Thursday, September 24, 2015

Glory Days

Glory days - well, they'll pass you by
Glory days - in the wink of a young girl's eye
Glory days, glory days.  

                                         - - Bruce Springsteen

Tomorrow, I will be heading north, to relive, for a few hours, the glory days of my youth, the four years I spent living and learning at a small women's college in western Massachusetts. It has been thirty-four years since I saw the campus this time of year - just as autumn is beginning to make its mark on the landscape. The campus is at its most beautiful when the reds, golds and oranges begin to blaze and bloom.

I had not intended to attend this mini-reunion. I made up many excuses. I told myself that I had other plans, that it is a long ride and with four recalls on my car (I kid you not - never buy a Ford), it seemed inadvisable. I didn't know who was going. I did not have a roommate. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. But posts about the event kept cropping up on Facebook. Our class officers kept sending e-mails. Friends sent me messages, asking if I was going. Then, I received an email from a classmate I had not seen in an eternity.

I changed my plans. I filled out the form. I wrote the check.

And a little spark of excitement was born.

It has been nearly 35 years since I graduated from college, but those four years are part of everything I am. Those four years forged my personality, my ambitions, my friendships, my interests and my activities. It introduced me to traditions and ideas that are forever a part of my memory. Things have changed at my college (and I am not happy about those changes), but the essential spirit remains - friendship, sisterhood, connection.  

Although only a small group of the 500 of us who graduated on that rainy Sunday afternoon in May 1982 are attending, we will be many in spirit, reliving past glory, sharing current news and celebrating the impossible fact that we have attained the age of "double nickles." Although I am sure there were days during those four years that we prefer to forget, it seems that only the good times linger in our memories,.

In a small garden outside the gorgeous old administration building, named for our founder, there is a sundial that I photographed at our last reunion in 2012. On it are the words we should all live by: I count none but bright hours.

The hours and days and weeks and months I spent at Mount Holyoke College in S. Hadley, Massachusetts, were most bright, most bright indeed.
So from east and from west now we gather,
And united in firm love to thee,
All years are as one and their loyal pledge,
Mount Holyoke forever shall be,
Mount Holyoke forever shall be.

                       -- Mount Holyoke College Alma Mater



Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Caution: Hazardous Waste Site

"Excuse the mess, but we live here."  Roseanne Barr

Warning: One or more of the photos and/or layouts in this post may be disturbing to some readers. Please exercise caution and discretion. The author will not be responsible for any unforeseen consequences to those who choose to proceed.

Okay, just kidding. Nothing is going to happen. If I survived, so will you.

My boys - note I said boys, not girls - have been gone for about two weeks. A year ago, when the next emptied for the first time, I was ready and raring to hit their rooms and remove the detritus that had been accumulating for 18 years.  The older son was tidier and his room was easier to tackle, but his brother's room? The room I affectionately called a toxic waste dump? That was another matter altogether.  It was not as if I hadn't seen it before. After all, living with three members of the male species does not lend itself to tidiness.

As you can see, many portions of my house have been in, shall we say, disarray for a very, very, very long time.  For eons.  For eternity.  Open drawers, overflowing recycling, Legos everywhere, and nasty stuff on the bathroom sink that I do not even want to think about.  For some reason, they were not so amused when I photographed it and laid it out for the world to see.  I still wonder what the photo processing people thought.

At any rate, the older son's room stayed pretty clean and tidy all summer.  I have yet to be disturbed enough when I go in there (one accesses the attic through his closet) to make me clean it out. Every so often, however, I would go into the other bedroom, the one occupied by my younger son, just to see if the mess was real, hoping, perhaps, by some miracle from above, that a Rumpelstiltskin sort of character had spun the mess into gold. No such luck. Usually, the stench forced me back, but I persevered if only to open the window and air out the smell of whatever it was before the purge began.

It really wasn't so bad really, not compared to the this point last year, but it was bad enough.

For a change, the floor was actually visible and there were only a few water bottles lingering here and there. Finally, I couldn't take it anymore. The time had come. The day was here. I alerted my friends on Facebook in case something happened. They would know where to look - if they dared - should I disappear.

I went in - armed with a trash can and yellow gloves,  After all, you really never know what you might find in a room previously occupied by a teenage boy. 

Hmmm.  Not SO bad.  Trash. Clothes. Water bottles. Shoes (did he forget these?). Hangers. Empty plastic bags. One bedspread. One quilt. His top sheet? A bag of Spongebob pasta he brought back from Italy (in July of 2014) for a friend he saw almost every day this summer. A very strange triangular piece of wood with checkerboard painted on it. (That turned out to be a door stop that belongs to his fraternity.) One shelf no longer hanging on the wall. Oh, wait, make that two shelves no longer handing on the wall. 

I picked up. I tided up. I washed. I rehung the shelves. When all was said and done, it was a thing of beauty.

I let my Facebook friends know that I had survived. Some asked me to come do their kids' rooms. Some remarked on the transformation. After all the accolades, I had to make a confession.
Please be aware that this apparent cleanliness is a facade.  I tidied by tossing junk in the trash and clothes - clean, dirty and unknown - in the hamper. I vacuumed. I washed the sheets (but not the clothes) and made the bed.  I did not remove the inch of dust or so that exists on the horizontal surfaces.  I did not take down and wash the curtain.  I did not look behind the bed. 
As you can see, we made a horrible mistake about ten years ago when we thought it would be a great idea to have a Captain's bed. This I know for sure: NEVER BUY A CAPTAIN'S BED. While cleaning and making the bed, I did not look behind this bed (that shall not be moved) into the darkness (that cannot be penetrated) where things fall and disappear (forever).  

There are some things in the world I will not do and some places I will not go. Behind this bed is one of those places. 

God knows what might be lurking back there.  I simply do not want to know. That will be a problem for my heirs and other surviving relatives, tasked with the job of cleaning up after I am gone. 

Better them than me. 

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Dare to Dream

So, the boys are back to college now and the house is quiet and empty except for the occasional pitter patter of doggy feet on the wooden floors or whining at the door. The weather seems to have turned towards fall (thank goodness) and I see, here and there, a yellow leaf or, more likely, a dead one given the drought conditions here.

Now what do I do?????? The boys' rooms are santized. The laundry is done. My office work has been completed. I repeat, now what?????

This blog started out with scrapbooking, but, as I noted a while back, that did not turn out too well. However, the layouts I create do bring back memories - especially those I have been making lately. Those layouts include all the stuff - programs, report cards, and photos - of the best four years of my life.  College.

In the last couple of weeks, I have been busy with boys and a quick weekend away and haven't been crafting.  Yesterday, however, I finished a layout from my sophomore year in college that I thought would be fun to share.

I spent my sophomore year in college on the fringe of campus (I swear it was uphill both ways) in a fairly new dorm that lacked the personality and charm of the older ones. My roommate and I moved with a group of ten women, more or less. We were the only two to select a room a the top floor.  From there we could see the lake and enjoy the changing of the seasons. It was not a bad choice not only for the views, but for the others on the floor, a large group of women who remain my friends still.

Most of that year, except for those women, is a blur. I remember the other three years with much clarity, but not that one. I had to ask those friends to tell me about one picture that rang no bells for me whatsoever. Without Facebook, I would have had no way of telling the story of the Rolling Pebbles, a typewriter band we formed for a floor talent show. Even after hearing the story, I remembered it not. Still don't. I hope my fellow band members, Nana, Jody, Kirsten, and Andrea don't mind becoming famous at this late date . . . .

Remembering another memento, however, did not require any assistance. One evening, I went into the bathroom on our floor only to learn that I was getting married. Me!  How exciting!  A dream come true!!!!!

Taped to the mirror was my wedding announcement.

One of my floormates (and future Boston flatmate, the aforementioned Nana) had come across (i.e. stolen) a photograph of me and my two younger cousins on the occasion of my fifth or sixth birthday. I was wearing a charming little crown and they flanked by on either side, like tiny little attendants. Well, she seized upon this photo, found a newspaper photograph of a fairly unattractive man (okay, downright ugly) and, voila, we were engaged. 

This event disappeared from my memory almost entirely until I found it a year or so ago. I could not believe I kept it. I could not believe I remembered it as clearly as if it had been posted yesterday since so much of that year is a blur. The paper was beginning to disintegrate so I pulled off the photograph and scanned the rest, using the original photo on the layout.

While hard at work, I came across the title, a piece of chipboard that I must have bought somewhere or other. It was perfect and inspired me to create the very tongue-in-cheek layout that resulted. A scene from The Princess Bride kept running through my head as I worked on this, the wedding scene between Buttercup and the prince during which the bishop presiding at the "wedding" says, "Mawiage, that dweam within a dweam."

Little did I know then that all the dreams I could imagine would indeed come true. 

Just not with that guy.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Discovered a Better Plan

Empty nest syndrome is a feeling of grief and loneliness parents or guardians may feel when their children leave home for the first time, such as to live on their own or to attend a college or university. - Wikipedia

Day one of the empty nest. Sit around mourning the departure of children.  Write sappy blog post about too much silence. Eat pizza for dinner. Watch stupid reruns of NCIS on TV. Resist happiness at seeing Mark Harmon on the small screen in favor of being sad about empty house.

Day two of the empty nest. Do laundry - my own. Accomplish nothing whatsoever in the quest to eradicate the detritus of adult children from the house. Consider alternate plan. Discuss plan with spouse, the father of the previously mentioned children. Approve plan. Make preparations.

Day three: today. Drag self out of bed. Suddenly remember plan. Shower. Dry hair. Pack suitcase. Hide jewelry. Lock windows and doors. Load car. Wait for spouse, father of previously mentioned children, to return from early meeting. Wait more. And then a little more. Husband arrives and changes out of suit. Jump in car.



Arrive Lake Winnipesaukee, NH, mid-afternoon.

Find nirvana, heaven and paradise in one place. Breathe.

Discover there is nothing so miserable that cannot be cured with some green trees. . .

. . . blue sky. . .

. . . clear water . . .

 . . . and a sunset. 

Panic upon realizing it is not nearly as much fun without certain loud, heavy-footed, door-slamming, food-eating boys . . . 

. . . yelling "WOOHOO" at the top of their lungs. Remember they are too old to yell "WOOHOO" at the top of their lungs.

Rethink realization and discover it is just as good.

Yup, definitely, just as good.

Empty nest parents can rekindle their own relationship by spending more time together. Without their children to be their primary focus during the day, many such couples express that their quality of time spent together improves. - Wikipedia