Saturday, August 06, 2005

8mm anyone?

My grandparents came over tonight for dinner. My mom and I asked them to dig up their old home movies (they go from 1950 to around 1980) and bring them over because I'd never seen them. I was pretty excited; I'm crazy about any opportunity for family nostaligia, not to mention any opportunity to laugh at my mom.

We had some technical difficulties. My grandpa still has his forty-year-old film projector and screen, so we set those up. But, my grandpa's getting older now and it took him awhile to remember how to thread the film and run the motor the right direction and focus the lens. We try our best to let my grandpa do his thing, because the poor guy is in a family dominated by women. He and my grandma had three girls, and now he has three grandaughters, only one of whom is married. My cousin and I decided when we were kids that we had to have boys, for the sake of the family.

My grandpa used to do aircraft maintenance for Raytheon and is a natural with anything mechanical. When I used to visit home during college the first questions would always be, "How's your car running? Are you driving it on the freeway once a week?" He's the quintessential handy-man, and now that my granparents sold their house and live in an apartment, he comes by our house a couple times a week to chop firewood and do other things that keep his hands busy.

But, like I said, he's getting older. So we watched him fiddle around with the projector for awhile. Not quite remembering which way the "fwd/still/rvrse" switch needs to be set. Then, on cue, my grandma (who is one of the nicest people on earth, but gets irratated much more by this since she's lived with him for nearly 70 years) says, "Frank, what are you doing? The girls don't have all night." "Well, I'm trying to put the film in! The motor isn't running the right way..." Then, on my cue, I intervene and try to help my grandpa without him realizing that I'm helping him.

Eventually we got the film threaded, but the image wouldn't seem to focus. We were trying to watch this adorable film of Christmas in 1956, but my grandpa wouldn't stop trying to focus it. He's turning this and twisting that. The film catches on the second wheel and we have to stop and untwist it. Back on, and we're starting to get dizzy by the fuzzy/less-fuzzy/more-fuzzy/focused/back-to-fuzzy that my grandpa was doing. Finally we realize that the lenses in the projector were warped, because the left half of the screen would focus perfectly but the right never did. We tried another film, and that one snapped. Yikes. We tried a third, which wasn't labeled and turned out to be fifteen of random Disneyland footage with no family members in view and no fast foward button to be found, and my grandpa was convinced he could focus it, so he never ended the eye-wrenching blurring in and out.

I feel so bad for my grandpa, because he really felt like he failed. I think it really gets to him when he can't do the same things that he used to be able to do. Like, the part of the machine where you stick the film in is a really small space, and he couldn't quite get his now arthritic fingers to guide it in. When people get frustrated with him and try to intervene, he just feels useless, you can see it. It kills me. But at the same time, he will literally do something for hours without asking for help, even when everyone is waiting on him, so sometimes we have to intervene, but it takes finesse. I did my best to convince him we had to stop because the projector lenses were the problem, so we'd need to rent one and do it tomorrow. But, if the lenses were warped, that means my grandpa didn't upkeep it as well as he should have. At least, that's what he thinks, so it's kind of no-win.

I love my grandpa so much...and I know he focuses on the handy-man/mechanic stuff because that's what he "does," that's his thing, so if he can't fix our broken doorknob, then he thinks, what good am I? Which is so ridiculous, but I get it. I also think he likes to take care of "his girls" (which is just a little funny, since we are a family of seriously tough women). Of course, it's mostly because of him that I was the only one in my dorm with a tool kit that I used (and was borrowed) numerous times, and that I could fix something simple like my broken screen door in Ohio, when my roommates wanted to call our maintenance man.

So, maybe I should tell him that? I'm extremely tired, so I hope this made a little bit of sense. We're going for Round 2 on the home videos tomorrow; I'll let you know how it goes. I'm also dying to photoblog, I got some great family pics tonight, but that will have to wait until next week.


At 9:17 AM, August 06, 2005, Blogger kmsqrd said...

Tell him. It doesn't have to come out all nice and pretty, but it will be a great boost that his thoughtfulness helped out as much as his ability to do the work.

Then, if he wants to share font of wisdom, see if you can't get him and your grandmother started on a book of things to know or even an autobiography.

At 10:19 AM, August 06, 2005, Anonymous shell said...

That's so sweet... I love this story. It gave me a warm and fuzzy feeling inside.

I love to talk to older people because they're a soft disposition and wonderful stories to tell.

It's always nice to tell your loved ones how much you appreciate them. When I told my grandpa how much I appreciated him teaching me math back in the days, he smiled happily. :D

It's just nice to know when someone thinks you're special, esp if it's from a grand-daughter.

At 10:22 AM, August 06, 2005, Blogger stag said...

Ha! I spent all of yesterday rummaging through my toolbox. (Mine was put together by my dad ten years ago.) I oiled up the doors and cabinets, ran cable lines going from the main room to each bedroom against the wall, even sawed two small holes in my bedroom door so I could hang something over it and still close the door. My roommate totally noticed all the little improvements and now keeps "borrowing" my nails and hammer. :)

Can't wait to see your pics!

At 2:22 PM, August 06, 2005, Blogger my detritus said...

I love this story. I wish you could have filmed Grandpa playing with the projector. That itself would make a great home movie someday.

As morbid as it is, I've been making it a point to ask my Grandpa to retell me old stories every time I see him. Then I rush off and scribble down the details and names when we finish our drinks. He knows exactly what I'm doing, though. He keeps giving me all kinds of old letters, photos, and assorted souveniers. It's pretty awesome.

OK, now I feel like I have to go look up cheap flights to visit him. How hot is it in Miami now??

At 2:24 PM, August 06, 2005, Blogger my detritus said...

Hate to go off topic, but Shell, how did you do hypertext in the comments? I know I'm dumb, so you don't have to say it.

At 3:11 PM, August 06, 2005, Blogger Heather said...

my d - that's really great. i keep wanting to make a family history, but i don't know, i guess it seems wierd to start now and try to remember everything he's told me. i'd like to have my grandma and grandpa start writing down stuff, even just a timeline, but i think that might be a lot of work for them.

also, for hypertext, you do it just the same as in your blog. like for a link, you'd do: open carrot, then "a href=" then the webaddress in quotes, then end carrot, then the name of the link you want to appear, then open carrot, "/a" then end carrot.

does that make sense? it's hard to describe when you can't actually write it out.

At 3:20 PM, August 06, 2005, Blogger Heather said...

oh, and i didn't get any video, but i took a ton of pictures of him putting together the projector.

it's funny because my grandpa is notorious in the family for taking a zillion pictures at every single family event. it drives my mom and grandma nuts, and now i've taken over his habit, ha. i took at least 30-40 pictures last night. i'll post them when i get back to dc.

At 4:31 PM, August 06, 2005, Blogger Chai said...

Unlike Shell, I am totally afraid of old people. I think I see so much in their eyes and it really scares me. Ironically, the older I get, the more I am understanding how older gen people feel about things like "those young ones" or "oi! my back hurts."

Your grandfather's attitudes sound exactly like my father's. As an engineer, he doesn't want to be told that what he is doing is wrong. A few days before the bar exam, he told me that the A: drive we purchased is wrong for the computer. So, I looked at the A: drive, and saw that he had installed it...upside down. And therefore, the disk wasn't going in. My dad laughed it off, but I knew inside that these small signs of age were killing him.

And my grandpa, same thing. He was the state champion for weight-lifting. And to this day (he's 70-ish), he still has to open all the jars, lift bags and boxes, and carry the groceries from the market.

We are all slowly getting older...

(Sorry for the long comment...)

At 6:52 PM, August 06, 2005, Blogger my detritus said...

so it's this:




At 6:54 PM, August 06, 2005, Blogger my detritus said...

shit. i'll practice tomorrow.

sorry for playing on your comments. i'll practice on my own. thanks!

At 7:07 PM, August 06, 2005, Blogger Heather said...

no worries, i emailed you a webpage with html code on it.

At 7:22 PM, August 06, 2005, Blogger cg-c said...

I loved your story. Thank goodness I have an aunt who's very into family history! Especially since my family is all over the states. I'm really thankful that before both of my dad's parents had passed she put together a wonderful family picture album with some priceless pics in it. Everytime I feel like I need to get out the emotions, I just go look at that picture album.

At 8:18 PM, August 06, 2005, Anonymous shell said...

My Detritus: You were almost there on the last line. There are only 3 things to fix.

Think of html code like a matching set of punctuations. For example, opening bracket needs a closing bracket.

1. You need an opening bracket "<" and an "a" before the "href"

2. Once you put the closing quote, you shouldn't put anything after that except for the closing bracket.
So, don't put the closing quote "/" after the closing quote and before the closing bracket ">"

3. You started with an "a"

The "a" in this case is the beginning of a function. When you finish this function, you need to tell the html that you're done. So you close it with a carrot-backslash-a-carrot.
The backslash "/" indicates that you are finished with the hypertext function.

Chai: If I recall correctly, when I was young, I used to be afraid of old ppl who I didn't know (e.g. non-relatives) because they liked to pinch my cheeks. But as I grow older, I enjoy their company because they are living history. And I LOVE history. :D

Heather: Your grandparents seem like real darlings. :) I'm looking forward to more family tales!

At 1:21 AM, August 10, 2005, Blogger my detritus said...

Hey Heather & Shell, look what I can do: I have NO idea why this is funny!!!



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