My fellow Coedxian, author Elaine Isaak, sent me a tweet yesterday asking about my “recent obsession with Spirograph.” I thought perhaps this deserved a better-than-140-character explanation.
It was Memere who had the Spirograph at her house — we might have owned one, but I don’t ever remember playing with it at home. Only ever at Memere’s house.
There were a few activites particular to Memere’s: Strawberry picking and making fresh daiquiris from the fruits of our labor (virgin daiquiris, of course–it wasn’t en vogue to call them “smoothies” back then). Eating Bugles with ranch dip and watching the Miss America Pageant. Sneaking into the blue room and thieving candies out of the pretty dishes there and not getting caught. Sledding down the mountainside backyard. And walking to the Morse Farm Sugar Shack, of course.
Memere (or “Gram,” as we often call her) eventually had a pool installed in the back yard, but by then we were too old to summer in Vermont anymore. No, what Soteria and I loved as girls was the large bureau in the guest bedroom whose drawers were full of games and toys and pens and paper. One of those “games” was Spirograph.
Soteria and I, both artisically-minded young girls (as most young girls are, though ours never wore off) would spend HOURS bent over circles and cams with pens of all colors, desperately attempting to recreate the gorgeous designs in the booklet. As with most art projects, Spirograph took a steady and careful hand, and huge amounts of patience. Eventually that patience would wear thin, or it would be time for dinner, and the projects would be packed up in the box and filed away in th drawer to be met again on another vacation.
I wonder what happened to all those games and things when Memere sold her house and moved to the condo. I hope whatever child got it treasured the magic in those ovoid bits of plastic (if not out myriad attempts at achieving perfection).
Every so often, a conversation about the Spirograph pops up between Soteria and me–especially now that Memere is in hospice with Alzheimers and we try to remember older, better, more lucid times. Inevitably, Soteria’s in the shop and I’m at work, and the idea never gets scribbled down on paper as a quirky Christmas gift item. And so it goes, for months and years.
So yesterday, when I saw someone post a picture of the Spirograph on Fecebook, it was a simple enough thing to repost. And then, as happens with social networking, it exploded. Everyone shared links and memories. My friend Mandi even shared some Spirographing she’d done with her niece!
I thought it would be a fun game to give swag away to anyone who comes to me at a signing or convention appearance and gives me a spirograph cam or circle. I’d love to have a huge collection I can bring back to the Afterschool program next year!