Posts Tagged ‘FUN’

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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It’s been almost a week since she left, quietly going to sleep and not coming back. I’ve noticed her not being here at the oddest of times. . . when I’m eating dinner I miss the conversations we used to have. When I’m lying on the couch, I miss her climbing up onto my stomach and resting with me. I notice that I don’t have to brush white hairs off of my black wool coat anymore.

It’s odd, after all these years, to not have her here.

My cat died last week. After 14 or 15 years of keeping me on my toes, she just went to sleep and didn’t wake up. It was a comfort, in some ways, that she passed on that way. There was no pain in her face or posture. She was stretched out in the sunshine, apparently resting. Until I reached down to pet her and realized she was cold.

I notice that I have more leftovers after a meal. She used to take care of those for me, patiently waiting 2 feet (no more, no less) from my chair until I threw her some scraps. If there were shrimp on my plate, she’d inch closer and then grouse at me if I called her on it.

Everyone was entertained by our “conversations”. “Mischief, you are TOO close, step back” I would say. She’d make a little noise that sounded suspiciously like a bark and stay. “Don’t you talk back to me, you KNOW you’re not supposed to be that close! Step BACK!” Grumbling, she’d inch her way back, watching me the whole time to make sure I didn’t trick her by throwing food her way while she was doing it.

Her favorite trick was to hide in the cabinet under the bathroom sink and wait for someone to come in and use the bathroom. When she heard the door close, she’d wait a few moments and then pop out to see who was there. If you didn’t know about the trick, it could be pretty startling.

Mike put a stop to it after she caught him off guard a few times. He took one of my hair scrunchies and wound it around the two door handles so she could no longer get in the cabinet. She continued to try, but wasn’t able to get it open with that in place. So, she moved her trick to the bathtub.

She would come to a whistle, like a dog. And sit on command like a dog. I trained her to do that with Kraft Slices. She would do almost anything for a Kraft Slice. Last year, I taught her to beg, also. Well, sometimes, when she was ambitious enough to lift her front paws all the way off the floor. Not an easy task for a cat her size and sometimes, she was just too tired or lazy. On a lazy day, she’d give a half hearted half hop and then look at me to see if she got the cheese.

Ah yes, old cat. I do miss you sometimes.

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One of my Face book friends frequently posts links to music videos on youtube.com. I love watching the clips and listening to the music. It hasn’t bothered me much that Google ads pop up at the base of many of them.

Recently, I’ve been paying more attention to the ads, wondering if the AI software of today is any better than computer generated marketing of the past.

I’ve determined that they’re not quite there. As evidenced by two events I’ve witnessed in the last 24 hours.

One was when my ex-husband joined Face book – and Face book recommended I send him a friend request since we had two friends in common (our children). Face book did the same thing a few months ago when his girlfriend joined.

I shrugged it off with a grin. The computer has no way of knowing. Facebook is like Spock in the old Star Trek series. No emotions, just facts. It’s perfectly logical that if someone were friends with both of my children, I would likely be that person’s friend as well.

The more fun one was the google ad on one of my friends music suggestions today. I had to look twice before I figured out why it was advertising what it was advertising. After all, it’s a computer. It only knows what it reads.

Targeted Advertising

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It’s a new policy we’ve instituted in our home.  It started last month, when Mike took the boys to Monster Jam and the princess and I were left to our own devices.  As we returned from dropping the older boys off downtown, I looked in the rearview mirror and asked her just what she wanted to do with our evening.

She thought about it for a moment and just really didn’t know.  I suggested perhaps we get a movie and some popcorn.  She wondered aloud what the girls across the street might be doing.  I picked up my cell phone and called Trudy and asked the question.

They were in the process of making a big spaghetti dinner.  She was teaching the girls to cook.  I explained to her that we were on our own for the evening and were thinking about getting a movie that had just been released and making popcorn.

Thus the plan unfolded.  In the end, the princess and I picked up the movie and some ice cream and popcorn.  And we stayed within the budget we had set.  We invited the neighbors to join us in our movie night and they invited us to join them for dinner.

This is how our first girls’ night in began.   We all had such a good time that we decided it should be come a tradition.  The next day, the five of us worked on a plan.

Everyone had input.  The princess asked if she could invite friends from school.  I told her “Absolutely!”  The neighbor girls chimed in asking the same question and receiving the same answer.  Absolutely!  The more the merrier, but please don’t get too carried away.

It was determined that the second saturday of every month we would have a “Girls’ night In” and the males in the group would have a “Boys’ night Out”.  We set up our plans for the next month.  The princess suggested board games and they selected several that they could all agree on.  The menu was planned.  Trudy and I had suggested that the girls cook.  They determined it was a better option to order out from a local italian fast food restaurant.

It was something for all of us to look forward to and we talked about it periodically over the following couple of weeks. 

Saturday night was girls’ night.  We adjusted our menu to order from a different restaurant where I had a coupon that made it more affordable.  The princess forgot the phone numbers that she had gathered to call and invite her friends.  The boys – well they didn’t have a plan so we determined that they would go across the street and play video games on Trudy’s PS2.

Trudy and I had concerns that the princess would feel left out – as all of the other girls were much older.  The difference between 7 and 12 is rather a big one.   We plowed forward anyway.

Dinner was a hit, all 8 of us gathered around my big oak kitchen table.  The big girls were amazed at the amount of lasagna and spaghetti the princess put away.  Conversation flowed and there was laughter and fun.  In the middle of dinner, Mike needed to come over and get his inhaler.  His allergies were kicking up.  He came in the front door and everyone at the table howled “Oooooooooh No, No boys!  This is GIRLS night!”  I followed him down the hallway proclaiming “I’ll take care of THIS!”  After giving him a hug and laughing together at the “girls only” attitude, I escorted him firmly back out the front door.

After we cleared off the dinner mess, it was time for the board games.  We split into two groups.  Four of us started a scrabble game at the kitchen table and the other 4 started a rousing game of Trouble in the living room.

Somewhere in the middle of the scrabble game, the 4 from the living room wandered back in to the kitchen stating they were bored with the board games.  I noted that there was an Apples to Apples game tucked away in the corner and that satisfied them for a while.

When the Scrabble game was finally over (the moms won!), we floundered for a moment or two trying to decide what to do next.  One of the girls looked at me and said “Do you have a piece of paper and a pen?”  I grabbed a notebook off my desk and a pen and watched as she tore of pieces, wrote a single word on each one and folded them carefully.

“And what is this game you want to play?”  I asked curiously.  “Murder at Midnight.”  Trudy declared “I vaguely remember this one.”  I’d never played before so I sat and watched.

Everyone drew a piece of paper which had a role written on it.  You had to take on the role that was one the paper you drew.  You could either be “Witness” “Killer” or “Detective”.  As the girls started to play, Trudy and I adjourned to another room for a few minutes.

As we talked in the back room, we heard a scream.  I was a little alarmed until I realized it was part of the game.  They turned out all the lights, the detective left the room and then the killer touched someone who then had to scream and “die”.

Trudy and I joined the game after the first two rounds.  And they added another role “psychic”.  The psychic listened to the “dead person” and gave clues about the killer.

It wasn’t in any way the plan we started with. The girls who planned the party had a stack of board games all ready.  The transition to an imagination game went smoothly.  They had entirely too much fun making up interesting stories about where they had been when the murder occured.

The princess was COMPLETELY in her element.  She welcomed the unexpected change with absolute enthusiasm and instantly became the hit of the game.  She died in odd and unusual poses and was very convincing as a witness.

The creativity of this group of girls entertained me.  One girl was the killer and killed herself, leaving no witnesses.  As the game wore one, two of the girls sneaked into the kitchen where they couldn’t be killed.  When the lights came on, not only did we have a dead body, but we also had two missing persons.   The variations were almost endless!

I woke up the next morning thinking about the life parallels in that game.  How we are assigned “roles” as children and carry them with us for our entire lives.  Every now and then I contemplate who I am now versus the role I was “assigned” as a child and guage my evolution.

In the end, I had a great appreciation for the young lady who suggested the game.  The princess wants her to come to our next girls’ night.  The boys had fun – just the three of them.  It will be interesting to see how this tradition evolves.

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Signs of spring continue to show themselves.  My neighbor Trudy and I spent some time porch sitting last night while the oodles of children ran between our yards playing hide and seek in the dark.  Mike’s children, Trudy’s children, those who were invited and those who just wandered in.  I believe that I counted 10 of them at some point, ranging in the 7 to 12 year old age group.  Runners and hiders and screamers.  They were raucous enough to rouse another neighbor’s dog and generate a brief conversation with her.   We’ve had the same conversation many times.  I apologize for the noisy children, she warns that if her dog gets out there may be a problem.  Then she asks “How many of them ARE there?”

Trudy had gone grocery shopping.  When she pulled into her driveway across the street from me, I called out to the gaggle of boys shooting hoops in my driveway “Do we have any gentlemen here?”  They replied in chorus “Yes.”  I reminded them that real gentlemen would be across the street carrying in groceries for Trudy.  She was then mobbed.  While they took her purchases into her house, she came over and joined me on the porch.

The weather was perfect.  The promised storms completely bypassed us, allowing the children to play outside well into the evening.  I have a sense of “time warp” when this happens. 

As we sat on the porch,  I flashed through the almost 20 years I’ve spent sitting on this same porch watching all of the children play.  Many of them have grown to adulthood and have children of their own now.  I hear from them periodically.  I keep in touch with them on Facebook and Myspace.  I watch as they bring children of their own in the world and move forward with their lives.  Once in a while they’ll show up, dragging their own children and reminiscing about the carefree days of their childhood playing in my yard.

Spring is a time of new beginnings and a time of renewal for me.  Just as the crocuses and my allergies return every year, so do the neighborhood children.  As usual, this year, there are some new ones that I have yet to learn the names of.  And the chorus hasn’t changed either.  When they are doing something they maybe shouldn’t be doing and I move towards them to investigate, “HIDE, Holly’s coming!” 

It’s one of the patterns in the tapestry of my life.  And I like that there’s a small voice that sounds like mine buried in their psyches that is saying “You know, guys…. that might not be a good idea.”   or “I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”

At the end of the day, everyone enjoyed themselves.  The children crawled into bed worn out from the running around and subsequent playing of Dance Dance Revolution and Guitar Hero at Trudy’s house.  My world again became quiet.  As I closed my book on the day, I smiled.  Goal accomplished.  We had fun!

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My world has been transformed in the last couple of years, with something so simple it amazed me.

It started on my birthday in 2007. My newest neighbor and friend, a single mother without a lot of resources, decided to surprise me. Now, keep in mind that this is never an easy task, as my intuition is pretty good and I normally catch anyone trying to catch me off guard.

It was Christmas Eve, and also my birthday. We were scrambling to make sure that we had all the gifts together and that we were able to spend time with everyone we wanted to. Trudy and her daughters were supposed to come over before they went to her family gathering and I was anxiously awaiting her arrival. I had been able to grant one of her wishes and was SO looking forward to seeing her open the gifts from my family to hers.

They were late. I looked out the front window and her car was still at her house. I walked to the back of the house to call her from my office and prod her to get moving. There was no answer. I called out to Mike “Is her car still in the driveway? She’s not answering her phone!” I heard the laughter in his voice when he responded “Well, yes, but there’s something weird going on in your yard…..”

I ran to the front door and looked out just in time to see a couple dozen balloons, tied with ribbons, draped all over my porch rail. And Trudy and the girls ran up to the porch with a small chocolate cake covered in gummi bears.

It was the first time in my entire life that anyone had made a big deal about my birthday. It was absolutely amazing to me. The balloons hung on the porch for a while, then they moved into the house.

My son’s girlfriend’s not quite 2 year old wore them like a cloak and hobbled around the room, generating gales of laughter. The next morning, the balloons were still there. We moved them aside for Christmas with Mike’s children. The boys batted them around the room and the princess wrapped them around herself and declared “I”m going to balloon you daddy” and ran into Mike over and over. More gales of laughter.

The day after that, the balloons were still there, bouncing around the living room with the flow of the air. Mike and I took them to my son’s home – it was his girlfriend’s birthday that day. We decorated her porch with the balloons and left a card with a gift certificate inside under the door mat.

Since that time, I have never let myself run out of balloons. It’s a rule. When the times get tough, we blow up balloons and bat them around the room. When money is tight, there always seems to be enough for a bag of balloons and ribbon to celebrate some event.

When the young lady across the street turned 13 last month, we ballooned her in grand style. I blew up and tied so many balloons (around 400) that I wore the skin off the side of my finger. When she walked in, balloons fell on her and from behind the balloon wall draped across my living room came 6 or 7 of her best friends yelling “SURPRISE”. It was Epic.

If you want to have fun on the cheap, buy a bag of balloons and a roll of ribbon. See how long you can keep from playing with them. Bet ya can’t! And if you can resist, bring in a child and let them show you how it’s done.

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