Connor is able to sit through slightly longer stories with slightly fewer pictures as he gets older and his attention span and comprehension gets a little better. In his collection of books (and he does have quite the collection, most of which belonged to his Dad and his uncle back in the day), there are a few titles that I used to have as a child — like the Better Homes and Gardens Story Book.
My Mom says I was able to read at age three (my son’s age now), but my memories of laying on my floor and reading this book on my own are more around age 5 or 6, I think. It’s a collection of stories and poems, and I had some favorites, and there are some I’d never read at all — for instance, I don’t even want to tackle the dialects in the Uncle Remus stories as an adult, reading aloud.
Connor specifically asked for The King’s Breakfast one day, though, and that tickled me, because I do remember liking that one — partly because I also saw it on The Muppet Show:
I think, perhaps, that my tendency to read it to Connor in my fake British accent stems from me subconsciously imitating Twiggy as I read it aloud.
Connor and I were watching the episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood where Mr. Rogers visits the Dance Theatre of Harlem. Of course, I mentioned to Connor that Mommy used to take ballet class when she was little — and, of course, he wanted to see pictures.
I took ballet class at Laura Penton’s Academy of Classical Ballet (later renamed the Medina Academy of Classical Ballet, now long since gone) from when I was four years old to when I was eight. Over those four years, I performed in three recitals (we moved to Florida in 1984 just before what would have been my final recital), but I could only find photos of my last recital from 1983, when I was seven — the one with the purple sequined leotard and tutu with the magic wand and matching star tiara.
All the snapshots of my actual dance recitals involve me looking like I’m out of sync with everyone else, in addition to being a head taller than
all most of the other girls. My mother insists that this is because all the other girls were taking their cues from me. I think she’s just saying that because she’s my mother.
(Now that I look closer, though, none of us are really in sync, and we all look very serious, like we’re concentrating with all our seven-year-old might. And none of us have particularly good turn-out — of all my memories of ballet class, I recall our teacher harping on us the most about that.)
I also wonder if future generations whose major life moments were captured on early digital cameras or cell phone cameras will experience the same kind of technology regret that I feel when I look at these old pics from my Mom’s 110 Instamatic. There’s something kind of meta there, too, though… some parallel between the fuzzy memory and the fuzzy picture. Try as you might, some details just can’t be recalled exactly as they were.
Just Googled my high school choir director and learned that she retired in 2012. That makes me feel extra old… but glad for her, anyway.
I’ve written about this a few times before — probably because the memory is so vivid and special to me.
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One of my first vague memories is of being cradled in my mother’s arms, standing in the open front doorway. I could smell and feel the rain, and hear it, and hear the thunder, and all the while my mother was telling me how beautiful it was.
– – – – –
I remember the feel of the mist on my face, the sound of occasional thunder and the flash of lightning, the constant patter of rain, and the clean smell on the wind. As I got older, Mom would stand with me at the door, and I remember her telling me how pretty the rain is.
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When I got a little older — say, school-age, or close to it — we’d watch for the flashes of lightning, then count: one-one-thousand, two-one-thousand, three-one-thousand (which I later learned is backward from how most people do it), then either nod knowingly or jump, startled, when the thunder finally rumbled or cracked its reply.
I grew to love thunderstorms. The smell of them, the sound, the beautiful contrast between the clouds and the land. The beauty, the drama. When we moved to Florida, I discovered that it would thunderstorm every afternoon during part of the year. I would sit in my bedroom, listening to music or reading, smelling the rain and watching it sheet down the open casement window.
Later on, I learned that my mother had purposefully instilled in me that love of storms, because she had been made so afraid of them by one particular incident in her childhood. Even so, I’m glad she did.
Thunderstorms, to me, are moments when I can stand at the open door, or sit on the front porch, or gaze out an open window, and let my senses take over. I breathe in that clean-smelling air, feel the mist on my face, and I’m four years old again, and there’s nothing but me and the rain.
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Last night, Connor woke up around 4:30am, scared of the thunderstorm. I hugged him while he told me that the thunder was scary.
“I think it’s pretty,” I said.
He thought about it. “I think so, too,” he agreed. Then he remembered what he’d learned in preschool earlier in the week, and his eyes lit up: “And when the rain is done, your flowers will be growed!”
Tonight, though, he wasn’t so sure the thunder was pretty. So, I pulled up the blinds, opened the window, and knelt with him at the windowsill behind the curtains as we watched the rain. The breeze carried the scent of rain into the bedroom, and I felt a fine mist on my face for just a moment.
I put my arm around his waist. “The rain is so pretty,” I said. He agreed, and we watched the dark clouds roll by, and watched the rain fall in puddles on the driveway.
“Mommy, look!” he said. “You forgot to put those sticks in the garbage!”
Ah, well. It was a nice moment while it lasted.
Planned to post a #tbt to my blog tonight, but couldn’t find a picture that plucked a nostalgic happy chord. Just not feeling it, I guess.
So, what happened last year? Not nearly as many life-altering events as the past couple of years, thankfully — not to say that things still weren’t interesting at times.
(And, yes, I know I’m getting this out a little later than usual… but at least it’s still January, right?)
During the winter of 2013-2014 (aka the Polar Vortex), Toledo got 7 feet and 2 inches of snow in total — that’s over two feet more than normal — and saw temps dipping down to -15°F. It was a particularly miserable and treacherous winter, and it killed several of my plants to boot.
We bought furniture in the spring. In March, we bought a new bed: a California King. We’re sleeping better (for the most part), and we’re no longer stealing each other’s blankies, since there’s plenty to go around. Then, in April, we bought furniture for our sunroom, so we can all properly enjoy the outdoors indoors.
In April, I got in my second-ever car accident — as with the first one, through no fault of my own. A semi driver didn’t judge the wet conditions properly and collided with me from behind on the expressway. That resulted in my first-ever trip to the ER, my first CT scan, my first case of whiplash, and my first dealings with injury claims representatives. I am now paranoid of not only being in another driver’s blind spot, but of leaving assured clear distance and being tailgated.
In May, we held our 2nd Annual Memorial Day Weekend Shindig. Ten adults and two toddlers hanging out in the sunroom on the new furniture, enjoying sausages and hot dogs and snacks and desserts and one another’s company. Good times.
In August, Toledo’s water supply got overrun with blue-green algae and its byproducts, rendering it unsafe to drink for a full weekend. Mass panic ensued all over town, of course. Aaron went out and got jugs of well water from a friend’s house, then handily found plenty of bottled water at the store, anyway.
All through the spring and summer, I got really into my gardening. I took two full days and two half-days off of work specifically for gardening purposes, in addition to spending many Saturday naptimes outside. I managed to rid my beds of the invasive Maypop vine (mostly) and get the front fence looking neat and tidy.
In September, after one of my last gardening days of the season, I got into some trumpet vine and had a severe allergic reaction. A trip to urgent care got me a steroid shot, plus steroid pills and antihistamines, and the knowledge that I am exceptionally allergic to trumpet creeper. Luckily, a co-worker’s son (who isn’t allergic) came to my house and removed it for me, taking it home and transplanting it at his own house.
Connor enjoyed his first real Halloween this year! On October 30th, he and I went to Harper’s house and handed out candy and enjoyed beautiful weather and a fire in the firepit. On Halloween, Daddy stayed home from work and we went trick-or-treating in our neighborhood in the rain. We only hit two houses, but Connor had a great time, all the same.
In November, I got new glasses for the first time in about four years. My prescription actually hadn’t changed much at all.
On Thanksgiving, we drove about 2.5 hours to Grammy’s apartment and had a Very Nice Time. Aaron’s brother came along, and Uncle Phil made a cameo appearance. It was the first time we’d seen my Mom’s apartment, and hopefully it won’t be the last.
I’m putting me at about age seven in this picture, so it’s probably the Summer of 1983. There are several pictures of me from this particular trip to the playground, but I think this one is my favorite. It captures so much… if you know what to look for.
I was a happy kid, for the most part, except for kids teasing me about my weight. Kids called me fat, but I was mostly just big overall. I was the tallest girl (or the second-tallest) in my grade for most of elementary school, and I was no beanpole. I wasn’t obese, though, so kids were just being kids when they told me that I was “as big as the whole universe.”
Mom frequently told me to be careful that I didn’t “fall and bust [my] head open,” and you can see that right hand holding on to the jungle gym (or was it the tall slide?) to be sure of just that.
That waist-length hair was so much a part of who I was for so long. I was the girl with the long hair. (And look at that fantastic color!) I didn’t get it cut until we moved to Florida the next year and I picked up head lice, at which point we cut probably six inches off to make the lice-combing easier. I was devastated to only have hair down to my shoulder blades.
And, really. It’s the ’80s. Just look at those shorts.