Monday, April 25, 2011

The Spending Diet - Oh How It Hurts!

Ouch, ouch, OUCH!!!  Can I whine just a bit here?

We spent Easter afternoon out in the mountains of West Virginia yesterday with my parents, having a wonderful brunch and listening to the rush of the water flowing over the numerous rock formations in the creek beside their house.  When I walked into my mother's dining room, I thought she had one of those little sound machines playing waterfall sounds until I realized that no, it was just her dining room windows were open.  That lyrical sound was coming from right beside their house.

My parents have a rather substantial plot of land and you can't really see the neighbors too well from their front porch with all of the surrounding vegetation.  It's a little slice of heaven and so incredibly peaceful.  I can only imagine what it's like today, now that the sun is out.  I could easily see myself spending a summer out there, but alas, the responsibility of home and pets and their overwhelmingly busy schedules make that an impossibility.  Not to mention that the cold winters have finally gotten to them and they are working on a move to the warmer environment of South Carolina, where my dad can easily build his golf club making business into a nice inheritance for his grandsons.  This may be the last summer we have the opportunity to go out there and listen to that waterfall.

So imagine my disappointment yesterday when I snapped a few pictures of the lyrical babbling brook beside their house on the way out with my phone camera.  I got into the car and, as we were driving away, flipped open the phone to post a couple up on my Facebook page.  I was incredibly aggravated when I discovered the pictures for some reason were not captured on my phone!  Oh, the humanity!

This has happened a couple of times.  I don't know why and I don't know if it's the phone or if I'm doing something wrong.  History would indicate the second, since I am a walking disaster, but either way.  I. Want. A. New. Camera.

This is  not one of those get it into my head, I won't rest until I have it, bipolar moments.  I have been wanting a new camera for at least a year and a half.  Probably, it's been more like two or three years, because my Kodak point and shoot has low resolution, doesn't always work, and will not take pictures in indoor settings that are not extremely well lit.  It's okay for the here and there picture if you don't have your heart set on taking a photo studio quality picture, but trying to capture Jamie's band concerts?  Forget it.  Black.  I don't have one picture of my kid playing the bells or snare drum.

Six months ago, not having a fully functioning camera was really not that big a deal.  The kids are getting to the age where they do not enjoy having their pictures taken.  But the problem now is that I am taking a lot of pictures to accompany my blog posts and to share on Facebook.  I have been using that phone camera a lot.  In fact, I used it for the St. Baldrick's event and, much to my horror, not one of those pictures blew up into anything you could actually see.  All one big blur.  That was an event I needed to capture and I didn't.  If I had taken the Kodak, I would have had a better shot, but it's not so reliable these days.  Why do these things seem to have a shelf life of about 5 years?  Our dishwasher died right after the five year mark.  The washer and drying are getting ready to give it up, although I say a little prayer every time I do laundry that they will last me one more week.  Our refrigerator has some kind of leakage problem in the freezer and the only thing we are storing in there right now are icicles.  Luckly, we have a freezer in the garage.

Things just keep breaking and, being homeowners, the expenses fall on us.  This is one of those times I really wish we rented and I could call the landlord.  If it came down to a choice between the new dishwasher and a new camera, it's clear which is going to win that fight.  And did, because I just paid off that bill last month.  Same goes for the refrigerator.

Every time I don't get the picture I want, I curse my phone or my 5 year old Kodak and swear I am going to Target the next day to get a decent camera.  And the next day, I don't do it.  Because the camera has kind of become the symbol to me of being able to control my spending in some way.  I was almost at the breaking point yesterday when I didn't get the waterfall pictures because I know my parents won't be in that house much longer and I want photos to remember it by.  That waterfall represents a period of time in my life for me.  It represents a place I can retreat to when life gets overwhelming or I don't feel well or I just need to get away.  It's true that I don't do that as much as I used to, but I always know it's there and I always know I'm welcome.  And I wanted to share a little bit of that feeling here with you.

On the ride home, Justin was trying to explain to me how it's not the phone that's causing me problems.  It's something to do with the compactness of an individual photo and whether or not your carrier will allow you to send that particular configuration across their network so that you don't crash the server.  Or something technical like that.  All I knew was that I didn't get the picture I wanted and I was pissed.

When my parents were having their house built, I did a scrapbook album (back when I was still spending all that money on scrapbook supplies) of it being built and the surrounding vegetation.  I have a beautiful picture of the waterfall somewhere and I need to find it and scan it in.  It captures the peace of their home so beautifully.  Somehow, I'm a little less agitated when I'm there and I can be a little more the "me" I envision myself being when I am out there.  I'd like to hang on to that feeling when they eventually move south, which may be this year or may not.

I woke up this morning again resolved to the fact that I am not going today to buy a camera.  We need groceries.  My car is going to need service.  My son needs to have his teeth fixed.  There are so many expenses involved in raising three children and keeping a house running.  I need to find a way to not "need" things that aren't really necessities and work with what I have.

But...I have days when I think I "want" the iPad.  I "need" the camera.  I like putting visuals with my words.  It's the reason I hired an illustrator for my first two children's books.  Pictures bring words to life, although if you write well enough, you should be able to create a mental image.  But there's nothing like looking at it on the page or screen in front of you.  One picture truly is worth a thousand words.  Unfortunately pictures don't come free and words do.  I have lots of words, which I am willing to share.  Someday, I swear, I will have a great camera to get pictures to go with my words.

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