Weekly Photo challenge: Bridge

As I went past the playmobil mansion this morning, Mrs Playmo appeared at the window and waved an impatient claw at me.

“Oy, MM, there’s a photo challenge, and Mr Playmo and I want to take part!” she gabbled. I put my eye to the window of her mansion and peered in.  The WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge page beamed out of her computer screen.

“You remember our visit to London? When Mr P and I went off to visit on our own? With our picnic?” (I did. They got totally drunk, and Mr P took lots of inappropriate photos of his wife pole-dancing at the top of Big Ben.)

She sighed nostalgically and took a gulp of rosé before clicking her mouse and stabbing a claw at her collection of photos. “Can you upload this one for me please? A talent scout might be out there somewhere”.

So here we have it: A toy box take on the theme of bridges. With special thanks to Corentin W, the architect of the Lego bridge.

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An Hour a Day Keeps the Junk at Bay.

Oh, boy. The Daily Post has just given me an extra hour in every day. I would have preferred them to use their super powers to repair my toilet flush, or train my dishwasher to fill and empty itself without help, but an extra hour in every day is not to be sniffed at. My part of the deal is to tell WP what I will be doing with my twenty-fifth hour.

Parental duel in the Playmo house bathroom to determine who would clear out the garage.

Parental duel in the Playmo house bathroom to determine who would clear out the garage. Copyright Multifarious Meanderings.

Well, WP, you may be surprised to hear this, but I would use it to clear out the junk from my home. When PF arrives back at the family cave every evening, dragging our daily mammoth behind him, his jaw unhinges at the state of the place. My usual response is that I don’t have enough hours in my day to sift through all our belongings and offer him the zen environment he covets. So my choice has to be an hour sifting through the house. I would even tackle Rugby-boy’s bedroom, where hastily vacated pairs of jeans are stranded helplessly on the floor in the hope that Soldier Ryan will carry them across the minefield of dirty socks to the safe haven of the laundry basket.

I gave it my best shot last week. The wild-haired Febreze Fairy, aka MM, collected a fair amount of junk that was no longer needed for everyday use, and set off to put them in storage. On my arrival in the garage, I contemplated what I have come to see as my personal wailing wall. This teetering tower of repudiated belongings would make Martha Stewart faint in disbelief; it is a real-life Tetris game composed of travel bags, boxes, furniture, books, paperwork, bicycles for garden gnomes, broken tools that will be mended some-day-never, and shoes that were kept for years for a child whose feet only fitted into the awaiting sandals when it was minus ten degrees outside.

I resolved to clear up. The linguist in me argued that it is easy to transform a pile of garbage into a tidy garage – you just remove the letter “b”. But it wasn’t that simple. So I established the following protocol:

1. Open box.

2. Take out object.

3. Put in one of four bags labelled “Keep”, “Throw Away”, “Give” or “Sell”.

4. Deliver offerings to charity shop and dump.

5. Recover sparkling, tidy garage.

6. Congratulate self, go home, pour self large glass of rosé, relax in hot bath.

 

Asleep in the bath after drinking the rosé.

MM was so tired that she drank the rosé but forgot to fill the bath. Copyright: Multifarious Meanderings.

This appears easy enough on paper. Yet when we are faced with the obligation to cut the cord with an inanimate object, we struggle to do so. Our capacity to hoard amazes me. We’ve all said it as we put the offending item back on the shelf: “It could be useful – I just need to glue this leg back on/sew this back on/ find the right lightbulb, ” or “It would be a shame to throw this away –  it cost….. (insert price).” On the rare occasions you succeed, someone will catch you in the act and scream, “You can’t throw that away! *insert name* gave it to me!” as you launch it into the dustbin bag. If and when you finally get these objects to the tip, or drop them off at the local charity shop, you hear the Gollum in the pit of your stomach quietly crying for its abandoned Precious as you leave the premises.

I had battled to keep it all, come hell or high water, when we moved house. As if throwing it away would be a form of abandoning our family history, denying my roots. As if a piece of our life together would disappear along with that broken night-light. Take the example of the kids’ artistic endeavours from infant school. PF got me as far as the dump with them that fateful day, but cracked when he saw MM’s lower lip quivering defiantly as she clutched armfuls of multicoloured, curling masterpieces. “Look, this is you!” I snivelled, holding out the crusty portrait of a three-fingered, melon-headed individual with a frisby-sized belly button neatly positioned below its chin. The paintings earned their space in the van, and have lived in the garage ever since.

A typical example of an object you keep for sentimental reasons. In this case, a key for a door that no longer exists in a town where we don't live.

A typical example of an object you keep for sentimental reasons. In this case, a key for a door that no longer exists in a town where we don’t live. Copyright: Multifarious Meanderings.

Certain boxes contain things that make memories leap out of the dusty corners of your mind and clamour for attention. I picked up a tiny onesie that Rugby-boy once wore. I swear that it whimpered as it saw the awaiting « charity shop » bag, sparking off memories of a tiny bundle of cuteness.  I put it in the bag. Hysterically singing « Let it gooooo, let it goooooooo! » like a Disney Princess on crack, I dug into the pile for the next memory-laden thing I couldn’t bare to get rid of. After heart-wrenching decisions about which items would go from a life sentence in the garage to death row, I found myself with a car full to the brim with things to throw out, but bizarrely, there was still as much junk piled up there as when I had begun.

A trunk beside the dismantled VW engine contains my wedding dress. I suspect that if Little My ever gets married, she probably won’t want to tie the knot in a dress that has vintage caramel stuck to it because her mother 1) missed her mouth at the wedding meal, and 2) was too disorganised to get it to the dry cleaner’s before she got on the plane. I’m not sure though, so I’ll keep it. Who knows… it might be useful for a grandchild’s playdate one day.

A Resounding Silence.

The sun tried its best to pierce its way through the heavy clouds that were brooding over the graveyard. Starlings argued in the bare branches of the tree nearby, an irreverent yet timely reminder of life. A sudden gust of wind blew across the line of children, ruffling their hair. One of the boys absent-mindedly ran his fingers through his fringe, then scuffed at the gravel with the point of his shoe.

“Where shall we put it?” The girls moved forward and gently moved two wreaths apart to make room for the plant. Crouching down, they slid the flower-pot on to the tomb, then placed the handwritten card in the leaves and stepped back, feet crunching on the gravel.

Six pairs of eyes looked down at sneaker-covered feet, then up towards the soft, grey, impenetrable sky. I did likewise – like them, I could not bring myself to focus on the sea of white flowers before me. How I wished the sky had been blue. How I wished that the sky had brought more hope that this.

The momentary silence was uncomfortable. Eleven-year-olds are never this silent, and one of the boys answered their unspoken need to justify it by clearing his throat and quietly saying, “I guess it’s time for a minute of silence”. Heads nodded, hands were clasped  together.

Silence ensued. The silence of six children contemplating another child’s grave is unlike any other. It was at this moment that I understood the concept of a “resounding” silence; by definition, silence is devoid of noise, yet silence can speak volumes. The children’s silence communicated so much – feelings and emotions tumbled out of that silence and seeped into me through each and every pore.

The silence spoke. It said that the children had taken yet another step into the hard reality of life, a reality that we parents try to protect them from for as long as we can. It explained that their rounded, pre-teen shoulders were feeling the unfamiliar weight of sadness. The silence reassured me, telling me that they were more mature and more resilient than I had imagined. It was a sad silence that expressed their feelings for the friend who had lost his little brother. It was an angry silence that screamed that life was unfair. It was a frightened silence that asked fate to spare them from the same experience in the future. And a comforting silence that wrapped itself around them and embraced their friendship.

In this roaring silence, a tiny, isolated sound caught my attention. Then another. Light, crisp, clean, almost imperceptible. I would never have heard this sound without the silence. The children noticed the sound too, and their eyes sought its source. The sky had stopped brooding, the tension had disappeared. The first raindrops were falling gently on the ribbons decorating the wreaths.

A voice interrupted the silence. “Ok, I think that’s enough. Wow, it felt like ten minutes.” A nervous giggle rippled through the group. Then they moved. Shoulders were squared, their faces cleared, and determined expressions replaced the worry that had been there seconds before. “Right. Where are we taking him to cheer him up?”

The silence was over.

Post written in response to the Weekly Writing Challenge: the sound of silence.

Photo challenge: Curves.

Curves. They are everywhere. intentional, unintentional. Natural or man-made. In the street. In your plate. In church. In the garden. Here are a few I’ve come across on my travels with Candide Canon. Click to enlarge…..

Risk of Collapse…..

Now this photo challenge grabbed me straight away: Sara Rosso invited photographers to share a picture of a sign, and explain why they used it.

I knew what picture would be just the ticket! This sign stopped me dead in my tracks as I swung around the corner of path winding through a botanical garden on the Côte d’Azur last summer. Ten feet further away on the right of the picture is a cliff overhanging the Med.

The sign post translates into English as follows: “Risk of collapse”. I couldn’t work out whether a sadistic garden employee had it deliberately planted it skew-whiff to scare off visitors, or whether the sign had been irresistibly drawn towards the cliff edge, fatally drawn by the death-threat written on its forehead……..

Needless to say, I didn’t hang about. But first I took the picture of the first inanimate object that unambiguously showed how I often feel …… as a working mother 😀

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Escape

My escape this week is into painkillers and antibiotics. The pictures I have chosen for the Weekly Photo Challenge on the same theme relate the escape theme viewed in different ways…. Hope you enjoy them.

Unconventional

I couldn’t resist this WordPress challenge. Describe unconventional love, and post a picture of something unconventional? Deal!

I’m a pretty unconventional person all round; many would argue that I am one can short of a six pack. In any case, my acute case of Peter Pan Syndrome (my term for never, ever wanting to grow up) makes life much more fun for a pretend grown-up (shhh, it’s our secret).

Typical Playmobil scenario when I play with Little My. Copyright Multifarious meanderings.

Typical Playmobil scenario when I play with Little My. Copyright Multifarious meanderings.

My most unconventional love is therefore for playing. Playing hard, playing fast, and above all, playing silly buggers (as my wonderful Mancunian Grandmother used to say). I love playing Playmobils with my daughter, who sometimes rolls her eyes and tells me to grow up. But I won’t. Read more about the dark side of Playmobilia here.

My family is equally loopy: put them on a beach on Christmas Eve (the best time ever to flee conventions and play in the sand), and they’ll immediately find the only waylaid soldier’s helmet on the entire French coastline and combine it with a dustbin support on the beach to do something totally…. unconventional. I love it, and I love them.

Rugbyboy illustrating the "unconventional" family gene on a beach on Christmas Eve.

Rugbyboy illustrating the “unconventional” family gene on a beach on Christmas Eve.