Daily Post Photo Challenge “Vivid”

viv1It always draws controversy. I recall a neighbor glancing at the painting with the discerning eye of a collector remarking, “How in-ter-esting!” Love it or hate it, it hangs on my bedroom wall. This vivid, lively swirl of jade green, orange and blue with the upside down heart (my interpretation) The painting that brings the memory of my father closer to me than well, many memories themselves.  He loved this painting.  Just glancing at it brings him close to me again. We never knew where he bought it or who the artist.  Likely, one of this beloved auctions or tag sales.   They say scent is the strongest indicator of a memory yet for me, the visual of this painting is like going home, vividly.

The vividness of a garden flower in bloom

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Every August we spend a week at a fly fishing club in Vermont for our family vacation. As our sons grow, we also enjoy the ritual of a new sweatshirt purchased at summer’s end for the upcoming Fall school year, compliments of Shaw’s General store.   This past summer’s choice was a vivid yellow. I love the way it appears against the backdrop of the lake and a sunburned nose.oviv

 

 

 

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In The Company of Women – A Tribute to My Father

Today is the ninth anniversary of my father’s death.  Quite simply, I believe he was the greatest father imaginable.  He left a legacy of love, laughter and life lessons embedded in my heart. In tribute, I have re-blogged a story I wrote in his honor.

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Me (lower left) with my two sisters and father. My youngest sister does not appear as she was born eight years later. This was my father’s passport photo taken back in the day when children appeared in picture with their parents.

“In The Company of Women”

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A photo of me and my sisters along with toy poodle Daisy, female too of course.
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I was one of four daughters, attended all girl catholic schools my entire life, never knew what a jock strap looked like, have no idea how to change a tire and never experienced the bright stadium lights at a night-time football game.   My father did put up a basketball hoop once in our driveway, short-lived when the ball sailed through the glass pane of the garage door. There it stood neglected for years a sad testament to the son my mother never had.

My Scottish reared father never once expressed regret at not having a son. Rather, he reveled in his four daughters and life among them. He loved his girls. Though there were times we tried his patience. A flashback of his screams from the shower after being cut by a worn down razor blade used on too many female teenage legs. Or his aversion to the smell of nail polish remover. He hated the smell of nail polish remover.  He was equally content watching a rugby match as he was a cooking show.

During his daughter’s bridal showers, all four of them, rather than fleeing for the afternoon as most men might, my father would delight in being part of the celebration.  There he would sit center stage, in his recliner, newspaper in hand (a ploy to feign disinterest) among the squeals and chaos of thirty females.  Every now and again as a new gift was unveiled he would lift his head up casually and remark  “Ah what’s this one? Hold it up a little closer Kath…”

My sister Sheila, too experienced this sometimes disadvantage of not having grown up with or been schooled among boys.  When she and my mother visited Lord and Taylor to buy her first boyfriend a birthday gift, the saleswoman paused in puzzlement as she inquired as to where she might find the men’s “blouses.”

In addition to my father there was in fact one other male in our family.  A big, beautiful Irish wolfhound, brought back from a holiday in Ireland.  I recall listening in on a now famous conversation in our family between my mother and the vet. “I need to bring Connell in to be spayed,” The vet’s patient reply:  “You mean neutered Mrs. Dickinson.”  My mother’s reply “Oh, yes that is when they fix his vagina?”  My sister and I stared at each other, and then burst into laughter. We thought that something must have gotten lost in translation as my mother, Irish-born, often had her own interpretation of words. Looking back however, I think she simply believed Connell like the rest of us, female, at least in theory.

I married and ironically, have two sons. My eldest is named William in honor of my father.  My husband has taught them the things his own father taught him; how to throw a ball, using common tools for simple jobs, being kind and respectful.  My sons are equally in touch with their feminine side and have as many female friends as male.  They have five female cousins whom they see frequently further adding to their comfort level with girls, not to mention the added bonus of always have a date for the prom.

But I guess in at least one aspect boys will be boys. Despite my pleas, they still on occasion leave the seat up.  I have one small consolation.  Our family’s toy fox terrier Anabel is female.  My father would have loved that….

My handsome father at the 1964 World's Fair being interviewed. He was general manager of Restaurant Associates at the time.
My handsome father at the 1964 World’s Fair being interviewed. He was general manager of Restaurant Associates at the time.

Magic Drinks

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ROCHESTER, September 26 — Eastman Kodak Company today announced its intent to stop making and selling slide projectors by June 2004.

“The Kodak slide projector has been a hallmark for quality and ubiquity, used for decades to produce the best in audio visual shows throughout the world,” the company said. “However, in recent years, slide projectors have declined in usage, replaced by alternative projection technologies.”

One of my happiest and most comforting memories of childhood was our family slide shows.  These coveted movie nights which generally took place once a year, consisted of nothing more than three simple ingredients:  a blank wall  in our living room, a Kodak carousel slide projector with my father at the mast and myself and three sisters,  huddled on the sofa,  pressed together in anticipation like peas in a pod.  My mother, who had seen the slide shows too many times to mention, usually busied herself with other things, occasionally stopping in to comment on a particularly beloved picture.  Prior to turning off the lights, my father would announce in a deep theatrical voice “Who wants a magic drink?”

They were always different in taste and made from whatever struck his fancy that night; orange juice with a splash of pineapple juice and Grenadine or perhaps apple juice and ginger ale with a jigger of seltzer.  The ingredients were unimportant.  It was the anticipation of what was to be and the lovely ritual of our movie night routine that we cherished.  Those magic drinks were just part of the show.

There was always one slide, without fail, that was turned upside down. This would halt the show momentarily, as my father with a slightly frustrated “tsk” would right the renegade slide. And we were ready to go once again.

I loved that Kodak carousel projector and the faded yellow boxes of slides stacked beside it. They were never labeled so each reel was a surprise in itself.  Who might appear on the screen that night was anyone’s guess — my six or sixteen year old self?  Our first family pet Bubbles the beagle, or our gentle giant of a Great Dane we called Jenny?  My mother posing on the beach in her youth, or proudly cradling her first grandchild? The lack of chronology only added to the experience.

Some days, in the quiet of my mind, I can still hear the slow deliberate click of the projector, advancing slowly, telling without words the story of our life.  Slide to slide, toddler to teenager, mother to grandmother, youth to twilight.  An entire lifetime displayed on the wall of the darkened living room.

When my parents died, I cared about no other of their possessions albeit that time warped machine that could somehow transform me back to family vacations, birthday parties and people and places no more.  With my sister’s blessings, I brought it to my own home with the promise to bring it to family gatherings, a carousal reunion of sort.  Though it is yet to be.  It sits up on a shelf in an unused room.  I have taken it down one or two times in a half -hearted attempt to have my own family slide show but then, as it spits and jams due to age, return it in frustration to the lone closet.  Surely there is somewhere that can restore the Kodak carousal to the beauty of its youth so we may once again enjoy those magical images.

And I will mix for my own sons, those magic drinks..