Thursday, December 20, 2007

12/20/07 25 years of Photos and Memorabilia -- Free at Last!

The most important thing that happened while I was Huntington Beach, and I’m still not sure how to put it into words, is that I became free. Free to soar mountain tops like an eagle. Free to explore individual flowers like a butterfly. If questioned about the top ten moments of my life, one of my answers would definitely be finishing the organization of my twenty-five year collection of memorabilia and photographs.

First you need to understand the problem: I had almost 20 boxes of memorabilia, photos and negatives. (For the sake of this project, we decided to leave Mel’s huge slide collection untouched since they were mostly before our time together, were artistic/nature photography and generally weren’t of the family.) I had inherited my mother’s photo collection which was in large part duplicates of pictures I had and Mel had a large number of his mother Edith and grandmother Sarah’s photos that he promised his sister he would scan and that she could keep the originals.

This last year I purchased two excellent quality scanners – one for photographs (and office documents) and a separate one for slides. I had separated the negatives from the photos and kept them safely in a fireproof file cabinet. I organized some of the photos chronologically. Sharman deconstructed the magnetic page scrapbooks that had grown sticky and yellow with age which held some of the best pictures. In summary, 40% of the pictures were in chronological order, many were duplicates, and plenty of the pictures were redundant, average or just plain awful.

The first task was to separate the memorabilia from the photographs. Then I put all the photographs in chronological order so it was easy to remove the duplicates – we worked the 4x6” and 3x5” photos together and the larger/unusual sized photos in a different section. Then we labeled groups by year, month and event where possible. Then came the hard part – we threw away 70% of all the photos. Granted, many were duplicates and just plain average, but if the picture didn’t “tell the story” or contain a special memorable image, out it went. We also threw away all the negatives.

Our plan is to scan these remaining photos, make back-up dvd’s for the safe deposit box, make three sets (one for Mel and I and one each for Dave and Sarah when they are grown) and then load the digital pictures into 2 or 3 new LCD digital picture frames for the RV. (I got to see one of these frames used when Karen loaded one with 50 years of family photos for her father – the slideshow feature made the pictures come alive!)

We did something similar with the memorabilia. For example, one of my first dates with Mel was to “Cats.” I had saved the playbill and ticket stubs. For this project, I cut off the cover and used the ticket stubs to make a page that we could scan. I have 20+ years of treasures from my exciting and full life with Mel; some went in the trash and others were saved. We are scanning the children’s art work, medals and awards. We’ll scan the travel postcards and treasures. Then we’ll place the digitized memorabilia pictures chronologically with the photos.

Turning twenty boxes worth of unorganized pictures and memorabilia into four boxes of organized treasures took far longer than I had planned. Fortunately my parents were very gracious about the mess I made of their dining room and allowed me to extend my visit by an extra five days. Mel gave up our romantic weekend plans to help sort the pictures.

The project was alternatively thrilling because there were so many photos we didn’t remember and exhausting because it was emotionally draining to let go of the past. My image for the final product is that my pictures and memorabilia will move from boxes and dusty scrapbooks to giant slideshows in digital picture frames that I will enjoy every day of my life.

I can’t tell you how wonderful it feels to have this project done. I feel free. 

Saturday, December 15, 2007

12/15/07 There's No Place Like Home!

December was a month full of expectations for the Malkoff family – each one of us had different plans and desires. Mel anticipated that the boat would be finished and that he’d be making his new on-the-water home in Long Beach. Sarah planned to help Mel outfit the boat, decorate her cabin, catch up on her school work and visit friends in Orange County. Mary Ann had a weekend full of Bar Mitzvah festivities for her friend Demi's son and scheduled visits with friends and family around her photo and memorabilia organization project. Dave intended to eat at his favorite sushi restaurant, visit with his grandfather and go for long walks.

Sarah and Mel were already in Orange County, since they had left Thanksgiving Weekend before Dave and I went to the Grand Canyon. They were seriously disappointed – new problems with the boat engine and an awol electrician meant that there was little hope of Sarah getting to help Mel move on the boat. Fortunately, Sarah got to spend weekends with Audrey – which thrilled both of them.

Dave, Mayim and I managed the 8 hour drive without mishap and were thrilled to meet the entire family at the Lazy Dog in Huntington Beach. Sarah, Dave and I went off to sleep at the parent’s in Huntington Beach and Mayim went back to Al’s with Mel.

Besides staying with Audrey and hanging out at Mel’s office, Sarah visited friends, went to Knott’s Berry Farm, Disneyland and Rainbow Kids homeschool group outings, and shopped with Amber.

Dave visited Logan, his beloved teacher Dr. Harder, hung out with his grandfather who took him to his favorite sushi restaurant and to see Coach Rick at the Baseball Academy, and hosted Logan in Huntington Beach several days for long walks and Magic tournaments.

Mayim luxuriated with her doggie friend Mandy in Al’s Villa Park back yard and gave us quite the scare when we thought she had left the yard one evening (she was snozing and didn't hear us call) and another morning when she was so lethargic she couldn’t manage to eat her breakfast (was downright perky at the vets and got a clean bill of health).

Oddly enough I had never stayed the night at my parent’s house. Don and Karen married the year before Mel and I and since I’ve always had a home nearby, I’ve never needed to be an overnight guest. Of course, Dave and Sarah have stayed over a zillion times, but it was my first time in the lovely bed and breakfast-style guest room known as “The Cave.” Karen and I enjoyed girl-time together – we went for massages and pedicures. It was unique and special to have time to hang out with my parents enjoying coffee in the morning and reviewing the day’s events in the evening.

Holiday Slide Show with Family

I made special time to meet up with Jerry, Nancy, Demi, Catherine and Susan, who had done so much to help me close down the house when I was still so weak from the emergency gall bladder surgery. Mel’s sister Susan made a special trip up from Ventura to spend the day. Seeing friends in this relaxed mode was a treat; my last two months in the OC were frantic and not the best way for me to say thank you for people who mean so much to me.