Gifts from the past

Twice this week the past has reached out and handing me a present.  It’s kind of amazing.
My computer died (okay, was staggering around limping in circles) so I took my dad’s old computer, which was just taking up space in my mom’s office, and made it mine.  (Although you still have to log in as him, which is a bit … odd.)  I copied all my files on it, which combined with more than a decade of his files, means that this machine is part time machine, part computer junk store.  I’ve found some awesome things while searching through the hard drives (yes, plural).  Like Commander Keen 1-6: the first video game I ever loved.  I remember playing it with the neighbours before going to summer camp in 1993, and it wasn’t that new then, I don’t think.  I found DOS based solitaire games, and work files for companies that went under a decade ago, and more.

I also found the picture directory, which had been, as I knew, corrupted.  Years ago, something went wrong with the G drive, and while all the folders were still there, most of the pictures had been compromised, leaving nothing.  This wasn’t noticed for a while, so it was backed up over the old uncorrupted files and much was lost.  My dad tried all sorts of things, but nothing was recoverable.  Years later, David tried a few more things, to equal results.  We had all just accepted that most of the family photos from 2002-2008 were gone.

And then.

I had been trying to find a picture on the computer, and got frustrated with how totally impossible it was, given there were pictures in folders all over the machine.  So one evening, I organized it.  21k of pictures in the end, from 2002-2010.  I sorted them by date as best as I could, and by event/theme.  The first time I came across two identical folders, I almost deleted the second one, but I stopped and opened them both in thumbnail mode.  On the left?  2 actual pictures in a folder of 25 images.  On the right?  25 pictures!  At some point, the picture folder had been copied to my hard drive, which then spend 8 years in other computers, only to reunited uncorrupted.

Er, I think that’s what happened.  As I occasionally found multiple sets of the same pictures in different folders, so I’m not exactly sure how these pictures were returned to be, just that they are.

A gift.  A gift of hundreds of pictures no one ever expected to see again.  A gift that trebled the number of photos of my father.  A totally unexpected gift from the past.

Circa 2002. The problem with the really short hair is that some cuts were super cute. Unfortunately, some are so terrible the internet must never know…

(Even if it captures a lot of terrible hair choices that I made.  The angry militant lesbian wasn’t my best look…)

Circa 2005.  The short hair got a lot more flattering when I grew it out long enough to bob.

Then today, at my mother’s house, she went looking for brown yarn for a craft thing I’m working on, and came up with a giant neon pink Tupperware box that I have never seen before. That I could swear I’d never seen before.  She told me that it wasn’t brown wool, but that I should open it.

Inside was every beloved outfit from my childhood, sitting nicely clean and folded.  My dress from the kindergarten photo!  My mom’s favourite summery rainbow heart dress!  The matching dresses my sister and cousin and I wore for my grandparents’ 40th (?) anniversary party!  And so many more.  Just waiting for Jess to grow in to them.

Another totally unexpected gift from the past.

Circa 1988, ish. I’m hoping that this outfit isn’t in the box.

Okay, I know that these things were never truly lost, but that’s not the point, is it?  The pictures were gone, and mourned, and resulted in me ALWAYS printing out and making vacation albums, because I know how easily pictures can vanish.  The dresses were lost and mostly forgotten, until I flipped through photo albums and talked about trying to recreate some of the pictures with Jess.  And now I can!  In the actual clothing.  (Which are practically vintage now, aren’t they?  They’re certainly better made than most of the stuff Jess owns now.)

One of my favourite authors, Douglas Coupland, says it best: “There are three things we cry for in life: things that are lost, things that are found, and things that are magnificent.” And two finds like this in a single week definitely made me misty.


Books books book

Let’s take a break in the kvetching and talk about books.  I love books.  I, thankfully, love my local library, so I can afford to read all the books my little heart desires, but despite that, I still live in a house full of books.  There is a bookcase in basically every room of the house.  Except for the bathrooms, and our bedroom, but those rooms all have at least a stack of books sitting there.  They are roughly sorted: J and YA books in the guest bedroom, more YA and some poetry in the upstairs hallway, my antique books in the main floor hallway, sports and war in the basement, craft books and journals in the craft room, baby books in Jess’s room, and a library with 5 bursting bookshelves.  A ton of them were bought as discards at the library, a handful at airports.  Very few of the fiction books, outside some beloved CanCon, are new, or at least, bought at full price.  (I’m cheap that way.)

Post university, I moved 5 times in a little over 6 years, and each time, winnowed the book collection, but I can’t help myself – it’s still huge.  There is all sorts of stuff.  There are a few shelves of the more interesting textbooks and other fun non fiction books.  A whole row of Lonely Planet destinations.  Shelf after shelf of cookbooks, including some delightful ones from 1920 and 1970.  Every Calvin and Hobbes cartoon ever published.  Magzines purchased around the world on vacations.  More than half of Terry Pratchett’s work.  The entire James Bond collection.  More hockey books than you can imagine.  Multiple editions of my favourite YA books (primarily Tamora Piece and Gordon Korman.)  David’s Star Trek novel collection.  My teenage sci-fi and fantasy books (Mercedes Lackey and Anne McCaffrey).  The bulk of the antique books are various editions of the Bobbsey Twins books – the first books I ever loved – plus some delightful random old books (Impatient Virgin, Jane: Stewardess of the Air Lines).  I love them.  I love them all.  Every year I’m offered an e-reader for Christmas, and every year I refuse, because I love books.  The physical tangible form, the smell, the way they feel in your hand, the way the paper changes over the decades, the weight, the look, the fonts, the covers.  Everything about them.  Which is why we own so many of them.

You can probably tell from the pictures that we also use bookshelves for our stuff.  The camels I bought in the Middle East patrol the travel shelf.  About half the glass paperweights are ones I made during a glass blowing workshop.  (The good ones mostly belonged to my grandparents.)  The small stuffed animals are from various trips David and I have taken together.  The fossil is from work, as is the plaque, while the troll was brought back for me by my grandparents from Scandinavia 20 years ago.  Wooden eggs from my dad’s best friend, brought back for the USSR in the 80s.  Memories made tangible, basically, and also things that are just cool.  Bit of life, I guess.

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Jess has a lot of book already – I will admit to buying books for future hypothetical babies since university.  What, Sandra Boyton books for 50 cents is a steal!  And retro golden books are fun.  And how could I not buy the complete adventures of Frog and Toad?  My family baby shower was a book shower, so I got a ton more books then. Including my personal favouite: the Mr Men series.  My grandparents used to have a bunch of them, and when we broke up the house, I kept a few of them.  I’ve bought a few more from the library, but my aunt and cousin surprised me and bought a whole stack of them.  I do own one book that cracks me up every time I look at it.  It’s the kind of thing you’d only get in a few places – Calgary, Texas, maybe the North Sea…

Oh, yes

It’s surprisingly specific.  I mean, they even talk about horizontal wells!

That’s fancy drilling

This is actually a decent technical explanation, with all the right words and everything,

Rotary table? Kelly? Cuttings? This IS the real deal.

I can’t wait for Jess to be old enough to enjoy books for more than their value as a chew toy.