Category Archives: Memories

Hide the Photo

This post over at Playgroups are No Place for Children reminded me of my own embarrassing mover story.

In the mid-80’s I was in the US Army, stationed in South Carolina. While there I met a guy, we got engaged, and moved in together. In fact, he is the one who had the Cavalier mix that became my first child. Anyway, one year for Christmas I got a Polaroid camera – remember those? Seems so quaint now, doesn’t it? You’d take a photo and it would spit out this gray square that magically transformed into an image right before your very eyes! While the film was more expensive than 110 film, at least you didn’t have to pay for it to be developed, or wait 2 weeks to get your pictures back. Can you believe the barbaric photo conditions we used to live under?

Being a 20-something man, my boyfriend/fiancee one day decided to be funny and snap a photo of me with that camera as I stepped out of the shower. Pure mortification ensued on my part, but at least the roll wasn’t going to be dropped off at the pharmacy for developing (where they’d probably refuse to develop it anyway!). He got a laugh at my expense and hid the photo.

A few months later we broke up and he moved out. And a few months after that I was leaving the Army and returning to New England. The movers came to pack up my stuff (oh, the gloriousness of military moves where they do all the packing and moving!). I was wandering around my house trying to stay out of the way when one of the movers sheepishly approached me with a 4×4 square and handed it to me. One look at that nearly-forgotten photo and I turned 10 shades of red as the poor mover tried not to be embarrased for himself or for me.

Where I’m From

I am from chenille bedspreads, from avocado-colored appliances and black and white TV. From bell bottom pants and monogrammed sweaters, chinos and cuffed red-tagged Levi’s.

I am from the tiny ranch to the largish garrison, with an unfinished upstairs, making it smaller than the ranch we upgraded from. From a sand strewn yard which was as fun as any grass, trees to climb and yearning for a treehouse that was never to be.

I am from the wild daisies dotting the edge of that sand-lawn like a weed, the lilac bush planted by the back steps later on and polliwogs and salamanders every spring. From forsythia bushes and blueberry bushes and composting in the garden.

I am from exploring the swamp, and burying my nose in a book and hopscotch and Chinese jump rope and four square and Jacob’s ladder and dodge ball.

I am from Christmas Eve noshing, campfire s’mores, Dad’s apple pie, meatloaf and noodles, and the frugality born of tough times from Marjorie and Alma and Cornelius.

I am from the long lived mothers and grandmothers, and the fathers and grandfathers who died too soon.

From “Let’s check the dictionary” every time I asked what a word meant, and how that helped me be resourceful, from thinking I can be anything I want to be and living both the curse and finally the reward of being born a Red Sox fan.

I’m from the birthplace of the United States, and Scotland and England and Ireland and Newfoundland, Canada, and Ring Dings and Devil Dogs, “Favorite Chicken”, frappes when home sick with a cold and popcorn on Friday nights.

From summers at the cottage until it was torn down, spending days hunting hermit crabs and horseshoe crabs, chasing sandpipers and dodging seagulls. From sleeping in smoky clothes in a musty tent, and long sleepy walks to the bathroom in the chill of the morning.

I am from the not-so-secret closet my cousins and I spent hours playing in at Gram’s and the online albums uploaded by me all these years later, something we cousins never could have conceived of.

The origin of this piece is from, who got the idea from the poem Where I’m From by George Ella Lyon. And I found all that out from Suldog.

I Love the New Millennium

I have a confession. I’m watching VH1’s, “I Love the New Millennium” series right now. Hey, the Red Sox already lost earlier tonight, and I’m fresh out of DVR’d shows that interest me, and I just packed up the last Netflix DVD i had at home.

So the episode is featuring 2005 and I am chagrined to note that a lot of what is featured is new to me. I attribute this to my being pretty well wrapped up in parenting young children, which leaves precious little timee for digging pop culture. But if you think that’s bad, JFK was shot when I was 8 months old, and my mother says she remembers very little aside from the very day for the same reason.

Anyway, I had to share this video which had me drop-jawed. I have never heard of the group or the song, but it’s pretty cool.

What do you remember from 2005?

Protected: In My Life

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G – Ghosts

I needed a light-hearted topic for today — been way too serious lately!


But I am not going where you might think!

High school mascots are often animals: Tigers, Wildcats, Falcons. Sometimes they mimic current professional sports: Patriots, Giants, Raiders, Cubs, Bruins. And sometimes they seem a little bit, well, odd. Like Maroons, Crabbers, Martians, or Nimrods (if you don’t believe me, check out this site).

My high school’s mascot was (still is), the Grey Ghosts. I always kinda liked it! I certainly never heard of another school who used it. When I was in school the pictorial representative looked a bit like Casper, but they’ve made it seem a little more ferocious since then. I can tell you we never had anyone dressed up like a ghost walking the sidelines at football games, although it’s been a long time since I’ve been to one, and maybe they do now

D – What Begins with D?

D is for Dinner, Disney, Dreaming, Daughters, Driving, and Dad

The greatest regret of my life centers around my dad.

My dad passed away on Friday, the 13th, almost 11 years ago. He was 62. Two years prior he had been diagnosed with esophageal cancer had surgery that he recovered from faster than anyone expected, and seemed to be doing great. There were changes he couldn’t make saliva in great quantities anymore, so constantly carried a bottle of water around. He no longer enjoyed certain foods, such as sandwiches, because of how dry they were. And his voice got raspier. But maybe that came later.

The cancer came back. He had a second surgery to remove his esophagus and larynx. After that he could no longer speak. Before the surgery he had researched alternative communication methods, and decided upon something that was relatively new at the time (I haven’t kept up) which was to have a special valve implanted in his trach hole which he would be able to use to speak through. In the meantime, we bought dry erase boards and notebooks for him to communicate with us. While we all mourned his speech loss, we were hopeful for the future.

He came home about a week or so after the surgery, but wasnt recovering as well as before. OK, his body had gone through a lot, and he was older. We tried to take it in stride. Then he started swelling horribly in the neck and face, and my step-mother and I took him to the Emergency Room. The ER doctor said If this is the cancer, it doesnt look good. And Dad never came home again. He spent several weeks in the hospital, then was moved to a nursing home for hospice care. He learned to suction his trach which was nasty and smelly with the cancer. He wrote on his board and pads to converse with us. Conversation as awkward and took a long time. He wrote me a letter that I have only been able to read one time. It basically said that he loved me, and that he was sorry he didn’t actually SAY it very much, and was even sorrier since now he didnt even have the ability to speak it out loud. I read it at home by myself and cried for a long time. I tucked it in a book and I’ve not looked at it again in almost 11 years.

On Thursday, June 12, my step-mother called to say I needed to come, that it looked like today was the day. When I got to the nursing home he was already in a coma. He had a morphine drip hooked up and we kept pushing the button, hoping to relieve his pain. The doctor came in and said it would be any time, and that these things were impossible to predict. I hated seeing him grimace in bed, reduced in size to half the man he had been, and not being able to help him. We treat our pets better at the end of their lives than our family members, sometimes.

It was a long, emotional day. His sisters and their husbands dropped by, and left. It was me and my step-mother all day, with her daughters coming after their work day. Late, late, late maybe around 10 or 11 I decided I needed to go. I was emotionally and physically drained. I wanted to be in my own bed. I needed to walk my dog, who hadnt been out all day. Everyone cleared out of the room to give me some time alone with him. I said goodbye, and asked him to say hello to my sister when he got where he was going. And I went home. And I wish, more than anything, that I had stayed. It was only another two hours or so before he passed away. He wasnt alone my step-mother and sisters were there but I wish I had been there too.


Experimental Interview

Come one, come all – read the first ever interview given by the one, the only, Ragtop Day!! (uh, yeah, that would be me)

Melina, over at “That Woman who speaks eighteen languages and can’t say “no” in any of them” interviewed me as part of the Great Interview Experiment that was the brainchild of Neil. Here are her questions, and my answers, but go check her out as well!
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The VDay Reds and Blues

It’s the obligatory “HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY” post.

There you go – glad that’s out of the way.

Actually, my very favorite Valentine’s Day was my junior year of college. I had a very close circle of friends, and without planning it, we all just did really fabulous things for each other that year. Making cards and poems, cookies, leaving a surprise note. I really felt loved and special all day long. I’m smiling just thinking of that day, and those people. Sadly, I’ve lost touch with them. Hmmm, not the feeling I was going for. Anyway!

This year I actually considered sending myself flowers at work. I’ve been sent flowers at work before, and let me tell you, it’s up there on the special scale. It’s a way for all your co-workers to see that someone loves you enough to send flowers. Of course, I’m not sure this has as much impact on Valentine’s Day, since there was literally a bevy of flower delivery trucks lined up at the entrance to my building this morning. It’s too easy to get lost in the crowd on a day like this. A birthday, anniversary or other special event can pack a lot more punch. So for all you male readers out there, make a note. In the end, of course, I decided that I wasn’t willing to pay inflated VDay prices for flowers, and truth be told, I’m not much of a flower person anyway (psssst! chocolate). I just wanted to feel special. And then I think, why am I buying into the need to feel more special today than any other day? So, in the end, it was really just a regular day for me. Although I did wear a red sweater, and both my girls got a small box of chocolate and a bag of Valentine M&M’s.

Here’s hoping you feel loved and special today and everyday.

Elementary School Memories

Inspired first by Are We There Yet? who got it from Mac and Cheese, who got it from the Wii inspired Mama Tulip, here are some of my elementary school memories:

  • The bathroom was right in our first grade classroom, and the signal that you had to “go” versus knowing the answer to a question, was to raise one finger. One day I dutifully raised my index finger, and kept it raised, and raised….until finally I peed on the floor. It was winter and I kept hoping everyone would mistake it for melting snow from my boots…Of course my adult self wonders why the heck I didn’t just get up and go to the bathroom.
  • Thinking I had to have a boyfriend since I was now in first grade, I chose the cutest kid in the class, unbeknownst to him, of course. Ken and I graduated from the town high school 11 years later and he was never the wiser. Actually, I had pretty good taste as first grader as he turned into a fine young man. I presume a fine middle aged man by now!
  • Our recess area was a small patch with swings, and the teachers’ parking lot. In second grade I had moved on from Ken, and was chasing Timmy around that parking lot threatening to kiss him when I caught him. Thank goodness that never happened because I’m honestly not sure what the heck I would have actually done had I caught him.
  • During the winter we were expressly forbidden from playing on the snow mounds created by the plows at the edge of that parking lot. One day my rogue friend convinced me to climb on them with her and I was mortified to be caught and sent in from recess early!!
  • Balling up the wrapper from my straw and stuffing it up my nose was a daily event. Until the day I couldn’t get it out again. The next morning I got a surprise when I blew my nose. That never happened again.
  • Miss Michaelman was my second grade teacher who I adored. I remember more about the actual lessons in her class than in any other since. She was also the first Jewish person I ever knew, and she taught us all about Hanukkah in December, which at the time was incredibly progressive (and probably brave).
  • Climbing the rope in the gym, and pausing for just a tad too long on the way up… felt so good and I didn’t know why.
  • The smell of the first book I ever took out of the school library. It was about water. I loved that smell.
  • Being given an assignment to define various terms such as “sister”, “friend”, “mother” “love”, etc. I raised my hand to define friend (the example for the class before we wrote our answers privately) and said “someone you like who likes you back” and being both disappointed and indignant when the teacher (the afore mentioned adored Miss Michaelman) said coolly, “That’s one definition,” because I was absolutely convinced that was the one and only right answer.  (my definition for sister was “someone who sometimes you love and sometimes you hate”)
  • Mrs. Leland, a scary teacher who wore all black every single day. She may or may not have been a widow.  Fortunately my only interactions with her were when she had lunchroom or hallway duty.
  • In fourth grade my teacher was telling a story about how when she was our age she had to wear braces on her legs, and how ugly the shoes were she had to wear. In order to illustrate this more clearly for the class, she pointed to my shoes as the example of how they looked. To her credit, she suddenly realized what a faux pas that was and tried to cover it up. But, damage done.
  • Sneaking sugar cubes from the igloo display at the third grade library. We’d have to line up along the bookcase in the middle to head back to class, which was where the winter scene was displayed. I would pry off a sugar cube and pop into my mouth. The glue didn’t bother me a bit.
  • Playing the role of Linus in our class play, “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown”….ever after our family used to sing the line from the song “Happiness Is” every time we came home from vacation – “And happiness is coming home again.”  I still get tears when I hear (or think) that.
  • Being big enough to ride my bike to school, with my bike lock key on a yarn necklace around my neck.
  • Finally learning to like pizza.
  • Chinese jump rope. Making those foldy paper things with the questions and answers in them (anyone know what I’m talking about?). Cooties and Cootie Spray. Partridge Family lunch boxes.

ETA: I found a link with directions on making those foldy paper things, which this site calls Origami Fortune Tellers, aka Cootie Catchers.  Ah, nostalgia!