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16 May 2006
I was really excited about Mothers' Day this year. My mother is always very difficult to get something for. It's not that she's fussy or persnickity or anything like that. She works for the Hospice of Marin thrift shop. This is an upscale thrift shop, in affluent Marin County, where often the relatives of someone who has received help from Hospice prior to their death will donate all of the decedent's clothing and shoes as a thank you. None of this threadbare, well worn stuff here. First class stuff, often never worn, at a tiny fraction of the original price. She can buy much better than I can afford, for a pittance.
At 86, she's at a point in her life where she's trying to get rid of the tsatskes that one collects over life, so some cutely little doo dad is not a good idea.
Though she has been a good cook throughout her life, she doesn't cook as much any more, so kitchen trinkets are out...and since she watches her weight, gourmet treats are also not a good idea.
She is a voracious reader and always has a jigsaw puzzle going, but those are two other things that she can pick up at Hospice.
I hit the jackpot on finding gifts in two different years. One year I got Web-TV for her and she's learned how to do e-mail and is able to read my journal every day.
Another year, I found out about the Ceiva electronic photo frame, which connects to the Internet and anybody who knows the password can upload photos to her frame. She gets 20 new photos every day, which play like a slow slide show throughout the day. The photos groups are recycled over and over again. She hasn't had any new pictures aded since the batch I uploaded after we returned from Boston, but there are 350 photos in the system now, so it takes awhile before they recycle back to the beginning again.
The Ceiva frame been a lot of fun and occasionally the kids upload photos. Once in a while my cousin uploads something. It's the gift that keeps on giving, and the monthly fee isn't all that much. (Great gift idea for anybody looking for something unusual!)
But ideas like those come through infrequently. I love my mother and I love to give her gifts, but it's often difficult to come up with something that feels right.
On Saturday, I set out to buy a card and on the way to the store, I tried, again, to come up with an idea for something special to get for her. The one thing I thought of was that she so often says that she wishes there were someone with a camera around to take photos of some of her plants when they bloom. She is an amazing gardener and plants that would die for most people, or which would go dormant at some point during the year, just bloom like crazy, year round.
I thought of getting her a disposable camera, but then I had the crazy idea of getting her a digital camera. I spent a lot of time looking at what was available in the store where I shopped and finally settled on the one that was the most like a point-and-shoot camera so that there would be very little "new" stuff to learn.
I really didn't know if she would use it, but I hoped she might.
She seemed genuinely excited when I gave it to her and I worked with her on taking a few pictures and showing her how to look at them in the camera afterwards. I put in an SD card, so I told her she didn't have to worry about prints at all, and that when either my cousin or I came down, we would help her get prints of the pictures she wanted to keep.
There is going to be a bit of a learning curve in how to actually take the photo. She hasn't quite figured out how to use the LCD screen, since she's so accustomed to using a view finder (though by the end of the day she was getting the hang of it), and after a few photos of her knuckle, she will probably get the idea about not putting her fingers in front of the lens, but I was just really tickled to watch her use it, to find things she wanted pictures of, and to begin figuring out the 3 buttons that she needs to learn in order to take and review photos.
I loved it when her friend showed up where we were having brunch and she decided to get a photo of her, and then show her how the camera worked.
It was just fun -- perhaps more fun for me than for her. I don't envision her using the camera a lot, but she might occasionally decide to take a photo and that makes it all worthwhile. Best of alll, when she has something that she "wishes someone with a camera would come along and take a picture of" she won't have to feel frustrated any more, because she can do it for herself.
We had a great brunch at the Peacock Gap Country Club in San Rafael. Mile and miles of food, unlimited champagne, and a nice piano player playing the background.
We took our time and had a leisurely meal, then went back to my mother's house, where Walt had a brief nap before we came home to set Peanut free (he was in the cage...he hates being in the cage, but now that he and Sheila have started playing together, I am uncomfortable leaving them unsupervised because Sheila could inadvertently do something to hurt him--she's just so big and he's so little).
I came home to telephone messages from Tom and from Jeri (Ned had called earlier in the day), from my sister-in-law, and from our Brasilian daughter.
All in all, it was a lovely Mothers' Day.
PHOTO OF THE DAY