Photo Challenge Day 6 – Shiny and Day 7 – Shopping

Apologies to the photo challenge followers.   Day 6 I continued to feel under the weather and although I did not post that day, I did take my challenge photo on day 6.   Today, day 7,  I am starting to feel better and we went out shopping and I was able to sneak in  a photo today using  my phone.

Photo Challenge Day 6 – Shiny

This was taken of a small vintage aluminum tree in a local store where I teach card making. The glitter covered ornaments just caught my eye and I knew that this was my shiny photo.   I played around taking snapshots of to the tree trying to find the right light and depth of field.    This one was the best of the what I came home with.

 

There is something magical in about this tree.

There is something magical in about this tree.

Photo Challenge Day 7  – Shopping

Those who know me, know  I am not one who enjoys shopping.    Today we went to town to do our adopt-a-family shopping.   RangerSir’s office adopts a family and the employees and several of the retirees all shop for this family.   Then the day of the office Christmas party they wrap all the gifts and get it ready for delivery to the contact person.    No matter how I feel about shopping I always find myself getting a little crazy picking out just the right things for the adopted family.   RangerSir and I hit the local store and it was not long until we had a full cart of goodies we had picked out for the family.

I am not going to win any awards for this photo, but I got more joy from this shopping trip that you can possibly imagine.

I am not going to win any awards for this photo, but I got more joy from this shopping trip that you can possibly imagine.

Like thousands of others who shop for others who are not as fortunate,  we dig up our best memories and try to share them with strangers by what we pick to give the family we will never know.    We want to help them create memories of holidays and family.   RangerSir and I by tradition always give pajamas and socks.    I remember having warm double brushed flannel PJ’s at Christmas.   I am not sure if they were a new pair or not but  I want these little kids to have something warm to wear to bed and lounge around in the evening.    My family was a great bunch of game players so we always get the kids each a game that hopefully they can play with their siblings.   Of course I have to add books to the collection, because they can take you places and let you do things you may never get a chance to do otherwise.     This year’s family of kids are being raised by a Grandmother and Great Grandmother.   I can not imagine have four kids under 9, as a grandma to raise, but thousands of grandparents find themselves doing just this.    Keeping warm in Montana is always a challenge.  My boss has a cuddly throw she swears by and I have one that I am sitting under here as I write tonight.    RangerSir and I decided that the grandma’s should have some thing like this as well.   We found one for each of them that we hoped each of them would enjoy as they spent time with their grand kids     Lastly like so many others in the group of employees we added a local grocery card.   The family  can buy what they need most or a special holiday treat. They know best for their family.  I came home feeling better about the day and encouraged that maybe I will make the holidays and the new year special for a family who I will never know.

Memories of Vacation Travel

As a kid I traveled with my grandparents for vacation.    My family did not vacation, maybe a family picnic, but destination vacations were NOT in our family’s schedule.   On the other hand my grandparents were always on the move and included me in their travels.   Granny kept track of it and by the first grade I had visited all of the lower 48 but Florida.

I am not exactly sure why my grandparents thought traveling with a small child was a good idea, but the did and made lots of memories for me.   My grandmother would put together a travel kit for each vacation.   I can still see the tartan plaid tote all the goodies went into.   It was all planned to keep me engaged, entertained and maybe learn something along the way.   Things that went into this magical bag were only used on vacations so it was that excitement of see special things and new things each trip.

My bag looked something like this minus the picnic fixens.

Each year there was a game card for license plates.  Like almost all the games it was on the cards that hose were wrapped around in the box they were sold in.   Some years it was a list of all the states and Canadian provinces, that could be in alphabetical order, or admission to the union order.   Once in awhile it was even a map with no state names. It was before photocopy so it would mean Granny would draw the US with all the states on the card.

I had a magic whiteboard about the size of a piece of legal paper.   It was drawn on with special crayons, that I would be able to rub off.   There are two memories that stick out in my mind about that whiteboard because I used it to communicate with other drivers.   I would often write honk your horn and hold it up in the window to other drivers.   We must have been tooted at more than any other car.   Once a group of nuns were following us.   The nuns and I carried on a conversation for miles using my magic whiteboard and paper they had in their car.   Don’t think about safe driving distance or the fact there were no seat belts in the car as I was doing all of this.

My bag was full of maps.   My Gomper (Grandpa to the rest of you) had studied them before he left and Granny was the designated navigator.   Yet I too was expected to follow us along on the map.   Gomper would ask me what’s the the next town?   How many towns till we get there?   We turn of on route 78, what is the town just before our next turn?   It is still the way I navigate, by towns.

There was a little notebook that I was to write in each day.   I would give a small mint to read about the world from the perspective of a child and what I recorded in those books.  When I was very small I would dictate my daily notes to Granny, who I assumed was faithfully writing it all down and not actually jotting grocery lists.

There was a collection of hose cards with the alphabet faithfully printed on them.   These were for all sorts of games involving the the alphabet, some of them competitive between my Granny, Gomper  and me.    It was the days before Lady Bird Johnson cleaned up  the highways from signs and we would see who could first find all the letters of the alphabet in roadside signs, motor court motel names, or anything else she came up with as possible.

There were travel bingo cars.   They were a collection of commercially made cards with themes of what you were looking for.   I think we had three of  the sets.   One with signs, one with numbers that you found on license plate, one with vehicles of all sorts , and one with objects like windmills, pigs, barbershops and the like.   This last card would likely be pointless on today’s modern interstate system. Each of us had a card and Granny ran Gomper’s card as he was the driver.

There was a card likes this roadside objects. We also had one with license plate numbers, and one with vehicles (convertible, dump truck, cement truck, tractor)

Then there were the memory games that we played and went on forever.   They were of the nature of my father owned a grocery store and in it he owned…..   You worked your way through the alphabet and each person had to repeat all the previous items.    We would do all sorts of things hardware store, farm, church and we did not let you have bananas in church so you needed to be listening and thinking about what you might have for that letter.  I wonder if that is where I get my good memory from.

All of you know that I could not carry a tune to save my soul if you had a gun to my head.    My grandparents on the other hand could sing wonderfully.    We would sign songs in the car; the only time in my life that I have ever been encouraged to sing out loud.   I think most of our songs were somewhat religious in nature (I suppose that was the minister who was driving that made that happen).   I remember this little light of mine, found a peanut, and of course Jesus loves me.    We would also sing in round which I only remember a few of those row row row your boat,  three blind mice, allouette,  and Frère Jacques.   That was the only French I ever spoke or sang.

Lastly there was a new collection of activity books.   They were full of dot to dot, mazes, find differences and color pages.   Most of this went unused as I was a car sick girl who never got better with time.   There were hundreds of “Gomper Stop the Car!” moments in my life.   I have barfed along more roads than any little girl should have.    I traveled most of the time hanging over the seat between Gomper and Granny looking forward.   If this did not do the trick I stood in the on the floor in the front with my face in the AC vent right where the front window met the side window with Granny gently stroking my hair, looking forward breathing slow and deep.   (Another of those OMG moments when I think about what if he had had to stop suddenly).

When we traveled recently for vacation these memories all flooded back.     It took Granny lots of time to plan to to not have a bored child in a car for often over ten hours a day.   That planning gave us all time together in ways the regular life did not allow.   It made for special bonds and special memories of places and people.   I was one lucky little girl growing up.   Today when folks travel with children it is with portable video, iPods, iPads  and when kid travel with their heads down.    They have no idea where they have been or the changes that have passed them by.     To me, who has no children, it seems sad that they have done exactly the same kind of thing they could have done for the travel time as though they had never left home.   In fact at home you would not have likely let them watch videos nonstop for eight hours.   Maybe Granny and Gomper’s travel method would not work for hours on end with today’s children, but a few hours of it might be nice on your next vacation.  You might be making memories you will never know about until years later.

 

Changing Purpose

Today is the day we celebrate Memorial Day in the US.  I am old enough to remember when Memorial Day was celebrated on May 30th.   Buddy Poppys were sold and everyone had one.     My hometown had a parade then ended with the local veteran’s group at the cemetery with a 21 gun salute for the military who had died.

At some point the US government thought it was more important to have a three-day holiday than to honor our military who died in service.  Time has marched on.   We now have an all volunteer army.   We say we support our troops, but talk is cheap.   Our military force is so much smaller, and many of the citizens no long have a connection to our military.  Most of us don’t have a brother, sister, uncle, aunt, father, mother cousin, sweetheart or neighbor who is currently serving or could be in harms way.   When I was in high school boys worried about being sent to Vietnam.   Everyone seemed to know someone who was affected by the war.    Of the thousands who have died and been wounded in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, I don’t personally know a single family that has been affected in that way.  This personal distance and moving the holiday to a more convenient Monday has cause a loss of the meaning of Memorial Day.

Maybe  it is time for this holiday to be returned back to May 30 and force us all to think about why this holiday exists.   It is not a three-day holiday.   It is more than a day off of work.   Godspeed and thanks to all those who have given their lives in service of our country.

My Favorite Holiday

Not Christmas but Thanksgiving.   I love Thanksgiving because it is a holiday everyone can embrace.  It has nothing to do with religion or buying gifts.  Rather than separating us by our beliefs or economics,  Thanksgiving allows us all to come together.      It has everything to do with acknowledging good fortunate and  how blessed you are in life.  There is so much to be thankful for, the love of our friends and family, food on our table, shelter from the seasons, a job when so many don’t , our health for so many don’t, our country,  and I could list so much more.   We each have been given so many gifts.   It is one day set aside to encourage us to say Thanks.   That by being a holiday it hopefully forces us to take a time out and include a little reflection on how blessed you are.

I love that Thanksgiving is a secular holiday. I have over the years have celebrated with great joy and reflection with my family, friends and acquaintances of so many different religious persuasions.   We have hosted people in our home of many different faiths: Jewish, Islam, Christians,  Muslim, shamanic believers, agnostic, and no faiths at all, atheists.   In this time of such strife, that we came together in a single home and reflect on our blessings, was in itself a blessing.  We always said grace and everyone at the table contributes with something they are thankful for.   Imagine all of us praying together, not in the name of one religion or another but as humankind.   It  gives me hope that the rest of the world can work toward not fighting in the name of religion.  That is truly something to be thankful for,  the love of humankind.