Organizing all those old photos

I’ve finally finished digitizing all the good photos I took during our year living in the UK, back before digital cameras existed. That means I took hi-resolution photos of the print photos using my cell phone. I put the images in order by timeframe, by assigning them numbers and sometimes tacking on letters to indicate a batch that should stay together, like for a batch taken at one place. I added very short descriptions and dates. 020A Oxford Mar 19, 020B Oxford market, 020C St. Marys Oxford, 021 Hampton Court Mar 27, etc. Then I made a Word doc with a short paragraph of explanation of why we were in the UK, where we lived, common places visited (parks). Following, I listed the photo numbers with a little more explanation. THEN, I typed a ten-page mini-memoir. How did I do this now for way back in the year 1994?!

My memory is not that great. I had help from the first calendar planner I ever kept. Yes, the print kind because cell phones weren’t invented yet. (But I still use paper hanging calendars and paper planners.) Thank goodness I decided to keep a planner while we were in the UK. The photos brought back wonderful memories, but the planner functioned as a kind of journal, with brief entries telling daily life details, where we went and with whom, who was visiting. I could follow the route we took through Wales and with the help of Google Maps I found the name of the trail that led to a rocky beach. I found the date my friend and I went to see Maya Angelou and got our books signed. I learned the name of the village we went to one night to see Guy Fawkes burn on a huge bonfire after being carted down cobblestoned streets, accompanied by torch-bearing townsfolks—positively medieval!

I have a box full of these planners and I want to go through them to remember special times, who visited, where we went. I did save the film negatives of our UK year and put them back in their box, one of two filled with negatives and photos that did not make it into albums. I was shocked at how many film envelopes per year I had. Who takes that many pictures?! Me, that’s who.

Dolbadarn Castle ruins in Wales
Guy Fawkes’ straw head at the top aflame
Oh my gosh!
Posted in capturing memories, journal, memories, photos | Leave a comment

Home Improvements, More Downsizing Memories

I’m pretty much done painting everything I see in the house, but I’m not going to rest yet. We had an unpleasant shock when finally trying to replace the old, kid-stained carpet upstairs—asbestos flooring underneath. Why put flooring up there that looks like it belongs in the kitchen? Guess the same people who thought pink tiles on bathroom walls and floors was stylin’. Yes, I had the tiny pink bathroom floor tiles, at least, replaced with larger tiles of a soothing color, and what a relief to behold. This is what happens when you have a 1940s home.

We had to remove everything off the second floor so the “demolition crew” could do their thing. Then we had laminate flooring and all new baseboards put in. And then the monster cleanup of fine sawdust even on the ceilings. And then the painting began. The new baseboards needed semi-gloss and while I was at it, I painted doors and door and window frames. I also painted walls, a ceiling, and even old furniture. Sure looks fresh and clean around here! You’d think I’d be done with projects, but no.

While moving everything back upstairs from the packed basement, I tried to downsize some more. Threw out a lot, have a garbage bag full for the thrift store. I could not believe how many old photos we had—three boxes and a shoebox! These are besides the ones in my photo albums. So my next project is going through all those and taking clear photos of the ones I want to save in computer files. Amazing how years later many photos are not important anymore, especially when you can just search online to see scenery of places you’ve visited. I’m just saving my favorites and more meaningful ones, particularly the best photos of my family (it’s so fun to remember how adorable my kids were when little!). And I’m going to either label the photos or make an explanatory Word doc to go with certain sets, like the year we lived in the UK.

So this is what I’ve been doing the past three months. I suppose we are near being ready to sell the house in this hot market and move to a smaller place with less yard. A ranch house with walk-in shower, important for people like us starting to feel old and decrepit. Except now that we’ve fixed up the place and it’s looking tidy, I want to stick around and enjoy it!

Posted in photos | 2 Comments

What Makes a Good Food Memoir (besides recipes)

Holiday meals tend to be full of traditional family dishes, and they have their stories. Where did they come from, how long have they been in the family, have they evolved, and most important, what memories do they bring up? Who is the source of your memories about these foods and do you want to capture the recipes and stories into a book for the family?

Recipe books are popular but so are food memoirs which bring life and history to recipes. Years ago I interviewed my mother-in-law, raised in the West Tennessee countryside and known for her wonderful southern cooking, to write a little memoir to go along with some of our favorite recipes of hers. The memoir tells her stories of growing up poor in a farming family and working hard in the fields even as a small child. Stories that hold history and rural southern culture lead to recipes. While I and my girls may not ever use most of her recipes (lest we gain too much weight!), we do use some and treasure them all as they remind us of her and the wonderful meals she has blessed us with.

This post was prompted by a “Book Riot” post of the same title “What Makes a Good Food Memoir,” by Jaime Herndon, November 26, 2021. She says, “Food memoirs aren’t just about the food itself or just about how much one likes a certain food. They dig in to the emotional aspect of food, cooking, and eating.” And so if you save the family recipes, why not add commentary about who made the dish special and the memories the food conjures. What are the stories around it. Instead of having just a recipe, make it into a savory story for the generations.

Posted in capturing memories, heritage, history, holiday, traditions | Tagged , | Leave a comment