Graduation Mass Photos

Posted in Family Legends at 8:59 am

Drag your mouse over the slides to stop the show. (These photos have been extensively edited in PhotoShop (R) and then the resolution is really reduced. If you want the originals so you can play with them, let me know.[widgets_on_pages id=1]


The Party Photos

Posted in Family Legends at 7:52 am

I got the pictures back Tuesday of the Saturday party from Studio 6 Photography, in Englewood, NJ.

David, the owner & photographer, gave me the best deal – I get all the digital photos and the raw video CD. If I want pictures or finished video later, he’ll produce them at a very reasonable charge. I got them fast and at a great price. (It generally takes 2-3 times as long to process the videos and photos as it does to take them.) Best of all, Dave is such a great photgrapher that all but 2 out of 411 were already framed beautifully, perfectly exposed and completely in focus. (One of the two he repeated the shot immediately and the second was during an action scene of the murder mystery – simple cropping will make it perfect.)


Venice 1949

Posted in Family Legends, Uncategorized at 4:20 pm

In 1949 my father and two friends traveled by motorcycle from England, through Paris, Briancon and ultimately to Venice. Since my son is in Venice now I decided to post the pictures from the 1949 trip (most bought at the tourist stands).

Grand Canal – The Regatta

Grand Canal - The Regatta

St Marks Church

St Marks Church

The Grand Canal (Nottumo)

The Grand Canal (Nottumo)

Rialto Bridge

Rialto Bridge

Grand Canal Scalzi Bridge

Grand Canal Scalzi Bridge

St Marks Bassin & General View

Venice 1949 St Marks Bassin & General View

St Marks Bassin

Venice 1949 St Marks Bassin (Nottemo)


Where was this photo taken?

Posted in Family Legends at 8:43 am

Stan Dowler & 2 friends went on a trip from England to Italy after WWII.  Any clue where this could possibly be?

Mystery Location


Family Legends

Posted in Family Legends at 10:21 am

I went to a beautiful engagement party recently where the father of the groom stood up and made a lovely tribute to the couple and their extended families.  He included many touching details including the thought that he appreciated that as his wife had moved from the protection of her father’s house to his house in the seventies, his soon-to-be-daughter-in-law would move from the protection of her father’s house to his son’s. (Aside from the modest catcall that the groom might need protection from his red-headed wife, everyone smiled happily and bought in.)

No one thought too hard about the five years after high school graduation when the bride went to college in New York City  (where she met her finance).  All the youngsters no doubt left with the vague impression that their aunt or uncle were virtuously observing their religious upbringing and everyone was happy.

 Our family legends were somewhat different.  On my father’s side we had my father as chief legend spinner.  He had rather an aggressive sense of humor and had no trouble telling his children things like his grandfather had been the son in a wealthy family and had run off with the maid.  I remembered hazy details about the family going to Italy to have my grandfather and readopting hiim back into the family.  All these stories of life in the old world made perfect sense to his American-born children. After my father’s death I talked about the story to my aunt – the oldest sibling, with presumably the best grasp of family history. She was horrified.  The family came from a long line of solidly middleclass shopkeepers and she had the pictures to prove it.  So a legend bit the dust.

A few legends were social fictions – I learned when young that my grandfather had died of his war wounds – only when I was well into my forties did I learn that he had died in the ’50s after having served in WWI.  The injury to his leg was a much more palatable explanation than the prostate cancer that was the more proximate cause of death. Fortuantely my aunt chose to debunk this legend and broach the taboo after her husband also succumbed to prostate cancer. Despite the mortification she felt (& she did) she was more concerned that my brothers and son know their family medical history and therefore survive the family ‘curse.’

I treasure these legends – real and created. Now all I have to do is remember to pass them down.


Ghoststories & the 10-yr-old Techies

Posted in Family Legends at 8:50 pm

When I was young (9? 12?) we would occasionally have sleepovers with several kids. Turning the lights down, getting under the covers, we’d tell ghost stories and shriek when the tree branch rubbed against the window (or maybe it was my brothers, or a burglar – who knew?)

In a momentary fit of insanity I decided the day my two daughters were out on sleepovers I’d let my son have 2 friends over on the same night. Neither parent of the other two boys pointed out the glaring lapse of judgment so all the boys got ready for the night.

PJ’s, check. Wash feet, check (I don’t know why boy’s first move upon entering a bedroom is to stomp on the pillows their faces will go on in 2 hours, but they do.) Brush teeth. Try again. Check.

Now they start announcing they are scared. They discuss the need for bravery. They build a fort to guard themselves from the evil menace. They gather all their courage, enter the room, a menacing shriek is heard and they all run screeching from the room. Have shadows fallen across the window?

No. They have set up a ‘prank.’ When a computer key is hit a ghost pops up on the screen and gives a ghostly moan. I guess spooky branches have gone high-tech.

(In case you’re wondering – boys doing this for 2 hours definitely counts as an everyday disaster.)

Send Eco-elegant flowers



Posted in Family Legends at 6:57 pm

Windy's 9th BirthdayWe choose a Neuf because we always have numerous small guests underfoot (2-footed) and we lived next to a lake – although I never would have let my children go down to the lake alone, extra insurance never hurt.

Windy arrived as a small ball of fur (she never looked that beautifully brushed again) with paws half the size of my foot. Small is a relative term – even at 10 weeks she was bigger than the dogs of many of my friends. She was named after Windows 95 which had just been released. (My husband did not want to give the dog a name that could be confused with a person and my kids thought it was Peter Pan’s girlfriend). Everyone happy.

The question of using a city vet or a country vet was quickly settled – within hours of her arrival a bee stung her on the nose. Horror ensued, so we raced to the country vet (I don’t recommend the methodology but the choice was excellent.)

Windy fulfilled every expectation of protection one could hope for from a dog. We never had a single fear of being attacked by a new mailman. A 150-pound bear rug lying in wait for her daily cookie (freely dispensed by the regular guys) was an absolute deterrent to getting our mail whenever a newcomer had to deliver.

No one was going to drown in the lake on her watch. One foolish guest had thought about swimming across the lake in lieu of the laps he might have done in a pool. As long as he swam with his head out of water there was no problem. As soon his head went in the water Windy was off the dock and swimming over to him barking hysterically. When she stuck her head under his arm so that he could cling to her, he was a little slow about cooperating with the rescue. No problem – she decided that he might have been scared of her teeth so she swam with her tail in his face. Guest swimmer stood up (it wasn’t that deep near our house) explained he was OK and then started swimming again. She didn’t believe him and swan along him the whole way barking.

In some immaculate homes there is very little scope for job appreciation for the maid. They work all day dusting and cleaning and there really isn’t much of a visible difference. We did not have this worry in our home. Windy spent her days going outside to watch for the mailman or other friends, making sure to pick up as many leaves and sticks as possible in her fur. She would then come inside for a drink, a brief visit to check on the home’s occupants and to unload her fur. Some days I wondered if it would be simpler if I could just convince everyone that wood chips were the latest in organic home floor coverings. The maids would uncomplainingly clean every floor, thinking my children were exceptionally messy.

Things came to a head when we had a Hispanic dog sitter and the maids coming while we were on vacation. The maids finally asked the dog sitter if she were staying at the house or had had a large number of people there since the floors were so messy. The dog sitter laughed and assured them it was all just Windy.

In later years Windy had arthritis that the vet would prescribe medicine for when it was particularly bad. Despite the dangers of side effects, it really was a miracle drug. Windy would go from slow wanderings in and out of the house to little bounces of joy whenever a family member would approach. It also would give her the urge to wander.

I would get calls from the police saying that my dog had been reported wandering down the street. I would indignantly assure them that someone had not realized where Windy lived or had to have enticed Windy away since she could barely walk. After the third course of treatment (3 months apart) and the third call from the police I decided maybe the neighborhood kids weren’t trying to get Windy to play with them and she might really have been wandering. I did apologize to our policemen.

After what looked like a stroke Friday it looked like she might pull through and regain the use of her limbs. While she briefly improved Saturday it was clear that she was sinking again Sunday. After 12 and half years of living with Windy, we took her to the vet Sunday and said good-bye.

She was a wonderful dog.


Another Dee Story – Children Terrorizing the Maid

Posted in Dee Stories, Family Legends, Hiring A Maid at 11:33 am

Dee, a respectable matron whose words flow with the gentle music of the south, gave me another story of how she terrorized Ida, her family’s maid, and with the exception of her family, the most loved person in Dee’s childhood.

The day started innocently enough. Dee and a young man from next door were playing together. Ida fixed the two of them nice sliced bananas & mayo on soft white bread sandwiches for lunch. I am assured that this was a Southern favorite and really quite good. (I thought deep fried bread was good when I was young so who am I to make comments?)

After lunch, Ida left the butcher knife used to slice the bananas on the table to dry while Dee and her friend went out to run around the yard. Dee was soon hit with inspiration. She led her young friend into the house where she directed him to smear catsup on her arm and the knife. She then started screaming for Ida that there had been an accident.

Ida came running in, turned white (not her normal color), and raced for the phone. Ida and the operator did not enjoy a state of mutual respect (completely Dee’s fault) but the operator knew her job and connected Ida to Dr. Adams. Ida sputtered out the situation and the Doctor arrived in moments.

Dee and her friend were not idle. As fast as they could, they washed Dee’s arm and the knife and ran out to the swing. When Dr. Adams arrived they assured him that they didn’t know what Ida was talking about – Perhaps she had been napping and had had a nightmare?

When Dee’s father came home he didn’t know quite what to make of the story since he had Ida threatening to leave on one hand and a pair of children saying she had a nightmare on the other. Dee does wonder if her father was part of the growing crowd that thought poor, tee-totaling Ida was tippling on the job.

If you’re new – I wrote the How to Hire A Maid like a book. Click Table of Contents for future articles and links to old blogs in a more comprehensible order – or just click here & go to the bottom to read it straight through by scrolling up to each article.


A Boy and the Shower

Posted in Family Legends at 11:16 am

I’ve finally come to accept that my 10-year old son must be brain damaged. There were signs – he didn’t breathe on his own for the first week of his life, my darling friend Linda, a speech pathologist, gently pointed out at 18 months the fact that I understood his extremely complex grunt and gesture communication system did not mean that he was speaking normally, he spent half his life at school in remedial reading.

I was in denial. I clung to his 9o percentile plus scores on ERBs (standardized tests – well, except for spelling but what is spell-check for anyway?), his evaluations that said he was functioning at a 5th grade level in math in 1st grade, his obvious social presence.

This morning I walked into the bathroom he had just left. Looking at the pool of water on the floor I called to him that “that it is normally considered a good idea to keep the shower curtain in the bathtub.”

BeNetSafe - Helping keep children safe online He is a respectful boy. He paused for a moment’s thought (maybe it was a pause to finish his move on a computer game he shouldn’t have been on this morning, but I hope he was thinking about what I said.) “Why?” he asked.

Why???? I did not go berserk. I merely responded, “so that the water coming down the curtain goes in the tub and not on the floor.” (Did he not notice he needed a boat to get out of the bathroom?)

“Oh, . . . Sorry” was his reply.

Would it be a disaster if I blamed it on the male gene?


It’s Important Not to Let Your Kids Torture the Maid

Posted in Dee Stories, Family Legends, Hiring A Maid at 9:49 am

Dee’s Story

Dee is a respectable matron with a responsible position in municipal government, but she wasn’t always. In fact, Dee seems to have been a bit of a terror.

In the ancient times of party lines and B&W TV, Dee attended Kindergarten. Since she came from a well-to-do and progressive family her father would leave his stores to bring Dee home from school while her mother worked. There, their treasure of a maid, Ida, would keep an eye on Dee.

This was not always easy to do since Dee was very petite and liked to hide under furniture. In fact, her favorite spot was under the console that held the TV and the phone, armed with her alarm clock. Hardly a weapon of mental destruction unless Ida were sleeping on the job. (She wasn’t – she loved Dee and wanted to make sure she was safe.)

Secure under the console, Dee would ring the alarm clock. Ida, would immediately pick up the phone with a professional “Smith residence” (of course I changed the name – I like Dee too) which is what one did when one’s phone rang. The operator would ask, as operators did in those days, “What number please?” Forthwith would ensue a fight Lucille Ball would be proud of. Each heatedly accused the other of ringing first.

(Did I mention terror?) – Dee did this many times but Ida never caught on. I suspect both Ida and the operator to this day think the other was tippling on the job.

If you’re new – I wrote the How to Hire A Maid like a book. Click Table of Contents for future articles and links to old blogs in a more comprehensible order – or just click here & go to the bottom to read it straight through by scrolling up to each article.