Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Phantom of the Gas Station

Yesterday on our way home from the airport with Nathan, I noticed I was running a little low on gas; I pulled into a station but before I could even get out of the car to start the pumping process, I glanced in my side mirror and noticed something.

Something startling!

Something alarming!

Something scary!

I am here to tell you with absolutely no equivocation that in that very moment in history I, Rebecca Campbell Smith, caught a rare glimpse of the legendary and secretive Phantom of the Gas Station!

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It was an amazing moment. A stunning moment. And also life altering. I mean, how many of you have been privileged to lay eyes on such a rare phenomenon?

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I yelled for Sarah to hurry up and look too, so that I could have corroboration on this fabulous sighting. She is now prepared to back me up concerning this event in a court of law, should that become necessary.

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As we continued to watch this amazing scene unfold, the Phantom’s visage suddenly came into view.

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And then? And then! The Phantom! He spotted us!

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He saw that we were watching him! And he made a Phantom-esque face at us!

And we squealed like girls! (Well, we are girls.)

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And then to our great relief, the Phantom smiled. And suddenly we realized that it was not the famed Phantom after all. It was just Nathan.

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Good ol’ Nathan.

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The (cute and beloved) Phantom of the Gas Station.



From the Comments Section . . .

Lizz said, Oh my oh my! I REALLY wish I could go to your church! Looks like such a great place and a great pastor! I like a pastor that has a sense of humor! He seemed like he hadn't even been so horribly sick just days before! What a guy. He reminds me of my daddy...CA-RAZY!!! :)

Lizz, it’s funny you should mention that it seemed like Steve hadn’t been horribly sick a couple days earlier. When he was practicing that song and dance number on Saturday night with the “hippo,” he was so terribly out of breath during rehearsal that it was downright disconcerting! All that “output” plus very little food for several days really sapped his strength.

By Sunday night, after a little more rest and a couple more meals under his belt, he managed to (thankfully) make it through the routine with just a wee bit of breathlessness.

And I agree that is certainly a pastor with a sense of humor! :-)

Ann asked, “Is it tree decorating night with pancakes? I know Nathan is a little late coming home so you may have done it without him this year.”

Ann, you have a good memory and you’re absolutely right! Last night was, indeed, tree decorating night, preceded by pancake making. Even though it put the decorating pretty near Christmas, we wanted to wait for Nathan to get home before we did it. I’ll post pictures soon.

Camera Talk

Note: According to my shipping tracking info, the camera is supposed to arrive before 7 pm tomorrow. It’ll probably take me thirty minutes to get up enough courage to turn it on!

I’m so intimidated! And also so excited!

Marysienka said, “Congrats on the new camera!!!! You'll have sooo much fun :) What kind of lenses do you get with it?

That’s a question that sort of makes me nervous to answer since I truly don’t have any idea what I’m talking about. Just so that I don’t goof up entirely trying to describe it all, I’ll just copy and paste the info from the order and see if that makes any sense to you camera pro’s out there.

1) Nikon Nikkor 55-200mm Zoom Lens features VR Image Stabilization, f/4-5.6G, IF-ED, AF-S, DX

2) 18-55mm VR Lens

I’m still not quite sure if I’m going to keep both of those lenses or return one of them and get a 35 mm or 50 mm “fixed” lens in its place. (Or maybe the term is “prime” lens and not fixed lens? As I said, I have a lot to learn!)

Rachel said, “You are going to love your DSLR. I have the Pentax Dx and I love it. The most wonderful thing about a DSLR, I think, (other than the quality of the pictures) is that you turn it on, click the shutter button and the thing actually takes the picture immediately. No "blink blink blink I just have to charge the flash please wait" (and by then your subjects have moved or completely left the photo shoot area! LOL).

Rachel, I cannot begin to tell you how many hundreds of times I have had that very thing happen to me and have muttered to myself, “At some point in my life, I am going to acquire the knowledge and the camera to take pictures without this delay always happening!” Drives. Me. Crazy.

Of course, once I gain some additional knowledge about the technical side of photography, I think I’ll be able to make my beloved, purse-riding “point and shoot” camera be a little more user friendly in that regard, as well.

Anonymous said, “Becky, I really don't mean this to be snarky, and worry about how to phrase it so that it conveys my heart in the question. There are a number of things that our family needs and wants just now. Should I develop a blog and then ask people to give me money so that I can get those things?


Yes, it's lovely that folks have given you well over $600 (depending on lenses, maybe over $1000) so that you can have a camera, but . . . honestly, I struggle with the way that you ask for such things. And yes, folks made 'donations' over the cost of the CDs, but . . .


Our family sure won't be receiving a fancy camera just in time for the holidays. I dunno . . . it just rubs me the wrong way to hear you basically ASK us to give you gifts.


Again, I don't mean it to be snarky. Lucky you - you have a new camera.
I guess I'd feel better if your plugs for gifts for yourself were actually gifts for OTHERS.”

Anonymous, thank you for taking the time to write and graciously express your reservations about the camera.

While I certainly can’t say I know exactly what you’re facing right now, I will say that at various times in my life (as a child AND as an adult), I have had Christmases where there was barely enough money to pay the bills, let alone buy Christmas presents; it’s a frustrating and scary place to be. I’m truly sorry things are difficult for you and your family right now.

Since you asked honest (gracious) questions, I feel like you deserve honest (gracious) answers:

1) Steve and I could not agree with you more about the importance of giving gifts to others. We have given away (completely free) over a thousand of our “Like A Blanket” CD’s (mentioned on the blog) to cancer kids, pediatric hospitals and to families facing stressful situations of various kinds.

We LOVE to give and even in the past few days, have given gifts to people who are struggling. Giving is a privilege and it is also a joy. In fact, the ten (or so) people who donated toward the camera purchase have told me what great joy they got out of being able to help with this project.

2) I think the fact that what I purchased was a camera and not some other item is also important to this conversation.

I have some readers who have been following our family’s story for almost eight years; I’ve gotten to meet some of them in person and have developed e-mail relationships with others. After so many years, I feel like so many of my blog readers are honorary Smith family members.

I think that part of the reason people have read this blog for so many years is because of the pictures and--as it turns out--most of the pictures I take are for the blog! So I guess I felt okay getting a little extra help with a “blog related purchase,” since it’s my readers who will be the ones to enjoy the results of the camera.

Now if I had asked for a new wardrobe or a vacation to the Bahamas—THAT would be another issue altogether. :-)

(And on that same subject, I already had some money saved up for the camera; the camera’s cost was only partially covered by my blog readers.)

_________________________________________

Before I close, here’s a picture of Snowy, faithfully guarding Steve and Sarah during a “post decorating the tree “ sofa snooze. Good thing our family has such a faithful and ferocious watch dog on duty!

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24 Had Something To Say (Just click here!):

Deb said...

Great job on answering the camera/asking for gifts question.

Just for the record, I'd like to say that I've known you for all of my 43 years and Steve for close to 30. I can say without reservation that you both are two of the most giving, generous and thoughtful people I know.

Love, Deb

Anonymous said...

I have never met you. I found Sarah's caringbridge site through my nephew's. I don't even agree with every post. Gasp! I read for entertainment and to keep up with Sarah. I was one of the "stalkers" when Snowy was having so many issues because I know how much I love our little dog. I don't think any rational person expects you to justify your camera purchase. I have never felt like you were "asking" for money. I also think that you would not be the person I assume you to be if you listed every giving thing you do on a daily basis. Anyone that begins their comment with, I don't mean to be snarky, does. Your response shows your true heart. Full of grace.

Anonymous said...

I am here to agree that you handled the camera question with complete kindness and grace. I love your blog and how you share your family with us. I love how your blog makes me laugh and cry. I love how you immediately sent my Mom the "Like a Blanket" CD when I let you know of her diagnosis. I even hope to be able to meet you guys one day, because it almost feels like I know you. You have been kind to answer every e-mail I've ever sent. Thanks for just being you, Becky! Lots of love ( LOL) <<one of my favorite blog stories.
~Kim from Kingston TN
W8k@aol.com

Levelle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Levelle said...

Wow! Merry Christmas to the snarky Anonymous poster. I have never posted here before, but I was completely offended by your comment. The Smith family is loving and giving as are their "followers". Congratulations to you Becky on such a kind and gracious response. I'm not so sure I could have done the same.

Merry Christmas!

Anonymous said...

Early merry Christmas to the Smiths. And you are both very giving people. You have offered me a cd, but I had to say no thanks. I have been following your blog since 2005 and like others I do not feel you were "asking for money"

Trine

P.S Becky, did you get my email? :)

Anonymous said...

I think there is some truth to the snarky comment post as I too have felt you were asking readers for money to purchase material items. It did need to be addressed so you are aware of the perception.

Happy holidays!

Anonymous said...

Anon: I am so sorry that this Holiday Season is going to be a difficult one for you. I hope that your family at least has their health because, really, that's more important than any amount of money can buy; and I am sure Becky and Family could tell you that. Becky never asked for any $$ just suggested her CD's and books as gifts. People do what they want and I am positive that Becky didn't coheres (that looks wrong) anyone into giving her money. And her CD, "Like a Blanket" is awesome (coming from a Jewish Girl); which by the way was given to me just because they thought I would enjoy it during a difficult time.

Again, I hope that your family is healthy and you can celebrate that this year and hopefully next year would be better. I don't mean to be rude or crass but I know my family would give up everything if I could be healthy/well (at least 18 hospital stays in the last three years), my aunt didn't have cancer, and that my brother was not recovering from a serious accident (he was hit by a car).

Happy Holidays to the Smithellaneous Family!

Jodi

Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot. Now I have Phantom of the Opera running through my head....only its Phantom of the Gas Station...haha
Bridget from Canada

Anonymous said...

Becky and all, my questions were genuine ones, and contrary to the person who said I MEANT to be snarky, not at all. It's hard to convey tone in a written communication.

Becky, we just view it differently. You justify asking for donations because your blog readers will benefit from seeing nicer photos. Well, I daresay that most of us would keep reading regardless of the quality of the photos because we've come to enjoy you and your family. We've followed your journey through Sarah's illness and have rejoiced with you and cried with you and prayed for you. We are here because we care.

Becky, we view this one issue differently. I've seen you list your address if folks want to send monetary donations when your family was having a hard time or want to send a birthday card/gift to Sarah, or to buy a camera. In fact, someone actually sent you a point and shoot when you had camera problems. Obviously there are lots of folks who want to do just that for you.

My comment about benefitting others is that I've seen wonderful blogs where the authors use their voice to do for others. See Eugene Cho for a powerful example of that.

That's all. I appreciate you taking the time to respond to my very genuine question. It was sincerely asked, and was sincerely answered.

Merry Christmas to you and your family. And our family is doing just fine. We have financial challenges and a house that desperately needs help, but we have a roof over our heads, food to eat, a Christmas tree, employment and lots and lots of love.

Anonymous said...

Anon 5:01

I am so glad to hear that you have a roof over your head, food to eat and good health.

Isn't a wonderful thing that for the most part, that we can say what we want (even if our point of views are different) and still feel like part of the family?

Take care and happy holidays.

Jodi

Anonymous said...

I guess I get why you are moderating the comments but it seems like selective moderation.

Pictures on th eblog are nice but not why people come and general public could give a hoot about type of camera used.

Anonymous said...

Becky, what I really respect about this post is that you were gracious enough to respond. Her comment was respectful (although I don't agree with it) and your answer was just as respectful. You could have deleted the comment and moved on and you did not. I really admire you for that. I have never felt like you were asking for money. I'm also certain that you would be one of the first people to help any of us if we asked. You have a wonderful family and I have enjoyed this blog for years. So...you ENJOY that camera girlfriend!
Jodi

Anonymous said...

Jodi, thank you. anon.

Ann Martin said...

Merry Christmas to all and a blessed New Year. So glad you finally got your desired camera, Becky. I got one a few years ago (Canon) using money my Daddy had given me because I wanted something I could keep from him. He passed away Aug. 6, 2009, shortly before your Dad did, and every time I use the camera I think of him and my love for him and his love for me. Enjoy. I still have a lot to learn.

Anonymous said...

Anon: 9:29

Your welcome! But for what? LOL!

Be well!

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