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Archive for February 2009

Childhood to Youth – chocolate box

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Childhood to Youth

In response to a prompt from the Chocolate Box in the Soul Food network of creativity

What I see…

I look at these photos and see friends and a brother passed on, in accidents that I heard about in some cases second hand.

I see highschool friends some I still know and some I don’t. Some are mothers and some will be soon.

I see the promise of childhood in my daughter’s hand brushing the weeds, or are they flowers?

I see a pinecone that will be in my future. I see my daughter wearing the grass skirt I never did. It took that many years for my mother to come into her own with culture.

I see my parents full of anticipation for their children’s future, not realising time will pass so quickly, so quickly these photos will fall like still life memories of their lost son.

I see my childhood, my daughter’s childhood, my mother’s motherhood, and the anticipation that things can change- we can paint a new canvas.

That is what I see. This is what I hope. Do I really see? Do I really understand?

(C) June Perkins all rights reserved collage and words.


More of June’s Work can be found at World Citizen Dreaming

Written by pearlz

February 19, 2009 at 8:06 am

Chocolate Box – Memory Assortment

with 5 comments

I bit into one of those white and dark, smooth chockies and it shot me straight back to my childhood. These really are amazing chocolates!

I shot back at hyperspeed to my first home – the place where I lived until I was ten, and was absolutely distraught when told we were moving from there. I am the youngest girl and the fifth child in a family of seven kids. Everything I knew and loved was connected to that house; friends, neighbours. It had never even crossed my mind that we could live anywhere else.

Looking back from here I can see why we moved. My two eldest brothers had left home to do national service, and the eldest to also marry, and my eldest sister had also married and left home. This left  me and my older sister, the two youngest boys and mum and dad at home. We moved to a smaller place, probably because the rent was cheaper. It was post-war Britain and nobody had much money. We didn’t move very far though, and I spent nearly every weekend back at my old neighbourhood in my godparents house. They lived next door.

We lived on a council estate in Cinderhill, Nottingham. Our house was one of the middle ones in a row of four. We kids had to use the backdoor for our comings and goings. The front door was locked because the electric meter was situated above the door and slamming the door could cause the power to go off. We had to feed the meter shillings to pay for the power. Periodically a man from the electricity board would come around and empty it and you would get a rebate which came in very handy. Often when the ‘bob’ went mum would have no shillings in her purse and then we would be sent to the neighbours with money to see if they had any. Everyone had a meter to feed, so often they were reluctant to part with their shillings.

Inside the backdoor and straight opposite it was the coal-hole, where the coalman tipped the coal when he delivered it. Not very interesting and quite dirty from the coal-dust, but it had a door on it. To the right was the kitchen. Beneath the window was a thick, heavy, cream ceramic sink that was not very deep but bigger than the sinks are now, and there was a wooden draining board. My sister and I spent many hours at this sink. It was our job to do the washing up. I hated doing it then and I still do!

The floor was covered in red quarry tiles. The door to the pantry was on the far wall. Inside the pantry was a large stone shelf known as ‘the slab’. We didn’t have a refrigerator and anything that needed keeping cool went on the slab. Meat was bought on a day-to-day basis so that didn’t go off. Once we started school we had our main meal there, and we would have something on toast for tea. The school dinners were 6d per day and for that we got a cooked meal and a pudding. You took your 2s 6d to school on Monday mornings and that paid for your week’s meals.

I think there was a gas fired copper in the corner for doing the washing. This is not a clear memory as it may have been my godparents who had the copper. I spent as much time at their house as I did my own and the layout was very similar. On the wall opposite the pantry was the stove. This was grey enamel with a white door and lots of good things came out of there. My mum was an excellent cook and she could make delicious meals from anything. On the wall opposite the window was the door to the sitting room. This was not a large room but it was cosy and contained the table, a lounge suite, a wireless and a fireplace. We didn’t get a telly until I was about ten and it was a huge, dark-wood cabinet and a tiny screen about eight inches across. We spent most of our time outside anyway.

A door opened out from this room into the hall at the bottom of the stairs, where the front door was. There were pegs for the coats at the bottom of the stairs. In winter the coats would end up on our beds to keep us warm. We had blankets, but on really cold nights they weren’t enough. Over the front door, beside the electric meter was a framed print of Millais’  ‘The Boyhood of Raleigh’.  I would look at this picture every morning when I came down stairs.

The other door off the hall opened into the ‘front room’.  This room went from the front to the back of the house and was used mainly for special occasions.  There was an upright piano just inside the door.  I think my dad played a bit, but I don’t know if anyone else did.  Behind the door was a huge mahogany sideboard.  It must have been six feet long – possibly more.  It was a deep red, solid wood with lots of carvings of leaves and flowers.  There were drawers down the middle and cupboards at the sides.  The top was a thick slab of wood and very shiny.  There were columns either side supporting a carved pelmet top and the back was a very large mirror.  I always had the feeling mum didn’t like it much, but it was a wedding present from my father’s parents. When it got close to Christmas, dad would paint the mirror with a Christmas scene and we each got to choose what he put in it. It was an almighty dust trap, and being so shiny it showed the dust well. It was always the last thing wiped before dad got home.

Upstairs there were three bedrooms. My brothers occupied one, my sisters and I occupied another and mum and dad had the third. There was also a bathroom and toilet upstairs. At the top of the stairs there was a burn-hole in the carpet runner that we’d piggled out to make it large enough to play marbles after we’d been sent to bed. Sometimes a marble would go bouncing down the stairs and hit the front door. Then we’d all scatter to our beds to wait and see if there would be any reaction from below. I was always the one who got sent down for the marble. I had to walk down on the side boards of the staircase as the stairs creaked. This was not too bad going down, but the climb back up was strenuous.

In summer my older sister would climb out of the toilet window and down the drainpipe to get rhubarb from the garden to dip in the sugar we had nicked from the pantry. I would be stationed in the toilet with some string and she would tie the rhubarb on and then climb back up. We also had a stash of cocoa and sugar to eat. I don’t think we had any tastebuds back then. One year mum and my sisters made Christmas cake and Von brought me up a ball of marzipan to eat. I was in bed. I ate and enjoyed the marzipan, but was as sick as a dog all night. I couldn’t face marzipan again after that until I made it from scratch at high school.

There was no central heating and, in winter, if you moved away from the fire you were freezing. We had those sausages at the bottom of the doors to stop the draughts. We all had hot water bottles to take to bed to get us warm. On the really cold nights Jack Frost would leave beautiful, fernlike patterns in ice on the insides of the window panes. You could always tell if it had snowed in the night because all the usual morning sounds from outside would be muffled. Dad was always the first one up, and in winter he would have a double-boiler full of porridge on the go and a pot of tea ready for when we got up.

I loved to read in bed, but we weren’t allowed the light on in the bedroom, so I had to read in the slice of light that came through the door from the landing, moving my book from side to side. Often someone would turn off the landing light and I would have to wait for a few minutes before turning it back on again. Sometimes mum would turn it off and wait in the dark for me to creep onto the landing to switch it on. I would then get a, ‘Go to sleep!’ in her no-nonsense voice, and that would be the end of reading for that night.

In summer I would feast on strawberries and tomatoes and any other fruit available, but it would give me hives. Mum would give me a Milk of Magnesia tablet for this when she tucked me into my bed. They didn’t do any good because I used to spit them between the bed and the wall as soon as she left the room. They tasted disgusting!

We had a garden out the back with a swing and a bit of lawn. On the other side of the garden path mum had some black and red currant bushes and apple trees and a pear tree. There was a thicket of golden rod down the bottom of the garden, near the dog kennel, and also raspberry canes. A washing line ran the length of the garden path. We spent one summer conducting funerals for Von’s goldfish that died. We put it in a small tobacco tin and buried it in the garden complete with cross and flowers. When we had nothing else to do, we would dig it up again and have another funeral. The front garden was given over to flowers. Mum was very fond of Russell lupins and I remember statice and roses and lilac.

I have very fond memories of the house and all the people who made up my world. It was like living in a village. Everyone knew who you were and who you belonged to, and if you got up to mischief your folks soon found out about it. Everyone kept an eye on everyone else’s kids. We left that house in 1956, but when I was visiting my godfather, Jim, on holiday in 1979 a lady at the bus stop looked at me and said, ‘Your Ethel’s daughter, aren’t you? How’s yer mum?’ It made me smile.

My sister and I went back there in 2003 and couldn’t believe how run-down the neighbourhood was. It made us quite sad. My best friend’s mum still lives in the same house and I visited her, but there are not many of the old people left and that sense of community has disappeared.

Written by scribblenpaint

February 7, 2009 at 1:42 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Chocolates and a Patrol Box Story

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girlonmatshadow

Image: from Indigenous Identities

As I ate the chocolates from the box I had a story sensation go through my imagination buds. It was unlike anything I had ever felt before. The story seemed to deliciously unfold around me as if it was my story. I seemed to dance it, taste it, and sing it, and write it all at the same time.

Patrol Officer Box

The solid rectangular metal box belonged to her father. It was strong, a boring silver and dented. It was, she had heard, full of old photographs and a billum. He was Australian and went to Papua New Guinea to find adventure. He would later be spoken about as the white-man who became lost in the bush coming out to see his in-laws. He used to ride a motorbike, and collect Bob Dylan records in a record club. She could hear his motorbike zoooooming away.

He didn’t understand the customs for a long time, although he spoke the local language, a gift from his own father a linguist and Esperanto lover, and respected the people. How was he to know he would become legend.

His wife, her mother was a tiny bush mekeo lady with a large bush knife. She was a trainee nurse whose father was a medicine man. She was raised by Missionaries but with the soul of her mother always guarding her she was a formidable person. No priest was going to really tell her exactly how to act. She likes to sing the Greatest hits of The Eagles and change them – “Welcome to the Hotel Port Moresby.”

Her father, also a crocodile hunter was a complicated man, so much to admire and yet so much to fear. She too was complicated, in Australia, for a time, she was meek and mild and quiet, the roast cooking stay at home Mum, whose husband worked in the mountains. Later she was ferocious protector of her sons. No crocodile or snake was going to come near them.

Mother and Father, both one day became something of legend to their daughter who, opening the patrol box, found all the memories came rushing out as if Pandora herself had opened up that box. She found out about “the native women protection act” and men who left their Papua New Guinea loves behind. Her parents were different. She saw her mother’s sisters dying from snake bite. She felt the sadness as photographs were never taken to her mother’s village and much, much more.

They were “Hope”, well hope mixed with a little bit of chaos.

The pen stopped flowing as if the chocolate had hit my imagination and then zoomed out again. Should I take another, hmm I knew me and chocolates this could end up with a stomach ache. What would happen if I had perhaps just one more….

© June Perkins images and words

©Soul Food, Prompt Trunk in the attic of wonderment

Written by pearlz

February 5, 2009 at 11:43 pm

Posted in Gumbootspearlz

Out of the Chocolate Box

with 10 comments

I dipped into Le Enchanteur’s box of chocolates and I pulled out – my thumb. I remembered promising Lori that I would tell the story of my shot thumb. So here, out of the chocolate box of childhood memories is a tale you may think is highly unlikely, but is in fact quite true – any circus performer and traveller could tell you even weirder stuff…

How I Got Shot in the Thumb is one of those stories that gets trotted out every now and then. The kids used to love hearing it, and whenever they made too much fuss about something trivia, I would give them the Thumbs Up. Litanies of injury would come to abrupt halt with the words, “Of course, there was the time Mum got shot…”

As many Foodies know, I grew up as a traveller, and my parents were circus performers. My father was a sharpshooter and my mother his human target – and as circus kids do, when I was old enough I joined the act.

There were a few accidents but never with the guns until one Friday in Scotland in 1960, during the second house. I was standing at the target board, holding one of the small plaster disks by its matchstick handle between my finger and thumb. It was one of the simplest parts of the act – Dad shattered the disc with a bullet and the most I had to worry about was being stung by a bit of flying plaster. Except that, this time, it felt more as if my thumb had been hit with a large, dull hammer. I stared at it in surprise. There was blood pouring out.

One of the bullets had only half the charge, and dropped as it was fired, enough distance to go clean through my thumb and into the target board. I was hurried back to the bus where Dad examined my thumb. There was a small neat hole near the nail, where the bullet had entered. The back of my thumb was a bloody, ragged mess.
One of the locals gave us the address of the local doctor and I set off with Dad, both of us with coats thrown on over our costumes.

We found the doctor’s house, after a fair walk, and knocked on the door. The Doctor’s wife opened it and stared at us as if we were a couple of escaped lunatics.

“We’re from the circus,” Dad explained. “My daughter has had an accident.”

Seeing my hand, and the blood soaked cloth it was wrapped in, the woman ushered us inside and called for the doctor. He turned out to be lovely old man with a white moustache and a manner to charm the most stubborn of patients into submission. My hand was beginning to throb by now, and I wasn’t too keen on having the cloth removed. It had stuck to the wound, and we had to soak it off. Once my thumb was in the open he examined it with interest. Then he looked at me.
“I think the young lady should have a cup of tea,” he said. “About six sugars should do the trick.”

As he cleaned up my wound he listened to Dad’s tales of our life on the road. From his manner, you would think he treated Indian squaws for gunshot wounds every day. His wife, now past her first shock, was just as charming. She brought the tea, with a couple of biscuits, and joined in the conversation while the doctor expertly bandaged my thumb.

“I think there’s not much point in stitches,” he said, “since the bullet has blown out the tissue at the back. The best thing you can do is keep it clean, soak it in saline solution every night, and let the tissue rebuild itself. Come back tomorrow and I’ll have another look at it and change the dressing.”

We stayed for another cup of tea, long enough for the doctor to make sure I was recovered from shock – which explained the very sugary tea I had been given – and arrived back at the circus in time for the evening show. I had to hold the disc in the other hand, but I was thankful – Mum’s part of the act meant she had to hold the disc on her head, so if a bullet had to drop two inches, it was best that it dropped into my thumb.

I visited the doctor twice again before we left Beith and he was well pleased with the progress I was making. As he had said, the back of my thumb was in too much of a mess for stitches, but with repeated soakings and clean dressing, it began to heal over, though it left a permanent scar that has considerably faded now.

Written by Gail Kavanagh

February 4, 2009 at 10:41 am

Posted in Uncategorized

A Marvelous Thing!

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I took a trip to The Golden Grove, sat myself under a tree and thought about…

Slinkies.

slinky
“A Marvelous Thing!”

by

a.m. moscoso

One of my favorite toys in the entire world

was

and remains

the Slinky.

To this day I’m your fan of the basic

Silver Slinky.

NOT

 the  Slinky Jr., the Plastic Slinky or the Slinky Dog or even the  Slinky Pets- and surpise I didn’t even like the Crazy Eyes (glasses with Slinky-extended fake eyeballs) I never owned one of those Neon Slinkies though I found a few of them under my Christmas Tree from time to time.

See, for years I thought that one little toy meant I was your normal Suburban kid and not the little weirdo who got rocks thrown at her by her Blue Bird Troop because she didn’t bring Maple Squares on treat day.

And then, one day I decided to write about

The Slinky

and learned it’s inventor- Richard James- left his wife and ran off to Bolivia to join a religious cult.

 

You know, it’s true.

You can run as far as you want and when you’re done running

you’ll always end up

 right back in the place you were trying to get away from in the first place.

 

Written by Anita Marie

February 3, 2009 at 2:57 am