Sunday, July 31, 2011

Saturday with Mom!

Saturday was in some ways a tough day. Dad is fighting a steady recurrence of the vertigo that has been an on and off companion for a number of years, and Mom continues to face the challenge of memory loss, but tucked away in these days are many moments of joy, love, and just pure enjoyment of being alive. These pictures were taken in Ellison Park - Rochester, NY. as Mom and I sat in the car - in the shade - watching a blue jay, enjoying the green, and listening to the cicadas!
Just for the record, I've managed to post every day this month, including two on at least one day!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

CJ can fly!

CJ loved the pool, and even decided it was safe and wonderful to leap off the edge into Dad's arms!
Click to embiggen!
Thank you Don and Cookie for a wonderful family picnic/party!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Future Plumbers of America!

This look is just fine till age 5 or 6?
At age 16 - plus or minus - this will either embarrass CJ, or it will be a chick magnet?
Hope this doesn't appear twice - the original seems to have disappeared into the internet ether!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Rest in Peace - Angie Carmassi

Angelo Carmassi's "official" obituary makes no mention of his love of top spinning!
Angelo John Carmassi March 29,1929 - May 30, 2011 Passed away peacefully on May 30, 2011 "Memorial Day". Wonderful husband and father. Beloved spouse of Lorraine for 56 years. Devoted father to Dennis, Loren and Carol. Father-in-law to Vic, Victor and Darren. Cherished Grandfather "Nonnu" to Bryn, Christopher, Avery, Kevin, Jack and Hayley. Brother to Herman and Paul. Born in San Francisco and a graduate of USF. A patriot, veteran of the Korean War , dedicated educator, Vice Principal of El Camino High, Principal of Parkway Jr. High, member of the Grand Jury, Opus and SIRS. Loved crafting birdhouses and welcoming birds into his garden. Passionate for computers, technology and avid movie buff. Superb entertainer and musician playing for the infamous Minestroni Four. Gifted with words, a master storyteller always delivering and enjoying a classic joke, a martini and a good cigar. Memorial Celebration to be held Thursday, June 16 at 2pm at The Sharon Heights Country Club in Menlo Park.
His love of kids is mentioned - he was the Principal of Parkway Jr. High, South San Francisco, California when I met him. He motivated the kids in his school by teaching them to spin tops, getting them so excited about tops that the loss of top spinning privileges was a big motivator to get good grades and to behave properly! For me, the most telling moment was when I saw dozens of kids gathering in his office before school the morning I was there... to wax their strings on his big block of "special" top string wax on his desk, and get a few tips on best techniques, etc. When I was in Jr. High, voluntarily going to the principal's office was something never to cross my mind!

Below, Angie introduces me before my top show in the library in January of 1991.
Mr. Carmassi gathering the kids in the Gym later for them to show me their top spinning skills, including "furthest throw to land spinning",
Angie's own invention - the dollar bill target shoot! (below - note the oversize dollar bill in the middle of the basketball court! Angie told me that he tried it with a real dollar bill, but it was too hard for the kids to hit, and he wanted them to experience success!) Hitting the target got you a dollar bill from Mr. Carmassi's pocket on the spot!

After years of being admonished to never wear shoes in the gym, and other measures to protect the precious floor finish, I was amazed that Angie loved tops and those kids a lot more than the floor condition! Imagine not only allowing but encouraging long distance top throws and target shoots in the gym!

Below - Angelo John Carmassi March 29,1929 - May 30, 2011
Don Olney showing my top collection to the kids at Parkway Jr. High - January, 1991!

Thank you Angie - I hope you are spinning in heaven!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Tiger Swallowtail

This creature (above and below) was found crawling across the driveway at Maya's birthday party. Needless to say it was an immediate hit with most of the kids, and some of the adults. Since it was found in the driveway, my old nature lore info kicked in, and I figured it was on the way to find a nice place to pupate - to perform that miraculous transformation to a butterfly. Turns out I was right about the transformation about to happen. They turn brown just before pupating --- they are bright green - to match the leaves they eat - earlier in life. Brown makes them less conspicuous as they crawl around looking for someplace to pupate. Turns out that they are a weird mottled color upon hatching from their egg - they look like bird poop at that stage . Each of these color changes helps them escape predators. Those big eyes on the caterpillar also help - makes them look more scary than tasty!
Egg below. The pictures below are all borrowed from the web. Click the ones above to embiggen.
Early stage caterpillar below
Green stage while eating leaves. Their choices -Cherry, Black Willow, Yellow Poplar, Red Maple, Elm, or Sassafrass. Probably ours ate some of the Yellow Poplar abundant in the area where it was found?Pupa / Chrysalis belowAdult

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Visit to the Lilly Pond

Long view from the hill.
Grandpa, Grandma, and the kids went to the pond in Highland Park - just a couple of blocks from the house, and teeming with lots of NITBY (nature in the back yard).
Great dragon fly above, who graciously kept returning to the same perch until I could get a good shot. Below - one of the many lilies.
Below - makes the pond look bigger than it is, but this is still a very nice place to relax, and teach the kids a lot of nature lore! (all of these pictures are good ones to click to embiggen)
Below - a lone mallard duck who would rather be somewhere else I'm sure, but is confined here by an injured right foot.

Monday, July 25, 2011

First Tomatoes!

Above - first Roma tomatoes several days ago - below - last evening.
Below - plain old tomatoes last evening.Will be watching for the first hint of red!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Elmwood Cemetery - Fairport, NY

On one of our Saturday morning rides a couple of weeks ago, Mom and I found ourselves driving by Elmwood Cemetery. Located at the corner of Carter Road and Furman Road - around a mile from my childhood home. We rode by the cemetery every day on the school bus for 12 years. Mom was fascinated that this was the place where she and Dad will be buried, but with no markers yet in place I could not show her exactly where. I did find the stones of a number of family friends from my early years.The Wagners lived on and operated a large farm right behind us - through the back fields and woods to Furman Road.
Merton and Bernie Bridges lived on Carter Road - about 200 yards down the road from the cemetery. They were good family friends, and in fact we lived in their house one winter while they were on vacation in Florida I think? It was a hard time for us, and a place to live was a big help!
The Bilgers also lived behind us on Furman Road.... across the road from the Wagners. They operated a large farm, and Ezra was also a cattle dealer. I remember going to cattle auctions with him - quite an adventure! I also sometimes worked for him helping haul hay, and other back breaking farm work!Bob Drew was also a neighbor - a couple of years older than me - one of the big kids on the bus every day! He died far to early at only 34 years young. He lived right across Carter Road from the cemetery.
Howard De Nise owned the local farm equipment place. Trips to his place over on Ayrault Road were quite common - usually to buy parts to repair a broken down tractor, or other farm equipment. If Howard didn't have what we needed, it would be off to Knapp and Trau. As I recall, Howard De Nise sold Farmall equipment, and Knapp and Trau were John Deere dealers. Mrs. Trau was my teacher for First and Second grade!

I have no idea who Irene and Richard Lewis were - or are - Irene is still around it appears. I do however love these mirror image stones with their humorous messages. Irene's says "Everyone loves an Italian", and Richard's says "You Turkey" I'd love to know the story behind these stones!

A great little country cemetery with lots of stories to tell, and a great place to spend eternity, but just a note to Mom and Dad ------ No hurry!

Saturday, July 23, 2011


Checking out the dog!Looking COOL!

At the playground.
Hanging out at the birthday party!

Have sort of left CJ out for the last few days -- with the birthday and all!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Grandpa and Maya's Wednesday Art Project

Somewhere around 20 years ago, I created The Community Puzzle. I subsequently sold the product to a friend, who has since sold it to someone else, etc., until it is now owned and distributed by California Paper Goods Company.

Intended as a less expensive version of the community quilt concept, each person can decorate a piece, or multiple pieces, and due to the universal puzzle piece design, anywhere from 4 to 40,000 (or more) pieces can be assembled to create a wonderful art project.

Since I have a few boxes of these puzzles still hanging around (contact me if you'd like to buy some!) I took one over to Maya's house on our regular day, and Maya and I had a lot of fun with the puzzle and her new birthday box of watercolors! I can't remember ever having so much fun with watercolors before???

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Annual blooming of the Claire Hawkes Girlscout lillies!

Bulbs purchased 10 years ago - give or take - Planted in Dad's front yard. Nothing happened for a couple of years, but they have been magnificent every year since.

Last year's blooms!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


We're all used to seeing all sorts of serious "weed" plants that manage to find their way up in the cracks along the sidewalk, along the sides of buildings, etc. I even remember taking a photo of some grass growing out of the side of a bridge in Philadelphia almost 4 years ago! And thistles are one of my favorite plants --- they are beautiful, and can grow almost anywhere! The tomato plant above is growing out of a tiny crack between a garage and the pavement in the parking lot at The Southwedge Diner in our neighborhood! While tomatoes are not usually on any list of "weeds", this one sure is tenacious! For a longer view of where this tenacious tomato is located, check out the second picture in yesterday's blog. Click to embiggen - this plant is on the far left along the side of the building.

I also urge you to check out a new book I heard about on NPR the other day. Weeds by Richard Maybe!

Family at the diner!

Two meals at the Diner today.
Mom and Dad above -
CJ, Maya, and Casey below!
and Cheryl in the background.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Today is Maya's Actual Birthday!

Lightning McQueen before the party!
Lightning - less happy, but lots of happy people -
including the birthday girl!
And YES - the cake tasted great!
The tires were chocolate covered donuts!
Congrats to Dad for creating the perfect birthday cake for the "Cars" fan in the family!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Today is Maya's Birthday Party

Will post pictures of this year's top after the party!

Above - Self portrait taken by Maya with my camera!

Below - Picture of Maya looking through the castle she built!

On her bike!
Actual birthday is Tuesday, August 19. Can you believe 4 years have gone by since we first heard that cry outside the birthing room at Highland Hospital?