Tag Archives: kids

Short Thought 171 (Halloween)

At home on Halloween night, after the trick-or-treating hours had wound down, I heard a group of kids passing outside soon followed by the cry of a straggler, “Wait for meeee!” How charming I thought. What a universal plea. Haven’t we all said that at some point in our lives, if not lately, somewhere in the past?

These light-hearted musings were promptly followed by another. Gee: I hope they didn’t just vandalize something.


January show & tell (mostly of December stuff)

Back in grade school I loved “Show and tell” day. Each kid brought in an item or a story and presented it before the class. I liked to hear the other kids’ stuff and I especially relished the chance to share something of my own. That trait has stuck with me. If you know me, you’ll probably be shown this-or-that interesting object or find semi-regularly. I just want to share my excitement.

A short aside/secondary intro which may or not belong here but I’ve opted to leave in:  The psychology of things, not surprisingly, is a strong interest and one I reference from time to time here; what we own, how we relate to our possessions, and, in this country, how people not only accumulate and hoard, but often rely on belongings both for self-definition and distraction from troubles. I’ve given a lot of thought to my possessions, have pared down considerably, and try to keep those things which I use or find beautiful or meaningful.

One year at holiday time, back in that small grade school I mentioned, a couple of the kids’ mothers made little Christmas stockings for each of the members of my class, even taking the trouble to put our names on them.


I have kept mine. I wonder if anyone else still has theirs? See, I was so thrilled and touched at the time that someone had made this just for me, totally unexpectedly. The parents could have gone to the store and bought a couple dozen little stockings or given everybody identical ones, without bothering to personalize them, but instead they did something special. I wish I knew or could remember which mothers made them but I’m sad to say I don’t (I’m not certain I knew at the time).

It’s yet another reminder to me how much seemingly small gestures can mean to other people (for reasons we may never know). Too often I forget or misplace this knowledge, essentially how much we can impact others, even when we don’t know it, even with small gestures. It’s as if I can see how much I appreciate the things which have been done for me but often fail to realize how my gestures can impact others. Which isn’t to say that every gesture or kindness I (or you) do for someone else causes wild gratitude – or even should – but that we often don’t know, or maybe underestimate, the possibility of truly touching someone or maybe reaching out at an exact moment it’s needed.

My town never did big holiday decorations in what amounts to “the town square” before this year (they decorated but mostly in another location) and I was delighted for weeks by the results. Charming and tasteful. I caught these shots after a December rain at dusk, with the lights reflecting on wet pavement.



I’m going to briefly step away from the post-holiday reflections theme to show you something I found a few years ago. (I forever remain a little kid who walks around looking at the ground in hopes of finding money or other treasures. Occasionally it pays off.)


Now, I always took this to be merely an interesting-shaped rock. However, in the last several days I started to wonder if it might be an arrowhead. I’ve heard people talk about finding arrowheads, but honestly, I never knew what that meant exactly. I wasn’t thinking about the word literally enough, as in “the head of an arrow.” I probably saw artifacts in a museum somewhere along the way that would have included arrowheads, but I don’t remember for sure. Anyway, I googled arrowhead images now and the pictures mostly show a curved bottom, not a flat line like mine has. Two of the sides have a “finished” man-made look. So I don’t know. Either way I have a special rock.


I found two tantalizing objects tossed out last week. They and a few other items were in a bag by the road (although I admit it’s a risky business examining bags left by the road) and for that reason went unnoticed by other people. I didn’t bother with them the first time I passed since I was out for a fast-paced walk but on another day I stopped when I saw them still sitting there.

The first is a string of magic lights! I wish I could show you a video but having attempted it, I get an “unsupported” message so that’s not happening. Anyway, they can do all these clever things. There’s a small box attached with a button that controls eight light settings. Some are flashy & wild and others more demure and peaceful. Admittedly, I don’t get around much, but I’ve never seen anything like them. There’s no recognizable manufacturer name but it does say “Germany” on the controller. They are so cheering. I just stare & stare as they run through their many colors.

The second item was more amenable to a photo session. This 3″ tall tin tea light holder is so detailed, with all the quintessential Christmas toy scenes. When I was a kid, I’d have been enthralled by it. And now, I still think it’s special.


Here’s a little girl (or a big doll, your choice) with a bow in her hair, a snazzy doll house and a tea set.


“Why yes, I would like a cup please.”


Drum set, trumpet, blocks, and ball. (Somewhere a parent will be warning through gritted teeth, “If you pound that drum or blow that horn one more time, Young Man…”)




Sled, wrapped package


Of course, a “choo choo” train

This next and final diorama was initially puzzling.


The teddy bear & spinning top are fine but the tall fellow on the back right gives pause. What the…?

The figure in the back resembles an upright, long-eared dog with muscular thighs. I’ve seen plenty of toy/tin soldiers – and having hit every stereotypical Christmas emblem on this tea light holder, that’s the only missing one – but he didn’t look like any I’ve seen.


What Christmas is complete without… this guy?

I puzzled over it and then something clicked. The string lights came from Germany, so might that be the origin of the tea light holder too? I’m no history whiz but I got the notion to look up Hessian soldiers. I’m not sure that’s the right one – some images seem close – but it makes sense that the little guy is some kind of German soldier. Funny how everything else was so instantly, universally almost, recognizable, but this one aspect suggested a specific region.




Things Kids Are Afraid of vs Things Adults Are Afraid Of

This is another comic from the vault (okay, a file folder collecting dust). Here’s the first. Not really a finished/polished product; was done initially to show the concept.


People aren’t taught how to disagree well or how to effectively raise an objection (with the least collateral damage). Not from the evidence. So everyone just flounders around trying to come up with their own style. Trouble is, most aren’t any good.

“Old School” sorts who prefer directness and are not overly concerned with causing offense, get straight to it:

“You’re a dumbass.”
“Stupid bitch.”
“Fuck you, asshole!”
“Watch where you’re going, Shithead.”

I am not in ANY way condoning this particular mode of communication, but it leaves no doubt where people stand. There is no, “Hmmm, I wonder what he meant by that?”

On the other end is a trend toward vague, indirect, couched-to-the-point-of-incomprensibility speech. “You can disagree without being disagreeable,” which sounds like a politically correct koan, hails from that philosophy. People end up saying things so roundabout and passive-aggressively pissy, the listener has no idea what’s really intended. Sometimes it just makes you think, “What on earth is this person trying to say to me??” And a round of 20 Questions ensues in an attempt at clarification.

I knew a woman who said her way of non-aggressively confronting someone was to say, “Have I done something to offend you or are you just having a bad day?” As things go, the statement was pretty evolved, although someone on the receiving end might take issue with the “or are you just having a bad day” part. Not so sure how I’d like it if someone said this to me; I might wonder if the first half was genuinely a question. Doesn’t matter I guess, because I don’t think anyone has ever asked me if they’ve done “something to offend” me.

Occasionally I object by using the phrase, “I’m not happy about…(X).” I often find myself saying, both to intimates and others, “You’re not listening to me” (because they ain’t!). When somebody is truly trying to railroad or otherwise cow me with unreasonable requests or behavior, I’ll respond with a pointed, “Ohhh, no, no, no.” (Less formally in the right company/context, “Have you lost your mind?!” or less charitably, “Have you taken a blow to the head recently?”)

I’ve heard people say in situations in which they weren’t happy, “This is unacceptable.” I have never used that line as I fear it almost begs the response, “Well, la-di-fucking-DA!” Do people really hop-to when told something is unacceptable? If they do, maybe I should start saying it. Although, “This is not okay,” probably has a less stodgy ring to it – and is a sentence most of us could pull off without inciting smirks and mockery.

I’ve noticed more than a few children have made the words, “EXCUSE ME!” their go-to when doing anything that infringes on other people. They toss it off like a Get out of jail free card. They clearly don’t understand the meaning and use it as a means of getting away with stuff. Such as crashing into your shins with their bicycle. Or when running around, careening into your personal space, dinner plate, or sanity. It reminds me of Steve Martin’s old routine, “Well, EXCUUUSE me!” I’m not sure how well this bodes for the future…

Home Making Digest (1955 style)

This is the 3rd and last installment of the old pamphlets I found at a used book sale. Here’s the first and second.

Ahh, 1955... when a woman had to put on a dress and heels before dawn in order to work in her own kitchen.

Ahh, 1955… when a woman had to put on a dress and heels before dawn in order to work in her own kitchen.

The dishwasher is a surprise but the "gas disposer" that reduces trash and food waste to "fine ash" is just peculiar. Love all that counter and storage space though!

The dishwasher is a surprise but the “gas disposer” that reduces trash and food waste to “fine ash” is just peculiar. Love all that counter and storage space though!

Much as I'm certain I'd like a "Handsome and Delicious Lemon Chiffon Pie," the only thing I'd consider are the drinks. Having never made fruit punch in my life, and recognizing all the listed ingredients, I vow to start here. Stay tuned!

Much as I’m certain I’d like a “Handsome and Delicious Lemon Chiffon Pie,” the only thing I’d consider are the drinks. Having never made fruit punch in my life, and recognizing all the listed ingredients, I vow to start here. Stay tuned!

Be the envy of your neighborhood when you cleverly craft your own trashcan lid & sand barbecue grill. Why, don't be surprised if your Home Owner's Association or rental office even takes an interest! (p.s. When your walls start making faces like that, it's time to call an exorcist.)

Be the envy of your neighborhood when you cleverly craft your own trashcan lid & sand barbecue grill. Why, don’t be surprised if your Home Owner’s Association or rental office even takes an interest! (p.s. When your walls start making faces like that, it’s time to call an exorcist.)

One gets the idea a gas company may have had a hand in this publication... The kid, who looks like an SNL skit extra, was clearly from the pre-irony days.

One gets the idea a gas company may have had a hand in this publication…
The kid, who looks like an SNL skit extra, was clearly from the pre-irony days.

My father and NO TRESPASSING signs

P_20140504_152632 My father was generally unconcerned with signs saying NO TRESPASSING or KEEP OUT. This meant it wasn’t unusual for him to be driving or walking around somewhere with his wife, i.e. my mother, and a couple of us little kids – or just the little kids – and decide to poke around an area despite such aforementioned signs. When one of us piped up, “But Dad, there’s a No Trespassing sign,” his common refrain was a disdainful, “Aww stuff, they don’t mean us.” Uh, who then did they mean? Elves? Swedes? Cyborgs? We knew not to ask.

He took us places that were kind of dangerous too, if only for being abandoned. We’re lucky none of us pitched down a well, or picked up a mousetrap out of curiosity, or got a rusty nail embedded in our foot (although my sister DID do the last one, it wasn’t on one of these Dad-driven outings). Had any of that befallen us on his watch, he’d quite likely have been annoyed for the inconvenience.

One of these places was a ratbag former home of a famous jockey who was from the same rural area our father spent his childhood. I guess the man was the local claim to fame because our father mentioned him a lot (him and Mitzi Gaynor and Jimmy Cagney. We younger kids in the family had no idea who the hell he was talking about.). The jockey’s boyhood home wasn’t exactly a tourist destination. Our father had to hunt through overgrown brush to find it. There was no placard, no souvenir shop. The only signs in evidence were the KEEP OUT ones. But we were going in there damnit!

I was always waiting for police officers to show up and maybe arrest us: “Sir, you can’t go in there. Take your children and go. This is private property.” But they never did. Not once did we ever get caught on the wrong side of one of those cautionary signs and get sent packing. Well, stuff. I guess they really didn’t mean us.