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Saturday, May 24, 2014

Memorial Weekend

In the chilly stillness of the morn
A day begins, a day is born
Think about what you can do
In free hours which are too few
Will you rest or play or work?
Think of those who don't shirk
Their duty so that we can have a say
In whether to work or rest or play
On this memorial Saturday.
--Susan Donald

Those of you who follow me on Facebook know that for the most part my status updates are in short verse. This is the one I posted this morning because even when I'm feeling cruddy (which I am today due to a springtime cold) I can come up with a passable rhyme. Since I won't be doing much in the way of celebrating this weekend I'm remembering Memorial weekends past.

My parents always made a celebration of holidays and when I was very young we had a charcoal grill which Dad was in charge of. Mom made her tuna macaroni salad, potato & egg salad, and green jello salad, and sometimes deviled eggs. There were potato chips, pretzels, cheese doodles (my favorite), raw vegetables and a cheese plate to go with the hamburgers and hot dogs. Strawberry shortcake, sometimes homemade ice cream and toasted marshmallows eaten at dusk as we ran around the yard with sparklers topped off the day. Those were nice days.  I recall one Memorial Day parade in town my senior year of high school. I was on the drill team, which meant I was on a squad of girls twirling flags leading the marching band down the street. Usually we wore short flippy skirted uniforms with short white boots with pompoms in our school  colors on them. I loved those boots and the clicking sound they made as we marched along, pompoms swinging in time to the drumbeat. This particular parade, however, we were allowed to wear denim shorts, white tee shirts, red bandana neckerchiefs, and white socks and canvas shoes. We were all so happy about that! It seems a small thing now but I'm sure it was a huge deal to my 18 year old self.

After I was married my husband and I spent most Memorial Days at my parents' house with pretty much the same menu only by that time my parents had a gas grill and one of my brothers or my husband was just as likely to be in charge of it. Some years, after we bought our house, my in-laws came to stay with us so we had a small picnic here. After our first daughter came along we walked down the hill to our town's Memorial Day parade. One year it was so cold it was spitting snow yet we still went to watch what was a very small parade with no bands in it save one of our elementary school's on the back of a flat bed playing patriotic tunes. When my girls were a little older they marched with the Girl Scouts, and my husband with his pipe band. I'd drop them all off at the beginning of the route then go park at the end and wait for the parade to reach me so I could take pictures. Once my eldest was in high school she marched in that band. We don't go to the parade any more, and we generally don't go anywhere or have anyone over for the holiday. Perhaps one year we'll begin having a get together on Memorial Day, I'd like to do that again.

Those are some of my Memorial Day memories. I hope that you have some nice memories, or are planning to make some new ones this weekend!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

A Mother's Purse

What is in a mother's purse? Pretty much anything you could need. Runny nose? Here's a tissue. Tickle in your throat? Have a cherry cough drop. Bored waiting for the doctor? How about a game of tic tac toe played on the back of a dry cleaner's receipt? Oh, your hair's a mess;  comb it please. Poor dear, your head hurts--use my collapsible cup to get some water and take this Tylenol.
My mother's purse was always full, ready for anything four kids could need when out of the house. Mine also is full of "just in case" items. My daughter, even though she's not a mother, can fit so much in her purse that when she starts removing items I am in awe of her packing skills.
My earliest recollection of carrying a purse is of a homemade denim one I had in high school which was full of important things like makeup and pens and cherry Lifesavers candies. It feels strange when I go somewhere without my purse--it really gets to be a habit! Even when my mother was affected with Alzheimer's she never left the house without her purse. By that time, however, it was empty except for her house key rattling around inside it.  It was the saddest thing to me. Life once so full and vibrant became an emptiness profound in its vacancy. Sometimes I think about that, but usually my full purse reminds me of Mom and how she was always prepared to care for her family no matter where we were. It's a tradition I have continued and passed down to the next generation.

This is a sketch I did several years ago of a purse I bought my daughter at a "purse party" at a friend's house.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Supermarket Stuff

         If I ever win the lottery one of the first things I will do is start ordering all my groceries online and have them delivered to my house.  I do not like going to the supermarket but it is a necessary task that falls under my jurisdiction.

         In order to make supermarket runs more  palatable I sometimes look to see what others have in their carts and make up a little story (in my head) about them. Dinner party, child’s birthday, quiet dinner for two, and girls’ night in are just a few of the scenarios I’ve created. Small orders are my favorite for guessing as I think you can tell a lot from the collection of items in the cart.

         Sometimes I see something that sends my mind wandering down memory lane.  Just today as I passed the bin of colorful bouncing balls of various sizes I was transported 20 years back in time.  My girls were young, and there was no easier way to bring smiles than to pick out a new ball then go home and play in the yard after putting the perishables away.  I remember they used to have fruit scented balls and we had a purple grape scented one and an orange colored orange scented one, each with a goofy smiling face on it.  I wonder if they still make them.  Those were nice times.

         Frequently I have short conversations with strangers when I am at the market.  One Sunday morning as I stood in the tomato sauce aisle considering my options a man stood next to me and asked what I put in meatloaf. I told him how I make it, and he asked some questions including if I thought three pounds of meat would make enough meatloaf for four people with some leftover.  At the end of the conversation I wished him a happy successful dinner party, made my selection and continued on.  Near Valentine’s Day as I stood in line at Shop Rite having stopped on the way home from work, I learned from my fellow shoppers that one was making chocolate covered strawberries for her family, another was buying a huge Whitman’s Sampler for a soup kitchen, and a third was making goodie bags for her children’s school parties.  I didn’t ask, for some reason people just start conversations with me.  I don’t mind, it passes the time pleasantly.
         Even though I don’t like going to the supermarket, it is a place that must be part of my life so I have found a way to make it pleasant; and when I win the lottery I’ll find someplace else to go where strangers who feel so inclined can tell me stories.