Wednesday, December 31, 2014

the last day of 2014

so I have been working so diligently on my photo scanning project I haven't had time to mention we have been out frequently before the crowds descend for "season" to some old favorites and to a couple of new places- including two really bad ones-

a taqueria that looked promising and was run by Mexicans - but I could cook better Mex than they were serving :-(

and a stupendously bad pizza place where the sausage pizza came with some weird chipped sausage that tasted like kielbasa--- yuck- we took half of it home and it went directly into the garbage...

then we tried yet another pizza place - because although we have a place we do like it is only open 20 hours a week (shades of Great Lake) so inevitably there are nights we want pizza and it isn't open... so we tried a place nearby called Bella Mia (OK not original but since it is old-timey they get a pass)

We liked the atmosphere and the server was terrific - the pizza not so much- I liked my margherita with pepperoni but Phil's sausage was somehow lacking in piquancy- the sausage needed to be spicier especially to offset the far too sweet red sauce... but they had things other than pizza so we may give it a second chance- especially since you can BYO for a corkage fee- (Neil sponsored the wine!)

excellent fresh garlic rolls-

we also tried Yummy House for lunch - because we had been for dinner and liked it but there is a huge hassle about this place - you have to reserve one week in advance if you want to make a reservation- the dinner was pretty  good but the lunch not so much- still searching for a great Chinese place in the area- something like our Chinese favorites in Chicago- Lao Sze Chuan and Sun Wah and Orange Garden! This shouldn't be that hard - but we might be reduced to PF Chang's - aaaaccccckkkk! but this picture will be a clue why we can't find good Chinese here- check out the clientele- all "round-eyes" - not too discriminating!

we also made it out for sushi - at the island location of Ocean Star---- that was good!

the giant roll at the bottom of the photo is the Hong Roll- and worth ordering!

we got back to Michael's on East for another dinner before the year is out- and had an excellent meal- this time we remembered to bring the wine- LOL

 starters of mussels and a seasonal salad with figs and walnuts-

 entrees of scallops and sea bass

we had Justin again for our server - he is not only excellent - he is knowledgeable enough about the wine to enjoy tasting what we brought- which showed really well...

 they had a deal at Costco for gift cards- so we used a couple of those...

we also had lunch at Moore's before the crowds - and dinner at Harry's where the guy at reception twirled our bottle of 1990 red burgundy Beaune Theurons - like a juggler - after we had it standing up to settle the sediment for about two weeks... so not cool - we had to go back to the car and get our back up wine and bring the wine home to stand up... again --- and the amazing thing is he didn't even comp the corkage!  incredibly bad form- Michael's would have 1. never done that and 2. been a bit more generous having once done it...

and of course we got to Star Fish for lunch along the way-

and google made a nice panoramic photo of the view from the screened porch-

and because we had nothing else to do- we began in earnest to plan our fall trip to Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova (with Transdniestria and Odessa)- not quite done with that and also planned a trip to Cuba for 2015 - a return for me and a new one for Phil (we hope to get Larry to join us)- the below photo is one of the drinks Jennifer and I had while on our Cuba trip in 2012!

so somehow another year has gone by - filled with lots of great times and creating wonderful memories for us. We wish you a very healthy and Happy New Year!!!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

so it was Aristotle...

a few posts ago I said I had begun a huge photo scanning project and the title was "once begun half done"... which I said sounded Ben Franklin-ish... turns out a little research shows that the phrase is based upon an Aristotle quote which is more correctly "well begun is half done.." but also is attributed in the form of "once begun is half done" to Mary Poppins... LOL

in either case- the truth is that once started things do by the very laws of nature tend to move to completion - a la "things in motion"- so at the point I posted on the blog about beginning the project I had done about 750 photos... in the middle I decided that there would be a much easier approach and more efficient overall - if I scanned and then went back and labeled - as once every thing was in my laptop I could work on the labeling process a little bit at a time- and it is much less work than the scanning which takes an inordinate amount of time due to changing between sizes of photos and color and black & white etc...

so where I am now is closing in on the end of the scanning that I can do here - I have roughly 2200 photos and what I have left are things that will not go through the scanner feeder and need to be done on a flatbed scanner (located in Chicago) - these are mostly really really old photos that are mounted on cardboard backing-  so I am estimating that there are probably another 100 of those and maybe another 100 slides (that one has me stymied right this minute but I am sure the Internet will have a solution for that) so - all in all- pretty much done.

so I will now treat you to some of the ones that caught my attention as I went along...

my grandparents wedding October 1926

my dad aged 7 with his big boy bike-

my girl scout mom in uniform - she later went on to become a troop leader for my sister's troop-

a holiday photo with my aunt - Phyllis

my brother (we thought he was the best toy we ever had gotten! so cute!)

one of our first vacations in Florida - at the Sarasota Jungle Gardens-

my brother's first day of kindergarten with all the neighborhood boys-(Jeff is second from the left)

and two to round out the post and get back to editing and labeling- my sister Janna and then her daughter Sarah- LOL both adorable babies!

so back to work... but as Mary Poppins promised: once begun.... and now I am more than half done!

Monday, December 29, 2014

an extraordinary ordinary woman

My mother died four years ago last Monday... and it is not an understatement to say I miss her every day. My husband tells me she is always with us (it has both overtones of religion and of psychobabble to me.) Yes I know she will always live on in my memories of her and her gene pool which continues in five grandchildren but still - she was such an amazing person that I feel like there is no way the "real" woman can be captured but hey I am just the kind of person who will try anyway- LOL...

My mother was born in 1930 - her parents met in Florida.  Her father had wanderlust and had set out from New Jersey on a tramp steamer for an around the world voyage and landed in Florida early in the journey. He met my grandmother, fell in love and headed north to marry and start a family pretty much immediately - obviously the hormones overtook the wanderlust at this point in his young life.

My mother was born something like ten months into the marriage in January 1930.... and they settled into routine family life. My aunt was born four years later. My grandfather worked for 47 years at the Cincinnati Bell Telephone company.  So far you would find nothing unusual about the story.  My mother was an excellent student but wasn't all that keen on school so she went off to Miami University for a year and decided that she was more interested in making money as she had with her part time job during high school (in retailing).

She returned to Cincinnati from Oxford Ohio (home of Miami University) leaving behind her boyfriend (eventually my father) to finish his senior year and graduate.  He started to work in the Cincinnati area and he proposed marriage in the most "romantic" of ways... he told my mother that they could get married if she found an apartment for $37.50 a month - LOL- that might have been the first time my father underestimated my mother but it certainly wouldn't be the last.

the wedding party- November 9, 1951

above with my father's parents and below with my mother's parents

here are a few photos of the apartment she found for 37.50 a month... this was one week's pay for my dad and my mom's pay went to savings to buy a house... and so she saved from November 1951 until the beginning of 1954 when they bought their first home so they could bring their first baby home to a house rather than an apartment.  (the period furnishings are so much fun to see - six decades later)

And after I was born my mother was a stay at home mom (that is a retronym of course because pretty much everyone was in the early 50s.) My sister was born 17 months later and by then my parents had saved enough money to buy their second home - a larger one - to bring the new baby home to... and by the time my brother came four years later they had built a new home for him to come home to as well.... so in the decade period of 1951-1959 they were building equity and net worth and a family.  My brother was born on the last day my father was 30... the day before he turned 31. These were goal oriented people folks- LOL... my dad always said he wanted to be done having babies by the time he was 30. And so he did and was... my mother was 29 when Jeff was born and now that they had a boy she was "done" as she later put it...

house #2 on Aspen Way - below and the back side of the photograph (obviously a note written by my mother's father to someone...not sure how I came to have it in my treasure trove of photos- which I am now in the middle of scanning...)

when  we were a family of four-

and then we were a family of five-

the three kids with my dad in front of house #3 at 5693 Woodhaven Drive-

so we were like most kids of our age category and birth cohort- we grew up in a suburban tract home and learned to swim at the local pool, learned to ride bikes, roller skate, build forts from hay bales on the farm behind our house which hadn't yet become another set of streets and houses. We had cats... we always had cats... a succession of cats...  Every Sunday we went to dinner at my grandparents house.

and then things changed in the mid 60s - and when my brother went off to school my mother decided enough of the mom thing and started working... I think given the timing that, although she never professed it, my mother was becoming a stealth feminist.  She went to school to get a real estate license and sold real estate when we lived in northern Ohio.

When we were in high school my mother advised my sister and I of several things that reinforce the stealth feminist theory... she told us to be sure to learn something so that we would always be able to support ourselves and make our own way in the world.  She also advised us to never learn how to iron or to type as this could lead to dead end jobs of housework and secretary... LOL which we always teased her about later in life when both my sister and I were attorneys and couldn't type at all. Fine when you had secretaries of your own but not so great upon the advent of computers and "keyboarding" LOL-  OK so she wasn't clairvoyant...

After we moved away when I was in high school, and moved then again as I started college, she worked in a succession of jobs... as a tax advisor for H&R bock, as a bookkeeper for a large men's clothing store, as a teacher's aide in special education, and as a buyer and manager of a women's retail store. When my parents retired she volunteered at the grade school on Anna Maria and also at the Chamber of Commerce.

below- my mother graduates from real estate school and works at the Thomas Reap Realty "Gallery of Homes"
the store she managed and bought for - "martha c."

My mother was a quiet rebel... she wouldn't make waves or a lot of noise but just go about doing things exactly the way she wanted.  She managed the family finances while my dad managed the investments. In 1983 she got a passport and started traveling the world.  Sometimes she would go with my father and sometimes with her father (who had never lost his wanderlust but simply put it on hold) and sometimes with her sister, Phyllis and then later with me as well.  She loved to travel - my dad not so much- he was a real homebody and would have preferred to work on his old cars and putter around the house than get on a plane to go to some country where it was a huge undertaking to get enough ice for his vodka tonics! LOL....

below - my mother with friends Rollie and Pearl Schwartz - she took her first trip abroad with them as part of the US Olympic Boxing team LOL- yes really and no I don't have time to go into every detail of my mother's fascinating life....LOL

My mother always did things her way - so she would just plan trips with other family members.  One of our first "girls trips" was to Washington DC and Williamsburg.  When I was in law school and my sister was about to start law school, she took my sister and I after having saved money for the trip from whatever her current job was... her treat!  This was the first and only time we did a girl trip with my sister, who, it turned out, was really like our father in that she just didn't see what the purpose of leaving home was... LOL while my mother and I went on to travel to a number of countries and many US cities as well on the years where foreign travel didn't meet our individual budget restrictions.

at some point - when we were all in college or grad school she went back to college to get a degree. my father groused about now having to pay for FOUR college tuition bills LOL- but he was proud that she was completing "unfinished business"

the family grew- we all got married and some got divorced and my brother and sister had kids- and she became a grandmother- a job she adored!

below at the christening of my nephew Mitchell in 1989

below- my mom and me in the era when we began to travel together frequently- in the earliest days I would buy the plane tickets so we could fly upgraded and she would cover hotels- later (when I had more income) we just paid our own way which made it a good deal because we always split the room - these days the whole room cost is on us- when Phil and I travel together LOL- not as inexpensive as a share- LOL

our first Europe trip together was in1993 to Germany with my Aunt Phyllis and cousin Chris but the next trip we took to Europe was 1995 and we spent three weeks in Venice and Florence- here is my favorite photo from that trip-  We always loved planning trips and deciding where to go and what to do.  And my wanderlust is a direct line from my grandfather to my mother and from my mother to me...  

even before she and I were traveling companions she and her sister were traveling together - here to Egypt in 1990....

her 75th birthday celebration at Harry's on Longboat Key- LOL by this time I have snagged a second husband - the photo is my brother Jeff (yes, we are all tall - my dad's business friends all called my mother Miss America because she was so tall for her age group - 5' 8") my husband Phil, me and my mom.

My mother was the person who ALWAYS saw the glass half full- she lived with a optimism that everything would be exactly as she wanted it to be for pretty much all of her 80 years.  She gave us many gifts along the way... but perhaps none so great as the belief in ourselves and our ability to create anything we want in our lives.

So it was a really bad year for her when we lost my sister at 54.  It was also the year that her health turned against her with a metastasis to her bones of breast cancer from a decade earlier.  She ended her life in her usual style - deciding exactly when she was ready and stopped the medical regime for the bone cancer and CHF and various other things- and she stopped eating and died about ten days later. I will miss her forever- an amazingly interesting woman.

Notes from friends poured in and many of them are in some of the earliest blog posts here-

and here-

She was so strong willed, that more than anyone I know or ever knew, she created her own reality. Not by being a bully about it by simply holding fast to what she wanted and believed.  And when she was done, she was done.