Friday, October 29, 2010

Jack's Mr. Pumpkin

This is a story I wrote when my youngest child was five.
 He turns 21 this week.

It was a tragic end to Jack’s day. Someone had taken his pumpkin, smashed the remains and scattered them just a couple yards from the front door. We all knew it was Jack’s from the tell tale pink and green florescent pieces. Jack sobbed his little heart out.

“Why did they do that Mommy, why my Mr. Pumpkin?”

How was I to explain to my tired, overwrought five year old why fate in the disguise of Halloween pranksters had picked his pumpkin for this sorry end?

Earlier that day I brought the children to the shop, pumpkin hunting. We looked over the specimens that remained and finally each of the children made their choice. Jack and his three older siblings chatted excitedly as they planned their carving strategies. The minute we arrived home they scrambled for crayons and paper. Each design of prospective faces set off a chorus of, “What do you think of this one Mom?” I scrutinized the drawings carefully and then made the only pronouncement a mother can in this situation, “That is just wonderful! So Original!” Designs finally decided on, it was time to clean, scrape and carve the pumpkins into the proposed masterpieces. The older children got right to the job at hand. Tops were cut off their pumpkins and insides scraped out. After cutting the top off Jack’s pumpkin, I handed him a scraper. He put his little hand into the pumpkin and his face screwed up into a knot. His big blue eyes disappeared as his button nose scrunched up into his forehead. His beautiful bow mouth stretched straight across his face as he roared, “YUK! YUK!” With disgust he turned to me and said,” You do it Mommy!” Well I suppose that’s what mothers are for, the Yuk jobs. Once cleaned, Jack drew the face he wanted carved on his pumpkin. It was a very interesting face, with two large oblong eyebrows, round eyes, an upside triangle nose and a lopsided grin. On reflection, it was quite an endearing face. I think it was the mischievous grin.

The pumpkins carved, the time had come to add drama with paint. Jack loved to paint. He watched with wide eyed delight as I placed the paints on the table. With a soft chuckle he hugged his pumpkin and said, “I’m going to make you the bestest pumpkin in the whole wide world.”

As the children painted I got the camera. Any mother worth her salt knows these are the precious moments. They stood with brushes poised waiting for picture taking to cease so they could proceed with phase two of their artistic creations. Ten minutes later everyone was finished painting, everyone except Jack. He was busily painting every inch of “Mr. Pumpkin.” When Mr. Pumpkin’s identity magically emerged, I do not know.

The finished creations were placed on the front steps for display. The time had come for costume assembly and creativity on my part with face paint. Once decked out they rushed about excitedly trying to find the trick or treat bags bought the week previous and put in the proverbial safe place. Bags found and in hand they raced out the door and I breathlessly tried to catch up. They knocked on doors for the next two hours stopping only because their bags had become too heavy.

The treats we had for callers had dwindled down to a few tootsie rolls. It was nearly 8PM and there was a knock at the door. I gave the three young teenagers the last of our goodies and apologized to them for the rather thin pickings. They let me know in no uncertain terms that they were not amused.

I closed the door, turned to the children saying, “I hope you weren’t rude like that and remembered to say thank you to people.”

They assured me they had thanked everyone, even the person that gave them a toothbrush.

It had been a long and exciting night. but the time had come to remove costumes, wash off  face paint and get ready for bed. The children wanted to bring in their pumpkins before going to bed. This is when we discovered to Jack’s horror and mine that “Mr. Pumpkin” was missing. Oldest son spotted “Mr. Pumpkin’s” remains scattered on the road. Jack was inconsolable. Finally to settle him I promised first thing after school the next day we would go to the shops and buy a new, “Mr. Pumpkin.”

I spent the night tossing and turning hoping I would be able to keep the promise I made to my five year old. There had been so few pumpkins available earlier that day.

The next day I collected Jack from school and we began our great pumpkin expedition. We tried shop after shop, but no pumpkins. I was just about to give up when we passed a garden shop and there sitting outside the door I spotted at least a dozen pumpkins. I felt like I had found the pot of gold at the end a rainbow. I sighed a huge sigh of relief as I pointed them out to Jack. Before I had the keys out of the ignition Jack was at the door of the shop weighed down by his new “Mr. Pumpkin”

The shop owner was a friendly elderly man who looking at my son asked, “Well young man, what’s your name?” “Jack,” he replied, “and this is Mr. Pumpkin.” The shop owner laughed turning to me and said, “Aren’t they wonderful at this age!”

Agreeing I then asked him “How much?” Looking at my son he said, “Jack, you can have Mr. Pumpkin. You brought a little ray of sunshine into my day. Enjoy.” I thanked the man profusely. Jack sang and chatted to his new Mr. Pumpkin the whole way home.

Once home the carving and painting ritual was repeated. The new pumpkin was now a bonafide “Mr. Pumpkin.” Jack insisted this “Mr. Pumpkin” be kept in his room where no harm could come to him. Weeks passed and as “Mr. Pumpkin” withered, Jack began to lose interest.   We were able to move “Mr. Pumpkin” who began to smell a bit offside, outside. He was placed by the backdoor and there he sat until after Christmas. I just hadn’t the heart to remove him. I had grown attached to the old boy!

My scanner is not working so I was unable to post the actually photos of that Halloween or of Mr. Pumpkin I & II. But rest assured I do have them, buckets of them!

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Face in the Mirror

John Ormond, 23 (Dad)

I had a profound conversation with my Father a long time ago.  The sentiment he expressed with a wistful sadness resonated deep within me. Our conversation had taken a philosophic turn about life and he said,
“You know Ann, when I look in the mirror I don’t know the old man face looking back at me.”

With a sigh he continued, “And when I realize the old man face is me, I am shocked because the face I expect to see is 23. Inside my face is 23."

I looked into his eyes and was surprised because for a split second I caught a glimpse my Father's 23 year old inner self.

I hadn’t reached the stage in my life where I did not recognize the face in the mirror nor had I experienced shock at the reflection looking back at me. But I understood the sentiment he was trying to convey.  It seemed a truth to me. Once I heard it my being knew it. I was deeply moved as he struggled to reconcile his inner self image with the outer appearance time had dealt him. My father was about the age I am now when we had this conversation.

The reason this is on my mind, well I recently looked into the mirror and guess what, I gasped at the old lady face looking back at me. I had to look deeply into her eyes before I saw myself.  In my mind’s eye I am  the 30 year old woman my father confided his struggle in that day. 

I began wondering why the reflection I expected to see was my 30 year old self. Was it because at this time in my life, I had my beautiful children, full of life and vibrant around me?  Was it because I lived in my dream house and when I closed the front door against the world each night I felt safe and contented? Was it because this was the decade of my life when all the planets seemed to align. I was young, healthy, with a wonderful husband, four beautiful, healthy children and a life filled with possibilities. This led me to speculate about my father’s age of contentment and endless possibilities.  Was it 23?

Dad & me at 30

 At times I grapple with age, but I don’t give it over much thought. Except of course on those occasions  I don’t recognize the face in the mirror looking back at me. When it does happen though, that moment, that split second of not recognizing self is not quite as shocking or distressing as it might have been, because my Father forewarned me.  He had prepared me

Ever since that conversation when I look at an elderly man or woman, I immediately wonder what face is in their mind’s eye. Sometimes I cringe when the elderly are patronized, because I know in their mind's eye they are not the feeble bodies, gnarled hands and worn faces the world sees. They are not that face in mirror. And if you look closely…very closely and deeply into their eyes you might get lucky and catch a glimpse of their inner self.

When you look in the mirror what face do you expect to see?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Just Put One Foot In Front of the Other

My business cards have arrived. Aren't they pretty. I love them. You may notice the blank space under my name, where a title should be. I toyed with the idea of having "Writer" printed below my name, but I felt that would be presumptuous of me. I know…. my friend, Theresa of Substitute Teacher’s Saga is always saying if you write, you are a writer and I agree with her. Really I do! But that didn't stop me with big red face, gingerly hitting the backspace key six times. Maybe by the time I order the next batch I will have published something and feel justified in declaring myself, "Writer."

Why did I get business cards you may ask? I attended a writers’ workshop this summer. Are you fed-up of hearing about this workshop? Anyway at workshops end and before my fellow students and I went our separate ways addresses were exchanged. Actually business cards were exchanged by all but me. I handed out little bits of paper with my email and blog address scrawled across them. So I had a light bulb moment. Why not get my own business cards. I know, a bit slow on the uptake, but better late than never! Right?

Now I am wondering who does one give undeclared “Writer” status business cards to. Last Saturday night, I gave one to a couple, husband and I met while out for a meal. Needless to say I had indulged in a glass of wine at dinner or I would never have been so bold. But what I am going to do with the other 199!!!! I suppose I could put one in with the Christmas cards. But that strikes me as a bit cheeky. Sort of like....hey look at me and my beautiful fancy business cards. Well, I guess it is either that or indulge in 199 glasses of wine.

The other thing I want to ramble on and bore you with is my purchase of Sketcher Shape-Ups! I made this bold online purchase last spring. I was delighted when the rather large box arrived in the post. Ripping open the box I pulled out the Shape-Ups that promised me a tighter, shapelier backside and good legs. Included in the box I was surprised to discover was a booklet and DVD. Did Sketchers think I needed a DVD to instruct me on walking I muttered to myself? I tossed the DVD aside, after all I learned this skill eons ago.

I have walked miles in my Sketcher Shape-Ups. And to date, neither my backside, nor my legs appear to be any shapelier. In fact they look much as they always have, shapeless and flabby. Is it possible I have been walking incorrectly all these years? Doesn’t one just put one foot in front of the other. Is there some other way to walk I am not privy to. I suppose I should go on a search for the discarded DVD and find out.

Monday, October 4, 2010

I'm A Big Blog Now, I'm One!

I got up this morning and there was a chill in the air. It seeped through to my very core and gripped my bones. Nothing would do but a hot shower. The hot water gently kneaded and warmed my skin.  A simple pleasure making early mornings slightly more tolerable, even enjoyable. The chill in the air spurred me to rummage through the storage boxes under the bed containing my winter woollies. This is the time of year when the morning air is crisp and filled with frost. So you need a jacket and a scarf and a woollen sweater as you head out the door to work. But as the day wears on the sun warms the air and you swelter in your woolly jumper. Then you feel like a twit with your jacket and woollies surrounded by people trotting around campus in tee shirts, shorts and flip-flops.

The sun was shining in a vivid blue cloudless sky as I walked to work this morning. I knew it was chilly, after all I had my woolly jumper, jacket and scarf on. I was not prepared for what I saw floating down the river. At first I thought I was seeing things. What are those lumps of white floating down the river. I had to stop and to my surprise and horror, yes they were miniature icebergs.

“No! No it is too early,” the voice in my head screamed. At least I hope it was in my head!

There is no denying it, the air is filled with the promise or threat of winter, depending on how you look at it.


My blog is one year old this week. I chose to ignore the mini iceberg sighting and celebrate!

I have received four wonderful presents/awards from fellow bloggers recently.  I want to take this opportunity to mention these wonderful bloggers and the wonderful prezzies they graciously bestowed on me.

Firstly, Lydia Kang of "The Word is My Oyster," was kind of enough to pull my name from her contest pool and sent me a $15 Barnes & Noble gift card. I can’t wait to use it. Thank you sooooooooooo much Lydia.

Next Nicole Zoltack of "Where Fantasy and Love Take Flight,"sent me an email to tell me I had won a chapter critique from her blog contest. Now all I have to do is write a chapter. Thank you Nicole!!!! Hopefully there is no expiration date to this chapter critique. I'm working on it......honest!

Then the very lovely Kittie Howard at The Block gave me the "Happy 101"blog award.
And Talei at Musings of an aspiring scribe   very graciously awarded Inkpots & Quills with theVersatile Blogger Award.  Thank you Talei. 

I dub all bloggers who comment on this post with the above two awards!!!  You all deserve it!

And now I would just like to congratulate my friend Barbara of "From My Kitchen Table." Barbara has much to celebrate of late.  If you haven't checked out her blog yet, well you should do it right now! 

So my little blog and I are happy out with all the above mentioned prezzies. I am so very grateful to all who follow my blog and leave wonderful supportive comments. This blog has been a journey in writing confidence for me. I was very nervous when I started it. I remember how my finger nervously hovered over the publish button of my first blog post, "Blogging, The Way To Go." What if no-one was interested enough to read my musings. Would this end my dreams of entertaining through the written word. I bit my tongue…no really I actually did bite my tongue and drew blood.  Then I hit the publish button and here I am a year later. As a telly advert from those long ago days of my childhood went, "You’ve come a long way baby to get where you’ve got to today!" I know it was a cheesy cigarette commercial, but the sentiment rings true.

Have a wonderful week! :)