Can You Vague That Up For Me?

Bronwyn Green's Random Thoughts

Nostalgic Notes: Toys

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It’s time for another Nostalgic Notes were we look back at the stuff we’re…you know… nostalgic about. Some of these will be from my childhood and some from my kids’ because nostalgia – I’m rife with it.

Lemme introduce you to my childhood. I feel like the revelation that my mom was a great big hippie will come as no surprise as we look at items one and two on this list.

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In case you’re wondering WTF, this is the Sunshine Family – Stephanie, Steve, and their baby, Sweets. Sadly, there weren’t a lot of clothing options for Stephanie, Steve, and Sweets. They were too small and too normal-bodied for Barbie clothes. But, I liked them. You could also get the grandparents and extra babies. (The extra babies were very important if you were me.) And I did like that they also made a black Sunshine Family. Granted, their features were the same as the white dolls, but I guess, at least, Matel was trying for inclusion in the 70s?

I didn’t have any of these dolls. Only the original family, and this amazing piece of hippiness. That’s right, people, the Sunshine Family had their own fucking  CRAFT STORE! (Side note: I wonder if this is why I’ve been obsessed with all the crafts for as long as I can remember. Probably not. But, I still find this delightfully hilarious. Also, the entire craft store smelled like new baby doll. (I still love that smell.) Because vinyl. Probably not the best material to make a counter culture doll store out of. But, you know, mass production.

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Next we come to my original Star Wars figures which I no longer have because life and younger siblings can be cruel. But I had Leia, R2D2, 3PO, and a couple jawas. One of my brothers had Han, Luke, Ben, Chewie, Darth Vader a couple stormtroopers and some sand people. I was always jealous of his Han Solo action figure.

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Now, on to some of my my kids’ toys. I used to do daycare. It was, most days, an awesome job, but I’m one of those weirdos who actually likes other people’s kids in addition to my own. (Unless the kids are like The Young Prince. I’m not having that shit.)  Anyway, this was one of the games we’d often play (after everything else was picked up and the clean up song had been sung – “Put it Away” to the tune of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Give it Away”) because no one wants legos embedded in their feet while playing Elefun.

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Captain Kitty and KittyBestFriend were my kids’ favorite stuffed animals. They have oversized, almost hydrocephalic looking heads that are hollow and there’s a ball, or maybe balls, inside that rolls around and makes them sound like they’re purring.

Corwin and Captain Kitty and Killian and KittyBestFriend

Speaking of Captain Kitty, I’m super nostalgic about this Captain Kitty costume I made Corwin so he could match Captain Kitty (we played a lot of dress up, so costumes are toys) and the giant Mega Blok castle that was Corwin and Captain Kitty’s lair.

Corwin Captain Kitty and Castle

Both of my kids were fascinated by pirates, but Corwin was especially so. So, for his birthday, one year, he got the S.S. Argh. The company that made these ships had a thing where you could get whatever you wanted printed on the sail. Their example photos said things like Captain Peter’s Ship or the S.S. Brandon. I like to think they giggled when they got our order.

Next up, in the Toy Nostalgia Parade are these blocks. My kids loved the troll blocks and the tree blocks.

And no nostalgic toy list is complete without my daughters obsessively huge Harry Potter Lego collection. (This is just one set.) Also not pictured are the Star Wars, LOTR, Pirates of the Caribbean, and a zillion other sets.

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And her Harry Potter costume. killian-hp

What were some of your favorite toys? Oh, and be sure to check out the other bloggers’ lists! DeelylahGwen, Kellie, and Paige.

Flash Fiction #47 – Child with Lantern

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It’s time for the last photo flash fic of the year. I don’t even know how that’s possible. What the hell, man?

“Seriously, Maggie. Why can’t you just do your Christmas shopping at the mall like a normal person?”

I rolled my eyes at my brother, Aaron. “Because it needs to be perfect.”

“Perfection is overrated,” he muttered as he turned down one of the narrow downtown streets filled with indie art galleries and high-end specialized boutiques.

“Oh please,” Audrey said. “Don’t listen to her bullshit. It’s not about the perfect gift. She’s just trying to win Christmas.”

“You can’t win Christmas,” Aaron scoffed as he looked for a place to pull over and let me out. “It’s not a competition.”

Audrey took a swallow of coffee then turned toward the back seat to glare at me. “It is if you’re Maggie.”

I shrugged. She wasn’t wrong. There wasn’t anything else in life that I was the least little bit competitive about. Except for gift giving. I wanted to make sure that whatever I gave was the best thing they got. Not the biggest or the most expensive–but the most thoughtful. And if it involved learning to knit or macramé, then I’d do it.

My sister was just pissed because she never won–and she was competitive about everything. Well, there was that one time our niece was going through her Marie Antoinette phase, and Audrey found the Marie Antoinette doll with the detachable head before I did. My gift had paled in comparison. That wasn’t happening this year. Not if I could help it.

Aaron stopped the car in front of a little store that sold handmade paper and journals.

This looked promising.

“Hurry up,” he said. “I’m double-parked.”

I grabbed my purse and climbed out of the car.

“We’ll be back around four,” he called as I shut the door.

I nodded to let him know I’d heard, and walked into the little shop. I immediately found a leather-bound sketchbook and handmade colored pencils for my nephew, but I couldn’t find anything for my niece who was now heavily invested in mid-eighteenth century miniature portraits. Because of course she was. What 15 year old girl didn’t love miniature portraits?  Audrey had already gotten Annabelle a book on portraiture, so whatever I came up with needed to be better than that.

I left the paper shop holding my purchases and crossed the street. It had begun to snow while I was inside, and snowflakes clung to my eyelashes. I blinked them away as I ducked inside a gallery I didn’t remember seeing before. Glancing around at the items on display, I noticed that it looked like the artist specialized in oils.

As I wandered through the shelves, my gaze fell on some pendants lying in a glass case. On each chain hung a miniature, perfectly rendered painting. Most were landscapes, but there were a few people and animals scattered among the rolling hills and churning oceans. Inspiration hit. I knew what I wanted to get Annabelle. Her very own miniature portrait of  herself.

A woman approached. “Would you like to take a closer look at anything in the case?” she asked, surprising me with an English accent.

“Are you the artist?” I asked.

“No, no. I don’t have that kind of talent.”

I smiled. “Do you know if the artist does custom orders?”

“Oh, he does. Absolutely.” She pulled a pad of paper and a pen out from beneath the counter. “If you’ll just write a description of what you’d like, I’ll get it over to him.”

I glanced at the paper in her hand. “Actually, I was kind of hoping to speak with him directly.”

Her lips thinned for a moment. Then her smile was back in place as if it had always been there. “Cornelius!”

A little boy, maybe nine or ten, rounded the corner. He was dressed from head to toe in gray wool–trousers, jacket and sweater.  He wore a slightly darker gray newsboy cap on his head. “Yes, mum?”

“Take this lady to Augustus.”

“I don’t want to trouble anyone. If you’d just give me an address or a phone number or email address, I’ll be out of your hair.”

There was something off about this situation, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was.I looked between the woman and what I assumed was her son. I really didn’t want to miss this opportunity for the chance at the perfect gift, and who knew…I was likely imagining things anyway. The stress of holiday shopping was probably getting to everyone.

“Nonsense. Augustus will be glad of the company. Now, off you go.”

Cornelius looked up at me with the bluest eyes I’d ever seen. “This way, mum.”

I followed him through the labyrinth of boxes and packing material that made up the back room of the store hoping the kid wasn’t leading me to some kind of murder basement. He stopped at a big steel door and picked up an old fashioned lantern that sat on a nearby wooden stool.

I watched, curious, as he lit it. Glancing back at me, as if making sure I was still there, he tugged open the heavy-looking door, and a swirl of snow blew in. I adjusted my scarf and followed him outside. Augustus must have some sort of studio in the courtyard that ran between the businesses on this street and the next one over.

I blinked at the blowing snow and stepped away from the building, trying to catch up with the little boy. I stumbled slightly and looked down. The courtyard had been paved with cobblestones. But when I looked up to see Cornelius at least fifteen yards ahead of me, I realized I wasn’t in a courtyard at all.

I was in the middle of a street, about to get run over by a horse drawn carriage. I jumped to the side and bumped into a…lamplighter…?

“Oy! Watch it, will ya?”

“I’m…sorry.”

I turned back to the building I’d just left, but it was gone. Vanished as if it had never been there. Panic built in my chest, and I ran after the child, keeping my gaze fixed on the lantern light bobbing in the distance.

Okay, so that’s the last photo fic of the year from me. Be sure to check out Deelylah’s story. 

Finding the Balance – with Writing and Everything Else

Yeah…this week’s topic?

This is pretty much how I’m feeling about it.

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And also this.

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And some of this.

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With a whole lotta this.

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Okay, so it may not be apparent, but I’m having a little trouble with the whole concept of balance. I don’t feel like any area of my life is anywhere near balance.

Probably because it’s not.

I race from one thing to the next. It’s either all writing, or all client edits, or all coaching (writing–not sportsball), or all family stuff, or all sewing, or all knitting, or all cross stitching, or all cleaning. But  no matter what it is I’m throwing myself into, I’m super far behind on everything else.

I started using a planner and a bullet journal. They help keep me on track, but right now, there’s just more that needs doing than I seem to be able to manage right now.

Part of the problem is that there’s a lot of external stress going on in my life at the moment, and none of the things are  not anything I can do something about. I have to wait them out like everyone else.

Unfortunately.

I’m great in an emergency. Gaping head wound? I’m your girl. Tire blowout on the expressway? I can steer that car though traffic and get it safely to the median. Broken limb? Mental health crisis? I got you. Now, granted, I’ll fall apart once the crisis is past, but mid-crisis? No prob.

But this long term stress stuff?  Nope. I suck at it. And it seems like the longer it goes on, the more out of balance I feel.

Right now, I know I can only get done what I can get done. So, I write everything down in the journal and the planner and check off as many as I can each day. And I try to remember to make time for self-care. It doesn’t always happen, but I’m trying. Tonight, it was watching Drunk History.

Maybe we should revisit this topic again next year. Perhaps, I’ll have figured out the secret by then. BTW, I’m totally open to suggestions if you’ve got any.

I’m gonna go check out Kellie and Jess‘ posts. Maybe I can pick up some pointers.

I’m Thankful for…

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Right now, I admit, I’m having a harder time than usual feeling thankful–which isn’t to say that I don’t have anything to be thankful for, but it’s harder to push through the clouds of fear and dread sounding this country and my family and friends. But in spite of all this, I’m thankful for so many things.

In no particular order, I’m thankful for:

The people who are fighting for the rights of the marginalized  people in this world. They inspire me to do my part and refuse to give up.

My children who teach me daily how to be a better person.  They’re brave and brilliant and unflinchingly afraid to be who they truly are. They’re amazing, and I wouldn’t change anything about them. That’s a lie. They could be a little better about doing dishes and cleaning litter boxes. But other than that? We’re good.

My husband who makes me laugh–even in the face of what seems like insurmountable bullshit. He’s also incredibly supportive and one of my best friends.

My family. I adore my family–seriously adore them. I’m the oldest of the five of us (three boys and two girls) and we’re all incredibly close. We’ve always got each other’s back. And we’re also good when it’s time for tough love, too. And our mom is, by far the very best one.

My amazing friends. I’m pretty sure I won the lottery with these women. They’re wise, supportive, hilarious, brilliant, generous, talented, kind,  and they’ve got the tough love available when I need it.

My cats. Crazy cat lady writers are a bit of a cliché, but they keep me calm, cheer me up, make me laugh, and help me keep life in perspective.

Nature. I’m grateful for the wild places, the waves that pound against the shore, the riot of brilliant leaves in autumn, the explosion of scent and color in the spring, the intricate patterns of frost, and the ice that glistens on bare branches in winter, and the  canopy of rustling summer leaves beneath the sky heavy with stars. All of these things speak to me and soothe my soul like few things can.

A roof over my head, food to eat, and clean water to drink. Circumstances aren’t particularly ideal at the moment, but they’re certainly not horrific, either. I’m grateful for what we have and that we’re together. Yeah…I know. That sounds cheesy. But whatevs.

The stories, music, and art that speak to me. I’m grateful for the creations that keep me sane, help me to see the world through a different lens, and help help me to escape when I need it.

Fabric, yarn, clay, and all the other bits and pieces of things that I use to make other things. I’m grateful that I have the ability to make things–both as a form of relaxation for myself and to bring a smile to others.

The freedom and ability to write and express myself. I’m also incredibly grateful to and honored by those who read what I’ve written. Thanks, guys. It’s incredibly appreciated.

I know I’m lucky. I have a world of privileges and options that so many others don’t. Someday, very soon, I hope I can add thankfulness for equality for all people to this list.

I’m thankful for more things. But I’m also tired AF, and right now, I’m especially thankful for clean, flannel sheets and a husband who’s warming up my side of the bed for me. Be sure to check out what Kellie and Paige are thankful for.

Flash Fiction #46 – War

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This month’s song fic is inspired by Poets of the Fall’s song, War. Here are the links for the video and lyrics.

Sidenote on this story. I, along with many other people, got some terrible news recently about a couple of people we love. And I guess this is me trying to deal with that.

 

More often than not, I find myself in a broken field–huge cracks in the earth and the world washed in that strange gray light that makes it impossible to tell if it’s morning or evening. And I’m alone in the world. There’s only me, the endless sky and the bent and dried stalks of grass.

It’s only when the pain comes that I know you’re with me. Even though I can barely open my eyes, I know you’re here. I can feel your hand around mine, and the weight of your head against my hip as you rest your forehead against the bed.

And I hear you talking to me. I can’t answer, even though I want to. Desperately. I tried to tell you everything you needed to know before I couldn’t any more. And I thought I had. I thought I’d told you all the things I love most about you. I want to tell you you’re remembering our first date wrong. I want to tell you that no one has ever made me as happy as you have. I want to tell you about the broken field where I’ll be waiting for you, but the pain steals my breath. It steals my words. It steals me away from you.

Cool relief spreads through my body, and that relief carries me away from you. Farther and faster than usual. But I can still make out your lips on my head, and the heat of your tears on my skin.

I know you can’t hear me, but I’ll be waiting for you in the broken field for as long as it takes.

Be sure to check out the other bloggers’ stories – Jess and Kris  Also? Fuck cancer.

Wordless Wednesday: Love

I put this post together a while ago, but in light of recent events, I needed to update it a bit. Here are a few things that make me think “love” when I see them. Breaking the rules, as usual, with a few captions.

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This picture from one of my brother’s wedding. I love everything about this. It was one of the most joyful events I’ve ever experienced.

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One of my amazing nieces and my equally amazing daughter. I love how much they love each other.

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Sister love – Morrighan and Willow.

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Also sister love – Cait (the Goblin King) and me.

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Just a few of my freaking AMAZING friends who I love to pieces. I’m so incredibly lucky.

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This is Corwin’s stuffed animal, Captain Kitty. As you can see, he’s been loved, almost to death. Captain Kitty has been around since Corwin’s first Christmas, and yeah, he’s looking a little worn (Jenny Trout would say “murderous” and “creepy”) but he’s still very much loved. This is what he looked like forever ago.

Corwin and Captain Kitty and Killian and KittyBestFriend

See? Not quite so rough. But still loved.

Corwin and Killian Umbrella

Sibling love – hanging out under the Darth Vader umbrella.

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No, we don’t always wear dorky, matching clothes – but it was our anniversary. So we nerded it up a bit.

Some of the subway art posted in NYC after the election.

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That’s it for me this week, be sure to check out the other bloggers’ posts.

Gwen * Kellie * Paige * Deelylah * Kris

Promptly Penned: Outcome Engineer

Promptly Penned

Prompt:

Person A: She smiled a little. “You’re a manipulator.”
Person B: “I like to think of myself as an outcome engineer.”

This is going to be a short one this week. I’m too far behind with everything I need to finish by the end of the week.

 

Byron sighed and leaned forward, resting his elbows on his desk. “I don’t know… It just seems like you don’t care.”

“I’m confused.” Candice uncrossed and recrossed her legs. She didn’t want her boss to think she was fidgeting, but she had no idea what he was talking about, and she was tired of being called in there to discuss vagaries.  “What does it seem like I don’t care about?”

He shook his head, mouth turned down. “Your job. Your co-workers. The company. Me.”

Her mouth dropped open. “I’ve been here past midnight every night this week trying to get this project finished. Everyone else is out of here by six-thirty at the latest. And I’m back in by seven am. How does that seem like I don’t care?”

He folded his hands in front of him. “Look, you’re still relatively new here.”

Addie nodded and waited for him to continue while anxiety dampened her palms.

“And I know you want to make a good impression, but there are some people on the team who are feeling a little threatened by the number of hours you’re putting in and how much of the work is being logged from your account.”

Her brow furrowed. “Sooooo…you want me to put in fewer hours and just not worry about whether or not the project is complete by the deadline?”

“You’re not listening.” He leaned back in his chair and crossed his arms over his chest.

“I–”

He cut her off. “Look, I know you don’t intend to come off like you are.”

“I’m sorry, but I don’t understand what you mean.”

“Glory hound. Brown noser.” He ticked off the jabs on his fingers. “You have a savior complex.”

She just stared at him. Did people even use brown noser any more?

“I know this sort of thing is hard to hear–which is why I wanted to pull you aside and discuss it with you privately.”

“If I’m not supposed to put in extra work, I’m not sure the project will be finished in time for the client.”

“I want to help you, Addie. I want to see you do well here.”

Unease slithered through her, but she waited for him to say more.

“I’d like to propose an idea that might help.”

She continued to wait, muscles tensed.

“You continue to keep whatever hours you need to keep to finish on schedule.”

“Okaaaay.”

“But use my login profile.”

A quiet alarm bell began clanging in the back of her mind. “So, then all my work will be attributed to you, then?”

For the briefest moment, his mask of concern slipped and she glimpsed the flat, hard anger in his eyes. And just as quickly, it vanished and he was smiling. “You don’t need to worry about that. I’ll attribute credit where it’s due.”

The tension seeped out of her limbs and she settled back in her chair. “Then why not just let me continue as I have been?”

“I’m not sure why you can’t understand how much this will lower tension in the office.”

“You mean lower your tension because you’ll be getting credit for my work.” She smiled a little. “You’re a manipulator.”

He was quiet for a minute, then finally said, “I like to think of myself as an outcome engineer.”

“I see.” She stood up. “Well, good luck with your outcome.”

He looked puzzled. “Where are you going?”

“It’s wine o’clock. I’m going home.”

 

That’s it from me, today. Be sure to check out Deelylah, Paige, and Kris‘ stories.

Flash Fiction #45 – Fallen Tree

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It’s time for another photo flash fic.

I don’t know why I thought going home wouldn’t affect me. I guess, when it comes right down to it, it was pride. I suppose I hadn’t considered what it would be like to view the place through someone else’s eyes.

I watched Eric take it in. From the wood-sided dilapidated farm house that was now more dry rot than paint to the oxidized tin roof, to the old, orange Allis Chalmers tractor, to the corrugated metal shed that doubled as a chicken coop…until the foxes had figured figured out the chickens were there.

He took a step forward then stopped at the sound of a crunch beneath his expensively-clad foot. I knew what he’d see before he picked up his foot. “Is that a…”

“An old chicken bone. Yeah.”

He swallowed thickly then gestured toward the house. “Did you want to…”

Eric was normally decisive, commanding. I couldn’t ever remember seeing him this unsure. It made the blur of the last few days seem that much more dreamlike–unreal in a way that I felt that if I avoided going inside, I could pretend that none of it was actually happening. The house would still smell like stale cigarette smoke and Canadian Mist, and a ballgame would be playing through the tinny-sounding speakers of an old radio that barely picked up a signal this far from town. And the Tigers would be about to throw away the lead with the bases loaded.

I shook my head. “Not right now.”

Kicking off my stupid heels, I walked toward the overgrown field that lay beyond the gravel driveway, the sharp stones cutting into my perfectly pedicured feet. Once upon a time, I’d been able to run across the stones with bare feet and barely feel anything. The skin on my feet had been far thicker than that on my heart. Now, it was the other way around.

“Ashley,” Eric called. But I didn’t answer.

The field was a bit of a relief for my tender feet, but the dried blades of long grass scratched at my bare calves and snagged at the delicate fabric of my skirt. This field should have been hayed weeks ago. I’d need to mention that to–  I’d need to mention that to someone. I wasn’t sure who, but I’d figure it out.

As I got closer to the treeline, my steps slowed. Something about the delineation between earth and sky just looked…wrong. Panic bloomed in my chest like flowers with petals sharp enough to draw blood. But I couldn’t quiet the building anxiety any more than I could slow my gait. Finally, I stumbled to a stop as my brain began to make sense of what I was seeing.

The old oak–the one I’d climbed constantly as a kid, the one with the thick armed branch that had held the swing my dad made me, and later, the treehouse we’d built together–had been completely uprooted. Probably with the last bout of straight line winds that had torn up the area. I needed to let my dad know. Maybe if we got the tractor running we could wrap a chain around the trunk and get it upright. Try to rebury the roots. We’d have to borrow a field irrigator from a neighbor to get enough moisture into the to the ground and the root system, but maybe the oak could be saved.

I took a breath and turned to holler for my dad. I saw Eric, carefully picking his way toward me in his somber charcoal suit, and everything came rushing back. The phonecalls. The police. The funeral home. Buying my dad the only suit he’d ever had, other than the one he’d worn when my parents had married. The service.

I looked back to the tree and dropped to my knees, heedless of the field stones I’d hit on the way down. I stared at the dirt clumped roots as my throat thickened and my eyes burned. The tears I hadn’t been able to cry streamed down my face, and I realized that no amount of chains or tractors or moisture would change anything. The tree and my dad were both gone.

Okay…so this uplifting bit of fluff is all I’ve got going on today.  Um…let’s go see if Deelylah’s is more cheerful.

My Etsy/Amazon Wishlist

It’s getting to be that time of year. The shopping/hardcore crafting time of year. I anticipate that I’ll be knitting, sewing, and cross stitching like a mad fiend any moment now. And I’ll also start bugging my kids and nieces and nephews for gift ideas.

But these are a few of the things on my wishlists.

I really want this nose ring. I want it a lot.

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And speaking of rings, I’d also like these two, please. My birthstone and a faery. What could be better?

I’m not a huge fan of Mason jar crafts, but this light is spectacular and would look amazing in my house.

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This tea mug was clearly made for me.

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This bracelet is faboo.

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I love this shirt.

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I have this in ebook, but I really, really want it in print.

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Be sure to check out Deelylah’s wish list, too!

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