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!

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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.

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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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?

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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Another hurdle, a few more kleenex

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I knew today would be rough, another hurdle to overcome in a long list of firsts since losing my mom.  I spent some fun time with family last night having some good laughs, which was great.  After a fantastic dinner and jokes that only my family would appreciate, I got in the car to head home.  A dear friend had sent me a text message letting me know she was thinking about me and how much of a difficult time I would have today and the first tear came with many to follow.  I’m pretty sure what I experienced Oprah refers to as “the ugly cry”.

I vowed today would be better…and it was.  I made a point of keeping myself occupied by working on the scrapbook and some decorations I am putting together for mom’s upcoming celebration of life.  Sure, there have been a few random tears that have escaped during the afternoon but most of the day has been spent remembering her in a way she would want me to – with a smile and affection that has no boundaries.

These are some of the ways I have honored my mom today in her absence on this first mother’s day without her.  I miss you every day.

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Stymied by a dense fog

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I have been devoid of words for the last few days.  I have felt unmotivated to read or write and that is very unlike me.  I have no clear excuse for the change in my patterns, but have felt a shift in my mood.  A funk seems to have settled in the corners of my brain and is spreading like a low-lying fog making everything in its path disappear.

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I took my dog for a walk this morning and this was the sky that followed us as we forged ahead.  Perhaps it is a sign to me that the light will shine through once again and life will get back to normal.  I have missed reading blogs by my fellow WPer’s and vow to kick these blahs to the curb and feel that flow of creativity once again.

I hope you all have a happy Friday and a great weekend to follow.

The colors of life

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I grew up in the 70’s.   And in that decade color was so prevalent you could almost taste it.  From the psychedelic album covers (for those of that actually know what albums are) to the drastic disco outfits and lava lamps – color was everywhere.  Wall posters of our favourite bands awash in reds, oranges and purples were plastered on the walls in our teenage bedrooms and things as ordinary as kitchen appliances were bathed in a spectral representation of the full color wheel.

Mood rings were all the rage and my mother’s affliction for that particular piece of  jewellery was my first foray into the correlation of color and feeling.  Colors are tied to our emotions and even used to describe feelings.  People will tell you that they are feeling blue when they are depressed or green with envy and when angered, they see red.

Contrary to some opinions we dream in color.  The intensity of the hues in the hours of our sleep are described as representing the emotions we are experiencing in our conscious hours.  Dreams of black often epitomize stress and the feeling of being overwhelmed and the presence of color can be translated into the myriad of emotions we face each day.

We all appreciate color in our own unique way – from the clothes we wear to the decoration and palettes we choose in our home.  Color can be used to represent who we truly are and the state of mind in which we find ourselves.   I love the outdoors so when it came time to choose the items in my home I brought a part of Mother Nature’s landscape indoors by decorating in greens and browns.  My home gives me a sense of comfort with those rich colors and relaxes me in a way that a stark monochromatic home never could.

There really is something golden in the absence of sound.   I am going to spend an hour after work letting the warmth of that orange sun settle on my creamy flesh.  I am going to smile at the red buds on the branches and allow the blues and greens of nature soothe my soul.

What color are you feeling today?

First kisses and blushing cheeks

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Although Mother Nature has been confused of late and has been unsure what type of weather she should be serving at her luncheons, I am glad I was invited to the feast yesterday!

Mid to late March is a questionable time, at best, in terms of the weather buffet.  We have been served snow storms, ice storms, damaging winds, hail, rain and a myriad of other weather systems but yesterday was a perfect spring day.  Although the predicted temperature was only 7 degrees, the penetrating warmth of the sun was absolutely remarkable.  I have more of a tan now than I likely will in July or August.

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The mood of human beings is noticeably elevated on days like yesterday, especially at this time of year. Lawns to the south of us are raked (mine is still buried under several blankets and a duvet of snow), patio furniture is assembled and set out and although we know there is a chance of another random snow fall….we don’t seem to care.

I feel energized in a way I have not felt since the warmth of the sun left us last fall.  There is a vast difference between seeing the sun in winter and feeling its warm kiss on your cheek after the spring solstice has arrived.  The last two days have been radiant and my mood could be described the same way.  The sun leaned in for our first kiss of this year and I have color in my cheeks, a tan line on my shoulders and an energized consciousness that I have not felt in months.

Thank you, Mother Nature, for seeing fit to make us feel invigorated and helping us welcome a new week on such a high note. Hopefully you will remember how blessed we all felt this weekend and alter the forecast of snow and below zero temperatures predicted for later this week.  I prefer this happy mood to rocking back and forth in the fetal position!

 

The wall remains the same – Trifecta Challenge

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My desires lay buried under a shroud of mistrust.

My resolve, firm.

Hidden feelings will be anchored there.

Not even the strongest of wills can worm the truth from me.

The walls remain.

~~

Written for this week’s Trifecta Challenge: Now on to the weekly challenge.  Remember, we’re now looking for exactly 33 words.
Good luck and happy writing!

WORM (transitive verb)

1a :  to proceed or make (one’s way) insidiously or deviously<worm their way into positions of power     — Bill Franzen>
 :  to insinuate or introduce (oneself) by devious or subtle means
 :  to cause to move or proceed in or as if in the manner of a worm
:  to wind rope or yarn spirally round and between the strands of (a cable or rope) before serving

- See more at: http://www.trifectawritingchallenge.com/#sthash.UzfsT4Xh.dpuf