Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Taking a Trip Down Memory Lane by Leigh Riker

I hope everyone had a good Labor Day weekend! But it's never been my favorite holiday. It always means the end of summer--which already seemed much too short. :(

Frankly, I'm feeling a little nostalgic. For a while I've been meaning to plow through all the old slides and photographs taken over the years. They'll be digitized so I can give "albums" on CD to family members. Last weekend seemed a good time to start, and that meant a trip down memory lane.

It was like getting an idea for the new book I'm writing then digging deeper into the story and characters every day (with every photo) as I rediscovered moments from real life that had been half forgotten.

And what treasure I found! There was my younger son at three with his beaming smile, wearing the navy blue parka that he and his older brother wore in turn when they were each toddlers. I might use that image someday in a book. Then here was #1 son, about ten years old, playing street hockey. Hey, maybe one of my heroes shared his passion! And I saw my dignified father-in-law, lying on the floor playing with his first grandson at Christmastime. Then there was my mother-in-law, dancing as she loved to do, at her other grandson's wedding a few years ago. That memory could end up in a book, if not the one I'm writing now.

I found photos too of the houses where I've lived--some not clearly remembered until now like a plot idea I failed to write down in the middle of the night--and pictures of all the pets. A mutt and a Great Pyrenees, a parade of guinea pigs, five cats, one noble horse and even a six-foot long boa constrictor named Surge…treasured memories. I'm glad I kept them. All of them. This is Daisy, my cat now.

But where did the time go?

It's the end of summer again. Already. My trip this past weekend, not to the beach but down memory lane, is over, and autumn will soon officially be here.

A new season, another beginning. More memories to make. This will be the view from my house soon.


That new book is due in a couple of months. I'm off to work, and I'll certainly be giving this story's beleaguered single dad and the high-powered female lawyer who is everything he's turned his back on as much trouble as I can. I'll be sure to write everything down. And, just maybe, I'll use some of my own past here and there.

What's your best memory? Your favorite photo? Are you as swamped by hundreds of images and the feelings that go with them as I am right now? Make a comment here and let us all know.

Happy September!

30 comments:


  1. I love going through old photos, especially of me when I was young. No, not because of me but because of my parents. It's fun to see the old style of clothes and the dated furniture LOL My favorite is of me pushing a doll buggy and our Chihuahua peeking out wearing a bonnet and looking so affronted. His name wasTiny. What I put that dog through.

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    1. Pamela, that brings back more memories! Just discovered a photo of myself at fifteen, wearing the outfit that was my favorite then. Didn't look so good this time around , rather frumpy, but it was fun to find. My brother and I had two kittens that we dressed up all the time. One day they just weren't there any more; I think our parents decided to return them.

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  2. Hi, Leigh,
    I agree that summer goes way too fast. I am in shock that it's September, which is always one of my busiest months. Even the first day back at work was killer. I've always loved September. The harvest, the last of the cookouts and the coming of mums and new fall plantings. In the Texas where I lived most of my life it was the anxiety of hoping we made it through without a hurricane! My favorite memories are the ones I'm making now with friends for parties and just having the windows open after so many hot, humid August days!!!

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    1. You're right, Catherine. Fall is gorgeous, and it's one of the best times for writing--then, and just after the Christmas holidays when the light is pearly gray and the temperature here is nippy and I can hibernate at my desk!

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  3. Leigh, This must be the summer for going through old photos. In our family I was the unofficial picture taker for all get-togethers. My youngest daughter was here in August with her twins and we went through a lot of old photos. I told them to take what they wanted as one day it would be them cleaning out boxes of pictures they may not recall names and places to. I remember when my husband's mother passed away and the family had albums of pictures that weren't marked. I said I'd write names on all of my pictures, but I never did. That's history lost.
    Love the fall photo from your house. Glorious.

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    1. This is so reminiscent of both my family and my husband's. We've kind of handed out his mother's photos by now, but I have an ancient album covered in blue velvet and filled with sepia/tintype pictures--with no captions! I'm pretty sure these are my mother's father's relatives because there is a resemblance but the actual names are lost to history. And I'm afraid to even touch it. The album is crumbling. Thanks about the fall photo. I love it here. The view changes by the minute.

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  4. Kind of in the same vein as Roz's mother-in-law's pictures, my aunt left hundreds of pictures of scenery. They were precious to her at the time, I'm sure, but we had no idea where and when they were.

    I loved this post--and I love September. But now I'm thinking I should go through pictures, too. I really don't love that. :-)

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    1. Ah, yes, Liz. The scenery pictures. My parents left a ton of those, which I am about to get rid of--I have no idea where they were taken--as soon as I finish the slide sorting and get to the prints. Sigh. It's a big job, isn't it?

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  5. Leigh, what a beautiful fall photo. It's no secret that fall is my absolute favorite season. There's a sense of calm and a 'winding down' that I love. Sure, it's also a busy time of year, but something about the crisp air and beauty of fall leaves and the dreamy lullaby of rustling leaves that I find almost meditative.

    As for photos, I love going through them. I feel guilty though because with my first child, I had more time to focus on organizing his pics in albums...with child #2 I got it done but without the bells and whistles of scrapbooking...and with #3...um, yeah. I still have piles that need organizing. Sigh. The more kids, the less free time, but I really want him to have those albums to look through.

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    1. Wow, Rula…"the dreamy lullaby of rustling leaves." Lovely. You must be a writer . I know what you mean too about the decreasing number of photos with each child. I only have two, but the second surely lost out for the most part. And he is such a cutie to this day! Yes, it was definitely a matter of having less time with two children rather than one in the house.

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  6. Leigh - what a powerful view from your window - nature showing off. That must be inspiring every day. I have so many favorite memories of my family, our children, our pets. One of the ones that stands out is the day we picked up our children from a DHS office to take them home. (Just to clarify - I think I've told you before that we adopted a family of three, who were 4, 8, and 10. We'd gone to Lincoln City where they lived four or five times to get to know them, but this time they were coming home with us forever.) We stopped at the beach to walk around because we were all a little tense, and the oldest boy, Mike, picked up a stick and made a giant heart in the sand, and put all of our names in it because "this is the way it's going to be," he said. In the months and years that followed, in the times he wished he was elsewhere and I would have run away if I didn't have to deal with Catholic guilt, I remembered that afternoon and all the hope we all had - and was renewed to make it live again.

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    1. Oh, Muriel. I am weeping at your story about the three kids you adopted. What a beautiful memory to keep even--especially--when times do get rough, as they always do with teenagers. Bless you. You and your husband gave three children a brand new chance in life.That is amazing. And kids do say the most wonderful, touching things. Yes, nature does show off here on my little mountain. One of the best things is watching a thunderstorm roll across the valley between here and the opposite "hill." The lightning displays are something to see. Also the clouds in their ever-changing configurations. I even like getting fogged in--right up to the windows! A great time to sit down and work on a book.

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    2. Oh, my gosh, Muriel, what a precious memory.

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  7. Leigh, what a a wonderful post! Daisy is gorgeous. I have all the photos from my parents because my mom decided years ago that she didn't want to store them. For my parents' 50th anniversary I went through them all--boxes and boxes--and made a slide show of their life. It was a ton of work but it turned out beautifully. And I'm so glad I did it because my dad passed away just a couple years later and now we all have a copy of that slide show to remember him.

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    1. Carol, thanks about the post. And how great is that? The slide show of your parents' pictures. I'm so glad your dad was able to see it before he passed away. I had such good intentions for my mother-in-law's photos too, but she died a year and a half ago before I even started sorting--and I'm just now getting to those slides. I'm sure she knows, though. Weird thing: the print of her dancing at my son's wedding sat on my living room end table right after her memorial service, and every day the sunlight would shine right on it, as if to show me she was still here. Gives me chills. My niece did make a slide show of her then but no one seems to know where it is now. As for Daisy, she's my baby. We are great pals. Right now she's lying in the sun under the window in my office while I write this.

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    2. That is so lovely, Leigh, about her photo! And she does know--I believe that, too(:

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  8. Such a sweet post. We always go so fast through our days that we seldom pause to look back. One of my favorite photos is one of my mom - she's about four and carrying a cat almost as big as she is! Sweet stuff

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    1. So true, Mel. Time flies. I have a picture of my mom on her graduation day--so young and sweet. That sweetness stayed her whole life.

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  9. Leigh, I love this post! Earlier this year we finally dug out all our old family photos--going back to the mid 40's when my mother was little. Alas, I don't know who a lot of the people are, but the photos themselves are so beautiful and the sense of nostalgia they bring, the history of the family is something I'll treasure. At some point they'll have to make it into my computer, LOL. Thanks so much for posting and...while summer is coming to an end, we have the holidays to look forward to, right? :) Good luck with the book!

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    1. Thanks, blogging partner. I've just signed up at Ancestry.com to explore some of my family history. I know a lot about my husband's relatives. They go back to the 1600s when they settled in NYC! Mine, not so much. Now to find the time to go digging…oh, and congrats on finishing your book!

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  10. I love looking at old photos. A lot of times I'll scan them into a birthday card...once I found one of my sister and me at Christmas when she was about 5 years old and I was 9. Talk about Mutt and Jeff...love your kitty, too. Is she a ragdoll?

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  11. What a good idea to scan old photos into birthday cards. Don't you love the ones of brothers and sisters together? My mom lost a bunch of those when she had a flood in her basement so I'm pretty light on any pictures of my brother and me. No, Daisy isn't a rag doll, although they are adorable. She's a rescue cat so we're not sure of her background, but the groomer (a necessity for such a long-haired cat!) agrees that she is a Maine Coon cat. She has all the characteristics, including being a love bunny, having feet with fur between her toes, pointy ears, and she weighs 17 pounds. She's a big girl. As they tend to be.

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  12. I'm full of memories, as well, and several are captured in pictures. Maybe I can consider that for my next blog. Thank you for the idea.

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  13. Friends used to dread one aspect of going on vacations with me when I was younger--I wanted to document the entire trip with photographs. It might have been annoying then, but the photos bring back wonderful memories.

    Thanks for the post, Leigh.

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    1. You're welcome, too, Kate. And see? Everybody appreciates your efforts now.

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  14. Love this post, Leigh. What wonderful memories you uncovered there. My kids love looking at old scrapbooks and watching old home videos. Time goes so fast - one day they're little and the next all grown up. Can't wait to see how you breathe some life into these memories through your books. Love it!!

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    1. That's what I keep telling my sons. Enjoy the kids now because they grow up way too fast!

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  15. Also loved this post, Leigh! Like my parents before me (you'd think I would have learned), I haven't taken enough photos. It's easier now, with a camera on my phone, but I wish I'd taken more! Lovely to think of you going over your family's life together!

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    1. Glad you and Amy also liked this post. I too am not the best photographer. I just took a trip in August with the family--and shot only a few pictures the whole time. Good thing everyone else took a lot. I always forget the phone is a very good camera and it's right there!

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