Every year when we begin receiving Christmas cards with group photos of my friends with their families, I wonder, “How do they do it?”
No one contracted strep, had a work emergency, lost their dog, broke a tooth, wrecked the car, developed a rash or industrial-sized zit? Who is that extra person looking through the camera lens to make sure that no one blinks or scratches? For that matter, who remembered the camera?
We’re the family that forgets toothbrushes, underwear, socks, chargers, directions, and prescriptions, not to mention cameras. Nevertheless, when Dearly Beloved and I headed to West Virginia with a turkey, three desserts, the fixin’s for Thanksgiving dinner, and my new Point & Shoot camera, I had a secret goal: to get a family photo.
We had the shortest drive, so naturally we arrived last. Our kids and grandkids were already unpacked and settled into the log cabin for our “roughing it” holiday in the wilds of West Virginia.
Rough it, we did, except for the fully equipped kitchen that any restaurant would envy and a second partial kitchen thrown in for good measure. Oh, and there were the silky linens on the king-sized beds in such an abundance of bedrooms that we didn’t even use all of them. And I confess that there was a game room with pool table, a Wii, puzzles, games, and a couple of HD TV’s. Okay, and the large living room with plenty of seating and wonderful pond view, not to mention the hot tub, a jacuzzi, and a dining table large enough to seat all of us.
The view at sunrise:
It was just as beautiful and mysterious on a cloudy day.
The sales guy at the camera shop had told me that the DVD that came with the camera would explain all. Hah! Instead of answering questions, it kept asking them.
In desperation, I called a photographer who gives group lessons to sign up.
“Um… these are classes for people with SLR cameras to help them know which lens to use, etc. I’m afraid it won’t help you with your camera.”
He agreed to come and give me a private lesson. Dearly Beloved may never recover from my requiring an hour-long private lesson for a point and shoot camera. Truth is, I could use a few more hours.
Ironically, the guy’s first tip was, “Don’t even mess with the DVD that came with the camera.”
I snapped pictures by the dozen, but that group photo was more elusive than I thought. It wasn’t until the last hour of our togetherness that I managed it.
The house had an interesting checkout system. We had to be out by 11 AM, at which point the burglar alarm automatically reset and summoned the police if anyone tried to go in or out. We packed the cars by 10 AM and everyone assembled outside for the photo shoot with still time for one last trip to the bathroom before leaving.
I didn’t have a tripod, so that part was definitely roughing it. Son-in-law Dude took a photo of my work in progress, in case I decide to patent it.
The chair came from the back porch, but the stool had to be back inside the house before 11. The scarf was to keep my camera from sliding on the highly varnished stool and the cellphone was to hold it all in place. Rocks in the chair leveled the stool.
Everyone assembled on the steps. It didn’t exactly go like clockwork; I kept accidentally hitting the movie setting instead. When I found the correct setting, the 12-second delay gave me time to look through the mesh of the chair, click the button, and hobble through the pea gravel to a seat on the steps. It did not allow enough time to hide at least part of my ample thighs behind a couple of grandsons as I had hoped.
Still, the rest of the family achieved their final goal, too. . . that of going to the bathroom and getting that stool back in the house without being arrested.
Mission accomplished. When the going gets tough, the tough get going.