I may brave the crowds…and the parking challenges. To pull up my lawn chair at the Prescott Park Arts Festival. This festival began on a much smaller scale in 1974…and is still going strong. A beautiful spot of land right next to the harbor.

I keep an eye on the schedule when it comes out each June. If I’m lucky, I can sit under the stars and watch a favorite musician or two perform. Many attendees bring a picnic dinner. Since the stage is also used for the summer musical, you never know what decorative sets will serve as the backdrop for that evening’s concert.

Two memorable nights:

Remember Peter, Paul and Mary?
Peter Yarrow gave a magical performance one night in 2012 – charming everyone there when he invited children up on stage at the end of the concert.

Prescott park 2012
Prescott Park 2012

pete yarrow
Prescott Park 2012

 

One of my all time favorite Prescott Park concerts was in 2013.

Mary Chapin Carpenter and Marc Cohn shared the stage for another amazing night in the park.

prescott park 2013
Prescott Park 2013

Perhaps I’m a tourist after all.

Grateful for the opportunity right down the highway!

Song Lyric Sunday – Burn/Fire/Flame

My contribution to this week’s Song Lyric Sunday

One of my newest favorite singer/songwriter/guitarists – Mary Chapin Carpenter – has actually been making music for 30 years. Born in New Jersey, she spent the early part of her singing career in Washington DC before releasing her first album in 1987. The winner of 5 Grammy awards, she was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2012.

I discovered her a few years ago at a local outdoor concert. I was blown away by her voice and personal catch-ya-off-guard lyrics. I couldn’t take my eyes – or ears – off her and the amazing band she performed with. Playing seamlessly together.

MCC concert
Mary Chapin Carpenter – Prescott Park Arts Festival – 2017 

 

Her most successful album Come On Come On was released in 1992 and went quadruple platinum.

Walking Through Fire is from this album.

 

 

Walking Through Fire

by Mary Chapin Carpenter

When you set a match to your heart, fueling it with bitterness and doubt
That’s the place that once it starts, no amount of tears can put out
I know you’re scared, but no one’s spared when you play with matches

You got me walking through fire
You got me walking through fire

Maybe you’ve been burned by lovers, maybe you’ve been scarred by the pain
But baby, I’m not like the others, drawing moths to a flame
Spite is like a spark, crackling in the dark, consuming all it catches

And you got me walking through fire
You got me walking through fire to get to you
Got me walking through fire (walking through fire)
You got me walking through fire (walking through fire)

You can see the toll it’s taking, you can feel the faith it’s shaking
You can hear the heart it’s breaking now
Baby, I’ve been burned by the fever, I’ve been scorched by desire
But baby, I am not your deceiver or your eloquent liar
Your jealous heart is tearing us apart, turning love to ashes

When you got me walking through fire
You’ve got me walking through fire to get to you
Got me walking through fire
You’ve got me walking through fire

You’ve got me walking through fire (walking through fire)
You’ve got me walking through fire (walking through fire)
As the flames shoot higher
You got me walking through fire (through fire), walking

Quote of the Day…

And then, not expecting it, you become middle-aged and anonymous. No one notices you. You achieve a wonderful freedom. It is a positive thing. You can move about, unnoticed and invisible.

Doris Lessing

But is this really a good thing? A positive thing? Not being seen or heard anymore? Content to be…hidden? What about our years of wisdom and experience…

I wonder.

I remember a fifth grade class assignment where we had to choose a superpower we’d wish for. And why. My choice: “being invisible.” I envisioned all kinds of adventure…and power. I could go anywhere. Be anything. Find out what was going on (because, after all, there must be something more interesting going on somewhere!).

But now? Decades later? Invisible is tantamount to just not being here…or anywhere…at all. Not really. After a certain age, you tend to disappear in the eyes of the younger set. Salespeople look through you, or just over your head. Questions are dodged or ignored all together. Their attention lost while you search for reading glasses.
Not everywhere and not all the time. But often enough to piss me off. And make me speak up a little louder. Whether I have the energy or not.

Mary Chapin Carpenter has a different take on the Middle Ages.

…We used to dread lives rendered ordinary
we always said we’d own a grander story
but the only kind worth telling somehow
is the one about a jolt that makes you listen
that jagged lightning bolt of recognition
that love and kindness are all that matter now…
Mary Chapin Carpenter

 

If I could choose a superpower now, it would probably be flying. It would solve so many problems. And what fun!

What would be your superpower choice? And…do you think being “middle-aged” invites anonymity? And, if so, is this a positive? I am still considering the possibilities.