Tag Archive | childhood

Me and my guitar

For some reason Gene Wilder’s death is bothering me more than some of the other multitude that has died this year. Maybe because that movie came out right before my senior year at a time when I was odd man out everywhere I went. My best friend had moved and I was a geek and for some reason didn’t have many friends until my senior year. I spent most of my time teaching myself to play the guitar and being music librarian for the choir teacher at school because I could hide in the music library when I wasn’t in class and studying for Latin Club competitions. Yep, I was a grade A nerd but luckily I was sitting in the middle of a wonderful era of songwriters and songs.

So I put together a playlist of the songs I was obsessing over learning to play my last two years of high school and first years of college.

Skye Boat Song  – Alex Beaton

Mr Tambourine Man – The Byrds

Turn! Turn ! Turn! – the Byrds

Annie’s Song – John Denver

Take Me Home Country Roads – John Denver

Sunshine on My Shoulders – John Denver

Song for Judith (Open the Door) – Judy Collins

Both Sides Now – Judy Collins

Neverland Melody – Kenny Loggins

House at Pooh Corner – Loggins and Messina

Last night I had the strangest dream – Limelighters

Edelweiss _ Sound of Music

500 Miles – The Seekers

April Come She Will – Simon and Garfunkel

The Candy Man – Aubrey Woods – Willy Wonka

Pure Imagination – Gene Wilder – Willy Wonka

Leaving on a Jet Plane – Peter, Paul and Mary

Moonshadow – Cat Stevens

Day is Done – Peter, Paul and Mary

I Whistle a Happy Tune – The King and I

Where have all the flowers gone – Peter, Paul and Mary

Follow Me – John Denver

I love my trolls


I have a fondness for trolls. Not the ones in LOTR or the Hobbit or the ones in Harry Potter, the ones that are originally from Scandinavia. The ones that invaded back in the 60’s the first time and to my delight seem to have returned again.

My first troll was brought to me from Sweden one Christmas by friends of my parents who worked for SAS. She’s wooden and delightfully kind of witchy. She’s really the only sort of doll I ever had a fondness for and was willing to play with.


I’m in so much trouble, Target has trolls in the dollar section at the front of the store with the Halloween stuff. I’m a gonner.


One Christmas as a surprise my grandparents found a folding troll house and I still have it and treasure it. It got a lot more use than the folding Barbie playhouse that only came out when friends came over and insisted on playing with that idiot, Barbie. (sorry it’s so dark but I took it early this morning. You can see three of my old trolls still there. I wish I knew what had happened to the giant troll that was bank and had short yellow hair, it was a gift too.

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When the new trolls arrived and I really fell in love. Mom and Grandma had been trying to get me to sew and while I liked needlepoint and embroidery was not found of clothes sewing probably because mom made all my clothes but Butterick and Simplicity came out with patterns for troll clothes and I got snookered into learning how to sew troll clothes out of felt and scraps of material and finally ended up designing my own patterns.

I loved those little buggers and I still do. As I said, they were the only dolls I ever had any use for. They has all kinds of adventures in the woods and through the meadows that were really our big back yard and down to our pond. We had a bamboo forest, a huge redwood with a ferny pond underneath and a tree house and my playhouse cottage in the woods. Lots of room for adventures and we had them. And they aren’t that far removed from the many, many gnomes in the garden, lol!

I may have to go on somemore adventures with my trolls.


Our backyard and my two story playhouse, It was there when we moved in.


The gnome brigade

When did your kids really play last?

When I was a kid we played every day. We had recess. We had PE and we played with our friends and we played alone. This led us to have adventures and to solve problems even if the problem was how not to get caught by our parents doing something we shouldn’t. It was considered a healthy childhood.

We played on playground equipment and tried to swing to the moon or the stars. We climbed the mountains around our houses pretending to be hunters and explorers. We played Indian princesses defeating the invading colonists. One of the few times I ever played at being a princess. We sent our much hated Barbies down the drainage ditch Amazon River).

We explored the local park that had a cemetery and a stream and waterfall. We invaded on some kids involved in nookie where they shouldn’t have been. Still remember how we laughed at their naked butts.

When someone was given a Flexie Flyer basically a sled on wheels, we figured out that the more people on it the faster we went and actually stopped traffic on a cross street so we could go two very long blocks at very high speed and we were lucky we weren’t killed because we didn’t count on the brakes not stopping us at the dead end. I have no idea how fast we got but it was probably 200 lbs or more of small girl on that sled and it was a fairly steep hill. We managed to get 5 of us on it and it was the most exhilarating things I had ever done at age 12. Kids need to do things like that. It helps them learn. We saw it as a challenge and something we could do, of course at age 12 you are fearless and I’m glad we were but if our mothers’ had known they would have killed us first The first law of every kid adventure, “Don’t ask. Don’t tell”.

We had a 2 story playhouse and a 2 story tree house in our backyard in a tall carob tree, a small pond and a bamboo grove and a huge redwood and our garage was 2 stories tall too. We went all around the world and never left the yard. We explored Africa, South America and the Old West. We had colossal night time games of hide and seek that covered the whole neighborhood on summer nights and every kid on the block was there. We were Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett. We were Lewis and Clark. We fought the Revolutionary War. We played Wizard of Oz and Dorothy and millions of other games that we made up on the spur of the moment. We explored the moon with the astronauts. We were pirates on the Spanish Main out to bring down the English and the French.

We played board games and we read but we also climbed trees and waged war on our siblings. We ran in the sunlight and wind and occasionally the rain. We turned cartwheel across the lawn and had wheel barrow races with our friends. After Mom read us Midsummer Night’s Dream we were Puck and the faeries peeping from the garden shrubs. We played in the sprinklers, danced under the full moon and howled. We were free kids.

I used to teach Arts & Crafts at camp and the difference between a group of Girl Scouts or public school kids and the kids that went to Catholic camp was creativity and play. I never had to tell the Girl Scouts what to create and the Catholic girls always asked me what they were supposed to do because the nuns usually tell them what to draw or make, now it seems most kids have to be told and that is so sad.

When was the last time your kid played with no structure and decided themselves with no help what they were going to be? When was the last time you played?

How to teach a kid to love to read

Thalassa had an excellent blog here this am: http://nuannapoq.wordpress.com on reading aloud to your kids. I have no doubt that the reason I could read at three was because I was read aloud to. We got read to twice a day. I don’t think they planned it that way. I think it just happened because I was a notoriously bad nap taker so Mom started reading to my brother and I in the afternoons and my Dad read to us something different before bed.

I can still remember some of the books too. My favourite for a long while was a series about Henrietta the goose that I’m afraid is no longer in print because I haven’t found it anywhere. What comes up in a search is about a goose who thinks she is a horse and the publication date is way too new. These would have been published in the 1950’s or before. We also loved to Swedish sets of books that happily are in print, Snipp, Snapp and Snurr and Flicka, Ricka and Dicka by Maj Lindman printed in English in the 1930’s. I still have them up on a shelf. We loved the adventures of the two sets of triplets.

But the reading that caught my attention was when Mom started reading the Land of Oz books to us. Mom would read up until an exciting part and then stop for the day. This drove me crazy as a child. One day my brother was complaining loudly to Mom that that was not where she left off the day before and that was how they discovered I could read. I’d been so annoyed the day before with Mom leaving off that I had snuck the book and read ahead to find out what happened next. I still hate cliffhangers unless I’m writing them.

Mom had been a first grade teacher but I don’t think she intended for me to learn to read that way. I don’t remember sitting with her to learn how letters sounded or to learn to recognize them. I just remember having to be where my right eye could see the page clearly and learned to follow along. Somewhere in this I also learned to alternate lines reading one line in one direction and the next back the other direction so I could read faster. That was not how my first grade teacher was teaching when I got there and I was really bored with stupid Dick and Jane and Puff and Spot at the time. I didn’t like reading baby books but I couldn’t read aloud and strangely I still have trouble with it.

Mom had a strange list of books that we read. For some reason she hated Pooh and I never even ran into Winnie the Pooh until I was an adult. I asked her why once and she said they were too babyish for us.

My Dad read us the Just So Stories and I loved them and drove him nuts asking over and over for the tale of the Elephant’s Child. We read the Emperor’s New Clothes and lots of fairy tales with Dad. Dad also liked reading nursery rhymes and A Child’s Garden of Verse by R.L. Stevenson. We read the story of Greyfriar’s Bobby and I was thrilled when Disney made the movie. Dad also read us Dr Seuss. From Dad we got the sounds of words and stories with proper endings before bed. From Mom we got long books and I think she was attempting to give us a longer look and love of full books. Either way my brother and I learned to love the printed word and when my more active sister finally came along 10 years after me she had a hard time when we were all reading at night and she wanted to play but she finally got with the program.