Cast the Movie of Your Life

The Word Press App on my phone will offer a daily writing prompt to bloggers. I subscribe to a few “prompt” emails and such, and they can certainly be thought starters. Today’s prompt was one I had considered before and I may have even been asked a similar question by a Facebook friend. The prompt:

They are making a movie about your life. Cast it. (Keith adds – with any actors living or dead)

My thoughts on this are to jot down what comes to mind immediately for some (not all) of my family, and a few friends (other friends may request I suggest an actor/actress for them if they really want me to). I will then continue to ponder the question and see if, after thinking it over, I would change any of my choices.

Me

Dom Deluise – No Brainer. This has always been my answer to this question!

My wife, Sam

This was tough. I tried to think of who might look like her and carry herself like Sam. Toss up between Charlize Theron and Olivia Wilde.

My Dad

I’m not sure there would be any better than Jackie Gleason to play my dad

My Mom

Who in the world could play my mom? Tough question and still not really sure, but I forced myself to pick someone. At times, Cathy Bates’ facial expressions remind me of her, so for now – that’ my pick.

My Brother – Chris

Really difficult pick. So just because it will either make him laugh (and he needs that, because he is recovering from Covid) or it will make him mad… William Shatner (Because I wanted to post this stupid picture!)

My Grandma and Grandpa P

Estelle Getty on Golden Girls WAS my grandma! I always felt Abe Vigoda looked like my grandpa, so there ya go.

My Grandma and Grandpa D.

I have always felt like at times, Betty White reminded me of my grandma. My grandpa was tall, a bit heavy, and always smiling. John Goodman reminds me of him.

My best friend, Jeff

Another no brainer. I’ve said for years that he reminds me of Robin Williams.

My friend Steve K.

Steve always has some sort of crazy fact that seems unbelievable to tell. So, he would be John Ratzenberger – but John Ratzenberger AS Cliff Claven from Cheers.

My friend Joe K.

Joe is probably one of the smartest guys I know. At first, I couldn’t get Jeff Goldblum out of my head, and then I though Rainn Wilson is a bit more “Joe” to me.

My friend Steve M.

Steve and I wear our hair the same. My first choice was Vin Diesel, but then I though Michael Chiklis looked more like him (and he played Curly in a Three Stooges movie, so he wins).

My friend Margaret M.

She’s Italian. She’s fiesty. She is strong. She is an expert at inserting profanity into conversation. Without a doubt – Marisa Tomei.

My friend, Chris B,

Tall and funny = Conan O’Brien

Uh …… I’m Stumped

Now, as far as my kids …. I’m just not sure. My older boys (Dante’ and Dimitri) have personalities that are very established. Ella does in a sense as well. Andrew is just a smiling happy baby. How do I begin to pick who will play them? I just don’t know….

It’s my blog and my rules. Let me think a bit on this ….

If I left you out …. and you want me to think about who will play you – let me know. In the meantime ….

Go ahead and cast YOUR life. Who would play YOU?

Christmas “Recycling” Project

It’s hard to believe that next month, this blog will celebrate it’s fourth “birthday!” As we enter the month of December, I am filled with nostalgia. My thoughts turn to Christmas and the many wonderful memories I have of past December days. In over 500 blogs, the subject of Christmas has come up more than once.

When I worked in radio, I had folders where I stashed bits and jokes that I could recycle or reuse the following year. In a sense, that is what I am doing with this blog. Recently, I have received many new followers who may have missed these the first time they were published. So here is a “Best of” blog with links to some of my favorite Christmas themed blogs.

A Christmas Carol

Scrooge and Mrs. Kellogg

Christmas Character Rankings

Who sits at the top of my list of Favorite Holiday Special Characters? He’s a chilly guy …

Channel Changing Holiday Songs

This list is still pretty accurate a few years later …

A Letter to Old St. Nick

One of my most powerful blogs. I still am moved by what I wrote.

Christmas Eve at Grandma’s

I have SO many wonderful memories of Christmas Eve! I miss my grandparents so much!

Christmas Tree in Pictures

In looking through pictures, there are so many with trees from over the years …

The Miser Brothers!

One of the blogs I wrote that always gets a lot of views this time of year is one I wrote on my favorite Christmas special…

A Major Award!

For the same blog-a-thon I wrote about Ralphie and his old man!

Holiday Alphabet

This blog would be a little different if I wrote it today …

Holiday Rodents

Everyone knows the ONE Chipmunk song they always play, but I feature a different one here…

Last Christmas was a First Christmas

Last year’s Christmas memories. Ella’s first Christmas!

Some blogger friends are participating in “Blogmas” which features a different Christmas themed blog daily all month long. I’m not sure I could do that, but it was heartwarming for me to go back and reread these and I hope you enjoy them, too!

Holy 500!

I was notified by Word Press that this blog hit a milestone!! Had I been paying attention, I would have made Blog #500 something a bit more special. Instead, my last blog (#500) was about how tired I am!

Reflecting

As I sat down to write Blog #501, I thought on how far this blog has come. I never started this blog to gain hundreds of followers, however, I have. Originally, I started the blog as a way to write down my feelings and thoughts as I went through some troubling times. Then I thought it would be a good place to write some memories down so my kids could look back and read them. It has evolved into a place where I can write about personal things, and not so personal things.

I am glad that the details of how my wife and I came to be together are here. I am also glad that I have detailed blogs about the the birth of my son and daughter. There are also many memories of my mom, so that my kids who never had the chance to meet her, will be able to read about her. I hope that they will be able to come here to read about the special people in my life – my wife, my kids, my parents, my grandparents, my teachers, my co-workers and mentors, and my friends.

It’s also fun to look back at the special “events” I took part in. Recently, I took part in a song draft, which allowed me to feature 10 great songs. There was a bit more pressure than just picking a song and writing about it. It was hard to pick just 10! Blogging about TV shows and movies as part of blogathons has been fun, as well. I’m looking forward to a TV show draft, similar to the song draft, coming soon.

What Have I Learned?

So, just what have I learned after 500 blogs?

1. It’s not easy!

I read somewhere that most people who start a blog quit writing after a month. I am glad that I have continued to write, although finding stuff to write about is not always easy. There are many days where I sit and have nothing to write about. In those moments, I turn to Daily Writing Prompts. Sometimes they will be helpful, but many of them are worthless.

Some days are easier than others. Many times a song will bring about a memory I can share. Other times a conversation will spawn something worth writing about. My kids are a constant source of writing material and funny stories and for that I am grateful. I love bragging about them.

The key for me is to just keep writing. I plan to do just that.

2. I’ve met some really cool friends

When I created my blog, I started to search for blogs about music and movies. I started following some of them and by doing so, found there many people who share similar likes with me. I began to comment on their posts and they commented on mine. By doing so, I have really gained some neat friendships with people I have never seen face to face. I’m thankful for each of them

3. I often wonder if I make a difference

I guess I hope that someone who goes through my blog will find an occasional “nugget” that they can use in their daily life. It’s not easy to put your life out on the internet for everyone to see, but if someone can learn something from the challenges I faced and the issues I worked through, I will be happy with that.

More recently, I have blogged a little bit more about my faith. I was always told to not discuss religion and politics. I follow a few blogs who share my beliefs and I appreciate them. I know that not everyone is going to share my beliefs and that is ok. That being said, I am also not going to be afraid to post more about it and am always happy to discuss it with others.

4. I really enjoy blogging

I’m not sure I could ever be a reporter or a writer where there were deadlines for articles. I enjoy sitting and writing about my passions, my experiences, my family, and my life. I love being able to write down things that I can go back and reread and relive those moments.

I have put quite a bit of time into this blog, and don’t make a dime off it (Although, I hear that there are many bloggers who DO make money off theirs)! It has never been about making money. It has never been about having a blog republished. It has never been about having millions of followers. This blog is my little spot on the internet to save my thoughts and share them.

How about your feedback?

What do you like best about this blog? What would you like to see more of? Would you ever consider being a guest blogger on my site? Tell me your thoughts. I appreciate you being here and reading my blog and hope to keep posting things you find interesting.

So what is next? 500+ plus blogs I hope and I am excited to continue sharing “me” with you!

Gone Fishing

The back lake – Caseville

One of my favorite fishing jokes comes from Soupy Sales:

Two guys are out on a boat fishing and one guy is pulling in all the fish. His fishing buddy hasn’t had even a nibble the whole time they’ve been on the lake. So, he asks his buddy what his secret is.

“Well, when I wake up in the morning I look at my wife. If she is sleeping on her left side, then I fish off the left side of the boat. If she is sleeping on her right side, I fish off the right side of the boat.”

His buddy asks, “Well, what if she’s sleeping on her back?” The guy says, “Then brother, I certainly don’t go fishing!!”

First Fishing Memory

Before my grandparents bought their trailer in Caseville, we would occasionally go up and stay at the trailer owned by my great aunt. I remember my dad and my grandpa took me out to a small lake (pictured above) where I first was grossed out by putting a worm on a hook. That lake would eventually be right behind the lot where my grandparents trailer would be.

I remember my grandpa helping me with the bobber that would float in the water. I also remember my dad putting a bell on the end of my fishing rod. There was no way a 7 or 8 year old kid could miss a fish if the bell rang and the bobber was pulled under the surface of the lake. Sure enough the bell rang and the bobber went under and I started reeling in.

What was on the end of the line was the ugliest catfish you have ever seen! There was no way I was touching that thing and my grandpa grabbed it, pulled it off the hook, and tossed it back in the lake. The lake was stocked by the guy who lived across the street from my grandparents as I recall. There were perch, bluegill, catfish, and pike in the lake.

Anyway, when we got back to the trailer, I was so excited. I told my mom, my grandma, and everyone else who would listen that I caught a fish. I don’t think there was a phone at my aunt’s place, and I asked my dad how I could let my other grandparents know about my fishing expedition. He suggested I write a letter, which I did. I am sure we never mailed it, but I did tell him about it when we saw them.

Uglier than the catfish? Yes.

The pier at Caseville

When we weren’t fishing at the back lake, we would go and fish of the pier in Caseville. I remember going to the store and my dad buying us some cheap plastic tackle boxes for when we went fishing. I don’t remember for sure, but I am almost positive that it was my brother who knocked my grandpa’s tackle box off the pier and into the water. One of my favorite pictures of my brother and I was taken on the pier. As you can see, I obviously dressed myself … what the hell am I wearing in this picture?!

Brothers on the pier – Caseville – 1979

One day while fishing off the pier, my mother got a bite. She fought and fought whatever fish was on the end of the line. I remember the excitement of wanting to know what it was. When she pulled it out of the water, it was a huge sheephead. I remember my grandpa saying that those were great fighters, but that was about all they were good for.

Me, the sheephead, mom, and my brother.

A few years later, I caught a fish off the pier and brought the dumb, smelly thing home with me, so I could get a picture with it. I used to love this silly “fishing” hat I am wearing in the picture.

Skidway Lake

There was another fishing trip that I took with some friends from school. We all went up to my pal Steve’s mom and dad’s place. I believe that the fishing trip only consisted of one trip to the lake to fish. The rest of the time was spent by campfires drinking beer and telling stories.

My best friend had quite a few that night and when we all went to bed I could hear him getting sick. I chuckled about this at the time, but when I woke up in the morning and found that he had puked in my shoes, it wasn’t so funny.

The actual fishing was fairly disappointing. These fish were fairly tiny. I think Jeff pulled in the biggest fish of the day, and it was nothing to write home about!

Fishing with my boys

I’m not sure why, but I only went fishing once with my sons. We went to a small lake near the house.

They were excited to go, but once they got there, they got bored quickly. I instantly remembered feeling that way as a kid. I would cast into the lake and want a fish immediately! I didn’t want to just sit there waiting.

When a fish finally did bite, they were so tiny, they could have been used as bait!!

It has been forever since I went fishing. As a matter of fact, that fishing trip with the boys was the last time I went. I’m sure that if I opened up my tackle box, it is probably a mess. I don’t even know if I still have my fishing pole. I may have to go out the garage to see if my pole is still out there.

All I need now is a few friends (one of them hopefully with a boat) and a day off to go fishing….I’m long over due to drop a line in the water. Where’s my bobber?

“Hello, Papa!”

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We had plenty of great reactions when we told our family we were having a baby.  One of the most genuine was from my dad.  He was just thrilled when he found out.  He has always wanted a granddaughter and we took a video of him opening up a onesie that told him he was indeed going to have a granddaughter. His reaction to that was priceless!

Throughout the pregnancy, he called to ask how Sam was.  We called him after every OB/GYN appointment with updates and news.  We called him to tell him we were on our way to the hospital, too.  He was upset, though.  He knew it would be a week or so before he would get to see Ella.  Grandma Rose came down with Influenza A, and Papa was not about to get his precious grandbaby sick.

So for the past two weeks, I’ve been using Google Duo to do video chats with him when Ella is awake and happy.  You could tell that it was really bothering him that he hadn’t gotten to hold her yet.  He was loving being able to see her and talk to her on the phone, but it wasn’t the same.

Yesterday, he was finally able to come up and hold her for the first time.   When they got to the house, Sam had just finished feeding her.  She said, “You can hold her if you want” and my dad was up to get her before Sam finished the sentence!

What an amazing thing to see him holding her!  He stared at her, talked with her, touched her cheek and held her hand.  It was such a beautiful thing to witness!  As he spoke to her, I could hear his voice cracking and I could see a tear welling up in his eyes.  It was truly an emotional thing to see.  This showering of love and affection was so special.  I took pictures, but wish I had taken video.  She will never have to wonder how much her Papa loves her – you can see it in his face.

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My dad’s relationship with his grandsons is not as strong as it could be, due to my previous relationship.  But, that doesn’t stop him from loving those boys with all his heart.  I hope they know that.  Ella will never have to question that, as I will be sure that she gets to see him as often as possible.  She has been blessed with some wonderful grandparents and great grandparents!  I am SO glad that they are a part of her life.  I am sure that she is going to be very spoiled.

Grandparents are indeed a blessing!  There is a quote that says, “Grandparents are a delightful blend of laughter, caring deeds, wonderful stories, and love!”  I certainly had those things with my grandparents.  As I look at the picture of my dad and Ella, I can’t help but notice the love in his face.  It immediately reminded me of a picture of my grandpa (my dad’s dad) looking very much the same way at his grandson (me).  Compare the two.  The love of these two men for the babies in their arms is a powerful, never ending love!!!

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Dad, thank you for being an amazing man.  I am proud to be your son.  I am so happy that my children have you in their life.  I see so much of grandpa in you.  He raised you right.  You raised me right, as well, and I hope that one day my children look back and see you in me.

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(My sons, too!)

Ella stayed awake long enough to get a picture or two with Papa and Grandma Rose.  I just love it and had to share.

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Ella and Papa – March 1, 2020

 

 

Oh Christmas Tree …

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Happy December to you! Maybe it is because Thanksgiving was so late this year, but it is hard to believe that we are less than a month from Christmas! The reality of that sunk in this weekend as I did a couple shifts at Cars 108 and we are playing all Christmas music.

One song always really sticks out to me each Christmas, mainly because it really isn’t a Christmas song – Linus & Lucy (AKA the Charlie Brown theme) from the Vince Guaraldi Trio. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fun song that immediately makes be think of Charlie Brown and the gang, but it is a song that is used in basically every Charlie Brown special. Personally, the soundtrack to the Charlie Brown Christmas special is one of my favorites.

O Tannenbaum is the instrumental that kicks off the album. Many know the song as simply “Oh Christmas Tree”. (In case you were wondering, a tannenbaum is a fir tree). It’s one of my favorite versions of the song. I had the chance to hear it over the weekend and it got me to thinking about the Christmas Tree. I recently had the chance to go through a bunch of family pictures and I was surprised at how many of them included the Christmas tree. This blog is sort of a “pictorial” blog featuring some of those pictures.

As I looked through the pictures, it was fun to see the various decorations and the toys under the tree. Bear with me, as some of the years I am guessing on …

chistmas51

The above picture is of my dad in 1951. He would be 5 here. As I look at this picture, I see a little of me, my brother, and my oldest son in my dad.

mom young

The above picture is my mom. Just a guess, but this is probably from 1953 or 1954, as she looks 5-6 years old here. Tinsel seemed to be really big in the 50’s! Wonder what that “Little Painter” set is worth today….

On Leave

The above picture is my dad, home on leave from Vietnam. The date is 1967. I really have no idea what that tree is made of. Eventually, my grandma had a ceramic tree that my mom made that stood about that high that she put there in the window. This one looks … fluffy. There are pictures of my dad with both his mom and his dad next to this tree too.

My folks told me that the local paper used to put names and addresses of servicemen who were overseas in the paper for people to send letters. Both of my parents were from the same city and my mom sent my dad letters. With letters, occasional pictures were sent back and forth, too.

mom at tree

I think the above picture is one my mom sent to my dad. I am not sure. I am not sure because I don’t know where this was taken. It would seem to me that this would be a picture that she would send to my dad overseas. At any rate, some things stand out, though. Note the “sunbust” clock on the wall – I know my grandma had one of those. Also, note the cool Hi-Fi with the ceramic cat on it. This was a record player and radio. It probably also played 8 track tapes and stored records. I know my dad, and my grandpa had one of them, so again, not sure when this is.

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I know for a fact that this was taken at my grandma’s house. I know this because of the fireplace and the huge wooden fork and spoon on the wall behind the TV. In my lifetime, I don’t recall my grandparents ever putting a tree on the TV, so I am guessing this is before I came around.

I was born in May of 1970. I was 7 months old for my first Christmas. I am thankful that my folks took lots of pictures. A few of my favorites all come from 1970, all for different reasons.

Great Grandpa Becker 1970 (2)

The above picture is my and my great-grandpa. He passed away shortly after this. It is the only picture I have of him and I.

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I am not 100%, but I believe this picture was taken in my mom and dad’s apartment. My dad can correct me if I am wrong. I remember that stuffed Bugs Bunny to my right very well.

young bowler

I am pretty sure that this is at my grandma and grandpa’s house. What I love about this picture is a little foreshadowing. One of my favorite sports to participate in is bowling. I love that I am propped up next to a balling ball bag in this picture.

7 mos with Mom (2)

This is absolutely one of my favorite pictures of my mom and me. It was taken at my grandparents house, probably Christmas Eve. I love this picture so much, because it reminds me of another … which I will share in a few pictures.

pam keith sam christmas 1970

The above is obviously from the same year. This time, I am with mom and dad. My grandma always kept her house hot, so mom took off her vest. Dad, who is ALWAYS hot, must not have felt it was too warm, because his is still on here.

GRANDPA PIZZO C (2)

One more from the same year (and you won’t have to look at that brown bowling ball bag anymore!), here is my and my grandpa. I always loved this picture of us. I was his first grandchild, and you can see just how happy he is here.

Grandpa and Grandma Davidson Christmas 1970 (2)

These are my mom’s parents – Grandma and Grandpa D. The date on the picture says 1970, but another scan from my brother says 1967. Not really sure. It could easily be 1970, though. It is one of my favorites of them. The tree is in the corner where my grandpa’s recliner used to always be.

Jodi and Keith Christmas 1972

The date on the above picture is October of 72, which means I am 1 here. This is at Grandma D’s house. That is my Aunt Jodi holding the bear. Note in the background, another Hi-Fi. My grandpa used to have big band records I used to listen to on it.

1975

The above picture was taken at our old house on Brandywine. I am about 4 here and my brother is probably just 2. The thing that stands out in this picture is the ornaments on the tree. See those diamond crocheted things? Yeah, my mom made them. She had many hobbies (I have an entire blog ready about her various hobbies through the years) and this particular year, she was crocheting everything! I remember a maroon vest that she made for me! At any rate, those ornaments were two squares, with a piece of an egg carton in the middle, and a tail hanging down. I am sure she made these for many people. I remember seeing them on other family members Christmas trees, too.

big bird

A year later, same house, and same ornaments! You can see them a little better in this picture! I am probably 5 here, while my brother is 3. This would be the last Christmas at this house, as we moved the following year. A couple things (besides the ornaments) stand out in the picture. First, there is the organ I used to play, and mentioned in the blog about my music lessons. Next, I remember the Ernie and Big Bird stuffed animals! Then there is that picture above the organ – it’s two horses. I think everyone in my family had that picture!! Finally, and this should get my wife’s OCD going, note that I am wearing the pants from one pair of PJs and the shirt from another in this picture! Good Lord!!!

Mom, Chris, & Keith Xmas 79

The picture above has to be from 1977. My grandma bought us each a set of Star Wars figures that year. I think there were like 20 issued the first year. I remember my grandma having trouble finding the Jawa figures! This picture would have been Christmas morning, and we had gotten the figures the night before at grandma’s. If I remember right, we had the big Han Solo and Jawa dolls (pictured here) and Boba Fett and Princess Leia, too. What I love most about this picture is that my mom is in it wearing this yellow robe. I have written about her yellow robe in previous blogs. She wore this thing SO much that it was stained and had tears and holes in it. She loved this robe. Eventually we bought her a new one for Christmas one year and she wore that. We assumed that she threw this one away, but after she passed away, we found it in the back of the closet! I have a “memory bear” made out of this robe.

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The above has to be from 1978. If you can look past my brother’s golf pants and my wacky shirt, you will see a Tie Fighter and X-Wing Fighter. You can see the tree set up on the TV, but cannot really see the amazing display on my grandma’s mantel. Every year, she put up angels, Santa, reindeer, trees, snow and more. There was one piece that always stood out – a little mouse that was in a flower arrangement that I sent her when she was in the hospital. She put that up every year!

Keith Doctor Doctor game

It obviously took my folks awhile to develop film! This is from Christmas of 78, and was not developed until August of 79! First, I love how skinny I am in this picture! Second, I remember having the sliding wooden doors that covered the doorwall. I also remember the bad paneling in the living room! I can see the Polaroid camera on the TV, the candy jar, and the glass candle sticks that my mom had. I wish I could make out more of the presents under the tree, but I remember really wanting this game. I also remember that star on the tree. It was made of hard plastic and the ends were very sharp! It could probably be used as a weapon!!

Grandma and Grandpa Xmas 79

The above picture is of my dad’s folks, my Grandma and Grandpa P. This was in 1979 – I remember that was the year that everyone was taking Polaroids! At family gatherings, everyone took pictures and wrote their last name on the bottom, so they knew what pictures belonged to what family! A couple things I notice right away: The tree topper, I never understood just what the hell it was! It wasn’t a star, it was just this spaceship shaped thing that lit up! I remember the musical angels on the wall. They moved from room to room as I recall. Grandma’s beehive hair! She wore it this way for SO long!! I also notice the pack of cigarettes in my grandpa’s pocket – you could bet they were either Lucky Strikes or Pall Malls. It looks like he is wearing a bracelet in this picture. I don’t remember him wearing one, but he did here. Just love this picture!!

cousins

The above is from 1980. This is my brother and me, with my cousins Arin and Melissa. This is at my Grandma and Grandpa D’s. A couple thoughts on this one – I am holding the very cool Coleco Head to Head Baseball game which I loved! I do not remember that bear I am holding! This is probably the year that my grandpa bought me my cribbage board, too! What is sad about this picture, is knowing that my grandpa would pass away in less than a year after this picture was taken.

mom dante

Jumping many years ahead now for the above picture. Remember the picture of my mom and me by the tree? It reminds me of this picture. Here is my mom and Dante’. This may not have been her last Christmas, I think Dante is 2 here. She loved him so much and I see the same joy in her smile here as I do in the picture of her holding me.

boys at trailer

The above picture is about a year or so before my divorce. I just love this picture because these two guys (no matter how much they may fight) really love each other. This was such a spontaneous picture and it remains one of my favorites of the boys!

boys last year

The above picture is from last Christmas Eve morning. Christmas Eve was always bigger than Christmas on my dad’s side of the family. The fact that I get the boys every Christmas Eve Morning to open up gifts is so special to me. I cannot wait until they can celebrate it with their sister. They are going to be such great brothers to her.

cats

The above picture is from 2018 (on the right) and 2017 (on the left). When we first got Moe (left) he got up in the tree! When Maizey came along last year, the fact that she was almost in the same exact spot as Moe the year before made me laugh. So I put together this comparison picture. It still makes me laugh!!

sam at tree

This picture (along with the song I mentioned earlier) was the reason for this blog. As I mentioned, so many favorite pictures involve the Christmas tree. I took this picture of Sam just the other night. It was her idea. The silhouette of her baby bump against the lights of the Christmas tree is just beautiful!! I posted it on Facebook (she did, too) and mention how I cannot stop looking at it!

The reason is that it brings about so many feelings: Feelings of love for my beautiful wife. Feelings of joy and nostalgia – because it is Christmastime and the Christmas Tree. Feelings of excitement and anticipation – because the baby will be here soon. Feelings of happiness – because the picture brings a smile to my face every time I see it.

In the years ahead, I hope that more and more wonderful pictures will be captured near the Christmas tree … so I can reflect on them, too!

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What’s in a name?

The title of this blog is a reference to a great quote by William Shakespeare:

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Based on Mr. Shakespeare’s quote, names really shouldn’t matter that much. I think many of us would disagree with him. I mean, a name is often the first thing we learn about a person, right? It is also one of the most common questions asked of expecting parents regarding their unborn child – “Do you have a name picked out?”, “Have you thought about names?”, “What are you going to name him/her?”

Can you see where this blog is going??

Weekend Recap

On Friday, my dad celebrated his birthday. My oldest son was at a friend’s house, so it was just me, Sam, and my youngest who drove down to visit him. Because of traffic, it took us a bit longer than expected to get there. When we walked in, I hugged him and wished him Happy Birthday. We all joined dad and Rose in the kitchen. I had found a neat book on Amos & Andy at a used book store and bought it for my dad, and gave it to him for his birthday.

Once we were all seated, Rose looked at me and said, “So what’s the baby’s name?” I chuckled and reminded her that we were not telling. She replied, “Well, it’s your dad’s birthday and it would be the perfect gift!” I chuckled again, and tried to change the subject. Sam reminded everyone that it was my idea not to tell anyone the name. Rose, then went on to say that she didn’t “see what the big secret was” or why we’d “want to keep it a secret”. I again, tried to not give in (even though Sam had said we should tell because we’ve been calling her by name and she was afraid to let it slip). Rose, however, didn’t want to let it go (which made me laugh even more, cause I wasn’t about to let the cat out of the bag).

At this point, Rose stated that she knew the name already anyway. So I asked her what she thought it was. So she says, with all the confidence in the world, “(First name)(Middle Name)”! Now I thought she might be able to guess one of them, but the fact that she picked out both of them – in order – caught me off guard! My face filter was non-existent! I was stunned. I looked at her and asked, “How did you know?!” Once she explained, I guess it really wasn’t that hard to figure out.

So, what’s our baby’s name, you ask?? You’ll know in a paragraph or two …

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Picking a name

You may recall that I mentioned in an earlier blog that our baby is a miracle. The chances of me having a baby were like 4%. Sam and I were actually leaving a doctor appointment and we were discussing baby names. We were not even expecting yet! I don’t even remember how the discussion started. If I know Sam, she probably said, “What about _____ if it’s a girl?”

At any rate, what I remember about this conversation was that we had a girl’s name picked out almost immediately. There was little discussion. The name was THE name. We both liked it. We loved the way it sounded. We both liked the reason behind it. That was that. We then began discussing boy names – because a boy was a possibility, too. Hell, there was also the possibility of twins!

Over the course of the next few weeks/months, the topic of a boy’s name kept coming up. We had a few that we liked, but none really stood out. When we found out that we were actually expecting, we went out and bought a baby name book – for boy names. We each had a different color highlighter and when a name we liked was mentioned we highlighted with the appropriate color. The ones with both colors would be considered if the baby was a boy.

(Side note: Sam is about nicknames. So she wanted the name to be one that could be shortened to a nickname.)

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I guess it was at this point that we heard about a place nearby that could tell the sex of the baby at 15 or 16 weeks old with an ultrasound. That’s when we went to find out. I think we both were leaning towards a girl, we both had a feeling it was a girl, and were both thrilled to find out that our baby was a girl! Now, I know that there were plenty of people who were told the baby was a girl and then found out it was a boy, so we waited a bit longer until the OB/GYN ALSO did an ultrasound and confirmed that we were indeed having a girl.

We decided to tell everyone that we were having a girl. Everyone, of course, has asked about the baby’s name. We had said that we were going to keep that secret until the baby arrived. Now at home, Sam and I refer to the baby by name when we were together. She will send texts to me that say “_______ is really kicking me tonight” or “_____ is doing flips in my belly” or “______ likes those cookies you made.”

As I mentioned before, Sam was worried that because we were both calling her by name (well, her nickname), that one of us would accidentally say the name in conversation. I told her that if that happened, we’d tackle the situation at that time. Neither one of us was expecting Rose to shout out the first and middle name this weekend. I didn’t think that I would lose my face filter and basically say, “Yep! That’s it!” Yet, that is what happened. So my dad, got a good birthday present!

This, of course, meant that we had to call Sam’s parents and tell them, too. Then we had to tell the boys. Then we had to tell her grandma (who’s been wanting to know since she found out Sam was pregnant). Then we told my aunts (my Aunt Linda also guessed the name correctly!), and Sam’s sisters. And now, here we are, spilling the beans here, and on Facebook.

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She’s got a name …

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Looking at it now, I guess it would be easy for people to figure out. Sam’s mom and my mom were both Pamela. (Sam’s mom may have been onto the name, as she texted me last week wanting to know my mom’s middle name!) My grandma’s (Dad’s mom) name was Rose, and Dad’s Rose is going to be her grandma, so Pamela Rose covers all her grandmas! It really is the perfect name and a wonderful tribute to four special ladies!

Remember that Sam likes nicknames. We are going to call her Ella.

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I truly think Dad was moved by the name, I think Rose was too. Dimitri was there and overheard the name, so he found out Friday, too. We let him tell Dante’ the name. Dante’ was overcome with emotion, knowing that his sister was going to be named for his grandma. It was a very special moment to see.

Sam knows how special this is for me, too. We have talked about the role that my mom must have played in this. “She handpicked her, knowing that we wanted a girl”, etc… For the anniversary of my mom’s passing, Sam had this made for Ella, and had me open it:

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Yes, I cried. It is perfect.

With each passing day our excitement grows in anticipation of Ella’s arrival. Each week, I go to the “Week by Week” pregnancy book to see what is going on with her. She’s always compared to a fruit or vegetable (This week your baby is the size of a pea, a plum, a lemon, a cantaloupe!). Sam always tells me when she is kicking and puts my hand on her belly so I can feel it too. Sam’s sister gave us one of those things that we can put on her belly to hear the heartbeat. I never seem to be able to find it, but Sam did this weekend. That sound is such an amazing thing to hear!!!

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Ella is due in February. As we continue to count down the days until she arrives, I cannot help but think about how blessed she will be. She is already loved by her mommy and daddy, her brothers, her grandparents, and aunts and uncles – and will be spoiled by all of us!

I cannot wait until she is here. I cannot wait to hold her. I cannot wait to sing to her. I cannot wait to see her showered in love and affection by her family. Until then, I’ll keep kissing and talking to Sam’s belly, singing to her, and letting her kick my hands.

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Back in Time?

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All writers get writer’s block.  I am hardly a “writer”, but sometimes stare at the blank page and wonder what to write about.  Since I began blogging, I have stumbled on blogs written by others who share some of the same interests as me.  I have followed blogs that feature movies, TV, music, nostalgia, positive thoughts & quotes, and more.  There have been many instances where I read another blog and an idea will pop into my head.  My friend Max and I tend to “borrow” ideas from each other often.

Many ideas I adapt from those blogs.  For this blog I am literally stealing the idea, and giving credit, and creating some rules for it.  The Anxious Teacher wrote a blog after watching Back to the Future III.  You can read it here:

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What a great idea for a blog!  If you had a time machine – where would you travel?  As I thought about this, I wanted to limit myself to a few things.  First of all, because I have watched the Back to the Future movies, I know that if you go back and change something in the past – it will affect the future.  So Limit #1:  If I go back, I am simply there to observe.  Many of the things I thought I would like to go back and witness happened over a period of time, so Limit #2 – no real time limit.  Limit #3 – wherever I go, I will be dressed appropriately as to not raise suspicion.  I know, it’s silly, but it’s my blog and my rules.

I actually thought about adding what I would call the “Ebenezer Scrooge” element to this.  What is that?  Well, remember when Scrooge was transported into the past, present & future?  He could witness everything, but he could not interact with anyone.  Those events happened and the people were not aware he was even there.  Perhaps that would be the best thing, right?  That way, if I went back in time, I would not be tempted to change things.

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General times and places

As my blogger friend said, I think it would be very cool to visit the old west.  I have watched many westerns on TV and in the movies.  I have read many books set in the old west.  I think it would be pretty cool to walk through one of those western towns.  How cool would it be to visit the saloons, or the general store?  I think it would be cool to don a cool cowboy hat, boots & spurs and ride a horse to get from place to place.

I also think it would be cool to visit the ancient times and watch the building of the pyramids, or buildings like the coliseum.  Those historic buildings are still standing.  How awesome would it be to see just how they put them together?

As someone who has been a huge fan of the 1950’s, I would love to live a year or two in this decade.  It’s fun to see how the ’50s are portrayed in movies like Back to the Future, and I would love to see it in person.  I would love to hear the old radio stations playing those early rock and roll songs.  I would love to see those classic films in a theater.  I would love to have a meal at a real 50’s diner or drive a classic car!

I would love to visit the 1940’s, too!  The music of the great band leaders, the early music of Sinatra, and of course, those great old radio shows! Of course, World War II was going on, but it would be interesting to see how life in America was at that time.

Everyone wants to visit the future … that peaks my interest, but is it something I would do?  I don’t know.  I’d be tempted to come back to the present and use the information for personal gain, or to alter outcomes.   I’m not sure visiting the future would be something I’d want to do – unless I knew it was something specific I wouldn’t be able to see.

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General People of Interest

I would love to watch Beethoven or Bach (or any composer, really) writing and composing a piece of their music.

I would love to watch someone like Edgar Allen Poe or William Shakespeare writing a poem or story.

I would love to sit on a set and watch them shooting a Three Stooges or Laurel and Hardy film.

I would love to be in the room where the First Continental Congress held meetings and watch men like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and others in action.

I would love to attend a taping of an old episode of The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson or a taping of the Dean Martin Show.

I would love to be in the audience at a Rat Pack show in Chicago or Las Vegas.  Come on!  Dean, Frank and Sammy!!

I would love to be an extra in one of my favorite movies.

I would love to watch Elvis in the recording studio.

I would love to watch Thomas Edison working on the phonograph or the electric light.

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Specific Events

I would love to watch the moon landing (on TV or from space).

I would love to watch the first flight with the Wright Brothers.

I would love to see JFK’s inauguration.

I would love to see a Beatles concert.

I would love to see Lincoln deliver his Gettysburg Address.

I would love to witness the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

I would love to witness the launch of Titanic on her maiden voyage.

I would love to be in the stands at Tiger Stadium at the final game of the 1984 World Series.

I would love to be in the crowd at 1985’s Live Aid concert.

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Personal Things

I know I put some limits on what can or cannot happen if I went back in time, but if there were no limits there are a few things I would like to do with that time machine.

I would love one more conversation with my mom.

I would love one more pinochle game with grandma and grandpa.

I would love one more Christmas Eve with grandma and grandpa.

I would love one more radio show with Rob.

I would love one more cribbage game with my grandpa.

I would love to play my trumpet in one more high school band concert.

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Just One Day

For whatever reason, writing this blog made me think of the Nat King Cole song, “That Sunday, That Summer”.  The lyrics of the song say:

“If I had to chose just one day, to last my whole life through, it would surely be that Sunday, the day that I met you.”

With a time machine, you could go back to one day.  You could pick the day.  You could relive whatever happened that day.  What day would that be?

I don’t know that I could pick just one.

What I do know is that there are plenty of days that I am looking forward to that haven’t happened yet – the birth of my daughter, the graduations of my sons, etc…. I am perfectly content moving forward and experiencing the days to come.

Here is sit, remembering the past – loving the present – and looking forward to the future.

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Getting Saucy … sort of

Frank Sinatra sang, “Regrets.  I’ve had a few….” One regret I have is waiting too long to ask my grandmother for recipes.  By the time I thought to do this, the beginnings of Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia had begun to overcome her and it was too late.

It is not like we never tried to ask, because we did.  Our questions were often responded to with vague or generic answers.  The only thing I can duplicate pretty accurately, is my grandma’s breaded steak.  I can do this, because I watched her do it once.  It’s not hard.  You take the steak, dip it in olive oil, dip it in Italian bread crumbs and broil it.  Simple, right!?  She once walked me through how she made her chicken and gravy, but I have long forgotten how.

The one thing I have been trying to duplicate for years is her spaghetti sauce.  I have come close – very close – but it’s just not right, yet.  I have asked friends, and some family, and have tried to incorporate things in hopes that it would be “THE” missing ingredient….without any luck.  Granted, some of the suggestions have brought me closer, and each time I try something new, I am afraid I may mess it up more.

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One thing I DO know, is that grandma used sugar in her sauce.  I am told it is a Sicilian thing.  Whether or not to use sugar in your sauce is a heated topic among Italians.  Some people find it utterly disgusting.  Personally, I love a sauce that is a bit sweet.  I also know she used a lot of garlic.  She always used basil (“You have to use good, fresh basil!”) and a bay leaf.  Never oregano – she (and many Italian grandmas) used to say that you only used oregano for pizza sauce.

I also know that she always used Contadina products!

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I remember she had a pantry down in her basement that had literally HUNDREDS of cans of Contadina tomato sauce and tomato paste!  (We used to call her pantry Kroger because she also had rows of dish soap, canned vegetables, and other things down there.) When I first attempted to make the sauce, I knew I had to start with this.

I used my friend Christina’s grandma’s recipe as a basic guide.  I have expanded on it since my first attempt.  A cousin said that her grandma used to put a stick of butter in her pot of sauce.  Another cousin (and my aunt) both suggested a Bechamel sauce be added to thicken the sauce, which it did.  I thought my grandma used a little wine, so I tried that, too.

I have used ground beef, ground sausage, ground pork, and stewing beef in the sauce to see if that makes a difference.  To a degree it does, but I know grandma used to cook all of those in her sauce at times.  I have tried more seasoning and less seasoning, bullion cubes instead of salt, and white wine and red wine, but still come up short.

My radio buddy, Jim Bosh, is Italian and he has hosted dinner parties for holidays and such in the past.  His sauce (and meatballs) are about as close as I have tasted to my grandmas.  I can’t remember if I ever sat down with him and discussed making the sauce at length, but I know he has offered a suggestion or two.  I also remember him telling me that no matter how many times I try to make grandma’s sauce, there will always be one important thing missing – Grandma.

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January 8th…

Today’s blog is a salute to some people who have made an impact on me.  I guess I should start with the obvious one – Elvis Presley.

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The “King of Rock and Roll” was born today in 1935.  His music was influential in so many ways.  I grew up listening to his music because my dad was a big fan.  I still remember the blue vinyl album for Moody Blue that dad had in his record collection.  Perhaps, I should do a follow up to this blog of my favorite Elvis songs?

Next – Larry Storch

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Larry is 96 today!!! I remember watching F-Troop and always laughing.  Larry was quite the funny guy who appeared in everything!  He was on Gilligan’s Island, Love Boat, Get Smart, and so many other shows.  As a kid, I remember watching him and Forrest Tucker chase ghosts with a gorilla in The Ghost Busters.  He was also known for some time for voicing the Joker in the Batman cartoons.

Next – Graham Chapman.

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Graham Chapman was born today in 1941.  He is best known for his work with the Monty Python comedy team.  I first came to know their stuff through the Dr. Demento show on the radio.  Their comedy records were very funny.  I then caught some of the Monty Python’s Flying Circus on TV.  Wow – it was hilarious!  All the Pythons were funny and their ability to play multiple roles and many characters was always amazing to me.  I especially liked Graham as King Arthur in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Next – one of my all time favorites – Soupy Sales.

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Soupy Sales was born today in 1926.  I remember watching Soupy on Channel 20 as a kid.  All of his crew was on the show – White Fang, Black Tooth, Pookie, Hippy, and a slew of guests that even included Alice Cooper.  He’d read the paper and funny horoscopes, give us the Words of Wisdom, and there were plenty of pies in the face.

In the 80’s, Soupy hosted a radio show called the Moldie Oldies Show.  There were new characters and bits like “Believe It Or Don’t”.  I listened faithfully and taped every show I could.  Some of the jokes were older than dirt, but they still made me laugh out loud.

I was lucky enough to meet Soupy at Pine Knob before a show.  He was just hilarious.  I remember leaving with my sides aching from laughter!  I still have a couple of his joke books, and his autobiography in my book collection.  I also still enjoy listening to his album from the 60’s The Soupy Sales Show and one from the 80’s called Still Soupy After All These Years.

He was one of the funniest guys – ever!

Finally, January 8th is special because it was the day my grandparents were married!  Let’s face it, without them, I wouldn’t be here!

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Today would have been their 75th wedding anniversary!  They were two very special people.  I miss them every day.