Posts Tagged 'memories'

Vantage points

In life, there are different perspectives…
Hearts beat to different times,
Memories are caught in grand moments
— or small —
That we cannot explain to others, as though trapped
In a Faulkner novel that repeats

That repeats
That re-beats

Until it falls out of memory and skips back to
Moving forward.
With just one timeline to light our steps.

 ©rjn, 13 April 2016

First lightning bugs sighted at the corner of Church and Graveyard

6 days ago, on our evening walk, we saw lightning bugs. The other night I saw a bat out of the corner of my eye.

The official start of summer hasn’t happened yet, but summer seems to be sneaking in with heat, humidity, and shore traffic. And my thoughts skitter off to remember the delights:

  • Sitting on gnarled rhododendron branches that stretched over the edge of the lake at Girl Scout camp.
  • Or lazing in a hammock on the wrap around porch at my great aunt’s house, reading an Agatha Christie novel.
  • Walking to get popsicles with my father near the lake.
  • Fish boils at family reunions.

(And now because of my search, I’ve started watching a very gentle public tv show about Northern Door County… yes, it shows fall weather, but beautiful shots of the lake).

So, anyone else have summer vacation memory triggers?

One simple scarf – grey, red, blue

greyredblueThis garter stitch scarf was made the first year we lived in the house nearer to downtown. It was knit on summer days, gazing out at the mountain in the distance while listening to the radio. I used Minerva wool, because that’s what was in my Mom’s stash, and chose simple garter stitch, so I wouldn’t forget what side I was on and purl when I should knit.

I chose grey and blue, because the scarf was for my father, who had blue-grey eyes, and then red, so it wouldn’t be too boring. The moths have gotten to it a bit, and the Minerva yarn isn’t all that soft (he didn’t end up wearing the scarf because it was too scratchy).

It’s a memory of hot summer nights, when I first started the project, then the desperate figuring near November, if the scarf would be long enough by Christmas before I ran out of stash. Of time that ticked away while I was content, alone with my thoughts — back before I was worried about Latin class and physics. For me, it’s a bit more than a simple garter stitch scarf, but it’s time for it to belong to someone else. How about you — any early projects that have grown in importance over the years?

Memories of childhood spring up in unlikely places

Found in an antique store downtown.

Found in an antique store downtown.

Teaching Little Fingers to Play. I found it in an antique store downtown, among the furniture. This was my first piano book, which my mother used to teach me about middle C, octaves, etc. Mom, always sitting on my left, with me to her right in front of middle C at the old brown upright piano. This article talks about a writer’s “affair” with pianos, mentioning one of the prosaic children’s pieces that I can still sing “Here we go, up a row, to a Birthday party” (although I think it might have been “in a row”). Other books would follow, including one by Dimitri Kabalesky, whose music I can play without seeing.

What happened on this day in 1860

On October 31, 1860, Juliette Gordon Low was born in Savannah, Georgia. Thanks to the Girl Scouts, my Mom and I had years of bonding together. I got Mom’s old Brownie uniform, then my sister inherited it. I still keep one of Mom’s Brownie pins on my desktop. And Mom was the one who found the money for 2 weeks for 8 summers at a lovely camp in the Poconos. I was given books about scouting, books about camping before I ever went to sleepaway camp. I also had the opportunity every Monday afternoon to go to space in a renovated condo (Brownies), followed by Wednesdays downtown at a different location (Juniors and Cadettes). In High School, I had to drop scouting. The Girl Scouts gave me my first official job outside of college Work study at the camp in the Poconos, and I couldn’t have afforded college without it.

I leave you with the original Girl Scout movie (they would trot this out every 2 week session; I’ve seen it many, many times during my career as a camp counselor): The Golden Eaglet. Indirectly, Juliette Lowe provided me with a window of opportunities, including my first steps into adulthood. How about you? Were you part of the cookie brigade, a diehard camper, an International Girl Scout, or did you just enjoy the after school crafts they’d have at the Brownie clubhouse?

Places worth revisiting – Budapest, Hungary

Budapest, Hungary in the 1980s was an amazing mashup of historic buildings, hills in the distance, and armed Soviet guards in the subways. The subways had massively steep inclines, which were miserable in the snow of January. The electric trolleys were a different shape than they are in the States, with speedy reflexes on your part being your only hope of jumping safely on and off. No one seemed to speak English, and German was the only common language I had with the shopkeepers.

The city was beautiful, the people seemed friendly, and it’s just one of those places that is worth a revisit, even if it’s only in my daydreams.

  1. Fabulous monuments like the Fischerbastei. Here’s an aerial view (from the sky: look at the turrets hugging the cliff)
  2. Amazing churches that show the blend of historic influences on their walls, like Matthiaskirche
  3. A Dominican cloister preserved within the walls of the local Hilton hotel (we stared at the ancient well through the windows)
  4. Hotel Gellert (I really don’t know how the tour afforded to book us here, but we loved gawking at the spa and mineral baths,but weren’t brave enough to go in among all the businessmen in towels)
  5. The Central market, with its garlic vendors, rabbit hutches, and more fruit pyramids than I’d seen before
  6. And of course, the Hungarian National Gallery in the Royal Palace

So, if you could go back to someplace you visited in your youth — where and why? (Yes, this is the sort of stuff I think about while commuting. Much better than thinking bad words at people who don’t use turn signals.)

Another day of time travel

Do you find that scent can transport you through time in an instant?

It’s been another day with time to clean out closets, organize things (oh, and unload more boxes my Father packed), and I’ve been tripping the scents fantastic….

My (vintage 1983) bottle of Charlie is now with my other perfume bottles [link to the cheesy/classic ad campaign here]. It’s probably a billionty proof by now. I haven’t found my bottle of Ritz perfume (sadly) or the Windsong perfume. It would be kind of fun to find this Avon perfume bottle, with its kitten on a ball of yarn. It was the worst design ever if you wanted to use the perfume inside the bottle. I think there’s a spot in the old family home which is permanently scented by repeated dropping of the rolling, circular container of Amber.

I also unearthed a bottle of Kolnisch Wasser No. 4711. It still smells lovely, although it’s old enough that I don’t think they sell the flat glass bottles for travelers anymore. I could be wrong, of course.

Meanwhile, I’ve been poking around online, and managed to find the packaging of the perfumed talc that family members used to have. I don’t think I could smell that without invoking ghostly memories.

First Music

I remember sitting on the floor, wearing a buckled shoe on one foot and on the other a sock. In front of me was a square tin box with yellow, red, black, and blue diamonds painted on it and with a handle made of metal and a ball of wood. The square box was a hard thing for me to struggle with, holding it steady while I cranked the handle to listen to the creak of the mechanism and the galloping tinny sounds of “Pop Goes the Weasel” until the lid of the box flew off to reveal a clown made of crinkly paper with a bobbing, heavy face and outstretched arms.

If I dig further back, I remember being tucked into bed with a teddy bear that played a lullaby. The clockwork ticked away underneath the bear’s body until the key on its back when still. The bear broke when I was very young, and it was featured in photos from my first Christmas. I certainly have other memories, of people singing and playing the piano (my mother) or chanting silly rhymes over and over again (my father, who can appreciate music and sings quietly among the congregation at church, but rarely sings solo).

In each of these moments of memory, I’m rewarded with a reminder of how tactile music can be. It’s not just the sounds, but also the biting sharpness of the edge of a jack-in-the box as you crank the key [“Brahms’ Lullaby“]. It’s the woolly warmth of a soft baby’s toy that’s meant to encourage drowsiness. It’s the melody of a folk song [“Hang Down Your Head Tom Dooley“] with the smell of chocolate cake in the oven and a bowl to lick. At live performances, it’s the feeling of being swept off your feet by the vibrations of the pipe organ behind your chair [“A Mighty Fortress Is Our God“]. Or the swoosh of air moving your hair as singers rush past singing the opening song of the second act [a medley of songs from Hair, including “Let the Sun Shine In”].

It’s this tactility, of acting within the moment of the music, that makes me join up for chorus and daydream about taking time off to catch a musical in NYC. To me, there are no performances of music that are just about the music. If nothing else, there is the feeling of open space and the hushed motions of listeners in the audience. So how about you? Do you find music to be just purely an effect of sound? Or do you feel as though you are living more deeply within life’s experience while singing, playing, or listening to a musical piece?

Daisy Chains and Fireworks

Dahlia display

Yesterday was Independence Day — a day of memories. I remember groups of friends holding sparklers underneath the mimosa tree in the dusk while our parents chatted over iced tea. Dad’s quick search for the best firework viewing spots around town, and then us all tumbling into the station wagon with folding chairs to go to some bank’s parking lot. I remember nights spent listening to the concert from D.C. while trying to catch fireflies. Or learning to make daisy chains and clover chains from a family friend when I was 7.

Yesterday I was on a family trip to Chestertown, MD (which was lovely). The Chestertown city picnic there, with live music, was filled with families eating hot dogs and singing along to “You Are My Sunshine”. We left in time for huge rain downpours, followed by seeing the big City firework display at the waterfront while on the highway skirting the city.

“ Private,” unsanctioned displays continued in the streets. My neighborhood sounded like the War of 1812 until 3:30 AM in the morning. I prefer fireworks from a distance, so I spent a nervous night with the cats.

Almost every country has an Independence Day, Constitution Day, or a National Day… so I hope yours was/is splendid, whether it was May Day or St George’s Day (in April) or Syttende Mai or it is yet to come this year.

Note: the “firework” image is a dahlia from the yard.


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