Archive for the ‘Motivational Notes’ Category

I’ve heard the commentary many times. This morning I took it to heart. “How do you eat an elephant?” “One bite at a time.” The question and answer were dancing around in my mind as I worked.

It wasn’t the first time I had decided to do it. In the past, I’ve tried negative scanners and flatbed scanners and completely overwhelmed myself with trying the do-it-yourself route a couple of times. I would work really hard on it for a little while and then wander off because it really wasn’t easy the way I was doing it. Then I had a hard drive crash that lost them all.

I reminded myself of the end result I was looking for: I want to digitize all of the negatives from my days of 35mm photography and before. So that I can share them with my children and even my ex husband. There are a lot of moments in those snapshots.

I broke it down into steps. First I called the local Walgreens and asked them “What does it cost to have you convert a 36 roll of film to digital format?” She checked and replied “It’s about $6.22 per roll.”

I wrote the amount on a post it note and stuck it where it was in my view all the time. Every time I looked at it, I thought about what I wanted to do.

I tossed around various ways and means to accomplish my goal. This morning, I broke it down.

Step 1: Determine the number of rolls to be digitized.
Step 2: Calculate the cost per and then total cost.
Step 3: Break it down into manageable pieces.

This is how I attack elephant projects, always. I see the picture of the end result and then work my way backwards.

I started counting…. first there was the album of negatives from 1985. All neatly in sleeves with a typewritten page folded in the bottom. 3/85, Brandon’s birth…..2/86 Jacob Gibbons baptism…. moments and memories in carefully typewritten notes. I was impressed with my notes. I must have really had it together then.

I counted all the rolls in that album. Somewhere around 60 from the mid 80’s. Then I collected the two tupperware boxes bulging with negatives. I counted out the rolls in the first one. Somewhere around 50 rolls. I looked at the second box and decided to estimate. To complete my task I would have to process about 200 rolls of film. I punched up the calculator. $1244.00. Whew!

This could be an expensive undertaking. I then looked at how many rolls I could do each week and not hurt myself. I had originally estimated 10, today I decided to be conservative and say 5ish.

I pulled the first page out of the album and also gathered the few strays that never got returned to their places and drove up to Walgreens. The gentleman behind the counter was slightly whelmed when I told him what I needed. He wasn’t sure of the cost. I told him “It’s 6.22 for each 36 roll.” He looked suprised. I explained to him what my project is and noted that he’d be seeing me every week for some time. He sorted the negatives into about 7 rolls and handed me the slip.

Hesitantly, he asked “And when do you want these back?” I told him there’s no big hurry, tomorrow would be fine. After all, these negatives are close to 25 years old, another day won’t hurt.

And so it begins, this task of eating an elephant. One byte at a time. Or, in this case, 7.


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I awoke this morning to the sound of loud singing. Not from people, they’re all still snoozing. It was the birds. It’s one of those things that I noticed right away when I moved into this house – there are birds that start their singing early in the morning. On sunny mornings, they seem to be a little more loud and boisterous. I can relate, I tend to get that way myself when the sun comes out.

This morning was the first bit of sunshine I’ve seen for a while. It was creeping through the front window, making a halo of sorts around the cats sleeping there. My hand reached for the camera, as always. I stood on the front porch and captured the first few rays sneaking over the horizon.

Then I returned to my desk. After a few moments, it became suddenly brighter in the room and I felt compelled to look again. From my vantage point in the window, I could see the huge ball of fire that was the source for the little rays I had photographed.

I reached for my camera again and stepped onto the front porch. In that moment, I had a deep appreciation for the beauty of the world. The birds were singing loudly, the sun was making a blazing arrival on the horizon. There was a slight chill in the air, but it wasn’t so cold that I needed to bundle up. The old Beatles song “Here comes the sun” began playing in my head and I smiled.

It’s a beautiful day. Make it a great one!

The Birds were singing.

The sun sneaking up.


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Mike’s son Bradley and I were discussing butchering. His grandfather butchers every winter and fills their freezer with meat for the year. It’s a subject that he and I have in common. He always goes out and helps his Pop. I remember doing the same when I was young.

We were having the conversation while I was driving him to a birthday party. He was in the front seat and his younger sister and older brother were in the back. I told him “I do remember having a freezer full of meat always. But if we got tired of beef or deer, we would kill a chicken for dinner sometimes.”

He noted that he hadn’t experienced that, although he’d heard stories. Based on the stories, he thought he’d enjoy it.

I laughed and told him “Well, the first time a chicken with it’s head cut off ran at you and squirted blood all over you, you might just change your mind.”

As I laughed, the little girl’s voice in the back seat joined the conversation. “But, if their heads are cut off, how do they see where they are going?” That took a little time to explain.

I was spoiled, having two male children. Somehow, I remember their questions being easier than hers.

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Faded photographs, covered now with lines and creases. Tickets torn in half, memories in bits and pieces. Traces of love . . . (and the music fades).

On top of the entertainment center is a teddy bear. Unlike most of my bears, I haven’t given him a name. He sits apart from the others and reminds me periodically how much fun it is to climb outside the box.

He’s wearing a t-shirt that has “Brian Wood All-State Tenor” on an iron on patch on the front. There’s a button stuck to the t-shirt that says the “All-State Tenor”. And a medallion hanging from his neck that says “Mighty Maroon Award” in the middle of it.

The bear is from a concert I attended during my son Brian’s high school career. I wanted a memento of the day, because it was quite an honor for him to have performed in the All-State chorus. I browsed through the options they offered. You could buy a long sleeved t shirt with your child’s name and position ironed onto the upper part of the sleeve. You could buy a teddy bear with one of a number of generic “All-State” patches ironed on it.

I kept looking but didn’t find anything that would work for me. I wanted it to be personalized – they had the patches with the names of the participants on them already made. But I knew Brian would never wear the long sleeved t-shirt.

I looked at the patch with his name on it. Then I remembered the teddy bear that you could get with a generic patch ironed on the t-shirt. And then I asked, “What I’d really like to do is just buy this patch and then have them put it on the teddy bear’s t-shirt. Is there any reason I can’t do that? And what would it cost?”

Surprised by my request, they contemplated what they would charge me just for the patch. Then I asked the same question of the person selling teddy bears. Both of the vendors were surprised at first, and then intrigued.

When it was all said and done, I had a teddy bear that was wearing a Brian Wood All-State TenorI t-shirt. And the folks selling t-shirts and bears had a new marketing idea. The teddy bear hasn’t gone the way of the t-shirts and other awards of his youth. He still sits around to remind me to be proud of my son’s accomplishments. Sometime later the mighty maroon award was added. I smile whenever I glance his way – proud of my son as well as myself.

Bear Award

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Hercules is recovered, pretty fully I believe. Last night, a friend of mine was here picking up his repaired computer and he brought Herc a bone. Hercules sniffed at the foil wrapped treat and then nudged it. When the bone fell to the ground, my friend reached to pick it up to give to the dog.

He straightened up immediately and took a step back when Herc swung his head around with a mean sounding growl (letting him know that it was NOT ok to touch the bone once it hit the floor).

Tonight, I cleaned out the fridge. There was some lunch meat that was nearing it’s end of life and a little bit of ham left. He devoured it as though I’d been starving him (which I have not!). And then he circled me, asking for more.

I don’t know if it’s because the weather is a little warmer or if it’s because I’ve been slipping him the medicine every night that the vet gave me for him.

Whatever it is, I’m incredibly grateful. There’s still a lot of life in that old dog. Ask my friend who tried to touch his food!

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I call my neighbor frequently. We’ve become great friends over the last couple of years and talk almost every day – either on the phone or visiting each others’ houses.

She has two daughters and they frequently answer the phone when I call. The younger one has a unique and very literal perspective. More than once, I’ve called and – when she answered – asked “What is your mother doing?” She will tell me and then wait. Sometimes I follow it with “Well, can I talk to her?” If I say nothing, she’ll ask “Do you want to talk to her?”

Yesterday, I was feeling a little ornery. I called my neighbor, and when her daughter answered I asked, as always “What is your mother doing?” The eleven year old answered “Watching American Idol.” I responded “Oh. Ok.” and then I hung up.

She didn’t even question it. She went and sat back down. Her mother asked her who called and she told her. She asked what I wanted and she told her. Laughing, she called me back.

We spent the next 20 minutes on the phone giggling over it. It felt good to laugh like that with all the bad things going on in the world. When Mike came home, I was still laughing. I think about it now and smile. Sometimes, it’s the little things . . . . .

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Who am I really?

It was June of 2006. My children were growing up and I found myself with some time on my hands. I wandered around the house, restless, missing the days of my youth. Then I decided to get the dog groomed. His underfur makes the summers very hot.

The lady at the grooming place agreed to work around my schedule to drop him off and pick him up. Her name is Sue. She was having a slow day and so was I. I noted the pictures in her waiting area – all sorts of horses and dogs – and I asked her about them.

We started talking about animals and she explained to me that she rescues horses and dogs that might otherwise be put down. As she told me about one she was working with at the time, my eyes started to sparkle. “Sounds like fun” I commented.

She asked if I knew about horses. I confessed that I had spent most of my first 20 years on horseback. She made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. There was a horse that she had that was just too much for her to handle. She had turned her ankle recently and the horse was too tall for her to get on easily. Would I be interested in exercising him for her?

Indeed I would. A couple of days later, I was at her place. I helped her saddle the horses and we started out on our ride down the country road. It felt good to be in the saddle and the horse was just feisty enough to make the ride an enjoyable challenge. I had to stand on a bucket to reach the stirrups, he was so big.

We rode along the edge of the street, getting the horse I was on used to cars going by. Then a car drove by that I recognized. It was my son’s girlfriend and one of her friends. I laughed and told Sue “Well, that should cause some confusion.”

Moments later the car came back and pulled up next to us as we rode. My son’s girlfriend hung out the window and exclaimed “HEY! YOU’RE ON A HORSE!” She looked confused and concerned. I laughed, looked down and said “Oh my GOD, you’re right! How did that happen?” and then “Really, it’s ok. I do know what I’m doing.”

We rode until dark, through the neighborhood and around the area. We stopped at my house and I got my big flashlight to use as a headlight when night fell.

That day, just for a while, I was 16 again. The horse did buck. And I did not fall off. And I had fun.

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