Monday, December 16, 2013

#MyFirst ... Time Drunk

It's that time again - when I take up Kerri Sackville's challenge. Each week on her website Life and Other Crises, she relates one of her firsts. This week it is her first time drunk.

You need to know that I come from a family that generally doesn't drink. It's not that we had any issues regarding alcohol, but it just wasn't something that was part of our every day lives. Even at weddings and Bar Mitzvahs, my dad would prefer a soft drink. My mom, however, would get an alcoholic beverage at these affairs, and even introduced me to the joys of gin and tonic on a hot summer afternoon when offered by a neighbor.

The legal drinking age in New York State at the time was 18. (It was later raised to 21 where it stands now.) My 18th birthday came while I was in college ... and that college was 90 miles north of NYC where I lived/live. I was away from home, living in a dorm. I was 17 - younger than most - when I entered college in September of 1970 ... not that it stopped me from having a drink or two when I first arrived.

However, on February 25, 1971 I turned 18 and was about to take part in a very traditional rite of passage. The college was located in a small farming community in the Mid-Hudson Valley, and like any college town, had it share of bars. You could roll down Main Street and go from one to the next - and many did ... quite literally. On the night of my 18th birthday, my friends saw to it that I did!

It was a bitter cold winter night as we walked down the hill from campus to town, arriving at P&G's, the first stop of the night. None of us had ever heard the phrase "bar crawl" and I am not even sure that it had been coined yet, but that is what we did that night. My friends saw to it that my hand always had a drink in it ... most likely an apricot sour which was what I mostly drank during my college days. (Was not a big fan of beer.) We visited places with names like P&G's, The Homestead, and other college town bar names.

I'll be honest, my memory of most of that night is a bit sketchy ... I know, big surprise there! However, the next thing that I knew, I was back on campus (I have absolutely no idea how I managed to get up that steep hill ... I am pretty sure I wouldn't have been able to walk it by then) and standing in front of a friend's window in the girls' dorm! My male friends who had taken me out that night had apparently abandoned me at some point ... I think. (Most of the dorms had gone co-ed the year before, but there were still 2 all girls dorms, and they were locked at night.) It was bitterly cold out by now - though I wasn't feeling much pain to be honest - and I wanted to get inside ... so I started singing! It couldn't have been good! My friend Cindy opened her window and kept telling me to shut up ... but the cacophony continued until she finally came to the front door and let me in. By this time, her roommate Lynn and hallmate Barbara had joined the party. The last thing I remember that night was sitting on the floor in the hall outside of Cindy's room saying "I can't believe I am sitting on the floor!"

I can't tell you what happened after that ... not that I don't want to share, but I honestly have no memory of anything until waking up the next morning in my own bed in my own dorm room.

Hanging on the hook by my closet - or more likely perhaps, on the floor of my room ... the details are a bit foggy you see - was my Canadian Air Force parka that I was wearing that night. It was very similar to what you see here, except that it also had pockets on the sleeves. I am not sure what time it was that I picked it up ... I can't imagine that I was actually planning on going to classes that day ... but when I did, it made the strangest sound, considering it was a coat made of fabric, goose down and rabbit fur. This certainly wasn't the sound you would expect those soft materials to make when rubbed together.

It seems that after I had consumed each drink, rather than placing the glass back on the bar and moving on to the next one, I was methodically placing each glass into one of the huge pockets of my parka! There was a glass in each of the sleeve pockets, and more than one in each of the pockets on the front of the coat! I now had a full set of bar glasses.

I am not sure at what point that had started to happen but I am sure that for at least the first few drinks, I did indeed place the glasses back on the bar. I didn't waste much time thinking about it, however, and proceeded to empty my pockets and line the glasses up along the window ledge in my dorm room, where they remained - at least until the end of that school year as sort of I trophy I suppose. I then decided to do the only logical thing that an 18 year old in my condition could possibly have done at that time of the morning (or was it afternoon?) ... go back to bed!

Cindy has remained friends with my wife (who also attended the same college and was part of the same group of friends - though she and I hadn't started dating yet at the time of my 18th birthday) and myself since our college days. (Cindy was Maid of Honor at our wedding.) Lynn and Barbara had been out of touch with us for more than 40 years, but have now reconnected and we have all gotten together recently to catch up and reminisce. And yes - this one night was still a topic of conversation.

The next time I got drunk was in Rome, Italy, but that - as they say - is a story for another time.

(If you haven't yet, why not stop by and visit my main blog Thoughts From The Dark Side and get to know me a bit.)

Sunday, December 15, 2013

#MyFirst ... Fulfilled Wish

It's that time again - when I take up Kerri Sackville's challenge. Each week on her website Life and Other Crises, she relates one of her firsts. This week it is her first fulfilled wish.

Sure, there were other small wishes growing up - like the things I wanted for my birthday, but I have already covered that in #MyFirst Obsession, and in a way, this might be considered related to obsession (and photography) as well. However, this was a big wish ... and one that I thought would never be fulfilled.

Like most kids my age - in the US at least - I grew up knowing that my Sunday nights would mean watching Walt Disney and Ed Sullivan. Naturally I was more interested in Walt than Ed, though I did enjoy Topo Gigio. But of course it was a different mouse that I looked forward to seeing, and that was Mickey. Over the years Walt Disney's presence on Sunday night was legendary. Although the name of the show changed many times, my favorite segments were always those that showed Walt's "little park", Disneyland. I loved watching all of the rides and attractions, and the people enjoying them. The only problem was that Disneyland was on the totally opposite side of the country, so while I enjoyed watching the shows about Disneyland, I never seriously thought I would be there. People really weren't in the habit of flying for vacations yet. And this being the fifties and the sixties, there was still only one Disney theme park. I watched all the TV shows about it, I read all the books and stories about it, but still ... I wished I could see it in person!

I watched with great excitement as Walt talked about four new projects though. He told us that a lifelike Lincoln who would stand up and speak was being developed. And how about that ride where you would drive a car through history, from the dinosaurs to the caveman to the present and the future? Or that other history ride where you would sit in a theater which moved from scene to scene from the beginning of the twentieth century to the very modern present of 1964!! And finally he told us about a boat ride through the countries of the world - with little children singing a wonderful Sherman brothers' song. (Shhhh ... I heard that!)

What made this so exciting for me was the fact that I would actually be able to experience all of these attractions! They were being prepared for the State of Illinois, Ford Motor Company, General Electric and Pepsi/UNICEF. They were going to be at the 1964/1965 New York World's Fair, and since I lived in New York City I knew I would see each of them a number of times. And I did.

And then, before school was out for the summer of 1968, my parents (teachers by profession) informed me and my brother and sister that we would spend our 10 weeks of summer vacation driving cross country. You know what that meant? We would be in California ... and Disneyland was in California. (Oh yeah, a few other things as well, but ... Disneyland!!!)

The end of June came ... school was out for the summer ... and we were on the road! Yes indeed we saw some great things on the way out there, but Disneyland was the "wienie" as Walt would have put it. And then, on July 26th, 1968 the day came that I finally got to go to Disneyland. (I just realized for the first time that 10 years to the day later, my daughter - the current Walt Disney World Cast Member - would be born.) I remember the excitement as we saw the Disneyland sign from the highway ... the highway which the California Department of Transportation had decreed would have no signs mentioning the park. How exciting it was to finally be in the parking lot, about to have my parents buy that booklet with the famous A-B-C-D-and E tickets in it? The wonderful things I saw on my black and white television (we wouldn't have color TV until late in 1969) now appeared before me (as they would say on TV) in living color ... ready to capture with the same Ansco Cadet camera that I had used at the NY World's Fair!

As we walked into the park and underneath the Disneyland Railroad, Main Street and the castle (The Castle!!!) appeared before us.

I couldn't wait to walk down the street and look into all the stores which I had seen on Walt Disney's Sunday night television shows.

How many times had I seen an animated Tinkerbell (who I still insist is a jealous/murderous sprite ... a strange choice as a corporate spokesfairy) splash the front of the castle in an array of color to start another Sunday night Disney show? To me it looked so large and amazing standing there at the end of Main Street - the famous "wienie" Walt wanted in the center of the park.

But of course, the most exciting things were the attractions. I wanted to ride the Jungle Cruise, which I had seen so much of on TV. I had to experience something that was still unique to Disneyland back then - the steel rollercoaster type ride that was the Matterhorn. I couldn't wait to ride the traditional dark rides which were not super scary as they were back home in Brooklyn (at Coney Island), but much more family friendly with Disney characters. And what about Walt's fleet of submarines - or the skyride ... or the monorail ... and the other rides and attractions that I had seen on TV for so long?  I had to do it all. But I think the attraction that I wanted to see the most, was the newest. I watched it take shape over the years on the Sunday night TV program, and now I would get to see it in person ... The Pirates of the Caribbean! And I wasn't disappointed. (The Haunted Mansion, which became my all time favorite - and still is - wouldn't be open until my 1969 visit. My son would be working in the yet to be built Walt Disney World version at the moment 1999 became 2000. Walt Disney World would open in October, 1971.)

I also had to see the four World's Fair attractions which I had experienced just a few years earlier back at home; Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln (Illinois), The Grand Canyon Diorama on the train trip around the park (Ford), Carousel of Progress (General Electric) and It's a Small World (Pepsi/UNICEF).

It was exciting finding out which type of ticket each attraction required, then ripping the appropriate one out of the booklet for admission. And as always ... the day ended much too soon. I would be back the next summer, and again a few times since I have been married, but nothing can match the excitement of that first time.

Today, as a frequent visitor to Walt Disney World, I get a completely different feeling upon walking in to that first park (Walt Disney World in Florida is comprised of 4 theme parks - and a lot more) - whichever it is on that trip - from the excitement of my first time in Disneyland. Today it is more of a comfortable "I'm home again" feeling.

But that first time in Disneyland .... ahhh ... but then ... Disney and the theme parks are all about wish fulfillment!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

#MyFirst ... Best Friend

It's time again to link up with Kerri Sackville and her #MyFirst Challenge. This week she told us about her First Bestie. (Sorry Kerri, I did have to adjust my subject title ... "Bestie" is just a bit ... well, Australian!)

I met Herb in high school. Yes, I had plenty of friends before that, but the way I look at it, Best Friend is more than just the friend who you spend the most time with ... but something else.

As with most of my closest friends in high school, Herb and I met during our Orchestra class. During those years, a strong group of us from that orchestra became fast friends.

By the time we were seniors, many of us had cars at our disposal (none of this business of having our parents buy us our own car when we got our licenses, we borrowed our parents' - if we were lucky. I was lucky) and Saturday nights became a floating jam session ... each week at another person's house - also assuming that the person in question had accommodating parents.

<--- This is indeed one of those floating Jam sessions (1969 most likely) ... this one was at my house. It is also one of the rare photos that I am actually in - rather than taking. That is me in the lower left corner ... and Herb in the red shirt over my shoulder.

During this time, Herb and I had a lot in common, performing together in the pit of many school musicals and were often together to the point that it was not unusual for us to even double-date. Naturally, we would often get in to trouble together.

In fact, I was witness to history because I had been coming to visit him. I was working at McDonald's (as all high school kids do, right?) and after work one night I decided to stop off at his house before heading home myself. Turns out that I couldn't get close to his place because of a huge crowd, which included lots of police. Remember the movie, Dog Day Afternoon? Well, it was happening right in front of my eyes. This was the incident that they would later make the movie about. Herb's house was just yards away.

In these days before cell phones, we both needed to keep our mom's informed if we were going to be out later than a certain time ... usually midnight on a non-school night. This particular night we were at a friend's house in Sea Gate ... a gated community in Coney Island in Brooklyn, NY. It was a nice night and some of us were in the house, and some were on the private beach behind the house.

Both Herb and I attempted to call home to let our moms know we wouldn't be home by the witching hour. Ironically, all of our attempts were met with busy signals. (This was also before call waiting was available.) We tried a few times and the results were always the same. About 1:00 AM we all started to head home. I knew I wasn't going to be in trouble as my mom was obviously on the phone herself - unless it had been knocked off the hook, in which case my story would still hold up. Herb was not so confident.

In those days, I was the one with almost total access to my father's car, so I would be chauffeur to many of my friends, including Herb. Since he lived very close to my house, he was the last one I dropped off, and when I walked in to my own house, my mom was still on the phone. She gave me the "one minute" sign and then said goodbye to whomever she was on the phone with and started laughing.

I quickly started to explain to her that I did indeed try to call her, but she stopped me and said she figured I had. Turns out that she was on the phone with Herb's mother - who kept asking, "why isn't he calling?" My mom kept telling her that Herb couldn't call if they were on the phone, but she wouldn't end the conversation - so Herb and I kept getting a busy signal. My mom said she knew I was on the way home when she heard Herb arrive at his house.

Herb and I stayed friends through college ... but I would prefer you not ask me how (or why) he was handcuffed to my dorm room door one night - in his underwear! He met my (now) wife while visiting us at college and was a groomsman at our wedding. He continued to be friends with my wife and myself for a long time after we were married. Eventually, however, we sort of drifted apart for a number of years.

It was at my 30 year high school reunion in 2000 that we next saw Herb - though he was using the name David now - and it was as if we had just seen him ... no uncomfortable getting reacquainted ... though there was a bit of catching up that needed to be done. (He was now teaching at the same high school we had attended.)

That's what makes a best friend ... we may not see each other for long periods of time, but when we do, we pick up right where we left off.

Monday, December 2, 2013

#MyFirst Kiss

It's that time again, to accept Kerri Sackville's challenge and reply to her #MyFirst blog post. This week's topic is My First Kiss.

I could take the easy (coward's) way out of this, and tell the world about the first time I kissed a girl (other than family of course). That was in Kindergarten. It was the day of our class play - Hansel and Gretel. I was playing a Gingerbread Man. However, our Hansel was absent! Just before we were to go on, the teacher asked all of the boys if any of us knew Hansel's part and would be willing to step in. For some reason, I raised my hand - and was the only one, so I shed my Gingerbread Man costume, and became Hansel. In the course of our little show, I had to kiss our Gretel on her cheek ... a brotherly kiss ... and for the very first time I had kissed a girl.

But I think that Kerri would call me out on that one, so I guess it is time to man up and - as embarrassing as it might be - tell the story.

I was in high school, probably in my sophomore year - 10th (I really wouldn't want to admit it was really my junior year - 11th) grade, and was at a party at one of my friends' house. The party went about the way you would expect a high school party to go, and we played some games - including one known as "five minutes in heaven." For those of you who don't know the game, a random boy and a random girl are selected - a variation on "spin the bottle" - and then are shut in to a dark room for five minutes. The rules? Well the only rule is that at someone will knock on the door when there are 30 seconds left and at the five minute mark the door will open ... so be prepared. (A word to the wise?)

To be honest, while I was quite excited (in the way a teen age boy would be excited about the prospect of spending 5 minutes alone in a room with a teen aged girl), I was also quite apprehensive. You see, I had not only never played this game before, I had never kissed or made out with a girl prior to my selection ... not too far into the evening's activities.

It turns out, that I think I survived - not in a small part because the young lady (who, sadly, I cannot remember who she was or what she looked like) was willing, eager, and a bit more experienced at this than I was. Yes, I had my first "real" kiss that night (and a second ... and a third ... and ... ) and also had my first practical lesson in female anatomy ... and it was so much more interesting (fun!) than classroom biology.

And - for all our sakes - I think that is all I will have to say about that, except that when I started high school, I was painfully shy, but along the way, while I never actually lost my shyness (I still am extremely shy to this day - though those who have only known me a short time find that hard to believe) by the end of high school, I had learned to overcome it and even found that I loved public speaking, and campaigned for Senior Grade Rep (of a senior class of 1100 students) and won!

So now you know ...

Monday, November 25, 2013

My First Obsession

Once again it is time to link up with Kerri Sackville's Life and Other Crises blog. This week's theme is My First Obsession.

When I was growing up, my Aunt Carol was the family photographer. She had the ubiquitous Kodak Brownie camera - with that huge flash. Oh how I hated being in front of that flash!

My dad had an 8mm (silent of course) movie camera but no one in my immediate family had a snapshot camera, so for my eighth birthday, I made it known that was what I wanted.

The year before I had wanted a new fangled transistor radio for my birthday, and my aunt had gotten me one. That was a big deal back then - they were what all the "cool kids" had. It had lousy reception and was only AM (no one listened to FM in those days - I am not even sure there were any FM commercial broadcasts yet). So when I wanted a camera, I naturally asked my aunt.

She came through for me, and I received the camera I wanted - but not before she teased me a bit by giving me a tin toy camera, which - when you pressed the shutter button - opened the lens and out popped a spring snake! Once I got over that, however, she gave me the actual camera. Today, almost 53 years later, I can still remember the excitement of opening the box and taking the camera (and flash!) out and loading my first roll of black and white film! (I would take my first roll of color film at the 1964 NY World's Fair!)

From that day on you would hardly ever see me without a camera around my neck. In 1968 and 1969 I traveled across the US and Canada and had two cameras with me ... the Ansco Cadet Reflex and a Polaroid instant camera which I surreptitiously bought with my profits from delivering newspapers. Here you can see it around my neck at Universal City in California. Obviously my mom was using my other camera to take this shot.

Once I got married and had a steady job, I felt the need to move up to a 35mm camera. Naturally I needed the best, and at that time it was a Contax RTS - with a motor drive! 

It was during this period that I went from my snapshot phase to more artistic photography. (I also purchased a few other cameras along the way, but I won't mention all of them here.) My kitchen turned into a darkroom at night - while my wife watched TV in the bedroom with the door closed, so I could have the apartment as dark as possible. I worked mostly in black and white, though I did dabble a bit in color ... mostly slides. I entered a few contests, and won a few, saw my work displayed on TV during the US Bicentennial celebration, and had my work displayed in photography magazines.

Then it all changed ... our first child was born! The kitchen once again became a place to cook food, and the type of shot I took were more the shots that proud parents show which makes all their friends find excuses to be somewhere else. 

Life continued, the children grew up, left the house, and I retired. Digital photography was now the norm, so I naturally had to have a digital SLR and get back into my photography! I purchased a DSLR and thought I could just pick up where I had left off all those years ago. I was so wrong! There was quite a learning curve! Although I knew the basics of photography itself, I had to learn all about the new things I had within my control in the digital age.

Today I shoot with a Nikon D7100 and while I still take the snapshots of my grandsons, I am still very proud of my work in other areas.

After more than 50 years, my obsession with photography is not only going strong, but is perhaps stronger than ever. I have continued to win contests and even sell a photo every now and again.

I have met a number of local photographers and go out to find something to photograph at every chance I get.

Of course, photography is meant to be shared, and of course in this electronic age, there are ample ways to do this. Some of my favorite photos can be seen on my photography website, Gathered Images, and I invite you to come visit and I hope you enjoy some of my work. Click on the video below as well for a quick look at over 60 years of photos (yes, the second pig from the right is me!).

Saturday, November 23, 2013

My First Moment of Terror

Once again it is time to link up with Kerri Sackville for another "My First". This week her topic is My First Moment of Terror. This took me a while to decide what to write about since so many of the moments I picked were well short of terror. Was the time my aunt was babysitting for me and my brother and sister, and she got us all - herself included - scared about sounds outside a true moment of terror? Scary maybe, but not really terror. Or how about my first camping trip when I woke up in the night and the tight confines of my sleeping bag and the tent gave me a moment of severe claustrophobia until I realized where I was? Possibly, but it was over almost before I knew it.

No, the real moment(s) of terror came in the summer of 1977. It became known in the press as The Summer of Sam.

It had actually started in 1975, although we didn't yet know that we had seen the beginning of the reign of a serial killer.

His targets at first had all been young women, in their teens. Each had been returning from an evening out and each were killed in what were generally considered "good" neighborhoods, not those you might expect to have to worry about walking home at night.

The killing continued through the summer of 1976, and all of them had taken place in the NYC borough of Queens. The entire city was on alert and fear of the night was rampant. By the summer of 1976 the profile of the women he was killing had become those in their mid 20's. My wife and I did not visit any friends in Queens if we would be there at night.

Then, in the summer of 1977 two things happened which changed things for my wife and myself. The first Son of Sam (as the shooter was now being called as well as the .44 caliber killer) attack that included a boyfriend, and a killing right in our own neighborhood in the NYC borough of Brooklyn. All Son of Sam attacks up until this point had been in Queens, so there was a measure of safety in the fact that we lived in Brooklyn. That was no longer the case.

We lived at that time in an apartment building, so when we would return home we would always have to search for street parking, most often within a block or two of our building. While we avoided returning at night if we could, life doesn't always cooperate, and one night, days after the shooting not far from our location, we found ourselves having to walk about a block from where we parked the car to our building. Did I mention that my wife and I fit the killer's victims profile almost perfectly? To this day, that walk on that particular night is still sharp in my memory - as is the terror of what normally would have been a short, hardly noticed walk.

Happily, it was not too long after that time that late in the summer, David Berkowitz was caught, and today is serving 6 life sentences.

An ironic footnote to this moment of terror, is the fact that when a movie was made in 1999 (entitled, Summer of Sam), David Berkowitz was played by Michael Badalucco, an actor with whom I went to college, and had performed with in my final show in school. (Of course he was the lead and I was in the pit.)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A new challenge

I was reading a friend's blog the other day, and she issued this challenge ...


Today I am starting a new Blogger Challenge
Because all of us bloggers need ideas.
Because all of us readers want great content.
Because it will be FUN.
And because I really want to read what you guys have to write.

Each Monday I will be writing about a First. I will choose the First (first kiss? first drink? first fight? first phobia?)

I will post the topic here and write my own little piece about it. And I will invite YOU to write about your own First (Insert Topic Here) on your blogs anytime during the week. If you have never done that particular first, write about why not. And how you feel about that.

Then link to your piece in the comments below, or on my Facebook page
Also tweet it under the hashtag #MyFirst.

 Ready? Let's begin.

Today's First is 



So I had to think back to remember my first act of rebellion. I am not sure if it was a testament to my mother and father's parenting skills or just my desire not to get in to trouble, but until I got to high school I can't even think of an act of rebellion that I perpetrated. But in high school I once smoked a cigarette while waiting to get into an ice skating session. Not much to write about there.

However, you need to remember that my high school days corresponded with the war in Viet-Nam. It was a very polarizing time in the U.S. and I was on the side of those who wanted us out immediately. (Also I did not want to be drafted and sent there against my will ... Hell No We Won't Go!)

In my senior year in high school there was a well planned march on NYC City Hall as well as the individual Borough Halls. Thousands of us left school and took part ... I was one.

But can this be actually considered an act of rebellion if there was no consequence to the participants, and the school system actually (and officially) sanctioned it? No!! For that we skip ahead a year to my college days.

Cambodia had been invaded and the students were taking action. On Friday night we took over the school's administration building. It was not much of a takeover as the building was unlocked and security basically handed it over to us.

I found myself in some professor's office, calling my local politicians for statements that we could use ... today we would call them soundbites. I found myself calling three very prominent politicians of the day ... Congresswoman Bella Abzug ... Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm ... and Congresswoman Elizabeth Holtzman ... all three active supporters of the anti-war movement.

Amazingly I actually spoke with Ms. Abzug and Ms. Holtzman (who would - in a few years - be the speaker at graduation) and got a quote from Ms. Chisholm through a spokesman in her office.

That same weekend, I took part in a shut down on the New York State Thruway - a major highway with high volume of traffic. The state police showed up and started arresting those of us who were sitting in the roadway, blocking traffic. Shortly before they would have come for me, however, the vehicle they were loading protesters into was filled, and they stopped "collecting" us.

By Sunday night, we had peaceably "returned" the administration building so that the offices could be used by their rightful owners come Monday morning ... and we all (?) returned to our normal routine of classes.

For what it is worth, I became more rebellious as I got a bit older ... just ask anyone who has worked with me over the years!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

A Snap, A Set and A Song - Hop

Time once again to link with Thea at A Snap, A Set and A Song for this week's theme of Hop. Stop by her site to see her take - and possibly join us with your own post.

When I first saw this week's theme I was stumped. I couldn't think of anything I had that would fit the theme. Then I remembered a visit to the small zoo we have here on Staten Island and its special exhibit in the summer of 2010. The exhibit was Down Under Summer, and it had received a number of Australian animals that were on display here all summer. The big surprise was that when they arrived here in the US, there was one more animal than was loaded in Australia - a baby kangaroo - a joey. No one expected it and he was the hit of the exhibit. After all, how often do you get to see a kangaroo? ;-). (This was back when I was still using a point & shoot and hadn't yet gotten my DSLR and you can see the lack of control that was inherent with that camera.)

The Snap

The Set

The Song

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A Snap, A Set and A Song - Bush

Time once again to link with Thea at A Snap, A Set and A Song for this week's theme of Bush. Stop by her site to see her take - and possibly join us with your own post.

The Snap

This week Thea has picked the theme of Bush and specified that it be the Australian meaning of the word so I won't be showing any shrubbery, minor league baseball or images relating to two of our former U.S. Presidents. The closest I can figure that "bush" will translate into American is woods/forest/natural setting. So with that in mind, we know that Thea is a country girl ... a farm girl ... but what is this dapper urbanite, this New York City resident to do? I live within the city limits of one of the most densely populated cities in the world, but as it turns out, the borough that I call home - Staten Island - actually has a good deal of protected natural landscape which we call "The Greenbelt." As a photographer I often walk through areas of The Greenbelt with my camera - so let's join this couple along this woodland trail and take a nature walk through the woods.

The Set

Our nature walk continues ...

The Song

When I first heard about this week's theme (and it's restrictions), this poem came to mind immediately. The next day I was talking with someone, and something in our conversation prompted her to quote the same poem I was thinking of, so it seems appropriate that I should include it here.

Wordless Wednesday - The Water Tower

Linking up with Thea at A Snap, A Set and A Song for Wordless Wednesday.

A New York City icon - a water tower

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A Snap, A Set and A Song - Irish

Time once again to link with Thea at A Snap, A Set and A Song for this week's theme of Irish. Stop by her site to see her take - and possibly join us with your own post.

The Snap

With St. Patrick's Day just past, Thea has chosen the related topic of Irish for this week's post. At first it puzzled me and I wasn't sure how I was going to handle it, but then I remembered that New York City has not only the largest St. Patrick's Day Parade in the US each year, but more than one. In the days that my son and daughter were in their high school marching band, they marched in those parades - both in Manhattan and here on Staten Island. This is a shot of that marching band in my son's senior year ... and that is him ... the drum major with his back to the camera ... leading the band down Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.

The Set

As I mentioned, New York City has the largest St. Patrick's Day Parade in the US, and it passes right in front of St. Patrick's Cathedral.

The Song

This traditional Irish folksong has been a favorite of mine since I first heard it over 45 years ago when I purchased the album shown below.

Here is an alternate version presented by the Dubliners in a more traditional format.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A Snap, A Set and A Song - Book

Time once again to link with Thea at A Snap, A Set and A Song for this week's theme of Book. Stop by her site to see her take - and possibly join us with your own post.

The Snap

Right from their early days, my grandsons loved books - both having them read to them and reading them by themselves. Here they were at their first birthday party.

The Set

This may be stretching a bit, but this is one of my favorite books - a video book containing a set of photos of the twins' first trip to Walt Disney World.

The Song

From the Broadway musical - You're A Good Man Charlie Brown

Thursday, March 7, 2013

A Snap, A Set and A Song - Sky

Time once again to link with Thea at A Snap, A Set and A Song for this week's theme of Sky. Stop by her site to see her take - and possibly join us with your own post.

I have seen some very interesting skies in the past month. Allow me to share some of them with you this week.

The Snap

This is the skyline that I see whenever I take the ferry into Manhattan. There is something new taking shape on the site of the former World Trade Center - the Freedom Tower.

The Set

The Song

Thursday, February 28, 2013

A Snap, A Set and a Song - Life

Time once again to link with Thea at A Snap, A Set and A Song for this week's theme of Life. Stop by her site to see her take - and possibly join us with your own post.

This is an appropriate theme for me as this week I celebrated my 60th birthday. The theme has inspired me to take a look at the life of my family itself.

The Snap

I guess as good a place as any to start is to have a look back at my mom and her mom, my grandmother.

The Set

The Song

Thursday, February 21, 2013

I Need Your Advice

Until recently, the amount of spam that was being posted in the comments section here and on my other blogs has been minimal and easily dealt with.

About a month ago, however, it picked up significantly and is a multiple daily issue on each of the blogs I post.

I have always made posting comments as easy as possible, refraining from making anyone enter their name and email address (though I appreciate the fact that almost everyone does) so I know who is posting - or that other dastardly method ... the dreaded captcha! Personally I hate making comments on blogs which use captcha and it is almost entirely unusable on a cell phone.

The final option would be to moderate comments, and at the moment, if I decide to change the way comments are handled here, that would most likely be the way I initially go.

But before I do anything, I would like to hear your thoughts - ironically, in the comments section below.

What do you think? Have you any other suggestions for me?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A Snap, A Set and A Song - Grey

Time once again to link with Thea at A Snap, A Set and A Song for this week's theme of Grey. Stop by her site to see her take - and possibly join us with your own post.

On our recent cruise in the Caribbean, our stop at Castaway Cay in the Bahamas happened on a very grey day indeed, as you can see in the Snap and the Set.

The Snap

The Set

The Song

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A Snap, A Set and a Song - Valentine

Time once again to link with Thea at A Snap, A Set and A Song for this week's theme of Valentine. Stop by her site to see her take - and possibly join us with your own post.

The Snap

My valentine for more than 40 years now ...

The Set

I saw this on Facebook and decided to share it here.

The Song

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

A Snap, A Set & A Song - Concert

Time once again to link with Thea at A Snap, A Set and A Song for this week's theme of Concert. Stop by her site to see her take - and possibly join us with your own post.

As you might know, we have just returned from a trip to Walt Disney World in Florida. When it comes to concerts, you will see all kinds when you are there. Here are some of the ones we saw on this trip.

The Snap

A gazebo concert in an English garden. (EPCOT)

The Set

An unusual street concert (EPCOT)

The Song

Another street concert. This time the Dapper Dans - a barbershop quartet on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A Snap, A Set and A Song - Heatwave

Time once again to link with Thea at A Snap, A Set and A Song for this week's theme of Heatwave. Stop by her site to see her take - and possibly join us with your own post.

Leave it to Thea to come up with a theme that I have to be creative to try and come up with a post. While she and her fellow Australians are complaining about 40° and above temperatures, we are looking at a forecast temperature of 47° here - quite a bit warmer than usual for this time of year. Of course, Thea's 40°C would be my 104°F ... and my 47°F would be her 8°C ... similar numbers - quite a different meaning!

A Snap

So since our winter would not produce any heatwave snaps, I reached back into the archives to one of the hottest days in my memory. That day was August 24, 2011 - my daughter's wedding. It was a Disney Fairytale Wedding held in Walt Disney World. For those of you not familiar with sub-tropical Florida in the summer, let me just say it was extremely hot and steamy ... even by Florida standards. Just have a look at my son's shirt (or my grandsons' hair)!

A Set

Don't let the tuxedos fool you - it was HOT!!!!

A Song

Now I know that Thea was expecting me to use a different song, but the Broadway person in me decided to go with this number from Kiss Me Kate. (The song in the set is from the musical, Pajama Game - the first community theater show I ever did.)

But just for Thea ... is this what you were thinking? :-)

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A Snap, A Set and A Song - Fireworks

Time once again to link with Thea at A Snap, A Set and A Song for this week's theme of Fireworks. Stop by her site to see her take - and possibly join us with your own post.

When I saw this week's theme, I was quite happy as for the last 2 years I have been trying to perfect my skills at taking pictures of fireworks. Now the decision was which photo to use as a snap, and which way to go for the set and the song.

A Snap

For the snap I have chosen a shot from Illuminations - Reflections of Earth ... the nightly multimedia show in EPCOT at Walt Disney World in Florida.

The Set

I have been lucky in that when I am in Disney World, there is a fireworks show (or two) almost every night. This set is a collection of photos I took of the nightly fireworks show in the Magic Kingdom.

The Set

While Wishes ... the nightly fireworks show in the Magic Kingdom is shown almost every night throughout the year, during the days leading up to New Year (and for a while after), Disney Presents Holiday Wishes ... have a look ...