Monday, January 15, 2007

My new toy

Every girl needs new toys and, while I treated myself to one last week, it's not so much a fun thing as a fun, practical thing.

Over the years we have utilized three video cameras to record our family's comings and goings. Vacations, Christmases, birthdays, basketball games, Eagle Scout Courts of Honor... we are a veritable time machine. But, as the advertisements are quick to tell us, video tape will erode and so the smart consumer transfers the tape to DVD.

There are two ways to do this. The first, having it commercially done, is $30 a tape. You must hand over your supposedly irreplacable video to a clerk at a camera store or trust it to the mail and hope to get it back in a month. I tried this with a tape I thought we could afford to lose and was not impressed with the results. The argument can be made that it was bad to start with, which is what the snippy note in the box said.

I counted our tapes (over 30) and chose Door Number 2, the purchase of a machine to convert VHS to DVD. Cost of such has dramatically dropped in the 18 months I've been contemplating this, from over $400 to under $300. Last week, I bought. And I've been trapped in a time warp ever since.

I decided to start with a Christmas tape from 1986. The sons were 9 and 7. Romping across my in-law's living room was all the chaos we have come to expect from a Sisk Christmas. With the exception that we were all younger and skinnier, it could have been a month ago. The kids were handing out the presents, the adults were clowning around as their pictures were taken, and everyone was watching out for the toddler cousin. And there, sitting on the couch, was my mother, dead almost 10 years now, and behind her at the table, my husband's grandmother, gone since 1989. Notable also was who wasn't there, the children yet unborn. It took 15 minutes to transfer and I showed it to my in-laws Saturday night as we celebrated my father-in-law's 80th.

This morning, I put in Christmas 1985. We were more adventurous that year: I set the recorder up in the corner of the room and let it run. I'm three hours into it now. There was greeting, eating, opening, playing 42, the slow progression of a Christmas Eve. I doubt I'll ever sit and watch it, but it is comforting to know it exists, saved now for posterity on DVD.

Until the next thing comes along.

Twenty years ago I transferred my dad's 8mm movies to VHS. These involved Little Kay and her sister running to the Christmas tree with all sorts of glee and greed in their eyes. There were birthday parties, vacations, school productions... I think I see an inherited pattern here. Twenty years ago, that was a time warp too.

And you can bet it's going on DVD.


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