What If We Could Go Back in Time and Visit our Loved Ones?

Sunday, May 28, 2017
What if we could go back in time and visit our loved ones?  What if we could see them alive and smiling at us again? Sound too good to be true?  Maybe not!  On this Memorial Day weekend, I got to do just that. You can too!

I'm a firm believer in living life in the moment, savoring. I also believe in preserving for the future. Anyone who knows me knows I'm an avid photographer.  That addiction didn't begin recently; I've taken photos for as long as I can remember of people and places, still life and nature.  I come from a family where photos were taken of special events, family gatherings, family pets, etc...so I'm fortunate to have hundreds of old photos documenting my family's history.  I remember when I was in my late teens and early 20's it was not uncommon to pull out old photo albums after Sunday dinner with extended family and reminisce.  Once in a very great while my mom would set up the old Kodak movie projector and show home movies.  I still remember the sounds of those times......the whirring of the projector fan, the chatter of the film as it went through the reels, and most of all the laughter of family as we watched the old movies.

When our kids were smaller, maybe 4 and 8, we invested in a video camera of our own, one that used the small cartridges, like mini VHS tapes.  We used it for a few years, and then got out of the habit and went back to just taking photos.  For several years now, I've talked about having the tapes converted to DVD's.  I looked into a few places, more than a few times over the years, but never got around to it.  Eventually my video camera stopped working and since that was my only means of playing the tapes, I could no longer view them.  I had 15 altogether, birthday parties, my parent's 50th wedding anniversary, dance recitals, etc...all locked up in these cassettes.  Now that most of my relatives are gone - my dad, my grandparents, my aunts and uncles - those memories were even more important to me.  It seems as we age and approach what people refer to as our 'golden years', the past becomes more important.  The people, the memories attached to them are all a little more treasured, a little more fleeting.  I've always been sentimental, always a family girl but as I've aged I've gotten more so. Those times, those people in my family, some who've been gone many years now, hold a dearer place in my heart and it has become more important to me to introduce them to my kids and grandkids so they will know and appreciate the people who inspired me to be the person I am today.  Photos are certainly useful for this purpose, but home movies, well, they bring people to life.  I was going to bring my past to life!
When someone you love becomes a memory,
the memory becomes a treasure!
I'm sure you, like I, have seen all sorts of advertisements on TV and online for these big companies that send you a box to fill and return where all your media is converted to DVD.  Well, I don't know about you, but I wasn't comfortable shipping my life, my history, through the mail trusting it would arrive safely.  Also, I knew that several of my cassettes were only partially filled with recording. These big-box companies don't watch your tapes, they just record them, beginning to end, resulting in DVD's that are partly blank.  Thankfully, my mom found the perfect guy to bring our history back to life.  She found Ed Deet of Video View Productions in Waterford.  With over 30 years of experience in videography, Ed is skilled in every aspect of the video world.  We made an appointment to meet with Ed and within minutes of conversation, I was confident our final product would be everything I'd hoped it to be.

We'd brought Ed 15 super eight cassettes ranging in date from 1987-2002 and in about a week, we got an email that our job was completed!  Ed transferred all of our movies onto DVD's, divided by chapters (the perfect way to make sense of short pieces of events).  These 15 cassettes were transferred onto 15 DVD's of varying length, labeled by chapter and all together totaling 39 hours of play.  Now, instead of picking up a blank cassette without knowing what is on it, we can choose a DVD from the case, read the label and select exactly the DVD and chapter we want to watch.  And watch we did!  We haven't finished watching every DVD yet but have seen several.  We were so thrilled to be able to see so many loved ones and friends again - laughing, talking, living in these memories that we decided we'd have my mom's old movie reels transferred as well.

So a week later we packed up about 19 reels, large and small, and brought them to Ed to be transferred.  Now these movies were much older.  In fact, almost all of them were from the early 1960's, some faded, others worn from age.  It's been at least 20 or more years since I or anyone had seen any of these movies.  My grandparents have been gone since 1963, 1972, 1977 and 1989. I was so anxious to be able to see them come to life again, if only on the TV screen.  Well, on Friday we picked up our finished product from Ed.....history documented and come to life on a DVD!

Our 19 reels all transferred onto one DVD, again divided by chapters (reels).  On the screen appears a movie clip for each reel (chapter) so I could watch reel by reel selectively or as I did....watch from beginning to end.

Not only did Ed transfer the movies, he restored the color so beautifully one would think the movies were made yesterday.  He also added a very pleasant background music.  And before my eyes, with the touch of the remote, my past became my present.  My grandfather who died when I was 8 was swimming with me in Saratoga Lake.  My dad was sitting in his fishing boat, relaxed, flashing his handsome smirk at the camera, an animated smile I haven't seen since 2008.  Christmases of my childhood were relived, family gathered around picnic tables at our camp on Saratoga Lake, Duke our family beagle all brought back to life on the screen before me.  Then for a brief moment on the screen, a moment originally spliced from my grandmother's cousin's film years ago, was a brief but precious few seconds of my brother, Gary, (pictured at the top of this post) who died before I was born.  Those seconds, the only seconds of film we have of him, were worth the cost of having all 19 reels transferred.  There is no way to adequately describe the sea of emotions I experienced watching these movies.  We can't bring people back, but I can say without a doubt, having these movies is the next best thing.  I watched this DVD three times on Friday and each time, although a bit sad and very melancholy, I was so happy we finally got these movies transferred.
The best gifts in the world are not in
the material things one can buy in a store,
but in the memories we make with the people we love.
    -Amanda Boyarshinov

If you have old movies, get them transferred to DVD.  If you have video clips on your phone...save them to a more permanent medium.  Photographs are a great way to preserve memories, but nothing compares to live action movies.  Your life today is your history tomorrow.  It is your story - the story your descendants will want to see and hear someday.  What better gift could you give than this?  If you have any of these on old mediums......Ed Deet is your guy!  I wouldn't trust my life, my history, my old movies to anyone else.  Ed watches each film as it is reproduced. Your finished product will be clean and smooth, color restored and free of skips and blank spaces.  Presented in a beautiful case, what a great gift to give someone in your family!  Ed is great to work with, very reasonably priced and very prompt with your finished product.  I can't recommend him highly enough.  For all sorts of video projects, check out his website today. We may have to wait for heaven to meet our loved ones again, but in the meantime we can do a little reminiscing today!  Don't wait....do it now!

Tranquility and Nature Join Forces at the Beautiful Round Lake Preserve

Wednesday, May 24, 2017
A couple years ago I wrote a blog about the new and beautiful Round Lake Preserve. At the time I had very mixed feelings about sharing this beautiful resource - not because I didn't love it, I didn't want to share, I wanted it all to myself.  There's that only child mentality creeping in. ;)  But I wrote about it anyway and although it's been a couple of years since it opened, it seems to still be a pretty well-kept secret.  We rarely run into anyone when we're there, and if we do, it's only a person or two. Perhaps that's because everyone is crowding the beautiful launch site on Route 9 (another of my favorite spots to sit and enjoy nature and people watch), but if you're searching for a tranquil, natural area that is filled with sounds of nature and unspoiled land and water, the Round Lake Preserve is such a beautiful resource.

The 90 acre preserve was once destined to be a residential development.  Taken straight from the Saratoga Plan website:

"With a long term partnership envisioned, Saratoga PLAN and the Town of Malta acquired the land that now makes up the Round Lake Preserve from the Sweeney family in 2008.  They have worked together to preserve this land adjacent to Round Lake and Anthony Kill, protecting significant natural and archaeological resources.  The resultant Round Lake Preserve provides multiple passive recreational and cultural opportunities to the community including, but not limited to, improved site access, a formalized parking area, accessible trails, boardwalk, fishing access and viewing areas; educational opportunities and a car-top boat launch."

Finding the preserve is a bit tricky until you've been there once or twice.  As you drive Route 67 from Route 9 towards Mechanicville, the Round Lake Preserve sign will be on your right just about the time you can see the Sweeney Farm up ahead on your left.

You'll travel down a long gravel road through the open farm field until you come to the first parking area, complete with picnic tables and informational placards. 
Go a little further and you'll come to another parking area, then a drop off area where you can launch a kayak or canoe and finally a beautiful boardwalk to the water.


Beautiful adjoining fields at sunrise!

Round Lake Preserve

Whether you're looking for a quiet waterway for a little kayaking or want to throw in a line for a little fishing, or maybe just a quiet place to commune with nature, the beautiful and tranquil Round Lake Preserve will not disappoint.  Just another local gem in this beautiful area of New York State, check it out today!

Thanks for reading.  To read my earlier post from the preserve with more history of how this resource came to fruition, use the enclosed link:

Thanks for reading and don't forget to visit again for more Life As I See It!

Enjoying a Perfect Spring Day on a Road Trip Through Easton

Monday, May 15, 2017

Rain, rain, go away....I hate to be a complainer but really....I'm looking foward to the sunny days that have been promised for the rest of the week.  We did take advantage of one beautiful day last week and took a ride to the country.  One thing I love about living in the Northeast where we experience four seasons is that we get to enjoy (and photograph) our favorite places in different seasons and backdrops. Surprisingly, as many posts as I've written about Easton, NY, we'd never actually toured during spring or summer so we've been looking forward to checking out the view covered in spring blossoms and shades of green.  I can say we were not disappointed.  A beautiful view is a beautiful view in any season and as you'll see, that's true of Easton.
I always say that photography helps me to 'see' the world with new eyes, a sort of magnified vision. It also helps me to see things I'd probably not notice were I not looking for photo ops.  Like this photo...
I don't know why, but this scene just screamed to me to be captured.  Were I not traveling for the purpose of capturing images, I'd probably not have even noticed it.  That's what blogging does for me.  It gives me inspiration to notice the world around me and share that world with all of you.  Life today is so busy, so full of commitments, that unless we make time to, we just go from one task, one commitment to another without taking time to enjoy the world around us.  Luckily I take enough time enjoying it to make up for most of us ;) and I'm going to share it with you - one road trip at a time!

 My favorite is still standing....
 A very special friend and the Visitation Minister from my church, Brother Paul, sketched this masterpiece for me recently.  Talk about talent!!  Thanks to him, my favorite Easton building will now stand forever - at least on my wall.

Cow and cowbirds!

There's something so peaceful, so calming about a ride through this countryside.  Maybe it's the view for miles, the untouched, unspoiled land for miles, or perhaps it's the quiet of the country but I could spend a million afternoons riding these back roads.  I know progress must be made and cities must exist but I hope I don't live long enough to see the view here any different than it is today!  Thanks for coming along for another ride through Life As I See It in the beautiful Easton, NY.  If you're interested in comparing any of these shots with their winter counterparts, use the links provided below.

Shhh....I don't want to say it too loud, but I believe I see the sun shining.
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