Mary Poppins and 365 Days of Fun

mary poppinsI have talked about this many times before, and I am going to talk about it again because I can.

This morning I was talking to my dad on the phone. We were conspiring about my mom’s Christmas gift and when we finished the conversation my dad said, “Thank you Sweetheart!” 46 years old and my Daddy calls me sweetheart and baby still.

And I like it.

After we hung up, my memory took me back for a flash of Dad helping me get my winter coat on so we could go see Mary Poppins at the movie house in Yellowknife, NWT (for the uninitiated, that is in Canada’s Arctic).

Things I remember about that day include singing the songs from the movie, walking past the town’s only parking meter, sitting in the damp movie theatre beside my Dad and my brother and visualizing myself as Mary Poppins.

My dad didn’t take me to as many movies as my mom did. But he did come with us to the “last day of school’ movies. We saw Superman, Goonies, Indiana Jones, Silverado, The Right Stuff, and countless other action/adventure movies with my dad and mom. I am not sure, but in my memory Mary Poppins was our first “last day of school” movie. I was in grade 1 and my dad finished his very first year of teaching. He was the local grad 5 teachers, so we had plenty to celebrate. AND we were driving from Yellowknife to Disneyland later that summer. For the record the drive is 4302 km. With me 6, my ADHD brother 4, and my aunt 12, in the back seat.

We saw a lot of cool and interesting things that summer but what stuck with me were two things:

1. Sitting on Main Street Watching the Electrical Parade right in front of the emporium. My mom came out of the shop with what are now ‘vintage’ Mickey Mouse Sweatshirts – but at the time they were ‘new’.

2. Memories of the Mary Poppins movie.

We sang every song a million times on our drive to Disneyland. Singing in the car was always a huge pastime.  I suspect it is why I know the lyrics to every song written before 1990.

Everything about that summer was magic for me. From visiting my Grandma in Sherwood Park before leaving to Disneyland – to driving through a giant redwood tree that was on the way.

This Friday is the “last day of School” celebration for Christmas. Saving Mr. Banks is on the menu for me. I am dragging my family to it because of the significance of Walt Disney and Mary Poppins in my life and because it was so important to me, my kids know everything about it and have become massive Disney fans in their own right.

I love walking around Disneyland tell stories of the place of when I was a kid. Showing them where Skull Rock was located, telling stories of the Short Cut to Space Mountain before it became a backstage area – or maybe it was then but my brother and I went that way anyways to be first in line. Then my children ask me to tell them stories of their first visit, like when The Boy whispered secrets into Pooh Bear’s ear or when Chatterbox wore the Mickey Ears that caused seizers from the constant flashing. We have been enough times to have a million memories of our own.

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Just the way I like it.

But I also value the memories of Dad singing Bert’s part and my singing Mary’s part.

I can’t wait for Friday…and Christmas because I asked for the 50th Anniversary Mary Poppins edition.

My days have been loaded with fun and anticipation. This 365 Days of Awesome has been awesome so far.

 

Read with me Mary Poppins

mary poppinsIt may come as a surprise to many of you, but up until the other day, I have never read Mary Poppins.

Shocking, actually. How can one profess to be the biggest Mary Poppins fan (never just Mary) and never have read the book or books?

Guilty.

When I was 6, I lived in Yellowknife, NWT AKA the Arctic in Canada. Yes it was cold, yes it was dark, yes there wasn’t much going on up there. My mom and dad were great lovers of musicals. On Saturdays (house cleaning day) Mom would open up the cabinate stereo and pile 6 albums on to the turntable for endless music. If it was November, it would be Andy Williams Christmas, Catherine McKinnon Christmas, Dean Martin Christmas, Bing Crosby Christmas, Burl Ives Christmas and a Christmas mix of Mel Tormé et al. If it was any other month other than November or December, we listened to the sound tracks to The Sound of Music, Hello Dolly, My Fair Lady, Fiddler on the Roof, The Music Man and of course, Mary Poppins.

Mary Poppins (film)
Mary Poppins (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I knew every word to every song on that album, both sides. I would read the liner notes and look at the photos on the back of the album. I had no idea what the story was about, but I wanted to see it.

My first musical was a Northern Production of Fiddler on the Roof. This had me enchanted with musicals. If I loved Mary Poppins half as much as Fiddler on the Roof, I knew I would be in toe tapping heaven.

My family had a long standing tradition to see a movie on the last day of school. It lasted until…well it is still happening. I take my kids now on the last day of school even though they usually go to movies now with friends, the “Last Day of School Movie” is still important to them, and that makes me happy. When I was six, the movie theatre (singular, one movie screen) was showing a re-run of Mary Poppins in Yellowknife. The Arctic never got first run anything…ever…. Even football and hockey games came up north by truck in a film can a week later.

My Dad was helping get into my jacket and we had been practicing all the songs for the movie to make sure I knew them..oh I knew them alright, I even knew the spoken dialogue parts. We piled out the door and walked to the movies, Me, Mom and Dad and my baby brother who was 4. We were STOKED!

I sat throught the entire showing wide eyed and enchanted.

Mary Poppins was magnificent! But why had she not ever come to my house? From that day forward, I would wish for her on an evening star.

I have since watched that movie a gajillion times, purchased every possible bit of merchandise available – and trust me, there isn’t very much! I have a Mary Poppins Mug of her flying over the roof tops of London in silhouette, I have a parrot umbrella and I have the Arthur Penguin Magnet. I regret not buying the Mr. Potato Head with Mary Poppins parts when I saw it at Walt Disney World, I figured it would be at another store closer to where the hotel was…but no chance. I have since looked for it every time and no luck. That is my biggest collector regret.

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I know trivia that can win tickets to anything. I know dialogue that impresses even the finest dialog aficionado. I have stalked Mary Poppins and Bert at both Disney Parks in the US. Last week when I was in the Park, I saw the two of them walking off stage, I stopped, yelled and waved “HI BERT!!!! HI MARY POPPINS!!! I LOVE YOU!” I waved wildly like I was four. They both stopped and waved back, then Bert called me over. I ran like I was PRing for the Boston Marathon. I threw my phone at the Trusty Steed and I clung to Bert as if we were just married. sigh………………..

Mary Poppins and my Boyfirend
Mary Poppins and my Boyfirend

 

 

He whispered into my ear that they would be in front of the castle at 1:00 PM and at 2! SQUEEEEEEE I had never had the chance to see the Pearly Band and now I had my chance!!!

I celebrated the fact that Bert loves me and personally invited me to watch him perform by having my very first Ghirardelli sundae in the chalk painting style.

We made it to the castle for 2:00 PM. At 2:01 The Trusty Steed was calling Bert a liar. But then the band started marching towards the Castle and there they were…Mary Poppins and Bert dancing, marching and singing with the Pearly Band. I was standing in the front row surrounded by 4 year olds. I was NOT giving up my spot for some kid who wasn’t personally invited by Bert.

When Mary Poppins saw me, she said “Lovely to see you again”! But when Bert saw me he WINKED ! OH YA! BERT WINKED AT ME!! Eat THAT Brenda, PROOF BERT IS MINE!!

It was definitely a Jolly Holiday!

I am so excited about the new movie “Saving Mr. Banks” and have been watching all the trailers and videos I can get my hands on. I learned the movie used the actual recorded audio tapes of P.L. Travers for the film. Since the film is about the books as much as the movie, I thought I better read the book so I can be better prepared for the movie when it comes out. I like to do my research and be in the know. At the very least, understand the background.

I had always avoided the book because Books and Movies rarely work well together. One always destroys the other for me and I really didn’t want this to happen for my beloved Mary Poppins. The reviews on Good Reads were mixed. One said that the book was butchered by Disney and made into an atrocious film…yikes. Was the movie that different?

I downloaded it onto my iPad and remembered it was a children’s book of 190 pages. Okay, not a problem. I should easily whiz through it and if I hate it…so be it. Julie Andrews will forever be my Mary Poppins.

I was astounded at how closely the events of the movie followed the events in the book. Obviously there was additional things in the movie that never happened in the book, but to be fair, I have only read the first volume. There are several more. The book gave Jane and Michael Banks twin siblings, Barbara and John – Babies who speak in a language that animals, the wind, the sun and Mary Poppins all understand. The book had adventures that the Musical had but not the movie, but there was Tea Parties on the Ceiling, Feeding the Birds with the Bird Woman and Jumping in chalk drawings. Bert was an obvious suitor for Mary Poppins only he was the Match Man, jack of all trades and Sunday Sidewalk artist.

The Carpet bag was empty and full at the same time like the movie and Mary Poppins traveled by talking umbrella and slid up banisters. Admiral Boom lived down the street and Andrew the dog could talk to Mary Poppins…just like the movie.

There was enough differences to make me enjoy the book, but there was enough similarities to make me smile with delight.

I loved it and am now sad I never read it to my children when they were little.

I guess there is always the chances to read it to my grandchildren…and favorite nieces.

I rate P.L. Travers’s Mary Poppins 5 stars and now am more anxious than ever to see Saving Mr. Banks.

I have to say I was delighted.

Next time…

 

Today as I sit looking out my dinning room window, sipping my coffee that is brewed to perfection, I look out in my back yard to discover the birds have found the feeder placed for them for winter. They come in flocks having told their little friends of the abundance of food for them in my yard. Their excitement is obvious as they flutter in place to find a spot to perch and feast. Now with the snow having arrived earlier this week, finding food becomes a harder job for these littles creatures, so the banquet of seed that my feeder provides is welcome.

The irony of this is not lost on me. I sit with my coffee in the silence of my dinning room, gazing out into my back yard watching them jockey for position. I have a tremendous fear of those little feathered creatures. Their little beady eyes and tiny beaks frighten me. The fear of them coming to close or actually touching me is more than I can bear.

When I was 10, my parents took me to London. We walked forever but when we came to the steps of St. Paul’s we paused. Just like the song from Mary Poppins, there was a Bird Woman feeding the birds. The difference was, she was not selling bags of food for tuppence. My dad became excited for me as he pointed out the Bird Woman. Proof that magic happens. I stood and watched the woman with her arms out stretched. She held food in her hands and the birds would land on her and feed. She was covered in birds. My brother was amazed at her gift to talk to the birds, he also had a gift with animals. One day at the beach he walked up to a Gull and picked it up. The Gull trusted him and never tried to fly away. Eventually the bird tired of his attention and nipped him gently as if to say “I need to go now”. I remember thinking my brother was the bravest person alive. Now as I stood before this Bird woman, I knew it wasn’t bravery, it was magic. She had a soft gentle manner that could reach the minds of the birds and they trusted her. Just like the Gull trusted my little brother.

My grandfather had a love for birds. He would build birdhouses and feeders. Placed them in his yard and tried to attract special rare birds, not just the sparrow which is so abundant around here. I saw him once hold out his hand and a bird came to eat from it. He tried to get me to do the same but fear held me back.

These moments came flooding back to me this week. I met a woman who took a “Staycation”, a vacation at home. She made a point of going to the bird sanctuary so her staycation would feel like a vacation. She brought her penny whistle. She would listen to the cadence of the bird calls and answer back in the same fashion. She stayed in the same spot in the trees and just kept communicating back and forth with the chickadees. Soon the little birds started coming to her. She had no food for them, just her whistle. Birds started landing on her bag and she would answer their calls. Soon they were hopping on her. She talked about the fear she felt inside but managed to remain calm on the surface. She felt their sharp little claws clinging to her hands. Then one little bird flew up and hovered in front of her face. She was so frightened she closed her eyes and stayed perfectly still untill she could no longer feel the air moving in front of her face. Once she closed her eyes, the birds left. She felt tremendous disappointment and then immediately wished she looked that bird in the eye.

Fear does that to a person. It can fill you with the regret of doing something different. Fear also can give you the confidence to do it differently the next time.

Now that I look out over my yard I see the little birds have left for now. They will be back with friends now that they know where the seeds are kept. There will be a next time for them. My next time is coming up soon. I know how I will do things differently. Introspective does that for me.

Next time won’t escape me.