NEWSPAPER JUNKIE (CLUB PROMPT – WHEN THE NEWSPAPER ARRIVES)

1 - CopyI remember hot summer days when I was about 15 waiting for Dad to come home from work. His time of arrival never varied….5.30p was dinnertime and newspapers were delivered into the boxes at the entrance of our neighbourhood shortly before he arrived.   At about 5.15p, I’d go outside, walk to the side of the street, get set into “proper” race starting position, and run down the small paved hill 100 years from our house to the neighbourhood entrance where the newspaper boxes were located.   If Dad hadn’t pulled in by then, I’d run back up the hill, get set, and race the 100 yards back to the paper boxes again.   Over and over I’d run imagining myself the premiere track star of the world until Dad’s car would make the turn at the entrance.   Sometimes, when cars were pulling out of our neighbourhood, I’d “race” them trying to beat them to the entrance where they’d pull out onto the highway. On one most confusing day, while “racing” a car down to the paper boxes, the driver shouted out his window to me as he pulled out onto the highway, “Fancy motor you’ve got there!”   (I’m still not sure what that means!)

When Dad finally pulled in, I’d grab the newspaper out of our box, hop in the passenger seat, and have him all to myself for the 15 seconds it took to drive to our home from the paper boxes. Later, as I neared onto 16, Dad would leave the car running, get out, walk around to the other side of the car, pick up his newspaper from the box, get in the passenger seat, and let me drive the car the 100 yards from the entrance of our neighbourhood, up the hill, and into our driveway.   I felt very “adult” and important. I had graduated from the days when he would sit me on his lap and let me steer to this…100 yards in the driver’s seat. Exciting!

My dad is a newspaper junkie.   For as long as I can remember, he would spend the time after work and dinner sitting in his chair reading his newspaper from front to back and back to front until he went to bed for the night.   It was annoying when one of us tried to get his attention because he could never really be torn away from his paper.   Sometimes, he even fell asleep in his chair still holding the pages of his paper open!   Am sure you can see why I was anxiously running to the paper boxes wanting to get to him and commandeer his attention before he got to the newspaper.    

On Sundays, it was worse! The SUNDAY PAPER was huge and took all day to read. He sat in his chair after church and dinner out and perused the SUNDAY PAPER from end to end only ever looking up to see a Steeler touchdown or a homerun from the Pirates game on TV that day. But even that’s not the worst of it….my dad, ever the practical, one year even wrapped his Christmas gifts to my mom in newspaper! Now that is a real newspaper junkie!

I remember when I began reading sections of the paper myself. I started small with comics and the like, but eventually Dad began pointing out a new teen column or a story on one of my interests thereby slowly indoctrinating me to THE NEWSPAPER.   I felt very important to realize I was thought of at all in his otherwise solitary world, though I did still view THE NEWSPAPER resentfully as an adversary for his attention.

It’s almost funny how competitive I’ve always felt with THE NEWSPAPER and how much of me has learned to adapt around THE NEWSPAPER to get to my dad. I even know conversation with him needs to happen as he comes into the kitchen to refill his iced tea glass, answer the phone, or eat lunch when Mom has it ready.    Suffice it to say, when I got married, we didn’t sign on for a newspaper delivery!

Even my sons recognize Dad’s obsession with his paper commenting on how he religiously reads in his chair.   They find it more humourous than I ever did.   As they’ve grown up, they’ve been very close with my dad and from time to time he’d clip out a little comic he found amusing or a story that reminded him of something they did and post it to them or hand it to them in person if he knew he’d see them soon.  

These days, the paper boxes at the neighbourhood entrance have been separated and moved in front of houses to save cars from stopping at the entrance.   But even now, every time I go home, I know I can count on a stack of newspapers being on the table next to Dad’s chair in the living room and him not being too far away.  Some things never change.

It took me a long time to understand that sometimes the headlines don’t tell the real story. It took me a while to figure out how to read between the lines. What I had always seen as a barrier in the way of my dad’s attention to me has now become both a hallmark and a gateway in my mind. Once I realized what I was dealing with – the typical 1950’s mentality where men do not openly express emotions – I began to see that small clippings sent in the post, an article saved to share in person, a comic cut out with a comment penned in, and/or directing our attention to an article of interest were actually visible and tangible signs that demonstrated quite clearly that Dad has been paying more attention than we ever knew.  

 

 

(photo credit: Getty Images) I borrowed from Google Image Search

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THE COLOURS OF AUTUMN’S CHILD (CLUB PROMPT – AUTUMN LEAVES)

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Most of my classmates are not aware of my imminent relocation.   Hence, I’ve decided to clue them in today using this week’s prompt.

As a child of the autumn, I’ve always been drawn deeply into the hues and majestic colours autumn brings. In fact, driving or walking along and seeing the changing colours of the leaves in all their magnificent glory leaves me quite breathless at times. In my mind, autumn is many things….a prelude to the glory of winter, the end of the humid summers, the time of year when all things outdoors hold the greatest interest for me with the lack of insects, cooler temperatures, and the dazzling spectrum of warm colours on display.

Symbolically, I suppose, autumn is a time for letting go as leaves do when they fall from the tree to the ground. Autumn demonstrates the impermanence of things and reminds us of death. As a child, I remember glorying in jumping into and stomping on piles of crisp yet soft leaves of the autumn. Perhaps subconsciously I was showing death it had no hold on me. I was perhaps stomping out its power. As an adult though, autumn challenges us to live each day to the fullest because we are aware we won’t be here forever. It reminds us of things and loved ones we have lost along the way and how still we must go on…just as the leaves fall, but still the tree lives on.

In the lifecycle of leaves first comes birth exhibited by new leaf buds along the branches of a tree. In my own life, I’ve had many cycles of birth…being born, starting school, the birth of my marriage, having children, moving to a new place, and so on.

The next phase of leaf growth is development when, in exchange for food, the tree gives the leaves water and nutrients to make sugar sap which it then gives back to the tree to sustain it. In the personal scenarios I just mentioned, there was a period of development be it going from infant to toddler, from newlywed to celebrating anniversaries, in finishing one school and beginning another, or in moving to a new place and then beginning to sustain myself in that new place. Specifically, I can acknowledge that this club has sustained me over this long period of development I’ve just undergone and has even pushed me into new growth where there would have been none.  Hopefully, I gave back by bringing something new to some of you in the group.

Once development in a leaf has crested, preparation for death in the formation of a scab and the ceasing of sap production begins. In my own life scenarios, this doesn’t necessarily mean death is approaching, but instead perhaps that it’s time to embrace new situations and begin again preparing for new growth. It’s also a time of tying up loose ends and taking stock of what you’ve gained and given and taking the needed moments to balance those scales.

The last phase of a leaf cycle is death when leaves turn colours from red to yellow, to purple and brown, and then finally falling from the tree to the ground. After this, the leaves break down into elements enriching the soil making it rich with potential. In life, there are no dead ends only new branches to explore. The branches of my tree are growing. This year, when the autumn leaves come again, I’ll be changing along with them in a new place….moving forward, and yet very much aware that I was once sustained on another tree in another place and how much more colour that tree added to me as a whole. My future endeavours will always be coloured with the splendor of my growth from autumn to autumn this year.

 

AN EDUCATION FOR SHORE (CLUB PROMPT – CHOOSE YOUR OWN SUBJECT)

As I get ready to relocate from the Eastern Shore, I thought perhaps a little reflection on all I’ve gained this past 11 months would be a good topic to write on this week.9

What I’ve learned in just under a year on the Eastern Shore…

I’ve learned small-town America is alive and well. I’ve learned about good neighbors that make time for each other and time for lunches together at the drop of a hat. I’ve learned that having a neighbor with a garden is a really nice thing! I’ve learned about hedge trimming and making a whimsical arch. And funnily enough, it took coming here to learn that Pittsburgh people bond no matter where they meet.

I’ve learned a bit about birds – I’ve seen a heron, ospreys, and a Baltimore oriole. I’ve learned a bit about plants. I’ve learned about the Wye Oak! I’ve been on a pseudo fox hunt and while not finding a fox, I did see a turtle, a few chickens, and horses. I’ve learned that chickens can be black and white! I’ve tasted an egg not from a store, but instead straight from a farm where I saw the chicken that laid it!

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I’ve revisited what it feels like to be the youngest in a group. I’ve learned what it feels like to be the most technologically-inclined in the room which is such a nice change from how I usually feel with a teen in the house. (Heck, I even blog now!) I have learned that dial-up connections still do exist! I’ve learned that upgrading seniors takes TONS of patience (but my Mom already gave me an inkling of this one before). I’ve brought the older generations here the term OMG and I’ve relished hearing them use it.

I’ve learned so much about history. I’ve learned that there are public squares that girls weren’t even allowed to walk in in the past. I’ve learned that the word cousin used to be a proper noun. I’ve met someone who holidayed next door to Princess Grace, someone else who knew Eleanor Roosevelt, a person with a family tie to Queen Victoria, and someone who lived by Mr. Duncan of the famous Duncan YoYos of my youth.

Creatively, I’ve learned about art and an artist’s thought process. I’ve learned tons of terminology about the tools and concerns of an artist. I’ve learned why people take pictures of places near the water and where to find beautiful sunsets.  I’ve learned that I enjoy writing and that writing clubs rock! I’ve learned that people actually make guns for museums and it takes quite a while. I’ve learned that there are groups for model boat builders and boy do they take building little models seriously!

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I’ve learned that boating is a whole world. I’ve learned what a dinghy is and all that it can do. I’ve learned the term waterman and what that means. I’ve learned how to board a boat and that boats make me a bit dizzy. I’ve learned a few boating terms. I’ve been on a yacht. I’ve learned that the Fourth of July is very cool when you live in a boating community and all the boats are out on the water to see the fireworks. I’ve learned that when you live in a boating community even the floats in the Christmas parade are boat-related.

1I’ve ridden on my first ferry and found it quite pleasing. I’ve learned about oyster shell driveways.  I’ve eaten at a restaurant at an inn where Queen Elizabeth, Margaret Thatcher, and Henry Kissinger all visited and I’ve eaten at a restaurant in the home where Robert Morris died. I’ve also seen the busiest counterweight drawbridge in the nation.

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I’ve learned where crabs and oysters come from and what a crab feast is. I’ve learned how you eat an oyster (though I haven’t done it myself!) I’ve learned that the Bay is famous for crabs. I’ve learned the term soft-shell and what that means. I’ve learned that there is a rule about which crabs can be caught. I’ve learned people covet crabs and that crabs can be transported alive. I’ve learned that crabs are steamed alive!

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I’ve learned that my son does better in a calmer environment. Conversely, I’ve learned what it must feel like to have a rock star for a son because I’ve also learned that when girls outnumber boys and you’re the new boy in school, girls can get REALLY aggressive trying to win your attention. Hence, I’ve learned that male/female ratio in a school is VERY IMPORTANT.

I’ve learned that flat land makes biking a whole lot easier. I’ve learned that it’s really quite charming to be able to bike to the store for a few groceries and I’ve learned that it’s even more charming to feel safe enough to send your son on his bike to the store for something. I’ve learned that I can bike much better than before. I’ve learned what it feels like not to be able to keep up with the over-80s on a bike! (Now that was a wake-up call!)

I’ve learned that the wind here is fierce! I’ve rescued a car from a flash flood when its elderly owner couldn’t get to it due to the force of the wind. I’ve been part of a makeshift ‘ambulance’ team to get an older woman to the hospital when she was knocked over by the wind and unable to get up.  I’ve learned that I can drive the Bay Bridge and what a crosswind actually feels like!

I’ve learned that a lot of the things that used to matter in my life don’t really matter in the slightest. I’ve learned a slower pace of life and a less intense view on things can actually work and I will still be okay. I’ve learned what it feels like to do something completely different. I’ve learned that I can adapt – I’m not great at it, but I can do it. As rough as this past year has been for me, I am actually quite proud that I did it.

It’s been quite an educational year for sure!