Did You Smell That?

In an effort to help end my writers’ block I’ve started checking out the daily prompts offered by Word Press. They often don’t appeal to me and I have yet to see one that’s gotten my fingers to fly across the keyboard however the following suggestion has been floating around in my mind. They suggested that we look at the connection between touch and memory. How the feel of something can take us back to a certain time and place.

I thought and thought about that idea and all I could come up with is that I don’t really think that’s true for me. My strongest sense memories all seem to be related to smells.

As a kid I had a weird little habit. I did not suck my thumb or have a blankie, I sniffed the collar of my nightgowns. I don’t know, it just comforted me. Every night I would fall asleep in bed while contentedly sniffing my nightie. Smells continued to loom large in my life, both pleasant and repugnant.

As a matter of fact I have learned to recognize the scent of an approaching migraine. All of a sudden I’ll smell cigar smoke. No visual haloes for me.

When I was running a lot there was one particular spot on my longer runs that in and of itself was a reward for running. The scent of pine needles so sweet and so strong that I would immediately be transported back to summer camp. I would take that route just so that I could reach that aroma.

The smell of strawberries, always pleasing, takes me to my old habit of collar sniffing. I can still remember being a little girl and checking out the different smells captured in the flannel of my nightie when I came across the scent of strawberries. My best sniffie moment ever. I know, combine that with my crush on Mr. Clean and my nerd girl reading habit and I think maybe I was kind of a weird kid. I’m sitting here laughing to myself as the realization just now hits me.

A freshly cut cucumber equals summer plain and simple.

Lemons mean Love’s Fresh Lemons perfume and the 1970′s.

Babies. Nothing smells as good as a baby’s neck. That’s the scent of love and motherhood.

The day old scent of smoke from a fire on clothing is summer camp cookouts, fresh smoke from a fire is the quintessential scent of winter. A cold, cold winter day has its own smell that will always remind me of our first winter here in the north.

Scratch and sniff storybook paper is the memory of snuggling with and reading to my niece about 27 years ago.

I could go on and on but I don’t want to bore you.

So tell me, is it touch or smell for you? Or is it something else completely?

No Fault In The Book

I know that I must have mentioned at some point in time that I am a big reader. I always have been.  As a little girl I had a favourite doll, Baby Bright Eyes*. I loved her because when I would squeeze her hand her big blue eyes would light up enabling me to sneak-read in bed under the covers. It was the perfect ruse. If only they had invented a Baby Blow Hole that I could have used to help me with ventilation under all those covers.

When I was young and passionate (a.k.a. snobby) about my reading it was only fine fiction for me. Don’t get me started on books made into movies. Why can they never seem to do them justice? The Life of Pi being the one huge exception that I can think of.

So last night my son dropped a bomb on me when he told me that The Fault In Our Stars is being made into a movie. This could be on the same level of bad as when they tried (with minimal effort it would seem to me) to make A Prayer for Owen Meany into a movie. I still shiver just thinking about it.

Image

Last March break when we were away on a family vacation one of my twins wanted me to read The Fault in Our Stars as he had just finished it and thought I too would like the book. We read a lot that holiday, passing books amongst us as we finished them. So I read the book. I read the book and I cried. I cried and I cried. I went back to the hotel room and I cried in private. I read next to the pool and I cried in public.  My other son read the book and while he did not cry he understood my tears. He understood them so well that he was able to quote lines from the book that would choke me up. My sons were amused and I was embarrassed.  As a parent it is a crushingly sad book. But it is the strength and the brilliance of the characters that make it such an beautiful read. It is an important existentialist novel that is not just meant for teens. However, it does introduce existentialism to teens in an easy to understand manner without speaking down to them. The characters are intelligent without being condescending, they are filled with pathos without being pathetic. 

I even bought a copy of the book for my Kindle so that I could highlight it to my heart’s content.  This is one of my favourite quotes:Image

I don’t know John Green but I love him for giving the world this book. I only hope that the movie does him proud.

 

 

 

*I tried to find an image of Baby Bright Eyes to insert into this post, I wasn’t successful and now I need to sleep with the light on – there are some very creepy dolls out there! 

Creeps Me Out

I’ve noticed lately that the chipmunks around our home seem to be disappearing and we now have more squirrels than ever before. It may be coincidental but I don’t think so. I’m not saying that the squirrels are up to anything nefarious, maybe there just aren’t enough acorns for the two groups and the squirrels being bigger win by default.

I am no fan of rodents. I am embarassed to say that a mouse spotted will definitely cause me to leap onto the nearest chair and then tack up a for sale sign on my property. I’m going to have to go have a shower as soon as I finish writing this post. So, of the two I definitely prefer chipmunks to squirrels. Squirrels are just too rat-like in appearance. In my mind they are just rats with good P.R. My husband claims it’s different because they’re not carnivores. I know some human vegetarians and they look just like the rest of us so that reasoning doesn’t work with my very logical mind.

A few nights ago I was lying in bed alone, my husband was out of town, when I heard a hair raising sound. It was the rapid scratching of something trying to claw its way into my bedroom from just under the window next to my bed. Now this is not the first time that I’ve heard this sound. It seems to have happened around tis time of year for the past three years. The first time it happened was just after we had renovated our home. We had new insulation installed in our attic just over our bedroom. I was sure that in the process mice had gotten in and were now in our walls. Cue the shivers and the for sale sign. We spoke to our contractor and he assured us that this was not possible. Things were sealed up tighter than ever before. We did have a big mouse problem in our old cottage and I knew that the sound was not the same. I was sure that the sound was coming from the brick work. It lasted a couple of nights and we found that if we pound on the wall it stops. The same thing happened the next year and then of course a few nights ago. My daughter has come flying into our room in the middle of the night because she has heard the same sound outside of her room.

A number of winters ago I saw the odd phenomenon of a flock of small birds (maybe chicadees or starlings) land on our brick work and begin to rub their beaks on the bricks. Maybe they were getting some kind of mineral out of the bricks or maybe they were sharpening their beaks I really don’t know. Either way it was odd. Is this what the squirrel is doing? I have no idea but I really don’t like it. What is with my bricks?

Have any of you out there had anything like this happen? Can you solve my mystery for me?

It’s a great noise for a horror film. Now I don’t even want to go have that shower. I’m such a baby.

Image

My Head Hurts

I used to love going to The World’s Biggest Bookstore in Toronto. Then one day I was hit with the overwhelming realization that I will never manage to read all of these books. This thought saddened me a little and the store lost its allure.

I loved going for my evening walks. Beautiful sunsets, gentle exercise accompanied by the scenery of my neighbourhood’s homes whose interior lights glowed warmly behind drawn curtains. I would walk and think how behind every front door is a family’s life playing itself out just as my family’s story is slowly unfolding centre stage in my home. Each reveal vital to each family member.

These are the stories of life. Not unlike the books in my old favourite bookstore I will only know a very small fraction of these stories and of these few stories I will only know the very small parts that the players wish to expose to me.

Then stumble sent me this lovely little nugget;

I feel as though I’ve been sonderized, it’s all too much if you think about it. It’s beautiful, ugly, sad, happy, complicated, simple, kind, nasty, gentle and harsh. It’s everything all at once multiplied by the entire world.

Writer’s Block or Apathy?

I haven’t posted in quite some time and I’m not sure why.

It’s not that I haven’t had anything to post about it’s just that I haven’t had anything to say.

I’m really not sure if I have writer’s block (yes, I realize that calling myself a writer is quite a stretch but let’s just use that word for now) or if I’m just feeling kind of apathetic and uninspired. Is that what writer’s block is?

What do you do when you’re in this situation? Do you sit down at the computer and force something, anything out or do you just wait for the inspiration to return?

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Untethered

Well, summer is over and none too soon.

The kids are back in school and even with the holidays and my eldest off to his first year of university we are getting into a routine.

I’m calling this the summer that wasn’t.

The weather just couldn’t commit itself this summer.  Not rainy enough to say that we had a really rainy summer not sunny enough to say that it was a beautiful summer and neither hot not cold enough that we could use either of those words to describe it.

 

It was an especially tough summer for my family as we unexpectedly lost my father-in-law in July.

Believe it or not but 93 can still feel as though it’s too soon. Are we ever ready to say goodbye forever to someone we love?

There is so much that I could tell you about this man but this is far too personal for such a public forum so I’ll keep what I write to a minimum.

My husband and I had to go to Toronto in August. Usually we would drive in to town, pick up my father-in-law and go out to dinner together before going back to his place where we would stay. This time we had no one to check in with, no one who was calling to check our progress along the way.

My husband looked at me in the car and said, “I feel untethered.”

I could not have put it any better. It doesn’t matter how old you are or how many children you have when you lose your last parent you lose a piece of your identity.

You become untethered.

On Becoming Vintage

Once again I’ve been silent for a while.

It seems that I have a couple of things to write about and then I dry up and am left with nothing.  As I move through life and hopefully gain a little wisdom to go along with my age I’ve discovered that I much prefer to say nothing when I have nothing to say. I’m learning to become a better listener.

Life got really busy. School ending, the return of the Prodigal, camp preparations and then the Big Event. Well, it was the current Big Event in my life. A couple of weeks ago I hit the big 5-0. Yes, I now have half a century under my belt. I was really expecting to be hit by 50 more than to hit 50 myself. I’m ecstatic to report that this was not the case at all. It was more like being thrown off the dock into a cool lake only to discover that a cool lake is actually exactly where you want to be.

It started off a little shaky when the difference between turning 40 and turning 50 was made all too clear to me. When I turned 40 I decided that I wanted to be in the best shape of my life for that birthday. I spent the year training for a trialthalon (my husband and I were a team and he was going to do the biking). A week before the triathalon I sprained my ankle and could not participate. I was very disappointed but I had achieved my goal of getting into great shape. In September I decided once again to try and get into the best shape of my life.  Two weeks before my birthday I woke up one morning only to realize that I had completely forgotten about getting into shape. Oops. I should have written it down.

My eldest sister and her daughters changed things around for me by kicking off the celebration early by giving us a virtual evening in Paris with some of my favourite people on earth, my  female family members. My nieces, my daughter, both of my sisters as well as my mother were able to be there for me. It was a wonderful weekend and my sister as always was a gracious hostess. I think that she may know me almost better than anyone else does, she certainly remembers more about me and my childhood than anyone else on earth does. I consider myself blessed to have a good strong relationship with my nieces. My eldest niece and I have always been very close, she was after all my baby as well – at least in my mind. The knowlege of her thoughtfulness as to how to celebrate my birthday is very precious to me. It truly was a perfect evening.

My girlfriends at home made my actual birthday a celebration of friendship by surprising me with a wonderful walk on which we picked up friends along the way. After we relaxed I was then taken to lunch and surprised with the company of more girlfriends.

My husband was out of town for the weekend prior to and the day of my birthday. My children gifted me with good behaviour and a general show of concern for me on my big day. Once my husband returned we went out for dinner and he gave me a piece of jewellery that I have loved and wanted for a good 30 years – I am after all a jeweller’s daughter. It was the perfect surprise and a gift that I had never imagined that I would be given.

So, far from being depressed as I had expected I had a wonderful day full of love and friendship. As I got into bed at night and thought about being 50 the vision of coming across a vintage chair that is 50 years old and that could be sat upon without fear of it breaking came to me. I knew that my my reaction would be “cool chair”.  I’ve decided that I’m as good as any  chair (this is my new motto, as odd as it is) so I am cool with being 50. I should be cool to Hipsters too, after all don’t they love all things vintage?

I love and am loved by a caring family

I have a good group of friends.

I have been able to watch life unfold for 50 years and because of this I have gained a historical perspective.

I will not break if sat upon.

I am a very lucky woman.