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Photographic Evidence

If you know me even just a little bit you are aware that when I take on a project I truly put everything into it (“go big or go home” and all that jazz). While I can annoy myself along the way, I’m rarely disappointed at the end. In fact, Jim reminded me of that just last week.

I’m making a Blurb book (just for me) out of all the letters I wrote ahead of my fiftieth birthday last year and decided to add photos. The problem was going to be finding what I needed: like needles in a house-sized haystack. I was talking to Jim about stopping my hunt short because “this is taking foreverrrrrrrrr”, and he gave me the exact encouragement I needed by saying, “Look, you will NEVER regret putting in the effort and doing it exactly the way you want.” Of course he was right.

That’s why I have been sifting through all of the photos I have–thousands of them, both digital and printed–for the last week or so.

In addition to finding lots of cool photos I forgot about, I found some pictures that accurately depict the origins of two family stories: my sister’s and my intense dislike (okay, HATRED) of gardening and the dent that Jason has in the back of his head.

First, the gardening thing. With my dad’s career as a hotel manager, he worked a lot: six or seven long days a week. Also, we lived in hotels for months at a time each time he started at a new place. That’s probably why, when we bought our house in Ft. Worth and then a couple of years later, our house in Knoxville, my parents loved being outside on the weekends as much as possible, working on the lawn and the garden. My sister preferred her outdoor time to be spent with friends, and I preferred to be inside watching television or reading, generally. We certainly got our free time, but on the weekends that only came after family chores. Those chores included weeding. It was all completely dreadful–I mean, weeding is the worst–but no area was worse than in front of the Knoxville house.

That house is pictured at the top of the page. That’s a huge magnolia tree on the right, and it’s lovely…NOW. You see, I took that picture a year or two ago. The magnolia tree’s bottom branches weren’t always cut back like it is now: good job, current owners! Here’s how it looked more than thirty years ago. The photo is blurry but clear enough to prove my point.

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Julie and I had to crawl under that magnolia tree (because we were smaller and could fit) and do the weeding. It was miserable down there: between the summer heat and the branches poking us, it was enough to turn us both against the joys of gardening, for life. Don’t try to change our minds; it’s not happening. We reference that stupid tree often when we’re all around the table together, and the conversation usually ends with Julie and I reaffirming our absolute love and total appreciation of professional landscapers and our mom whining, “You girls only remember the bad things!” (False, but still funny.)

Jason got the dent in his head in a way I couldn’t make up if I tried: by riding the Tilt-A-Whirl at the Porter County Fair in Valparaiso, Indiana. This is yet another cautionary tale about temporarily set up amusement areas, by the way. Tilt-A-Whirls, for the uninitiated, are clam shell-shaped compartments for up to four riders. There are seven compartments situated on individually fixed pivot points on the base of the ride and as the name indicates, once the ride begins those compartments whirl around, tilting this way and that while the riders hold onto a metal bar for dear life.

County Fair Tilt a whirl

The problem came when none of us realized that Jason was exactly the right height to repeatedly knock his head against a bumped-out seam in the clam shell that should have been completely covered by a blue safety pad. It was only partially covered. Mother of the Year here, and let’s go ahead and give that award to my friend who brought her kids as well.

Long story short, we spent some time at the medical tent that afternoon.

Jason's head dent

It wasn’t our best day, though it didn’t stop him from having fun after a little rest and some snacks.

Jason was thrilled that I found these pictures: apparently he’s told people about how he got the dent in his head (which is still there) and they don’t believe him. PHOTOGRAPHIC EVIDENCE.

Have I found pictures of great/awesome/happy/fun memories? Absolutely: too many to count. The thing is, it’s easy to collect pictures of completely epic experiences. People usually take tons of pictures of those events. When it comes to every day moments or circumstances that are less than perfect, well, those aren’t usually as readily recorded for posterity. These types of pictures? Well, they’re more rare, and definitely should be treasured.