Tag Archives: #memories

Broken Crayons…

It’s funny the things you remember from your childhood. Memories of this box of crayons popped back into my head yesterday when I was in Paperchase deliberating over which journals and pens to treat myself to. I love fancy pens and notebooks!

I remember saving up to buy this box of crayons when I was about 10 years old. I eventually bought my box, complete with sharpener, at the ACME on holiday in America in 1980. No idea what I paid for it but $5 rings a vague bell (it was a long time ago even for my crazy memory).

Even back then I loved colourful pens and pencils and crayons. That box of crayons was my treasured possession at the time. I took great care not to overuse any of the colours in case I had to tear the paper down. (Anyone else remember doing that or is it just me?) The built-in sharpener was used sparingly but I loved the wee colourful curls it spat out. Sad but true! LOL

Oh, happy days….

Now life’s busy. Life’s stressful. Those innocent childhood days when the biggest decision was whether to use Indigo or Violet or Purple are long gone but   one of my favourite sayings still harks back to those days.

We’re all a little broken but last time I checked broken crayons still colour.

(images sourced via Google – credits to the owners)

An Inky Elephant’s Tale

Some of you know, some of you don’t, but I have two, usually well-hidden, tattoos.

Yes, I know I wrote a blog on here about seven years ago about whether to ink or not but, in my defence, in that blog I did say “never say never.”

Moving swiftly on to January 2020 and I had this wee guy added. (Thanks to @tubithetattooer)

Cute, isn’t he?

There’s a tale behind him that I thought I’d share with you.

His tale begins back in 2016 when I decided that I was going to be a big brave girl and travel on my own to Nottingham to see a band called Alter Bridge play live. (Anyone who knows me personally knows what a big deal that was for me.) I decided to go the whole hog and bought the VIP Meet and Greet package. The show was the day before front man, Myles Kennedy’s birthday so I decided to buy him a small gift. He has two majestic elephants inked on his chest (incidentally, the prompt for the original blog post back in 2015 about tattoos). I chose a small silver elephant charm on a cord to give him as a gift. When I bought it, I actually bought two of them and kept one for myself.

When the moment came during the meet and greet, I rather shyly passed over my card and gift, wished Myles a happy birthday for the next day and genuinely thought that that would be the last I ever saw of the elephant. Let’s face it- why would a rock star give such a small gift a second thought? I mean…come on!

Wrong!

A few short hours later as I stood leaning on the rail, Myles emerged on stage wearing the elephant necklace. My night was made! He’d not only actually opened the gift but had cared enough to wear it…and he continued to wear it for the rest of the tour and again in 2017 for Alter Bridge’s appearance at Shiprocked.

I’ve no idea what became of that one. I’d love to know. I’d like to think he still has it.

My wee elephant though came to symbolise a few things for me. He reminds me of the confidence I found to make that trip to Nottingham, reminds me of the friends I made that day, reminds me of Myles himself and an awesome gig. In general, it reminds me of happy days.

Move on to 2019 and, sparing you the details, I had a bit of a health scare thing that rumbled on for more months than my nerves would have liked. In an effort to keep those nerves at bay, I wore my wee elephant to all my appointments. He became my good luck charm, my “All Ends Well” talisman. Wearing him reminded me of good times. He made me smile.

I decided during that journey, much to The Big Green Gummi Bear’s disgust, that I would get him tattooed on the inside of my right ankle so that he was always with me. That wee elephant became my symbol of strength, health, and happiness. (Yes, I was wearing him as the tattoo was done.)

Now, after two years of living in this Covid ransacked world and of dealing with the various curve balls life has thrown my way, he’s still there (obviously) to remind me not only of better times but that I have the strength to handle whatever comes my way.

I read somewhere that there’s an inscription on an ancient Greek tablet that reads, “Plato told me that everything I need to know about life can be seen in elephants.”

There’s a lot of truth in that.

Continue The Story- When You Come Face To Face With One Of Your Idols.

She couldn’t believe it. Was it really him? It was the same feeling every time. This was perhaps the sixth time she’d been in this position. Each time she got nervous, became tongue tied then babbled like an idiot for a few seconds before her moment of opportunity passed.

She swore to herself that this time would be different. She’d hold it together. She could manage to have a short sensible “normal” conversation with him.

There was only one person in front of her in the queue. Her heart was pounding. She had her gift for him clutched in her hand. A 1978 original red vinyl copy of Gerry Raffety’s City To City album. Would he like it? Did he already have it?

His assistant beckoned her into the small room.

There he was in front of her behind the counter. Heart pounding, she said, “Hi. How are you today?”

She gave him the gift, said it was one to add to his collection and that she hoped he didn’t already have it then she asked if he could sign her ticket and the two CDs that she’d brought with her.

As he went to sign the first one, the Sharpie marker ran dry. His assistant was duly despatched to find the pencil case with some fresh pens.

They were alone in the room. Unsure what to say, she asked how it felt to see his name rather than a band’s name on the cover of the record. He paused for a moment to think, smiled then said, “You know. you’re the first person to ask me that. Feels kind of surreal but then, Coral, you know how that feels.”

Her heart almost stopped.

This Continue The Story is based on one of my most precious memories. It tells the short tale of what happened at a “meet and greet” opportunity with a musician ( I’m loathe to use the term rockstar here) several years ago. Those who know me will have figured out who it was.

The part two to this happened several hours later as he returned to the small stage in The Garage, Glasgow for the encore. Before he started the last song of the night, he looked over to where I was standing with my friends and played a few bars of Baker Street. My heart melted.

Folk say “Don’t meet your idols. It’ll spoil the illusion”. I beg to differ.

Its The Little Things That Live On..

Once the initial grief at losing someone we care about settles, you come to recognise just how much the person has touched your life in little everyday ways.

My aunt and namesake passed away last month. She was a feisty 82 years young but sadly cancer won the battle in the end. For the first time in my 51 years of life, I’m the only Coral in the family and, trust me, it’s a peculiar feeling.

Timing and covid and the small matter of three thousand miles meant I never got to say goodbye but then with us it was never goodbye. It was invariably, “I’ll talk to you after. Cheerio. See You later. Take care.”

As I’ve reflected on things over the past few weeks. I’ve begun to realise the extent of her touch on the little things in my life. Simple things like she was the first to introduce me to a breakfast consisting of a buttered, toasted cinnamon raisin bagel, topped with crispy streaky bacon, all washed down with a strong cup of coffee. Still my Sunday and holiday breakfast of choice. And every time I sit down to it, I picture her kitchen.

When I make potato salad, it’s her recipe I use, recalling fondly just about burning the skin off my fingertips trying to shell hot hard-boiled eggs as I helped to make a huge bowl for a US family gathering. (The part two of that story makes me both smile and cringe – as we cleared up post-BBQ debris many hours and a considerable amount of alcohol later, we found a huge slug crawling on the inside of the potato salad bowl in the cool box. Bowl and slug were promptly hurled out of the back door, down the yard and into the dark!)

I hold her wholly accountable for the fact I now have a house full of cats (I have 4). The first time I visited my aunt and uncle with the kids, Boy Child fell in love with Max, their huge Maine Coon cat. When we returned home, he was distraught at leaving Max behind. Less than a month later, our first rescue cat, Dixie, entered our lives. Sioux followed a few months later and the rest is history!

Every time I light a Yankee Candle Lemon Lavender scented candle I think of my aunt and smile.

There are countless precious memories that she played a hand in over the years. When the kids and I visited when they were little, she moved heaven and earth to make sure we had a great trip. (Ok, perhaps the only failure there was the white-water rafting trip on the Lehigh River but even that day had plenty of memorable moments, including my only ride to date in a yellow American school bus.)

It was my aunt (and uncle) who introduced me to Rehoboth Beach, DE way back in the sun-baked summer of 1980. Those few days at the shore triggered a lifetime of love for that special place. Many years later, when I was looking for a setting for my Silver Lake series, it was the first place to come to mind. A place close to my heart.

When I was trying to visualise Lori’s beach house, there was no doubt in my mind about which house to base it on – my aunt’s home. (Albeit in reality, its one hundred miles from the shore.) I never told her at first, but when I sent her a copy of Stronger Within, I got a phone call a few days later. I paraphrase here but her comments were along the lines of “So, I’m reading this book and loving it and thinking to myself “I know this house” then I realised it was mine!”

Memories of beach days together are extra special and stretch back to “jumping waves” at Ocean City, NJ in August 1974. Years later, together, we introduced my kids to the ocean and “jumped waves” with them for the first time in Ocean City, MD. Happy days.

The beach was a happy place for both of us. Might have been something to do with the name. We’d meander along the sand or simply stand watching the ocean for dolphins swimming by as we dug our toes in the soft wet sand. The photo above was taken at Cape Henlopen DE in 2006 and remains one of my favourites.

Those special to us never really leave us when they pass. They live on in our hearts and our memories and in everyday things.

Rest in peace, Auntie Coral.

A Little Lost Soul

A couple of days ago I went for a meander along my favourite stretch of beach to clear my mind. As I approached the large black rock that sits prominently on the beach, I spotted something lying on it.

It was a very bedraggled “Guess How Much I Love You” bunny.

I sat him up, brushed off the worst of the wet sand and positioned him facing the river. As I took a few photos of him, I paused to think about who he belonged to. Had some small child lost their bedtime friend? Had tears been shed because he’d been lost on day out at the beach? Would anyone take the time to look for him?

I thought back to reading the book “Guess How Much I Love You” to my own kids when they were wee, recalling those moments with a warm fuzzy feeling deep inside.

I left the beach and went across the road to visit the local garden centre, but the little lost rabbit was preying on my mind.

What if there was a high tide and he got swept out to sea? What if a storm blew in?

As I paid for my purchases, I resolved to go back and rescue him for a second time and move him to a more secure spot.

I crossed back over the road, wandered back down onto the beach and was relieved to see he was still sitting where I had left him. ( I don’t know where I thought he could have gone in the short space of time.)

There were a few other folks about and I’m fairly sure they must have wondered what I was doing. I picked him up and carried him up the path to where there are various wooden benches along the path. I selected one and left him there, snug in the corner to provide a little shelter, and facing the beach so that he could watch the world go by.

And as far as I know, he’s still sitting there. (I checked on him next day.)

Who knows, maybe someone will come along looking for him.

Maybe someone still “loves him to the moon and back.”

Merry Christmas

Like most houses, there’s a Christmas tree in the corner of the living room taking up more than its fair share of the room.

I’m more than a little biased but I love my Christmas tree. This year it’s 27 years old.

When the Big Green Gummi Bear and I moved into our first one-bedroomed flat together, I broke the budget and bought the best artificial tree I could find and then blew the budget out the water with a dozen glass baubles, some red and gold strings of beads and a gold star. With the exception of one red glass bauble, that broke a long time ago, these all still adorn that same tree today.

There are so many memories intertwined in that tree’s branches.

Even the cardboard box it lives in, holds some fun memories. Girl Child hid in it one year and Boy Child and I taped her in!  I can still hear those squeals and giggles.

Over the years, I’ve added a few extra baubles- some snow globe ones with the kids’ names and the Big Green Gummi Bear’s name on them, one handmade one that Girl Child made in school, one Black Stone Cherry one (don’t tell the Big Green Gummi Bear, he hasn’t spotted it. I need to find an Alter Bridge one….) and one tiny red one that says Jake on it (never could find matching one that said Lori). This year it’s even gained an elf!

I know some folk swear by a real tree but to me that just lasts one Christmas (unless you buy a rooted one in a pot) and then it gets dumped at the recycling centre in early January and the moment’s gone.

I’ve almost half a lifetime of memories around my “antique” tree and each one sparkles and twinkles as brightly as the fairy lights draped round it.

This Christmas will feel different – we’re living in a different world this year – but it’ll still make its own precious memories. The top section of my tree is suffering a little from wear and tear… a bit like the rest of us. But like the rest of us, it’s hanging in there.

Have a wonderful Christmas. I hope Santa is good to you all. But above all, stay safe.

When the hand of friendship gets bitten, chewed up and spat back out…..

The above quote appeared in my Facebook news feed the other day. Its appearance was spookily timely….

A day or two before I stumbled across it, I had occasion to reach out to an old friend. For the purposes of this blog, it doesn’t matter who or why, but this old friend has played quite an important role in my world in the past. They still held a special place in my heart.

Admittedly, over time, we had lost touch, but it takes two adults to keep the flame of friendship kindled. Initially, around 17 years ago, I had tried repeatedly. I’d sent occasional messages, I’d sent birthday greetings to them, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year messages but they were largely ignored, and our worlds drifted further apart as their silence grew louder.

I thought long and hard before reaching out to them last week but life’s too short sometimes in my book to waste time. So, having found a number for them still nestled in the contacts on my phone, I sent s short friendly message asking them to get in touch. (There was also an apology included in case I was disturbing a complete stranger in the event the number was no longer theirs.)

I wasn’t emotionally prepared for the short message chain that followed. Their wording was very “cold”. They told me I’d need to do better than that then said I’d only got in touch after nearly twenty years because I wanted something and why should they jump to help me.

I never asked or implied I wanted help or anything else other than to try to re-kindle that flame of friendship.

I was hurt by their assumption that I wanted something. For those who actually know me, you’ll appreciate that that’s not my style! I was made to feel as though I’d been about to ask for their life savings!

Now, I acknowledge that I can be a sensitive soul, but their hostile reaction left me broken and in tears.

I sent a final message saying to let it go, I wasn’t looking for anything and was merely, in good faith, trying to reconnect with them. I apologised for disturbing their day.

As the second half of the quote says, “Our lives are made up of so many people and when people become parts of our lives some parts remain long after they leave.”

This friends introduced me to some of my favourite authors, introduced me to new music that all these years later I still listen to, they danced with me at my own wedding and were one of the first visitors when we brought Boy Child home from the hospital as  a newborn baby. All very important personal memories…sadly all now tarnished thanks to the reaction my innocent, well intended message received.

I’d hate for anyone to be left feeling the way I’ve felt over this sorry incident. So, please remember, friendship – true friendship- doesn’t come with an expiry date. In this case it appears to have had a “best before” date and it seems that’s long since passed.

Their loss…

(credits to the owner of the image -source from Facebook)