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.

Troll Patrol

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

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


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.

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.

gpc 1985025
Let’s go to the lake, oh daddy, let’s go to the lake

(35mm film)


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.
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.


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.

Photo a Week – On the Horizon

Nancy Merrill is hosting a photo challenge. The theme this week: A Photo a Week Challenge – On the Horizon


Walking along the boardwalk one day in late October.
Late morning. Sun is shining. The beach is deserted.
Found a seat on an empty bench.

What a sight.
Banks of fluffy white clouds cushioning the horizon…
…where ocean meets the sky.

horizon hampton beach

Tuesday Photo Challenge – Anticipation

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

The theme this week is: Anticipation

It’s that time of year…
The December page appears on the calendar.
And with it, the sprint to Christmas.

For those of us (in the USA) who celebrate the holiday, the “anticipation” is triggered around Halloween. Much to my dismay. I really have not adjusted to the sight of artificial Christmas trees amongst the Halloween costumes.

But I digress…

Children are not cynical about this. They anticipate like crazy. Without judgement. Without reservation. And with great joy and excitement.
When is Santa coming? is repeated enthusiastically and often.

My own children were no exception.

Especially my son. As a 2 year old, he did not yet understand the concept of…Do Not Touch…Wait…Those Lights are Hot…We Will Open The Presents Later.

We barricaded the Christmas tree with various tables and chairs.

His enthusiasm was limitless.
As he anticipated what came next…

xmas 1989013

Tuesday Photo Challenge – Challenge

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

…Sign, sign, everywhere a sign
Blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ my mind
Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign?…

(from Signs: by the Five Man Electrical Band…from my high school days…)

Signs often present challenges…
With instructions for what we are supposed to do.
Or…more specifically…what we are not supposed to do.

We can obey them…or not.
After all, we do have a choice…made all the harder when signage deviates from the usual.

Such was the case during a visit to Virginia Beach in 2006.  We were looking forward to a few relaxing days to unwind before the 600 mile road trip home. After the stress of leaving our last born to freshman orientation…and indoctrination into the wild untamed life of college in Richmond.

But what was this?

Virginia Beach “Resort Area”

I was startled to note that a large beach town would need such a directive.
Did visitors usually wander around spewing the f-bomb? Describing dog doo doo in loud outside voices?

It was a challenge NOT to shout out an expletive.
Not because I had the urge to.
But because there was this big sign bossing me around…planting the thought…
Posing a challenge.

And then further down the street…

Another set of challenges…for some.
And unfortunately there will be those who rise stoop to the challenge…and harass people and break laws anyway.


Virginia Beach is a large thriving tourist destination.

And “the Resort Area” (ie: main street) is only walking distance from
its public beach…which showcases swimwear of all imaginations.
“…refrain from…wearing revealing attire…?”
Now, THAT’S a challenge.

(We had a lovely time despite the signs. And I only cursed in my mind.)