Friday, December 21, 2007

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Gadget Kid

My 19 year old son just told me about this cool electronic gadget you can buy that you attach or aim at nonworking light bulbs on a strand of Christmas lights. It analyzes and finds the burned out bulb. I looked at one at QVC. You have to aim the tool at each light, and it lets you know which is not working.
The tool costs $15.92 plus 3.97 shipping and handling. And not only that, but then I'd have to actually use it!! Yeah right!
I think I'll go buy me another set of $2.99 lights from Wal-Mart.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A Different Kind of Tour

Christmas Tour of Homes
Ok, I’m sure that you all are tired of looking at perfect houses and wondering why you can’t have gorgeous things like all of these other toured homes.
I was thinking you could take a look at mine and then you’ll know that it can be Christmas even in the midst of chaos.

First of all, I’m the one that does the decorating, so I have no excuses. I do have some beautiful eclectic things, but I’m cheap, move a lot and hate it when things get broken. So what I have is mostly kid-friendly pieces. Last year, I cleaned out some stuff and decided that others could enjoy them before they were ruined at my house.

Here are a few of my favorite decorations.

First of all, my children’s nativity scene, my dear sister, Nin, made this and gave it to me years ago. It has been through all of my children and still looks pretty good. It’s in the bathroom, because I can’t put any priceless items in there, the kids would play at the sink and break it. I looked in this morning, and someone thought that the sheep needed a better look at the Infant King.

On the other side of the bathroom is the Angel who proclaimed the good news to the shepherds, she is a country girl, like me. She used to have a lovely red bow on her pinafore, but someone was sitting there doing their business and pulled a little frayed edge of the ribbon and zip, she now has a fringed scarf. Maybe more appropriate in this weather than a satin ribbon anyway. She used to hang from a gold ribbon, but that came undone and now we twist a strand of her hair around the hook to keep her on.

The three-foot tree sits on top of the piano, out of reach, (or so I thought.) Notice that the lower half of the tree has lost it’s lighting, due, I’m certain to some curious child who tugged and loosened a bulb. Its only going to shine half of it’s light now for the rest of the season, I’m not undecorating it to figure out which one is the offending light.

On my buffet, with my other nativity collection sits a new tea light holder from Partylite. I love its simplicity with the dark colors and lack of detail in the Holy Trio. My husband asked me the other day why they were sitting around a cauldron. I told him “Stables are cold, Smarty.”

My very favorite decorations this year are on my desktop. I made my screensaver into a Christmas Slideshow of Christmases Past. My kids love to sit and look, watching for their pictures to come up. They know if they touch, the slideshow goes away. Hmm, why didn’t I think of this before!?

Before you leave, come into the kitchen and help yourself to the bag of marshmallows in the pantry. I didn’t get the baking done that I had intended, so chip off a chunk of the almond bark and grab a hot chocolate packet from the shelf.

Oh, you’ll have to take it with you and mix it at home. Sorry, someone just dumped out the shredder. Hey look, it’s snowing!! I don’t think I’ll vacuum until after the Holidays.
Merry Christmas!!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A Wasted Walk-Through

Being a military family, each night I make the troops start at the front door and do a “walk-through”—police call. The object of this "order" is to get anything that is yours and pick it up, put it away or I get it and it disappears. Thinking I could just command and not inspect, I sent them on their errand. Miss Busy came back a few minutes later and said, “Yeah, Mom, nice house, but I sure don’t like all the junk on the floor.”

Monday, December 17, 2007

I feel like the Christmas Idiot

This evening after dinner, I was standing in the kitchen tidying up when the doorbell rang. My kids have been trained NOT to go to the door--they escape, and they get in arguments with neighbor kids etc, so I went to answer it. I opened it to find no one there. Aargh, I hate it when those rotten neighbor kids “ring and run.” I was going to find them this time. Even though I was only in slippers I headed out to the sidewalk to see if I could find the perp and give them a good tongue-lashing. I glanced one way and then headed toward the mailbox, I heard something near the side of our house and called out. “Ok, you may think it’s funny to ring the doorbell, but I don’t!” I saw movement, HA, I had them now, someone moved to hide behind my Suburban, probably thinking they could scoot around the back of my truck and then they would be home free. But I had parked it so you couldn’t get in between the garage and the garbage cans. I stood at the end of the driveway, I wasn’t going back into that inky darkness at the side of the house, I’m not a complete idiot! “Come out,” I said, in my biggest scary Mom voice. “I can see you there!” A muffled-disguised reply, “Hey lady, go check your door!” Huh? I stopped short, what was this? “I checked, there isn’t anything at my door.” “Not at your door, on your door.” Came the same muffled, somewhat familiar voice from behind the garbage. “Oh.” I said. (Oops!)
Embarrassed, I sheepishly left the confrontation at the end of the driveway and went to the door. There, right under the gaze of the porch light was a red envelope, taped to the door. Taking it inside, the “Christmas Perpetrator” slunk away in the darkness, his identity still a mystery to me. I went inside to relate the story to the family. Inside the envelope was a Wal-Mart gift card in the amount of $250, with a note that said the card would explode at the checkout if we purchased a DVD-VCR, “…so don’t do it!” More to come, I guess. That is if I can keep from blowing someone’s cover. And I thought this Christmas would be boring…

Weird Real Life Video and One Rant

It has been weird-real-life video for me to stand here and rinse and wash someone's entire life. I have seen one couple marry and raise children, take trips on ferries, attend graduations, and have parties. I’ve watched them open Christmas presents, and babysit grandkids, I’ve seen new puppies, sons playing baseball, and kids riding carousel ponies. It is so heart breaking to me to see these photos in this condition. Oh, I know that no one plans to have a 20-foot wall of water entire your living space. (And it was a beautiful home; I've seen the pictures to prove it.) But it sure makes me more passionate about the Creative Memories Mission
On my morning walk back from the school bus, I stopped with a friend at the home of a neighbor to let her know that her garage door had been left open. She mentioned that if someone had broken into her garage they could have all the junk in the garage except for her girls' Baby Books. I nearly yelled at her to get them in the house and put them in a safe place. I'm sure she was a bit shocked at my outburst. I can't help it. When I see the damage that has been done just because things weren't stored properly and backed up and negatives stored in a safe place, it just makes me want to cry.
I'll try and control my outbursts.
And speaking of outbursts, why is it that some people say things like, "oh I can help, what do you need. I can help you with that, just call me." and then when actually asked to help, I get, "oh, I'm busy until after Christmas, do you think the photos will wait that long?" Never mind that they happen to be from WWII and are currently soaked in a mud covered casket. No, they can't wait until after Christmas!! You know, it happens to be Christmas at my house too, but sometimes the needs of others take precedence. Ugh! Ok, enough ranting. I'm back to washing photos. My cold, wrinkled fingers have plumped up again.

Working instead of Blogging

I was sitting here reading through some of my favorite blogging posts, (I'll post my favorite blogs soon, I promise) and I just came to the conclusion that this blogging thing could really take a large portion of my life.
I can actually DO the laundry instead of blogging about how much there is.
I can actually fix dinner instead blogging about what I would have prepared if I hadn't been sitting at the computer all day.
I can actually sew my kids Christmas presents instead of pining away at the fabric my sister sent me.
What a concept! Work! Good, fulfilling work! I was reading in the book of James today, (you know, in The Bible) I'm doing Read thru the Bible in a Year. It says in verses 22-25 of Chapter 1

22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.

Ok, enough writing about working, and I'm off to be a doer, not just a hearer...

Friday, December 14, 2007

Day3-Muddy Pics

Today's batch was fairly easy to clean up. I had them in the fridge over night so mold would not grow. The first two garbage bags went much faster, but then they were mostly pictures in frames, with their own set of problems. These pictures were stacked closely together, so there were lots of pictures in a smaller space. A few things I learned that I thought would be of interest to you and good info to pass on to our customers. Please take your photos out of the developer's bags/envelopes. They almost always have dye in the paper used to make the envelope. When they get wet, the dye will run and stain the top picture. Fortunately, for Mrs. "C", most of these were double prints, so the duplicate was somewhere in the stack. In the stack I did today, I only found one CD, and while it did work and the pictures loaded ok on my computer, there was only one CD. I was hoping I would find more CDs when I started today, making my task go a bit more quickly.
There are still about 4 packs of pictures here in the fridge and then another garbage bag and a box out in the garage keeping cool. Speaking of cool, I had to keep stopping today and let my hands warm up, the cool water I had to use for the pictures was too cool for my hands to stay in it for very long.
I got about 35 or so scanned, a friend from CMC-Sharelist, told me something I thought I would pass along. She reminded me that with Memory Manager 2 you can scan multiple photos and the "cut" them apart with the crop tool, that way you are only lifting the scanner lid for every third photo. I had done this before with one large photo and cropped people into their own portrait, but hadn't thought of scanning more than one picture at a time. Great time saver, thank you!
As far as editing, the only thing I am doing is straightening with the custom rotation tool and doing a fine adjustment on the cropping so that no white is showing. Every so often I may do a quick color fix, but nothing major. I'll show Mrs. "C" some examples of what MM2 can do and then leave it at that.
I do have a question about naming the photos. I have absolutely no ideas about how to number or name these. Any ideas?
Thanks for your contiued support of my "project." You guys are great to keep indulging me in my ramblings.

Day 2-Mud Covered Photos

Today I started in on a small garbage bag on photos. I say small because it was small in size, but the number of photos was nearly overwhelming. The photos were stored in a canvas bag, through the mud, I read "garden Tote" on the side. It had pockets on the inside and out. It was full of nearly a dozen sets of "picture developer" envelopes, 2 slip-in style pocket albums, and stacks (about 8 inches thick) of photos. I'm estimating 500 photos in this bag. They may be the worst out of the bunch. It looked to me like the bag had been full of water and the muddy sediment settled and landed right on the photos. (I just can't even imagine the heartbreak these people went through--to see all of their things FULL of mud.) I would grab a small section of photos and peel and swish in the sink to remove the chunks of mud. (You know, all those pdf things on CMC-Network don't even begin to come close to what I was actually doing.) They say "gently agitate", I would peel clay, in a one-inch thick ribbon, off the photos. They say, "gentle spray of water" I decided a foam craft brush worked great for cleaning the photos. It seemed so drastic at first, I kept thinking, don't touch the photos, but the only way I could get them clean is to use these steps.

Oh, I also found a receipt for some portraits done at Wal-Mart, so I called the number to see if perhaps they still had copies that could be ordered, or put on a disk. This happened to be the Wal-Mart in Chehalis that was flooded too. Dead End!
The counters are full again, llamas, Los Angeles Zoo, New Years eve parties, family portraits, even Jay Leno grace my kitchen this evening.
By dinnertime, I had to quit, no more space to spread them out and we needed dinner, I ziploc bagged what was left and put it in the fridge until tomorrow when I'll stack the dried ones and fill the counters again.

I've got about a dozen scanned so far.
Decided to: Just scan, not edit.
Sort some, matching faces and events.
Discuss with Mrs. "C" about what she wants to do with them when she is ready. I'd gladly do a power layout and get them safely in albums with journaling boxes for her to fill out.
Thanks so much to the ladies of CMC-Sharelist for their generosity. I am overwhelmed and greatly blessed by your offers of gifts and help.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I wasn't prepared...

I was prepared for the worst. I had water and gloves and tools to scrape the mud, garbage bags in which to put the broken picture frames, tables to lay out the photos. But I wasn't prepared for what I saw when I opened the first bag.
I'm ahead of myself--
I was moved to volunteer with the cleanup, and came in contact with Kathryn at Daring Young Mom she referred me to a cleanup volunteer who had the photos. She came with 4 bags and 2 boxes, the bags were mostly pictures in frames, old 70's high school pictures, a black and white or two, and lots of snapshots. I was amazed to see that under an inch of gooey mud, they weren't in too bad of shape. Water really isn't an enemy to a picture, they are developed in liquids, and as long as they don't dry out in this condition, they can be cleaned and made right again. I started in on the first pile. I had glimpsed a black and white in the bag and thought I ought to start on the oldest ones first. They seemed to be the most precious, I guess. I had to break the frames in order to get the swollen cardboard backings off. I rinsed and scraped, peeled and rinsed and got to the glass and the picture. Sliding my putty knife along the edge of the glass, out came an old gentleman in a grey flannel hat, with a distinguished looking mustache. The photo was in nearly perfect condition.
Encouraged, I plunged onward, releasing brides and grooms, babies with moms, and school agers from their muddy prisons.
What I was not prepared for as my tables filled up with faces, was the surge of raw emotions I felt as I looked on literally decades of photos nearly destroyed by the raging waters of winter rains. It broke my heart that though these pictures are now relatively safe, I know of many others that didn't have the chance to be brought out of their mud covered sepulchers.
If I have learned anything worthwhile in all this, it would be to spread the word that if your pictures are precious to you, (and why do you take so many of them if they aren't?) then treat them like family. Don't store them on the ground floor if you live close to water of any kind. Make duplicates and store them off-site, a safe deposit box, or relative's home. Don't print your pictures at home!!! I know, this one may sound really terrible, but don't, don't, do it! Pictures printed by developers with the right equipment, can be rinsed, even brushed with a soft paint brush under water without fear of ruining the photo. But those pictures that you think will be just the same if you print from home, won't be "just the same" after sitting in mud and then being cleaned. They won't be there at all.
I rinsed and rinsed for about 5 hours tonight, my counters and 4 tables in my home are full of faces I know nothing about, families I don't know, children who are grown up now and have children of their own; water skiers, cruises and boat rides, Mustangs and Harleys, babies and grandparents, toddlers and toys; but mostly my tables are full of hope and rebuilding.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Nice Reward

This morning, Sweet Boy came up to me and crawled into my lap after I had finished reading my Bible, everyone else was still asleep. He put his arms around me and whispered in my ear, "Mommy, you are a nice mommy."
Ahh, that makes it all worthwhile. Filled my tank for the day.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Washington flood relief

I read this post through a link on a blog I regularly read.
Please read her post and then decide if you can help. I'm sending food storage items and blankets and clothing.
These poor people have lost everything, destroyed by 14 feet of dirty, river water.
So sad.
Please help if you can.

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