Hating Turkey


Hate is a big word, temper that to strong dislike. Strictly a holiday meal, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter demand roast Turkey and all the fixings. Nobody plans a dinner party in May with “hey, a Turkey would be great”.

The idea of Turkey eclipses reality. There’s a reason we say “I hope it’s not dry” – everyone knows it will be. Turkey requires gravy, cranberry sauce, or mayonnaise once it lands in a sandwich. Families believe size matters, holiday Turkeys linger for days. Soup is Turkey’s greatest gift, immersing that carcass in water means the end of Turkey for another year.

Restricting Turkey to once a year wasn’t easy. I blame myself, stuffing is practically a food group in my home. Nothing fancy, half bread, half sausage meat, onion, celery, and sage. Preparing copious amounts, even though the “cavity” only holds a few cups is lost on my family. I’ve tried to explain stuffing can be served anytime, pointing out almost all the stuffing is baked far from the demon Turkey. No good.

All day “don’t overcook it”, “I hope it’s not dry”, “are you watching the bird”. It’s a damn Turkey! Have you ever had one that melts in your mouth? Turkey is an obligation, if it rocked our world we’d be roasting them all year long.

Trouble


Trouble doesn’t necessarily mean “trouble”, it can mean sit down and enjoy the ride, hold onto your hat because the wind is picking up, or holy crap – this is unexpected. Trouble can mean the start of a very good day; a bat shit day of wild abandon – troublesome only for those who reluctantly find themselves in a ring side seat.

I knew it was trouble when I booked a flight to visit my sister in a few weeks. It isn’t that I’m trouble or she’s trouble; the truth is – we’re trouble. We don’t mean to raise our families eyebrows or make too much noise at 3 AM – we just do, we can’t help ourselves. We are polite middle aged women who inexplicably turn into giggling morons if left alone too long. We dance, call bullshit on each other and collapse on the floor in fits of laughter.

This may not sound like trouble, yet assure you it’s troublesome to those in our path; we become idiots for reasons only we understand. In all honesty, we can’t understand what happens; what’s important is – it doesn’t matter.

I’m the little sister by ten months – she wasn’t even walking when I was born. If I was oil, she was water; two people couldn’t have been more different. We started school the same year, were known as the “sisters” and secretly loathed each others presence. We were always fighting or competing; she – outgoing, me – painfully quiet and shy. We drifted apart to the point of not even speaking to each other for years.

I couldn’t pin point the moment our lives changed; the moment we opened our eyes and looked at each other again. All I know is she’s trouble; the kind of trouble that makes me feel young and stupid, the kind of trouble that leaves us feeling sheepish as we apologize for disturbances in the wee hours of the morning. I don’t know who’s crazier, nor does it matter. Life is over in the blink of an eye; pondering irrelevant details is a waste of time – I’m perfectly content knowing trouble’s name is “sister”. Somehow, a week with her makes all my troubles go away.

Gift


A remarkable gift from Dad rests quietly on my desk. I didn’t tell him how much it meant, and doubt words could have formed a fitting sentence. Unwrapping it two days ago still feels like a dream, placing it gently on my desk provided a whispering pinch,  I was awake.

There I am on the upper left surrounded by my siblings. My beautiful older sister tilts her head cheekily, below her a brother whose faded image still shines with a “head up shoulders straight”  no nonsense approach in life. Below me little sister exudes mischievous joy as baby brother looks faintly down from above.

Dad’s gift took me home. Home isn’t where we live, it’s where we came from. A vine, twisted and permanent without demands of explanation or regret. Sometimes the greatest gift is a reminder of sinuous tendrils that bind us.

My gift rests where it belongs; a enchanted corner of my world that beckons without remorse. This is my family, thank you Dad.

 

2015-08-21 00.31.26

Adventure Day Four


It wasn’t forceps at birth, the unfortunate placement responsible for virtually no vision in one eye – never knowing anything else, she managed just fine. A “good eye” was more than enough – published writer, poet, artist, teacher – she saw more with that eye than most people absorb in a lifetime. Her vision allowed others to see – she used language to evoke wonder, transforming everyday ordinary into extraordinary. Infectious, she enveloped people lucky enough to glimpse the world through her good eye.

She lacked depth perception – no big deal. Never an issue, nobody expected her to drive at night – we couldn’t truly fathom her difficulty. None of us saw the demise of “good eye”. In hindsight, I’m certain she  fought with stoic denial for years. None of us took it seriously – the car accident, followed by a immediately revoked driver’s license got our attention. It seems “good eye” had developed holes – Cone Dystrophy to be precise. Degenerative, irreversible, incurable – imagine having only one good eye, ponder losing that eye to growing holes across your field of vision. My mother is legally blind.

I can’t give sight, criticize depression, shrug off bouts of despair or begin to comprehend her increasingly dim reality. That said, I refuse to coddle or patronize – as long as she’s able to stand on her own two feet, I’ll give her light. Adventure day four delivered.

If a more spectacular late December day transpired, I must have been out of town. Weather reports promised sunny and cold, we weren’t advised of perfection. Boarding the 9:30 AM ferry to Langdale on the Sunshine Coast, we catapulted into the realm of fairytale light.

2014-12-30 13.32.52

Mom at Ruby Lake

2014-12-30 14.34.43

2014-12-30 12.17.48

2014-12-30 13.38.59

2014-12-30 14.22.45

2014-12-30 13.40.41

2014-12-30 15.28.03-1

Adventure day four deserves more than a few pictures on my phone. Like taking a picture of the Grand Canyon – it simply doesn’t work, you have to be there. The truth is – it doesn’t matter. Light cast a spell, it’s part of me now. Light’s greatest gift went to my mother – light allowed her to see long shadows, exquisite hues and reflections. Even if only in her mind’s eye, it’s part of her now.

 

Mother’s Day Letter


With Mother’s Day on the horizon, I wanted to re-post this from last year.

notestoponder

I couldn’t settle upon tonight’s ponder until I commented on a post by wordpresser sakshivashist. Her words allowed me to remember a letter I had written to my mother as she was packing for a move across the country.

http://cruisingthroughmylife.wordpress.com/2013/04/20/behind-locked-doors/

With Mother’s Day just around the corner, rather than ponder, I decided to share. We seem to forget that mothers, fathers, grandparents, and siblings are all people – just like us, and doing the best they can. Instead of building impossible expectations based on story book characters, lets all take a moment to see the people in our lives as beautifully flawed. The characteristic that makes us interesting, and gives dimension to what would otherwise be a flat, predictable world.

 

When I sat down to write this I thought about writing a thank you , I love you, and will miss you note. While all those are true, and…

View original post 367 more words

Kinder-Egg Travesty


Why can’t toy manufacturers leave well enough alone? Without a doubt, toys are divided along gender lines – fair enough – in principle. Little girls like caring for baby dolls, boys love pushing trucks through the sandbox. Between these poles lies a vast world of gender free play and imagination.

What baby didn’t have a set of wooden blocks, floating bath tub toys or stuffed animals; gender neutral beginnings, understandably parting ways as kids get older. My daughter loved mermaids and unicorns, my sons trains and trucks; perfectly natural, part of growing up. My ponder takes no issue with gender based toys – at least not in this post. My irritation stems from that sea of gender neutral fun that once nestled between the two. Ingeniously simple play, accessible regardless of gender.

Etch-A-Sketch, Slinky, Play Doh, Lego, Kinex, Brio, Playmobil, and Kinder Surprise – examples of non specific gender marketing – simply great toys. Toys that didn’t have to be pink or blue, toys that any kid played with. I’ll be generous by forgiving pink Etch-A-Sketch or Slinky; attempts to jump start sales in a ToysrUs, mega-store era. I’m not sure what was wrong with Mr. Potato Head but suddenly there was a Mrs. Play Doh began marketing gender specific “play sets”, Lego introduced “Lego Friends”, specifically for girls – gone was square head Lego man – replaced by ridiculous plastic bimbos, kittens and puppies.

Kinder Surprise for girls was too much; the travesty responsible for pushing me over the edge. Kinder eggs began in 1974, the brain child of Ferrero – put a toy inside a chocolate egg. Billions sold, thousands of different toys inside the yellow capsule – really cool surprises waiting to be assembled. High quality, clever little gems – often silly, but never totally lame. You never knew what that yellow capsule would give up – one thing for certain, it wasn’t guaranteed to be a ring, hair accessory or plastic princess. At least not until Kinder for girls came along.

We always buy Kinder Surprise to put in Easter baskets and Christmas stockings. My kids are adults now yet they still look for that foil wrapped egg. My husband had no idea of Kinder’s gender split when inadvertently picking up eggs wrapped in slightly pink foil – they keep their gender packaging subtle. Horror gave way to outrage as egg after egg revealed disappointing centers.

The logic behind gender specific everything eludes me. Girls liked square head Lego man, and took no offence with Mr. Potato Head. Girls don’t need pink paper or ridiculous depictions of girlish nonsense at every turn. There used to be a realm of toys children played with because they were great toys. Once upon a time, a world of non-gendered fun entertained generations of kids. I wish someone would tell marketing nit-wits to leave well enough alone.

“Bored” Games


As a child we played a lot of board games – Monopoly for the most part – more often than not, it ended long before any satisfactory conclusion. Not that it mattered, the rules were simple and it was something to do.Every family had a Monopoly game; expressions like “get out of jail free” or “do not pass go” became part of popular culture.

Monopoly wasn’t something I would ever classify as fun; the premise of collecting property by forcing others into bankruptcy struck me as vicious – perhaps explaining why the game rarely reached a conclusion. I can’t recall a single game with an amicable parting of players. If we didn’t lose interest, it was guaranteed someone stormed off in a huff.

Before Christmas, shopping found me in a game store. Years since I’ve paid the slightest attention to boxed games on store shelves. I’m can’t say for certain what I expected to see; board games never really went out of style – judging by my twenty something kids and “gaming” cafes or bars popping up all over town – boxed games are big business.

I know what I didn’t expect – Dogopoly, Catopoly, Princessopoly – row upon row of “opoly”, knock offs as far as the eye can see. Hard as I pondered, I couldn’t imagine playing Catopoly; in hindsight, I wish I’d taken a closer look at what exactly these cats were trying to accomplish. Likewise the hundreds of “hopefulopoly” speculators trying to cash in. The Monopoly franchise; seemingly unstoppable despite being one of the most boring games in history.

Monopoly began with the best intentions; often playing when we were bored, once in a while the entire family sitting around the kitchen table – full of anticipation, happy to be doing something together. It was a recipe for disaster – games took far too long, financial calamity gripping unlucky children with unparalleled vengeance, attention drifted as the rich got richer – polite players were bored, the rest were sulking or walking away from the game.

Monopoly is a strange game; kids don’t want to land in jail, go bankrupt, face a punitive banker, or live on the wrong side of the tracks. The game drags on for eternity, the only happy players being those with property and money to back it up. Seeing countless versions on the game store shelf left me asking – why?

I have great memories of playing Scrabble, Checkers, and Risk. Card games never caused problems, never sent any of us storming out of the room or feeling defeated.Board games are supposed to be fun; we settled on a game called Theories – players take turns reading a historical or scientific statement with 4 possible answers, others place their answer face down on the table, the reader reads out the answer which may or not be true. Points are awarded for calling a bluff on the reader, or having the correct answer. Dull as that may sound it was lots of fun – fast, silly and never leaving anyone with the urge to storm off.

Parker Brothers marketed the first Monopoly game in 1935. In 1941 the British secret service had UK licensed  manufacturer John Waddington Ltd. create a “special” edition for Nazi held prisoners of war. Distributed to prisoners under the guise of fictitious charities, the games contained hidden maps, compasses and real money useful for escape. In 1994 Hasbro – parent company of Parker Brothers – gave a license to USAopoly for a San Diego edition of Monopoly. Since then, several more U.S. publishing licenses have been granted, licenses exist in the UK, France, Germany, Australia, the Netherlands and Nigeria.

I found a blog post claiming  the definitive list of Monopoly versions; a total of 2433 –  written in 2006, I would guess hundreds more are collecting dust today.

http://jergames.blogspot.com/2006/02/monopoly-versions.html

Learning of wartime Monopoly shenanigans makes me feel a little happier;  knowledge of the world’s most popular, boring, rage inducing game, able to find a useful purpose , means Monopoly has one redeeming quality.

http://militaryhistorynow.com/2012/12/20/how-allied-fliers-used-monopoly-to-escape-from-german-pow-camps/