Graduation Day

The RemembeRED prompt this week asked us to recall a graduation.


“Pomp and Circumstance” sends a shudder down my spine as I realize this is real.  We walk into the gym and the crowd of relieved parents and other supporters sends up a celebratory cheer. I am close behind my friend Vicki bringing up the rear thanks to our surnames.

The board member chosen to announce the class roster has finally arrived at the Ws on his list.  Your turn, Regina, I think to myself.  Such a sweet girl; she doesn’t deserve what we all know is coming. Rapt attention is given the announcer as he speaks clearly into the microphone,  “Ra-gine-a Wagner”.  Long i–rhymes with vagina as we knew it would.  The crowd titters. It is as if the announcer has never seen the name before even though there was another Regina in the Bs.  Briefly, I wonder why no one took this man aside after he announced our eighth grade graduation four years earlier to set him straight.

Regina walks by diploma in hand, cheeks red.  I lock eyes with her and transmit a silent apology for what just transpired.  When I look back it is my turn.  I cross the stage, shake the hand, take the diploma.  I catch my breath and turn towards the crowd.  I am drowned in applause and cheers from my huge family.  They have waited through the whole alphabet and are ready to cut loose.

I reach up to move the tassel from the right to the left.  The gesture overwhelms me. With that one small motion I am signaling to the world that I am no longer a school girl.  My knees buckle a little; I recover and realize I truly am ready to take the first step towards the woman I am to become.  I toss the mortarboard in the air and cheer.

image borrowed from the nj real estate wire


I began going gray at a very early age. By the time I had my first child at age 28 I had been dyeing my hair for several years.  My kids have seen my hair several shades of brown but never my own.

Events recently have kept me hopping.  All my energy has been going into accomplishing what simply must be done; the extraneous stuff has had to wait.  Covering my roots is something that has not gotten done.  At this point my “roots” are about an inch and a half. Quite a bit of silver is shining through.

I have colored my hair at least 300 times.  Sometimes I went to a salon; sometimes I did it myself.  I have spent roughly $7,500 and the equivalent of 20 days of my life on this task. I’m not sure that I want to do this much longer; I’m not sure I want it to be gray either.

When I started coloring my hair I was absolutely not ready to be gray.  What twenty-something is?  Now I am fifty.  I am beginning to feel like I have earned the gray.  The silver actually is pretty.  My husband has gone all salt and peppery and he looks great. Could the same be true for me?

For now I am leaving it.  I am going to let more of it grow in and then evaluate. As the gray becomes more visible I may panic.  In case of emergency, there is a box of coloring in the cupboard that could be applied at a moment’s notice.

When I was a kid there was a hair coloring commercial where the product claimed to be so natural looking that every time the woman who used it to color her hair entered a room people asked each other, “Does she or doesn’t she?”  For now the question for me will be, ” Will she or won’t she?”

Math Nerd Table

When my kids were small their elementary school held a garage sale fund raiser.  I bought a coffee table for $5 because I loved its shape.  It was nothing special in terms of its wood or era, but the kids and I put our own spin on it in tribute to their math genius father.

I had his mother’s high school math book which was falling apart.  We took the pages and decoupaged them onto the table.  I then took a gold glaze and traced it into the grooves along the curvy legs and lower edging along the sides of the table.  Finally, I drenched the whole thing in layers of polyurethane.


Sometimes in the background of the photos a floor mat I made is visible.  It is a checkerboard combining photocopies of letters my dad sent my mom in 1951 when work took him away from the family for a few months mixed with photocopies of a floral skirt I still wear today.

This was a happy accident that came about because the copier was in the laundry room.  As I was copying the letters I was dreaming about what I wanted to use for the other squares on the mat.  Lost in thought I was staring off in space when my eyes focused on the skirt.  I grabbed it, laid it on the copier and soon I had my other squares.  I used a length of pre-primed canvas decoupaging the photocopies onto it.  Then I covered the whole thing in about a dozen coats of polyurethane.  The finished product has the feel of an old rolled Linoleum.

The Majestic


My friend Chris who used to roam the countryside with me scouting abandoned farmhouses and finding antiques has scored again.  She is currently cleaning up an old Majestic stove.  Most recently it has served as a rat condo, but Chris hopes to restore it and display it on her cozy porch.

Even more vivid than my dreams of a pristine restored Majestic are my memories of a rusty, discarded stove that brought me endless joy as a child.  In a row of shrubs and brush next door to my friend Delia’s was a treasure that would delight any little girl.

Some years earlier I suppose a family had upgraded to a gas stove.  The tried and true wood stove must have seemed antiquated to them, an embarrassment in its old fashioned solidity and reliability.  It was relegated to the yard, dumped in a pile of weeds and saplings.

Decades later two thoroughly modern girls of the 1960s went out to play. They ventured into the vacant lot next door to the older girls’ house.  A game of hide and seek ensued. One of the girls spied the perfect hiding spot amidst a clump of shrubs and trees.  Picking her way through the underbrush she ran up against something solid and huge.

The girls pulled aside weeds and branches.  Glimpses of silver sparkled as the sunlight penetrated the jungle that had not seen light in years.  Areas of black cast iron and rust covered handles and hardware became visible.  Doors and cubbies invited exploration.

The girls’ excitement grew as it became clear to them that they had discovered an antique cook stove.  They worked tirelessly to set their treasure free all the while marveling at their unbelievable luck.

The discovery in the brush provided hours of play to these girls over the course of the next several years.  Countless  imaginary cakes and family dinners were baked in the old wood fired oven.  The appetites of dozens of dolls were sated in that field.

The girls never knew if the adults were aware of their treasure.  None of the neighborhood children seemed to be.  The two friends enjoyed hours of uninterrupted play together through the years creating fun and memories along with the imaginary delicacies.

Battling Tops

This week’s RemembeRED prompt asked us to write about games we played as kids.

As the turbulent 1960s gave way to the 1970s tensions were running high in America. Long accepted social mores were being replaced by more relaxed standards.  Traditional roles and behaviors were being challenged in homes, schools and workplaces, and they were toppling. Our world felt as if it were spinning way too fast and topsy-turvy.

For my family boardgames offered a welcome distraction from world events. Ideal’s lively game Battling Tops was one of our favorites.  One colorful plastic top was assigned to each player.  A string would be wound tightly around the stem of each top; the top then slipped into place in a launching dock along the edge of the plastic arena. Once the signal was given the player would yank the string thereby setting the top in motion.

The tops would quickly spin to the center of the arena where they would collide, bumping up against one another sometimes sending a top into orbit outside the arena.  The remaining tops would continue spinning, slowing over time, bouncing off each other, wobbling and righting themselves once again.  Eventually a top would fall often taking down a neighbor in their downward spiral.   The last top standing was the winner.

It was the perfect game for the times, a metaphor of the culture.  Ideal encouraged us to “Be a champion in the bout of the century!”  The real bout of the century was being fought at a fever pitch on city streets and the nightly news.  What a welcome release it was to gather with family at home, stringing up our tops and waiting for the call to “let them rip!”