Monday, July 28, 2008

A Story From Project One

Doug reminded me of an occurrence that happening as a result of cleaning the laundry room and organizing the photos and mementos. I needed to put away pictures from the past two years and to sort the mementos according to each person. I had odds and ends everywhere. Some items were on the shelf beside the picture boxes, some were mixed in with the records that needed to be files, some (the most recent were on the baker's rack in the kitchen), and some were on a little white table in the corner of the family room space in the basement.

This table is sometimes used as a craft table or a research table. Doug and I have used it to lay out our articles and books when we are writing a paper. Some of my Creative Memories stuff was on the table, a shoebox filled with negatives that I had found in a storage box, journals, magazines, and research books littered the table. As I cleaned and organized, at points I would think ahh I'm done. I would then find another stack of stuff that needed to be sorted. I'd sort and clean that little stack and again think ahh I'm done. I then ventured to the table and found the books and journals. I placed them in their assigned spot on the book shelf and thought wasn't there something else on that table. I got the negative, bought a photo box, and organized the negatives. Ahh I'm done.

Well I went back to the table and under my Creative memories stuff were some cards and pictures. Oh no, back to the memento and photo boxes. I was tired of this tedious job. The cards turned out to be sympathy cards from when Don, Doug's dad, passed away a year ago. I decided to place those in Doug's memento box. As I was straightening them up, some still had envelopes with them other didn't, one just jumped out at me. I don't know what it was about this card but I felt compelled to open it. As I opened it something flutter out and I tried to grab it. I reached down and picked up the piece of paper from off the chair where it had landed and it was a check. One of Doug's friends had written a check to an existing Middle Level Education Major Scholarship that we had designated as donation place in memory of Don. It had been in that card all year and was now sitting in a corner of the basement. It seems so weird that the only card I opened up was one that had money in it. None of the other still had checks (believe me I went back and checked them all). Strangely enough this person had invited us to his house for a Fourth of July party something he hasn't done before. Doug shared the story with him, gave him back the check, and he wrote a new one to be added to the scholarship.

Now, ahh I'm done.

I'll add a picture of my photo shelf tomorrow. Doug wonders why I haven't added many photos lately.

Summer List- Projects Three and Four cont.

Project number three was/is to make a family movie of the Hatch family slides. Most of these slides are from the 1960s. I pulled out Doug's family slides from under my armoire. We have two boxes much like the size of a shirt box. Each box holds 15 or 16 smaller clear plastic cubes that have 38 to 40 individual slides. We then have a gallon zip lock bag with an assortment of slide containers. Forever ago we were going to organize the slides and send them off to be transferred to VHS tape for the Hatch family. Once Doug organized them and began to think about music selections we then were concerned about sending them off in case they got lost or damaged. We didn't know with whom to trust these irreplaceable items.

One of our colleagues at our former university was a videographer and had the technology to convert the slides and make the tape. Unfortunately he and we were always too busy to sit down and connect in order learn how to use his equipment. Finally with the ever evolving technology, I was able to obtain a scanner that scan slides as jpeg images and a computer program that makes movies using video and still photos. I've made to movies using still photos, so I've begun to get some experience with the I-Movie program.

In order to make the movie I need to scan the slides. When I was at my best and on a roll with this project I was able to scan two cubes per day 76-80 images per day. From past experiences I decided to burn the images to a CD at the completion of 10 cubes. This way all my work would not be lost if my computer crashed. Right now today I have completed cube 22.

Doug in looking at the photos noticed that some of them are backwards. I used a very specific method for scanning the slides so I am guessing that when the slides were made they weren't always made in a systematic way. Just like with photo development, over the years the slide frames changed. Some frames are cardboard with a logo on one side others are plastic with a embossed direction (this side toward screen), and some with nothing on them. Doug realizing that some were backward despite my care with them was disconcerting. Now I will need Doug to view all the pictures and take notes on which are backwards. I'll have to find those slides and rescan them before I can begin to work on the movie.

This obviously is not going to be completed by the end of summer as I had hoped in May. I am also toying with the idea of adding photos from more recent years in WA with the family to the movie. We'll see. The story has yet to fully evolve in my mind. I hope that it will be finished by Christmas. Working on this project continued to bring Doug's unfinished album to my mind. I often thought oh that would have been a good picture for his album. Also his unfinished album was still sitting at the end of the dining table as a constant reminder of unfinished business.

I think that I came to a stand still on Doug's album because I had now gotten to the part of the album where Amber had damaged photos and knew it would be hunt and additional process to find negatives of those pictures so that they could be replaced. Even though I have a good organized system of our photos it's not perfect. Boy is it not perfect. This week I found a photo that I spent a day hunting for and gave up looking for it. This week it was sitting right in the front of the box from the year 2000. Too later now, the album is finished.

I also rearranged some pages and added some new elements to the album, like colleagues from the two universities where Doug worked, the Sports Illustrated article that mentioned him, newspaper articles, a couple of work related honors and our Bulls NCCA tournament bid. I found it interesting how my perspective changed in relation to the album at this time in my life. There were some pages that I didn't change a bit and others where all types of things changed and there was the need to add to the story of Doug's life. Thirteen years ago I certainly looked at the album differently. I think that this must be somewhat like what writers must experience as look back on their work. I can make this better or this isn't important or I left this important aspect out of my story.

Anyway on Monday, July 7th, I completely finished the album and presented it to Doug. I felt compelled to add two pages (four sides) that contained a glimpse into the future as this album was to only represent Doug's 40 years of life. I added his doctoral graduation, the birth of his daughter, our move here, and an updated look at our family. Oh how we've grown in just the last thirteen years with marriages and babies.

So in summary project three is not finished. It came to a screeching halt as the boys finished summer school and began to monopolize the computer. It is one of those projects that I will flitter back to once school begins. Project four is finished. It has a spurred me on to make a Christmas album. As I cleaned up after the completion of the birthday album, I began pulling photos of all our Christmases from our first in WA (December 1987) to this past Christmas of 2008.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Summer List- Projects Three and Four

Summer list projects three and four are somewhat linked. In March I began remaking Doug's 40th birthday album. My oldest son's trip to Costa Rica brought me in contact with a Creative Memories Rep. and I renewed my interest in scrapbooking. Besides repairing Doug's album was lost past due. I had hopes of finishing the album by the end of April but it was put aside until June.

In May as the school year was ending, I was also getting sections of college classes ready for Internet delivery. This is contract work that I do for the Middle Level Program in the College of Education. The classes would run from Mid-May till the end of June. Once the courses are ready to go I then monitor them and troubleshoot technology issues while the professors teach the course. There is a considerable amount of front end work and then less intense work as the courses get underway. Most days I would spent the first part of the morning checking on the course and working on my project and then the last part of my waking evening checking on the courses and working on my project. The morning time is when I began to notice the daily routine of the finches outside my window.

Summer List- Project Two

Item two on the summer list hasn't been started. I was waiting for Doug's classes to end so he could give me a hand with organizing and cleaning the garage. I mostly need to reorganize the shelving unit.

I did gather and sort the items that we no longer want. We tend to toss the items that we have outgrown, replaced, or just don't want anymore in the front of the garage closest to the house. My little girl's dance company is going to have a garage sale so they began to collect and store items for the sale. I folded the clothing items and placed them in shopping bags for the garage sale and threw away some items that weren't fit for others to wear. I sorted the household items and bagged them for the sale too. I loaded the stuff in the van and then swept out the garage. It looks better but this part was not in my project plan. I'm thinking this project may be an early fall project.

Fun Happenings

When I went to pick up my little girl from swim practice there were ducks in the pool. They were so adorable. My daughter said the mother got into the complex where there is a gap between the two fence posts and the babies followed, some through the gap and other from under the fence.

The babies could not get out of the pool so the kids made a ramp with their kick boards. Alas once the babies got out they would jump back into the pool.

Doug, a friend, the boys, my oldest's girlfriend, and I went to see Boston in concert. They were really good. For two of the kids it was their first concert. I don't remember being at a concert since Whitney Houston performed at the Sun Dome when Doug and I were first married.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Summer List- Project One

I made a summer list and at the top of that list was the laundry room.

As soon as school ended, I began work on the laundry room. Our laundry room is in the basement and it is a good size. It's probably bigger than our master bedroom. Not as nice though. I have two office style book shelves, two Rubbermaid heavy duty shelves ( the kind you get at home improvement stores), two filing cabinets, an antique dresses (I store my purses in there.), several large Rubbermaid containers, sink, washer, dryer, and the kitty litter box.

I started reorganizing the office style book shelves. I have Doug's and my professional books that we keep but don't use at work very often, my doctoral course work, research paper, my Caldecott and Newbery books, some special books of the kids, keepsake notebooks of kids school stuff, craft books, craft stuff, and rocks. I'm sure you can envision what a mess these shelves were in. I pared down the professional books, got rid of all my coursework stuff except for my best work samples (down to one 3" ring binder from 10 3" ring binders), and got rid of most of the research papers. I also got rid of some craft books. All the other stuff I kept. I did organize items so that all of each type of thing is on the same book shelf instead of spread out across two shelves. I even have some extra empty space.

I then went through the Rubbermaid containers where we had all our table linens and bed linens. Actually some of the bed linens were upstairs and some were downstairs with no plan or organization in place. In the last two years the boys beds had changed from twins to full size. We went from six twin mattresses (counting the pop-ups) to two. It stands to reason that we don't need much in the way of twin bed linens.

The big tub filled with table linens made it hard to search for seasonal items. I was constantly digging through the box, reorganizing it, pulling out all kinds of stuff to get what I wanted. I needed several of the longer flatter boxes instead of one big tub. Once payday arrived I bought five of those types of boxes. Once I got them home and began to fill them I knew they wouldn't work. I made an initial return to the store to exchange the first set of boxes that weren't quite the right size.

One thing I've learned is that if you aren't happy with the solution you're never going to be so it's better to bite the bullet up front, return the stuff, suffer through the mess of taking all the linens out again and starting over. I HATE wasting time but sometimes you have to regroup and start over. (Maybe I should write a book of wisdoms according to Aggie. Hmm.)

Five boxes were key to my organization, one box per each season and one for all season generic use. It has worked out well. Now the big tubs would adequately handle the overflowing bed linens issue. I got rid of most of the twin linens, and placed the other twin linens upstairs since the only twin bed is upstairs. I also got rid of some curtains and rugs that I was saving for the next house or something dumb like that. Finally I got rid of some Tupperware that I use for parties and such which was stored down there. I pared that down to my most used pieces. Yea, more space and no overflow. We donated the linens, curtains, and Tupperware to an organization called Recycling For Families. They collect household non-clothing items for the needy.

Next was the mountain of paper work that needed to be filed. Now over the Christmas break I had reorganized the two file cabinets with color coded files etc. So I just needed to file and add the occasional new folder for whatever new business relationship we had begun, for example my youngest son's high school needed a folder. That was a huge unsightly mess that made the room look so much better once I cleaned that up.

I then went through the photo containers and added pictures that were scattered about the shelf. These photos had not been filed for a year or two, plus some had been pulled for projects and not returned to the correct box or any box. Several summers ago I organized our photos into boxes, at least one box for each year from 1991- present. This year I bought the taller boxes that could hold 8 1/2 x 11 documents. I bought one for each of us and began to sort through the mounds of newspaper articles, swim ribbons & medals, certificates, programs, large photos, sport set photos, etc. (you get the picture).

Finally I swept and reorganized the wrapping paper, bubble wrap, noodles and gift boxes. Living away from family and many friends keeps me stocked in stuff that I can use to ship things in. It is also a way to reuse stuff that has been mailed to is. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!

Yea, the room is great. There is so much more space to move around and it is way easier to find things. It took me a month, all of June. I had bursts of starts and abandonment but I did get it done. I have this habit of flitting from one thing to the next and never quite finishing anything. My resolution had been to break this terrible habit. I am better at finishing what I start.

Friday, July 18, 2008


Yesterday when I left the computer I was headed to my youngest son's room to hang a baseball diamond shadow box that would house 37 baseballs. This is phase one of the room organization and purge. This large shadow box will not hold all the baseballs he has, hence the purge.

As I was heading to his bedroom, my daughter asked me to pull her tooth. The evening before we had gone to a baseball game with a group of Doug's friends. On the way there she was chewing on a Now Or Later candy. All of a sudden she says the Now Or Later made her tooth loose and it's bleeding. The passenger passed her a napkin and all was well. We had a great time at the game. Unbeknown to us it was free hot dog and peanuts night. In addition to that one of Doug's friend's had taught the person selling tickets at the gate and the former student gave us (nine of us) free tickets behind the plate. So we had a great evening and forgot all about the tooth.

Now back to the tooth. This is the loose tooth from the Now or Later. I take my daughter into my office (the bedroom), have her lay back on my dental chair (the bed with pillows propped under her) and have her open wide. As I look in her mouth and wiggle her tooth, I see that it is not just loose but broken. It is cracked and part of the tooth has pulled away from the rest of the tooth. I don't know if this is a baby tooth or not. My vast dental training didn't cover this. I'm praying it's not an adult tooth. I'm not touching this situation. I leave my patient and go report to her dad. I get Doug and whisper to him what is going on with the tooth. He tells me to call the dentist (the real dentist).

After a call to the real dentist office we head over there. We had to wait until the lunch hour before the dentist could see her. From her last set of x-rays the doctor and hygienist can tell that the tooth is a baby tooth and her adult tooth is ready to come in. So they are just going to pull the tooth. Now they have the good stuff, numbing gel and Novocaine to assist them. I have told the receptionist, when I called, that her tooth was broken. I told one of the hygienists that the receptionist had me speak to that her tooth was broken. When we move from the waiting room to the patient treatment room I tell that hygienist that her tooth is broken. She explains that the adult tooth puts pressure on the baby tooth and the baby tooth's roots are dissolving and when a person bites down on something hard the baby tooth may crack. Doug described it as being between a rock and a hard place.

In comes the doctor and my daughter proceeds to burst into tears and claims that the tooth doesn't hurt or bother her. I tell him we are getting it pulled anyway, since the tooth is broken and will just cause her problems. I calm her down. He gives her the shots and leaves the room. (I'm guessing to have a stiff drink.) He returns after the Novocaine kicks in and quickly pulls out the tooth. Then he says there's a piece over here, referring to the other broken piece. I'm thinking I've only said that the tooth was broken four times, hello. Unfortunately the other piece is stuck to the gum, so he has to dig a bit to get it out. That part was a bit uncomfortable for the girl.

All ended up well. Two hours of closed captioned CNN in the waiting room. No damaged permanent tooth and a broken baby tooth for the tooth fairy. Unfortunately the tooth fairy didn't get the tooth only the plastic tooth necklace because the girl was closely inspecting the tooth and dropped it. After her brother and I thoroughly searched the chair she was in and the floor we gave up and convinced her to put the plastic tooth case in her tooth fairy pillow.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Summer List

You know how I like my lists and how I tend to lose those lists. I need to keep my lists in my PDA/phone. Last night I typed a message to myself in the memo section of my PDA and found all kinds of memos I had placed in there at least 7-10 years ago. No my phone isn't 10 years old. My first PDA is 10-15 years old and it was/is wonderful. Its system is compatible with both the PC and Mac and as a dual platform user that was so important. My new phone is compatible as well and it system synced with my PDA transferring all my PDA stuff over to my phone.

The memos I found had old passwords to the many different websites I used to use for work as well and my friend Gina's passwords as we often work together on projects. My favorite memo was the website for the belly mask. What is the belly mask? It is a kit to make a plaster mold of your pregnant belly. I just love this concept. I wish it had been an idea I was familiar with when I was pregnant with my babies. I wanted to make a mold of my sister's belly and paint it as a gift to her. For some reason she wanted nothing to do with this. Go figure! Anyway I still have the website for the kit stored in my phone.

O.K. I digress from my topic. In May when Mike and Lynne were here, I began my summer list of things to do. As a lesson learned from past experiences; I wanted to keep my list within the realm of what could reasonable be accomplished.

Here is my list:

1. Laundry Room
2. Garage
3. Slide Show
4. Album
5. Backyard- 3 days a week
6. Ceiling
7. Family Tree

I committed most of these to memory as they had been on my mind for a long time. So over the past two months as I have misplaced my May list I still had many of the goals in the forefront of my mind. I just found my list again this week, somehow it ended up in my briefcase and when I went to school to work this week I found it.

Note to self: remember that other projects creep up that are not on the planned list. Plan/budget time for the unplanned projects. What exactly are these projects? How many have I finished? You'll have to wait for the next installment as other are clambering for the computer and I'm off to one of those unplanned projects.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Bird Watching

While the boys were taking summer classes in the mornings, I would dedicate this part of the morning to spending time on my computer work. Our computer sits by one of our backyard windows and we have a Shepard's hook right outside the window, in the garden, with tubular bird feeders. One feeder has thistle and the other has sunflower seeds.

I began noticing gold finches coming to the feeder at various time during the day. Then one morning as I was working I saw a lovely purple finch. I thought that I would try to get photos of these birds with my Christmas camera. I had a pretty easy time getting the gold finch as I saw them quite often throughout the day and in different locations in the yard.

Once I had success with the gold finch, I then wanted to get the elusive purple finch. I began to notice that the purple finch showed up between 9:45 and 10:30 in the morning. I would see it flitter by out of the corner of my eye. First I tried quietly grabbing my camera from the sofa table, moving back to the window by the computer. By the time I would get to the window the bird would fly off. So then, I spent some time setting up my camera. I would get the lens setting the way I wanted it and would leave it sitting by the computer monitor.

The next two days once the purple finch arrived, I tried slowly drawing the blinds up with my camera in hand. Every time I got the blind up to the bird feeder level the bird would fly off. No photo!

The third and fourth days I drew up the blinds first thing in the morning, camera ready and sat down to work. No bird either day. So, on day five I left the blinds down, had my camera ready, and waited. It was an overcast day as it had rained earlier. This was perfect lighting for my bird photo. Soon a male and female bird lighted on the feeder. I slowly leaned into the window, camera one hand, and wedged the lens between the blinds with the other hand. The birds were still eating at the feeder. Yes! I put my eye to the viewer and my dog runs by the garden scaring off the birds. No photo, again.

Finally, success was mine. The birds returned the next day and I was ready. The dog was napping in the family room chair, camera on the desk, and blinds were down. I slowly and quietly got the lens between the blinds, peered into the viewer and began to snap photos. YEA!!! The lighting isn't the best and doesn't do the birds justice, but I got them. Here is the male.

Now, I have flitted off to another project as my paid computer work has predominately ended for the summer and my scanning project has taken a back seat to finishing Doug's photo album. So, I don't see the purple finches anymore. I still wonder about them and found it interesting that they came by our yard at the same time each day. Maybe I'll have another overcast morning and will wait by the window for my visitors to return for more photos.

Mother Nature

We have had two interesting bird events. The first happened in June. Doug and I were walking several evenings out of the week on the local trail and then through our neighborhood. One evening while walking we saw a Mallard duckling in a person's yard. It was making a high pitched noise like a baby crying. It was obviously separated from its family. It broke my heart. I tried twice to get it. What I was going to do with it, I don't know. But it was having nothing to do with me. We left it to fend for itself, leaving nature to take its course.

Then around the first of July my oldest was out shooting baskets when he came inside and said their was a bird on the ground in our yard. Sometimes we have birds crash into our large glass window trying to escape the neighborhood Cooper's Hawk. I thought that it may be a dazed bird.

Well the oldest came into the house a second time and got his dad. It seems that my son determined that there was a nest in our Blue Spruce Tree and surmised that the bird had fallen from the nest. Doug placed our ladder near the nest and had my youngest son and I come out so we could hold the ladder steady for him if he could capture the bird and return it to the nest. Doug put on work gloves in anticipation of handling the bird and between the him and the oldest they managed to contain the bird under a bush. The bird was squawking like crazy. It still had some of its downy feathers. Doug got the bird, climbed the ladder, and put the bird in the nest. The bird immediately hopped out of the nest onto the branch. Doug tried to return it to the nest and it would not go in the nest. It ended up perched on the branch next to the nest.

I don't know why it left the nest. Was it prematurely flying the coup? Had it been rejected by its parents? Was there something medically wrong with it? I know it looked pitiful and seemed scared. The next evening we found it dead under the tree. We've had some sad experiences with Mother Nature.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Room Cleaning

A couple of weeks ago my daughter and I spent several days cleaning her room. It is exhausting work and I can't stand to direct more than a couple of hours per day. The first day my daughter was quite helpful, the next few days lead to pouting and a definite lack of effort. She had to miss a dance class and a swim meet because of her behavior. She did regroup and helped to finish cleaning the room with a good attitude.

I convinced her to move her pet rocks back to their natural habitat. They had been "living" in individual straw baskets with little blankets. These baskets were jammed up on the floor against the bed. My daughter the lover of nature knows they will be so much happier in their habitat and it would add to the decor of our garden. my daughter said that the rocks needed to be together so they wouldn't get lonely.

Once the youngest boy finishes summer school, we'll tackle his room. He is less cooperative and helpful than his sister. His crying and pouting is about equal to hers. He can't part with anything and he collects everything. We affectionately call him Junk Boy.