Old habits die hard….or get hit by lightning

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Last night we had a pretty epic lightning storm.  It didn’t hit as close to home as the bolt that struck a tree at the resort in late June but the pyrotechnic show was phenomenal.

As kids during any great thunderstorm, my brother and I would turn our couch to face out the picture window to watch the display in the sky.  While I could count the high number of my friends who I knew were shuddering under their beds, my brother and I were face to face with the awesome display of nature and the power of a storm.

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(image credit: National Geographic)

Last night I felt just like that kid again.  I propped myself up on my couch, faced out the window with a glass of wine in my hand and watched in awe as arcs of light graced the sky.  And although my brother wasn’t on the same couch, he was watching the storm through a different window.  Some things will never change.

 

Getting into trouble at school

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Last night was my nephew’s graduation from Grade 8.  Like every other family, we collected en masse in the auditorium and slowly felt the oxygen leaving the room as the number of attendees multiplied exponentially.  The ceremonies were late in getting started and after the first tapping of a finger on the microphone the noise of the audience was dulled and the festivities began.

The first thing that struck me about the celebration was the overwhelming difference from my grade 8 graduation to last night.  The girls looked like they were dressed for the red carpet and the boys were dressed to the nines.  Back in 19(illegible numbers) at my grade 8 grad, I recall wearing something that could have passed as a hand-me-down for Holly Hobby, minus the apron, and the boys wore jeans, running shoes, short-sleeved white dress shirts and clip-on ties.

The program for the evening kept to the letter of the printed description, minus the timing.  As speech tumbled into speech, I made the mistake of leaning over to my brother and whispering something about the extended ceremony and the fact that the grad class may miss their boat cruise after the graduation.  It was at that precise moment that my brother chose to whisper a response that not only shocked me, but made me start to giggle.  Now, when you are in the middle of an important rite of passage for a 14-year-old, giggling during the ceremony is frowned upon.

I did my utmost to stifle the laughter but that only made it worse and a small snort escaped.  This sent my brother into fits of silent, but convulsive laughter as well and we slowly lost control.  Tears streamed down our faces as we sought some sort of relief from our fits of hysterics but, every time we looked at each other, the inaudible giggles were compounded by more tears and several sideways glances from those sitting around us, including my sister-in-law.

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My younger nephew, who was sitting beside me, leaned over to quietly ask what was so funny.  I could only respond with a wave of my hand and more fits of silent laughter while trying to catch my breath.  Thankfully a somber moment in the ceremony grabbed our attention the restrained giggling came to an end.  I wiped the moisture from my cheeks and eyes and avoided looking in my brother’s general direction for the duration of the grad ceremony.

My nephew graduated with Honors and his class quickly exited the hallowed halls of their alma mater to board the steamship that was waiting for their arrival.  Like ants leaving a picnic, the cars sequentially left the parking lot and the evening came to an end.  I got in my car, a few chuckles escaping as I recalled the fun I had with my big brother, and heard the distinctly familiar ring of my cell phone.

My first words were, “I’m still laughing”, and I could hear that familiar sound on the other end of the phone.  We laughed again for another five minutes and I had to pull the car over because I couldn’t see well enough to drive!  That is certainly one graduation I will never forget – and when my younger nephew goes through the same ceremony, I’ll make sure my brother and I are not sitting beside each other!

(image credit)

 

 

 

100 word song – Can’t keep

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It feels like I’ve spent my life on the beach,

one tiny grain of sand among millions,

a nameless, faceless granule of existence.

The force of the water beckons and I sit motionless,

idly waiting for the tide to take me,

wanting to feel that rush of adrenaline,

but I never take that step closer to the shoreline.

I can’t keep hiding in plain sight,

simply watching the sun set over the horizon of my opportunity.

I can’t keep waiting for that water to reach me.

The only obstacle holding me back from adventure,

my biggest stumbling block

is myself.

~~

Written for the 100-Word Song Challenge at My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog.  Click here to check out the challenge and join in the fun!

(image credit)

Comfortably caged

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She sits in her cage,

singing because she finds joy,

she finds happiness in her solitude.

There is peace in her time alone.

Alone will never mean lonely,

and song is her companion.

She sings the notes

as they fill her heart.

~~

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Written for the Gargleblaster Challenge:

And so we turn to this week’s ultimate question. There are a million reasons a caged bird might sing, both literally and figuratively. Maya Angelou gave us one in her beloved poem. That leaves at least 999,999 for everyone else to explore. Tell us:

Why does the caged bird sing?

Give us your answer in 42 words, but be creative. Don’t go where we expect you to. Don’t write down the first thing that comes to mind. Think, craft, edit, and craft some more. Give us your very best.

Smelling the lilacs while my head’s in the clouds

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I have my window wide open today smelling the lovely fragrant scent of the lilac blossoms in my yard combined with the pungent odor of my freshly cut lawn.  For me, those smells are the perfect storm of essences and I could sit peacefully and inhale those fragrances all day.

I poured a glass of wine and sat on my deck with my feet up.  The sky wanted to participate in the sensory overload and this is what I got to see in different parts of the sky today.

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Early morning walk with my puppy dog.

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Interesting patterns during my drive.

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A closer look at the different textures.

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A deeper blue sky in the afternoon.

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A lovely way to end the day.

I hope you enjoyed your Saturday as much as I did.

100 Word Song – Passionate kisses

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Passionate kisses,

lingering in your memory,

long after lips reluctantly parted,

long after skin had grazed skin,

long after the hand had caressed your cheek.

Passionate kisses,

leaving subtle images in your mind,

bookmarking the first page of romance in your story,

creating a smile that will give away your wish-filled thoughts,

leaving the rest of the pages open to be written.

Passionate kisses

that were the beginning of a wistful romance.

Kisses that would dapple the remaining chapters

of a grand story of love with their depth of emotion.

Passionate kisses

that would tell a tale like no other.

~~

Written for the 100 Word Song Challenge at My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog.

Making sense of scents

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Growing up, the smell of bacon always made me recall the nights my father insisted we have Liver and Onions for dinner.  My mother would try to mask the smell with bacon to fool us into a false sense of security but we were on to her very early.  It wasn’t until many years later that I learned to associate that smoky smell with far more pleasant and savory tastes.

It made me ponder how a single smell can elicit such powerful memories.  The olfactory bulb switches on at a moment’s notice when a familiar scent touches an odor memory that has been etched into our brain.  Smells are one of the best ways to reconnect with our past.  During the cold January nights when I am forced to stand outside because my dog has yet to learn how to use the toilet, the smell of that bitter, cold winter air takes me back to the ski hills at Alpine in Collingwood.  I’ve lived in Muskoka for most of my life and experienced some extremely biting temperatures but, still, the memory that is brought to life is that of being a kid at a familiar cabin on a busy ski hill.

My mother’s purse, laden with the essence of Spearmint gum, the fragrance of a certain perfume or the whiff of something as simple as a laundry detergent has the power to create such sentimentality.  We are transported back to a glimpse of something from our past that has left such a lasting impression.  It may not even be a conscious memory but something about that lingering scent brings to mind a time that has long since passed.

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(image credit)

I was given a bottle of white wine recently that I haven’t tasted in years.  When I opened the bottle and that first aroma hit my nasal passages I was immediately transported to an apartment that I haven’t seen in decades.  The scent of that Verdicchio took me back and the flood of nostalgia overwhelmed me.

Smells, feelings and memories become so intimately and easily intertwined that a person can be overcome with emotion.  Odoriferous messages flood the senses.  Good or bad, we are ferried to an alternate dimension of our own reality and held as a captive of our experiences. For the past few wedding seasons I was a cake maker.  I loved the artistry that I was able to create but, better than that, I loved the smell of the cake baking.  The aromatic smell of chocolate cake will always be the smell that reminds me of my house.  And though I don’t create those cakes anymore the smell of unscheduled cupcake baking sessions transports me to a happy place.

Of all of the senses that I am blessed with, smell seems to be the front-runner when it comes to reliving a sense of the past.

What smell takes you back in time?

Long weekends are only long when you have to work them

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There is a slight buzz across the Canadian provinces and it has nothing to do with Black Flies.  The Victoria Day Long Weekend is upon us and, for those who are fortunate enough to have Monday off, that means a three-day weekend.  The multi-lane highways that allow travelers to reach our vacation destinations in Muskoka are already becoming congested and the stress levels of those trapped in their cars in slow-moving traffic is escalating exponentially.

They’re coming.  The locals feel the change in atmosphere like a phantom pain in a missing appendage.  We sometimes wake in the early hours of Friday morning in a cold sweat, knowing what is in store but never fully prepared.  Although we survive this phenomenon every year we are never able to control the urge to flee and hibernate until November.

When faced with the promise of a three-day weekend, historically, I would be overjoyed.  Now the long weekends have the reverse effect on me.  I work in hospitality so those three precious days are a thing of the past.  What began as joyous memories of lounging in the sun without a care in the world slowly evolved into feeling like I am in a constantly moving rocking chair – it gives me something to do for three days, but it gets me nowhere.

Long weekends, for those of us on the job, become extremely long.  We awake on Friday morning to the guarantee that our work day has just been multiplied by 1 1/2 times its normal duration and will continue as such until the small reprieve we get with a regular work day on Tuesday.

Long weekends, for those who have clawed their way through traffic to arrive in the sanctity of Muskoka feel the time slipping away as soon as they step out of their cars.  What they had anticipated would be three days of recharging their batteries becomes a blur of time and, before they even realize what happened, they are getting back into that vehicular jungle to fight for their place in the highway hierarchy on the way back to the city.

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(image credit: citynews.ca)

Whichever side you are on this weekend – take some time to enjoy it.  At least it’s not snowing!!

 

 

A little music was all it took

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I have been purposely not posting over the last few days because, as I look back, my last few posts encompass the overwhelming, undulating emotions one goes through after a loss.  Although it has been slightly cathartic, it also made me realize I need to snap out of this feeling of wallowing and focus on all of the positive feelings I experience when thinking about my mom.

Last  night was a very healing night for me.  While working on the scrapbook and decorations for  her celebration I began to make a playlist of many of her favorite songs to listen to during the reception after the service.  That music took me on a journey I never anticipated and I got to experience my relationship with my mom all over again.

The road trip of memories lay stretched before me and I hit the gas, negotiating the turns and rolling into my early youth.  Music was always playing in our house and, as I recalled the many nights of games and puzzles as a family, the sounds of the 70’s classics drifted back into my mind.  I could see and smell the old family cottage in my memory as if I had just walked through the door.  The strains of music lifted my spirits and helped me float back to a place I hold so dear.

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This song is just one of many.

I made a brief stop in my young adult life, remembering how I used to sing the songs from Annie ad nauseam and my mom never tired of listening.  I secretly wished I had red, curly hair and freckles and I’m sure my mom knew that about me but the songs, to her, sounded just as sweet coming from a child with brown hair and green eyes.

We grew together through music and, although my mom admittedly had trouble carrying a tune, we shared a love of old musicals.  The clock raced forward and those old musicals would come back, time and time again, to play an important part in our relationship.  After my dad passed, my Christmas Eve was spent with my mom watching The Sound of Music, every year.

Those songs last night, those happy memories hidden within those soundtrack scores, were all I needed to be lifted above the fog that has been weighing so heavily on my heart.  A few well placed notes on a page and suddenly I feel like it’s okay to be happy when I think about her.  I don’t have to be sad all the time, nor would she want me to be, and that is the message she sent to me through song.

I’ll never stop being sad, but those precious moments of being able to smile again are worth every tear I’ve shed.

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