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 was 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

Lumber Slices

This post inspired by Ragtag Daily Prompt: Lumber

Five years ago this month, our two prized birch tree clumps had to be taken down from the front yard. They were almost 30 years old…but getting too large to be safe. Especially during high winds. Or bending with the weight of ice and snow in the winter. Branches dying off one by one.

It was time.

We hired a local tree service, who arrived one morning to remove the trees.
It took a while, but down they went.

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I asked for some slices to keep

 

birch
One of which was treated and preserved.

The last survivor now sits in the living room of our new home.

Homecoming 1964

This post inspired by Ragtag Daily Prompt: Homecoming

Homecoming

Prompt questions: Have you ever left home? Have you ever returned?

Answer: Yes and no.

I left home in my mind many times growing up. I had a small knapsack tucked in the back corner of my overfilled closet…containing what I must have considered necessities. Quarters. Tissues. Comb. Toothbrush. Underwear. Perhaps Bazooka bubble gum.
Since I never followed through on my plan, there was never any homecoming.

Coming home from summer camps, summer jobs, college…all happened without much fanfare. And my uneasy life would fall into place once again.

More joyous childhood homecomings were wrapped up with my grandparents, who I adored. One in particular took place in 1964.  My widowed great grandmother lived in Ohio and traveled to the East Coast to visit only a few times before she died in 1968. She was sweet and very soft spoken. Her skin…smooth and powdery. Fragile. She was my mother’s grandmother.

When she made the trip, it was a homecoming of sorts as she was able to spend time with her daughter (my grandmother) as well. We always made a very special occasion out of her visits. Celebration meals. Trips. And…lots of photographs.

The 4 generation pose was popular. My sisters, brother and I took turns sitting with my mother, grandmother and great grandmother.

I don’t remember if we were instructed in how to pose.

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Four generations – 1964

 

 

Corpulent

This post inspired by Ragtag Daily Prompt: Corpulent

Corpulent

Corpulent

“My doctor says I’m too heavy.”

“I feel so huge.”

“I just hate this roll of fat on my hips.”

“I’ve always been on the big side.”

“I’m just a little overweight.”

“When I was a kid, I was considered chunky.”

I was a registered dietitian for many years, providing one-to-one diet counseling at hospitals and clinics. Doctors referred patients for weight loss diets…for a variety of reasons. Blood lipids too high. Blood pressure too high. Blood sugar too high. Joints wearing away.

Or…”to be more healthy.”
As if it was that simple…

I met with a young woman who cried with the shame of being criticized by her mother growing up. Because she was overweight.

A man whose parents belittled him at the dinner table when he served himself a second helping of potatoes.

A teenage boy who needed to be weighed on the hospital wheelchair scale. Bullied at school. Dropped out. Working on his GED.

A young man whose wife would put a box of chocolates in his bureau drawer to tempt him. She was chubby too.

Countless women – of all ages – were embarrassed to be sitting across from me, as if they had committed a sin.

To be fat. Corpulent. Obese. Chunky. Chubby. Portly. Overweight. Whatever you name it…is to be branded less than. Ostracized in our first world society.

Often facing an exhausting lifetime battle with food.
How much. When. Where. Why.
Most doctors don’t realize that food is just one piece of this puzzle.

You don’t have to do this, I’d say when calling to set up an appointment…if I sensed reluctance.

But the doctor said I have to.

It is your decision no matter what the doctor says.

There would be a pause in the conversation.

Really?

Yes. It’s up to you. If you aren’t ready, we can wait.

Most of the time, the appointment was made.
The patient showed up. Often wary.
And we’d talk. About goals. Typical meals.
Eating history. Likes. Dislikes.

Sometimes there was crying. Or almost crying.
Stories of shunning. Lost opportunities. Self-hatred.

So much emotional pain.
Because a body is large…
Soothed for years
With foods that comfort.

Only to face doctor’s orders
to take those foods away.

I often asked myself…
Is it worth it?

White

This post inspired by Ragtag Daily Prompt: White

 

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 After a January blizzard

 

One of the things I don’t miss about our former home is the aftermath of a snow storm…as pretty as it was.

Shoveling. Snowblowing. More shoveling.
Off the roof. The deck. The driveway.

However, snow storms did provide many of nature’s best photo opportunities.

Which lasted just a short time.

Play

This post inspired by Ragtag Daily Prompt: Play

Playing music was always front and center in our home.
Whether it be playing a record, a tape or, as years went by, a CD.

But the best playing happened in person.

At the end of one oppressively hot September day in 1988, we huddled around our only air conditioner for an impromptu concert. After a long day of yard work.

The 6 year old playing my old guitar from childhood.
The 10 month old plucking strings on his daddy’s guitar.
And the daddy playing, singing and offering advice on note fingering.

Keeping cool…

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This trio played together many times over the years.
Guitar. Flute. Recorder. Clarinet.
Such fun.

 

Dream

This post inspired by Ragtag Daily Prompt: Dream

Where am I?
These houses all look different.
I’ll keep walking. 
I know the school bus dropped me off at the same place.
How could I be…lost?
Did I make a mistake?
I’ll keep walking…maybe up ahead.

But that house is the wrong color.
And it’s up so high.
Oh no what should I do?

It’s so hard to walk up this hill.
Why won’t my legs move faster?

There was never a hill.
I don’t know what to do.
These are all strangers!

Where is my house?
Where is my family?
I’m all by myself.

A recurring dream from over 50 years ago…waking me up in the middle of the night. Heart hammering in my chest. Eyes snapping open in the dark. Hands clutching the sheets.

Relieved I was in my own bed…in my room..in my house…my breathing would eventually slow. My eyes closing…

Onlyadream…onlyadream…onlyadream….
Sleep would return to my 7 year old self.
My 8 year old self.
My 9 year old self.
The illusion of safety assured for another night.

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Friendship

This post inspired by Ragtag Daily Prompt: Friendship

I couldn’t let this prompt opportunity go by…although it also has inspired me to write a longer piece on this powerful topic at a later date…

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I have often thought…where would I be without my friends?
Now and in the past.
I don’t think I want to know.

Being somewhat of a loner, I was never part of a large “crowd” when I was growing up. I did, however, have “true friends” (as I called them) and included this small tribute to them in a diary entry. In the Memorandum section at the end of December, when I was in the eighth grade:

These are some friends of mine (own age) that I have known & liked very much. They have stuck up for me when I was down, been faithful & kind & above all a close friend I could trust. I won’t forget them wherever I go.

I listed 2 girls. One of the two is still my faithful friend.

My girlfriends were my salvation. In a difficult childhood. And the years that followed. Even at the age of 13, I apparently understood friendship…faithful, kind, trusting.

Again, I can’t imagine life without them…
I am still in touch with several special friends from high school – who each went down very different paths, but remained connected to me. College also left me with several friends who I cherish to this day. As did my work life, my parenting life and my empty nest life. My friends have enriched my life beyond measure.  Some have passed away and my heart hurts with missing them.

One “summer friend” – from a high school summer job 300 miles from home – sewed patches for my threadbare bellbottom jeans – “crewel work” embroidery displaying the perfect message. The jeans eventually disintegrated. But I cut the patches out…they are now behind glass in a frame which hangs on the wall in my “writing room.”

friends patch

I am still friends with this wonderful generous woman 47 years later.

Does anyone remember the old Girl Scout song?…

Make new friends, but keep the old.
One is silver and the other gold….

I am still making new friends.
I hope you are too.

 

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.

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father and son