Day 20: The Things We Treasure – BLOGGING U – WRITING 101

My Most Prized Possession

My most prized possession?  I could write about my Cabin – my little RV, my access to heaven on the road to freedom.  I could write about my house, that I have loved for 26 years, built a life within, my sanctuary, my cave from the world when it becomes overwhelming.  It isn’t my collection of books.  Over the years I have learned to let them go and not become attached when I bring home new ones.  It’s not my paintings or the binder full of my poetry that records my progress from childhood to the present.

What do I pull out lovingly every so often, pour over for days when I am in the mood, and would want to take with me if I could only bring one thing? I would have to say my most prized possession, is the broken down cardboard box containing the photographs that tell the story of my life, my family and friends.

I know photographs aren’t really possessions, they are tangible but not possessions.  Photographs are memories brought to life through technology.  A moment in time, stolen for a reminder later in life.

Contained in that torn cardboard box that  I have taped and re-taped over the years ares the lives of my parents, my parents parents, my sisters, cousins, uncles and aunts, friends, colleagues and people I don’t even know.  They tell two stories.  The first one a history of my family.  The second story a history of photography. The earliest photos were taken with little brownie cameras, black and white. Grainy tales of a time long gone. The pictures then graduate from polaroid’s to instamatics then to various 35 mm SLR’s and finally to my lovely digital Nikon D60 and the ever durable waterproof bright red Ricoh.  I have lost three of the Ricoh’s.  If you find them you will know they are mine, they have my pictures on them.

These precious photographs, hidden on the shelf in the basement behind ancient school year books,  show farm life, city life, camping life and just life.  The pixie cut, the bob, the shag, the curly perm, the relaxed perm, the perm set with infrared lights and the dye jobs.  The little white dresses three year olds wore in the 50’s, the mini skirt, the midi- skirt, the maxi coat, bikini, the skort, the tube top, the several Canadian Forces uniforms and a few costumes worn for various stage productions.  They take me on a trip around the world. Well, at least Canada.  Toronto, Alliston, Montreal, cottage country, Ottawa, the Maritimes, Saskatchewan, BC, Vancouver Island, Alberta, many other cities in those provinces and back again.

Some of these little glossy, matte or fingerprint proof squares are, loose sorted in a not sorted order, others are put inside little photo books and albums, many are left inside their envelopes with or without their negatives.

Yes, these photos are the only things that cannot be replaced.  Yes, I can conjure the memories in my mind and reminisce without the tangible reminders, but as long as I can, I will love hauling out that tattered box, and touching every single shot taken of the past.

Cheryle  May 2015

Day 9: Point of View and Day 8 – Death to Adverbs – Blogging U – Writing 101

Day 9 – Prompt: A man and a woman walk through the park together, holding hands. They pass an old woman sitting on a bench. The old woman is knitting a small, red sweater. The man begins to cry. Write this sceneTwist: write the scene from three different points of view

Day 8 – Prompt: Go to a local café, park, or public place and write a piece inspired by something you see. Twist: write an adverb-free post.

THE RED SWEATER

Today the sun keeps the clouds at bay, shining heavy on the crowded park.  There are no shadows to follow the walkers, picnickers, dog owners or the disc golfers as they toss their Frisbees into baskets.  Lunch time always sees the park numbers increase, men in suits, grey, black or blue, ties tight against striped shirts, trench coats left open or hung folded on their arms.  Women walk on black pumps clacking against the sidewalk.  Their blouses tucked smooth into pencil skirts, hair tied close to their heads to keep it in line.

Every bench has at least one occupant, a man with his dog, a mother chatting with a friend while pushing a stroller back and forth as her baby cries hungrily. An old woman sits alone, under the gnarled red oak, knitting a small red item.  Her needles flying and clicking with a life of their own as she looks around the park.

Old Woman:

“Knit one, Purl one, carry one over, Knit one, Purl one, add a stitch. I do like this pattern.  Joyce will be over the moon when I give it to Kitty.  Her 1st birthday.  She is such a good baby.  Knit one, purl one, add a stitch, knit one, purl one, carry one over, start a new row.  Always happy.  There’s a handsome couple coming along the sidewalk.  They must be just beginning to date.  I remember holding Martins’ hand that tight, years ago when we started going out.   I was about that girls age, early 20’s.  He looks a bit older than her, 29 or 30 I’d say.   Purl one, start a new row.  I wonder what they are talking about.  I bet it is something intimate, they both have that shy happy smile painted across their faces.  Carry one over, knit one, purl one add a stitch.  This will fit Kitty with enough room for her to grow.  Oh Oh!  Something is not right with the lovers.  His face is twisting, she must have said something.  Oh my his face is wet, he is crying, the tears are flowing.  What did she say?  What happened?  Add a stitch, start a new row.   She is still smiling, doesn’t she know he’s upset?  Knit one, purl one.  Oh there she goes, she knows now.  She looks surprised, interesting.  Hmmm.  Maybe she didn’t say anything at all to upset him.  Hmmm.  Purl one, Look how she puts her arm around him, how sweet.  I wonder what upset him so much.    Start a new row, knit one, purl one carry one over, knit one purl one, add a stitch,  Yes, Kitty will look so cute in this little red sweater,  Joyce will be so happy.  I can’t wait to finish it for them.  Add a stitch start a new row.”

Young Woman:

A  young 20 something woman, walks with a bounce in her step, her thin candy red wool coat swinging against the leg of the older dark haired man walking close beside her.  With her free hand she runs her cherry tipped fingers through her short auburn bob, freeing its’ strands from the stuffiness of the office.

“That was a scrumptious lunch, Don.” the young woman remarks as she looks up into his eyes, then at his full lips.  “I just love that place, they make the best chicken, avocado wraps, don’t you think?”

“Sure do, Sam.” he quips “I know it’s your favourite.”  He looks at her and winks.

Sam smiles, drops her eyes and blushes as he takes hold of her hand and holds it as they walk. She holds his hand back.  Don smiles a grin that stretches from jawline to jawline.

Sam, licks her lips then says “Your hand feels so nice holding mine, it’s warm and comforting.  It makes me feel special, like you and I are the only ones in the park today.”  She looks at Don and smiles a small quiet grin.  He looks at her, smiles back and squeezes her hand.

They walk in silence for a moment, each relishing the new step taken in their budding relationship.

Sams’ mind is reeling.  Wow!  I can’t believe this.  His hand is so smooth, it feels good to be touching him.  I can feel the butterflies flitting around in my tummy.  I won’t be able to concentrate this afternoon.

“What are your thoughts on this, Samantha?” Her mind mimics her the voice of her boss.  “I don’t know Jordon, Don is holding my hand.  I can’t think of anything else.” As she day dreams her coat swings with a little more bounce.

I wonder where we will go tonight.  Last nights’ movie was fun.  It was a little embarrassing when I jumped during that scary scene and hid my face in his shoulder.  Her smile widens as she reminisces about the evening.

It is Friday, maybe we will go to a club.  Oh that new one everyone is talking about.  Maybe we will have a quiet dinner at “Roger Rabbits”.

What!  Don has let go of my hand.  What’s going on?  She turns to look at Don.  His head is bent down, both hands cover his face.

With surprise and concern she asks “Don, what’s the matter?  Are you OK?  What’s wrong?  She gives him a quick once over to make sure he isn’t injured.  She takes his hands and pulls them away from his face.  Shocked to see he is sobbing.  Oh my god, she thinks, did I say something wrong?

“Don, you’re crying” Oh yeah, how obvious, that’s helpful, she berates herself.  “What can I do?”  “Here” she rummages in her pocket.  “Take this Kleenex, wipe your eyes.” she whispers and puts her arm around his heaving shoulders.

Her mind is racing, I cannot imagine what happened.  We were having such a lovely time and all of a sudden he is crying.  What is going on?  I wonder what triggered this.  Perplexed she continues to coo, “It’s ok sweetheart, everything will be ok.” as she rubs his back and shoulder.

The Man:

Man, she is so cute, thinks a 32 year old man walking with a young woman by his side.  His short dark brown hair shows a few grey strands just above his temples.  Around his eyes are the shadows of a few crow’s feet, just enough to herald the number to come as he ages.  His jaw, sharp and square, speaks of a strong back with a touch of stubbornness.  Dressed in the dark suit so popular with office workers, his red tie sets off the thin stripes on his shirt.  Sharp toed shoes finish off his polish with a touch of flair.

Her lips look so kissable.  I just want to touch her, feel her skin against mine. Listen dummy, she’s talking to you about lunch.

“Sure do, Sam, I know it’s your favourite.”  Anything for you baby doll, Wink.  My famous wink always wins a few smiles with the ladies.

Her eyes, so dark, so brown, I could fall into them and never come out again.  Man, you’re grinning like a chimpanzee, stop it and grab her hand.  Wow, so soft, so small, my hand engulfs hers.  I bet those nails can leave a good scratch.  Whoa, she is squeezing my hand.  What a woman, she knows just how to get my blood going.

I could walk beside her forever.  I haven’t felt this free since…… Stop it.  Stop it, don’t go there.  Sam is here.  Look around, get your mind back on track.  Don’t go there.  Distract yourself, look around the park. Anything to take your mind off the past.  What is that old woman knitting?  No no, don’t look there, it’s a baby sweater.  Quick, think of something else.  Don’t let this take hold.

She was just a baby!  Stop, stop, you can’t do this, not here, not now, he pleads with himself.  There was nothing you could do.  It wasn’t your fault.

If Helen had just asked, I would have driven her.  I would have kept them both safe.  I would have….. Oh God, why?  Why?  What did I do?  What didn’t I do?  Our life was perfect, she was perfect.  She was just a baby.  What did she ever do for you to take her away so brutally, so violently?  Oh God. My daughter.  Oh God, my daughter.  I’ll never see her, hold her again

“I’m sorry Sam I’m ok.” he whispers between sobs “You didn’t do anything wrong, It’s me.  Please forgive me, I am so sorry”

DAY 5 – BlOGGING U – WRITING 101 – BREVITY

The Letter

Tears roll unbound down my cheeks

I refold the page, its paper worn

Re-read many times, many years

 .

The letter fell

Lost

Left alone and cold

On the street

 .

I look up,           around

There,

Rounding the far corner

I glimpse

A woman of a certain age

It is her name typewritten in black

Her heart held by the words

Her life bent over backward

 .

My fingers brush her shoulder

Padded for protection

An illusion of strength

Her head turns

Our eyes speak

My tears tell the tale

She knows

Her history struck my heart

 .

I clutch her tightly

Hold her close

Tears flowing freely

She tilts my face to hers gently

Her rough thumb

Wipes away my pain

She whispers softly

It’s Ok, – I survived

 .

She lets go

I am left

Alone and cold

She disappears into the fracas of people

Rushing along the street.

 .

Cheryle April 11, 2015

DAY 3 – BLOGGING U – WRITING 101

COMMIT TO A WRITING PRACTICE

3 SONGS OF INFLUENCE

It has taken me forever to do this assignment.  Partially because I am avoiding it and partially because I am having difficulty picking the three.  For some reason this assignment has me running a little scared, a little too close to me for me.  It is a simple request.  I’m not sure, but regardless of my hesitation I am committing to my writing practice and will push forward to complete the assignment.

As the Police sing “I was born in the 50’s”, grew up in the 70’s, attained my independence in the 80”s.   The 70’s was a time after the drug craze and sexual revolution of the 60’s, when the ideals of the Hippies, the Feminists and Beat Generation began to filter into the minds of young women.  Middle class women began to question their role in life, wanting more, more freedom, more independence, more equality and much more of everything.

I did not pick The Three Most Influential songs of my life.  I couldn’t decide what they were.  I did however, select three song which I still love to hear, continue to make me think and teach me of the big old world out there.

I am listing these in chronological order, not necessarily in the order I discovered them.

The House of the Rising Sun – The Animals – 1964

A widely discussed folk song.  Some say The House of the Rising Sun is an Americanized version of an 18th Century English ballad. The first known American recording is dated at 1934 by Clarence “Tom” Ashley and Gwen Foster.  It has since then been performed throughout the years by many artists, notably, Woody Guthrie, Lead Belly, Pete Seeger, and most famously The Animals.

I was drawn to the sadness, the struggle and the failure of this cautionary tale. His mother a tailor, a strong hard working woman, raised him on her own. Yet, she loses both her husband and her son to the mysterious House of The Rising Sun.  In despair, he begs mothers of the world to warn their children not to follow in the footsteps of his father and himself, gamblers and addicts. We know he struggles, yet he gets back on the train to New Orleans.

I was curious about The House of the Rising Sun it was so very mysterious and somewhat romantic to me. I imagined it as part of the hippie scene similar to Haight Ashbury, filled with stained glass windows, velvet curtains and wisps of smoke. I was a young romantic and naïve at the time.

It was also the very first “modern song” I learned on the guitar.

Musically, I was intrigued by the organs scream, the smooth pluck of the guitar, theTap tapity tap of the cymbals & drums and overriding it all, Eric’s voice of despair

Lou Reed Walk on the Wild Side 1972 – Transformer

The subjects and the raw honesty of Walk on the Wild Side were my introduction to the wild side of life. Having spent most of my first 14 years moving around Canada every few years and once to Germany and back, I was curious to know what was the wild side?  What did it mean he was a she?  What was the hustle?  I believe by the time I heard this song, the hustle was a dance.

Take a Walk on the Wild Side showcased Lou’s raw velvet voice, poetic language, juxtaposed against a smooth pop rhythm.  It inspired in me a curiosity for the other side of life and a tolerance for alternative lifestyles.  It offered me the opportunity to question what I had been taught was socially acceptable.

Pat Benatar, – I Need a Lover – written by Johnny Cougar  – 1979 – In The Heat of the Night

In the Heat of The Night is an important album because it is the first album I purchased in which I solely relied on my own musical instincts.  No one told me it was a good album or who Pat Benatar was.   I heard the music on the alternative radio station, liked it and purchased the album on a weekend holiday.  I was impressed with myself for having such a musical ear. Pat Pat on my back.

I Need a Lover, is a brave song for the time, and still has a message for young woman today.  It is an empowering song for women, who were supposed to go from their father’s house into the house of their husband. Something, I did not want to experience.  This is a strong modern woman who chooses her own lovers, even specifies the criteria, the relationship is on her terms and not permanent.  The raw desire of a strongly independent modern woman empowered to behave as she deems fit.  Up to that time, only a man was allowed to behave sexually independent, without impunity.

This song intrigued me for its independent spirit.  I wasn’t surprised to find out it was written by a man.  When I went to Sam’s on Yonge Street in Toronto looking for more music by the songwriter, no one at Sams knew who Johnny Cougar was.  We now know him as John Mellenkamp.

Cheryle April 10, 2015         citation – Wikipedia

DAY 20 – TRIUMPH AND CONTRAST

DAY 20 – TRIUMPH AND CONTRAST

I was so triumphant when I found the Owl in the tree and so much more so when I was able to capture it with my Nikon D60.  Can you see it?  Who Who  Whooo

Every year Owls nest in this same tree, raising one Owlet. They feed it, love it, teach it about owl life, flying and let it set out to make a life of its’ own.

Owl Eye

I have a special affinity for owls. They are beautiful, silent and can see in the dark.   Owl is one of my totems.

The Owl, connected to Athena, represents wisdom, intuition and being able to see beyond deception.  Often seen as being associated with the underworld, a protector of the night and in some cultures accompanies the dead to the afterlife.

I also played Owl in a children’s theatre production of Winnie the Pooh.  I don’t know if I was successful or not as I scared most of the kids.

Cheryle 2015

DAY 19 – BLOGGING U – PHOTOGRAHY 101

Day 19 – Doubles

I took today’s assignment of Doubles as an opportunity to showcase my furbabies. They do not go outside and love to sun themselves in their condo in the kitchen window. They are pampered and spoiled.  But then, so am I.

Double Take or Reflection

Cheryle  March 2015

Day 18 – Blogging U – Photography 101

Day 18 – Edge and Alignment

I’m not sure this meets the criteria for today’s assignment.  It does have edge and it did need alignment.
I thought this was a beautiful peek-a-boo shot of the tree and water reflections from a window in my parents home.  No matter what the season, they have a heavenly front yard.

Phone pics_Nov 30 2013_4367-1

Cheryle – March 2015