Tuesday, June 30, 2015

365 Project - Day 181 - "My Daughter is Driving (Hail Mary, Full of Grace...)"

June 30, 2015 - "My Daughter is Driving (Hail Mary, Full of Grace...)"

Today I'm out-and-about with my daughter... going shopping... running errands. She's driving... I'm just a passenger.

Our very first stop? Our church - St. Marguerite Bourgeoys in Brookfield. Why? So she can go in and get a Green Scapular for her car to go along with the Rosary that I gave her before I got in that thing.

A few silent prayers... and we're on our way!

She did an amazing job today! Turning... changing lanes... merging... crossing traffic... bad intersections... stupid-ass-drivers... etc., etc.. She dealt with it all and did an absolutely perfect job with every last bit of it!

Well... we do have to work on parking... but other than that, she did a great job!

And after a few hours worth of driving around, we made it home safe and sound!


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Monday, June 29, 2015

Remembering: "Peter's Tree"

Remembering: "Peter's Tree"

It's hard to see now... but then again it HAS been 34 years as of this summer. It's still there though... a lot higher up than I remember it... and a lot more "absorbed" by nature.


It was the summer of 1981 and we were having one of our usual family camping trips at Housatonic Meadows Campground in Sharon, Connecticut. We were set up in "our" spot - campsite No. 37 - the site we ALWAYS used... close to the bathrooms, and right across from the woods that sloped down to the Housatonic River.

At some point during the trip my brother Peter - who would have still been 15 at the time, went into the woods by the river and climbed a tree to leave his mark: "P.P." with the number "81" carved above it.

I remember him showing it to me soon after it was carved. There were already other carvings in the tree... but they were much older and worn... and his was higher up - maybe ten feet up... above all of the others. His was fresh and new and clear. I instantly decided that I wanted to do it too... but he wouldn't let me. He told me I had to be older in order to do it... or some nonsense like that.

Several times over the years I'd pay a visit to the campground and seek out the tree. I don't know "why" - I just wanted to see it. By the late '80s it was still very clear - but noticeably different. In the late '90s it had gotten wider. Ten years later it was a bit tougher to find the tree... but the carving was still somewhat clear and noticeable.

Which brings us to today...

Today while on my way to go fishing with my mother and my children up the Housatonic River, we stopped off in the campground... and the kids and I went off to find "Peter's Tree".

Everything looked different. Many trees had fallen, and the woods were much, much "thinner" than I remember them. It took us what seemed like "forever" to find the tree... but then, peeking through some branches, we finally found a tree with carvings on it. We made our way through the branches until we were at the base of the tree... and, sure enough - there it was: "P.P." with the number "81" above it.

It's much more worn now... Much less legible than it once was... And now it's about 20 feet or so up. But it IS still there... still the uppermost carving... above all of the others, on a tree that is reaching for the heavens.

We stood there as the sound of the river rushing over rocks filled the air. I zoomed in on the tree and snapped quite a few photos to "lock-in" the moment... then I smiled to myself, knowing that where others have fallen - my brother remains... still up on top... above the rest of them.

I love you, Bro!


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365 Project - Day 180 - "Gone Fishing"

June 29, 2015 - "Gone Fishing"

The kids and I are going fishing with Grandma today - on up the Housatonic River in Northwestern Connecticut.

Well... to be honest, Grandma and the kids are doing the fishing... I'm just going for the ride and to take some photos and relax a bit.


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Sunday, June 28, 2015

365 Project - Day 179 - "Abstract (Rainy Day Reflections)"

June 28, 2015 - "Abstract (Rainy Day Reflections)"

Another gray and rainy day.

Aiming my camera at the reflections in the puddle on the seat of a stack of lawn chairs.

Hoping tomorrow will be much nicer.


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Saturday, June 27, 2015

365 Project - Day 178 - "Sisters"

June 27, 2015 - "Sisters"

Today we gave our nieces their gifts. For one it was a High School Graduation gift... For the other, an early birthday present.

They are six-band José Grant Puzzle Rings - given to them in memory of their Dad, who had a love for Puzzle Rings, as do I. In fact, José Grant Puzzle Rings have been sort of a "thing" in the Pia family for as far back as I can remember.

These are special rings... for two very special young ladies.

Along with the rings they were each given a letter I wrote. It's very personal... so I won't share it here - except for one part... the part that explains why I chose the six-band rings for them.

"I picked the six-band ring for you for a very specific reason: It represents your family. One outer band is your Dad... the other is your Mom. One inner band is you, Frannie... one is you, Jessica... and one is Liliana. That only makes five though... so what about the sixth band? Well, that one is extra-special... that one represents the unbreakable bond that links you all together as one."

My hope is that these rings become a constant reminder to them that they are never alone... and that there are always people who love them unconditionally.


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Friday, June 26, 2015

365 Project - Day 177 - "Make A Wish"

June 26, 2015 - "Make A Wish"

While I've seen plenty of Dandelion flowers over the past few months, this little guy is the very first "wishable" Dandelion I've come across in 2015.

Make a wish!


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Thursday, June 25, 2015

365 Project - Day 176 - "Father's Day Gift"

June 25, 2015 - "Father's Day Gift"

My Father's Day gift from the kids arrived today!

They put together their own money to buy me an absolutely beautiful Movado for me to wear as my daily watch. Apparently they've been scheming about this for quite a while now. My wife knew... but I didn't have the slightest inkling.  They told me about it while we were out for lunch on Father's Day... so I already knew since then that it would be coming... but that didn't dull the excitement of opening the package when it arrived this afternoon!

I have my brother Peter's black and gold Movado SE which my wonderful sister-in-law Angel gifted to me shortly after his funeral. I've been wearing it a lot, but I'm so afraid that something is going to happen to it - or that I'm going to lose it...

... and now I have this wonderful stainless steel Movado Portico from my children! This one has a more secure type of clasp system... so it feels a bit "safer" to wear every day.

So this will be my "day-to-day" watch and Peter's watch will be my "special days" or "just because I'm thinking about him" watch.

Both are EXTREMELY important, meaningful and, well... precious to me!

To my children - Caitlynn and Brandon - words cannot even begin to describe how touched I am by this gift... and how much it means to me! In the end it's only a material thing though... YOU are the real gifts! You both are the best gifts I have ever received... and I love you more than I could ever express!

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

I love you!


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TBT: "Childhood Dreams"

TBT: “Childhood Dreams”

When I was a really little kid I knew that I wanted to grow up to be one of two things: 1) A member of a motorcycle gang… or 2) a Catholic Priest.

Let me explain…

I grew up in Stamford, CT in the late-70s and throughout the 80s. There’s an MC here in Connecticut known as the “Charter Oaks”. Today’s photo is of one of their stickers, which has been on the lid of my toolbox for many, many years now. Anyway… their clubhouse was in Stamford. In the early days of my memory it was on the corner of Myrtle Avenue and East Main Street. A beat-up house with lots of Harley-Davidsons parked outside. At the time we lived sort of around the corner - and seeing the Charter Oaks ride in packs was just about an everyday thing.

Years passed and eventually we moved “across the tracks” to the South End of Stamford… and, well, so did the Charter Oaks. This time there seemed to be even more Harleys parked outside of their clubhouse… and when we’d see them ride by the packs were even larger.

I was always in awe of the bikes… and always a little bit frightened by the riders.

Then one day I saw a group of Hells Angels ride through town. I had heard of the Hells Angels… but had never actually seen any of them in person. Well there they were… an absolutely HUGE group of them riding together on I-95. Maybe there were a hundred or so of them… maybe it was only a couple-dozen and my kid-mind stretched it out - I don’t know. What I do remember was watching as each of them passed by us. First I’d look at the bike… then I’d look at the patch on the rider’s back. It was an awesome spectacle to behold… and so I made up my mind that I was going to grow up to become a member of the Hells Angels - because they were “the biggest” and to me that meant “the best”.

Of course I had no freakin’ clue what being a member of the Hells Angels MC or even the Charter Oaks MC actually meant. I had no idea what it was that they actually “did”. I figured that they just rode places together… maybe drank beers and played pool or something. I don’t know. I just knew I wanted to be a part of it.

So one day in elementary school we each had to get up in front of the class and talk about what we wanted to be when we grew up. When it was my turn, I got up there and said that I wanted to be a member of the Hells Angels. My teacher - Mrs. Milne - was in shock. She quickly told me that THAT was not a good idea! So I said “OK… then I want to be a member of the Charter Oaks!”. Again, she shook her head and told me that it was NOT a good idea to become part of any sort of a “motorcycle gang”.

So I re-thought things… and eventually I said that I wanted to be a Priest. This seemed to shock her once again… and she asked why I suddenly wanted to be a Priest. So I said “Because then no one can swear at me or tell me what to do and I won’t get any parking tickets!”.

She smiled (probably trying to hold in laughter) and just let it go. She said “OK”… and ushered me back to my seat so the next child could go up and talk about wanting to be a doctor or an astronaut or President or something like that.

I - on the other hand - felt that I had it all figured out: I was either going to be a Priest… or I was going to end up in a motorcycle gang. And that was that.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

365 Project - Day 175 - "Abstract (Cleaning My CDs)"

June 24, 2015 - "Abstract (Cleaning My CDs)"

Today I'm playing around with some blank CDs. Burning playlists to discs... and cleaning old CDs I'm importing to my iTunes library.

How could I pass up such a chance to break out the camera and capture the scene!?!

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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

365 Project - Day 174 - "Tarot Cards"

June 23, 2015 - "Tarot Cards"

Just a few cards from one of my many Tarot decks. These are from the "Pierpont Morgan Visconti Sforza" deck - the original of which dates from 1451 and is one of the oldest known Tarot decks in existence.

I've been reading and studying Tarot for almost 25 years now. At one point I was actually teaching classes and workshops so others could learn how to read the Tarot, as well as the history and use of the cards over time.

Currently I have several dozen Tarot decks in my collection - ranging from the "very traditional" to the "somewhat bizarre". Some I actually use for readings... others I have mainly as a collectible, or simply because I like their artwork.

My very first Tarot deck was "The Rider Tarot" (also known as "The Rider-Waite Tarot") - which I was given in the early '90s. It was first published in 1910 and is perhaps the most popular and most widely-usedTarot deck. It was my only deck for the first few years that I read Tarot.

The deck that I prefer to read with most often is the "Robin Wood Tarot". It's a much newer deck - having been published in 1991 - but it's a very comfortable deck to read with, and I find that people are more easily able to identify with the imagery it shows.

In addition to collecting Tarot decks, I collect all sorts of items related to Divination/Fortune-Telling... from Viking Runes... to Ouija Boards... to Crystal Balls... to Scrying Mirrors and Bowls... to Pendulums... to Oracle Decks... and so on and so on.

It's all just another of the many, MANY things that I collect... and my collections just keep growing-and-growing!

Now if only I had the room to start collecting things like vintage neon signs... or Cadillacs... or something like that! The cards (meaning "my wife") tell me that that is NOT in my future, however!

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Monday, June 22, 2015

365 Project - Day 173 - "Abstract (Aluminum Tray)"

June 22, 2015 - "Abstract (Aluminum Tray)"

It's just another "Abstract Monday".

I wish it was Sunday.

'Cause that's my "Fun Day".

My "I don't have to run" day.

It's just another "Abstract Monday".

(Sorry... I think I just had a bit of an unintended "Bangles" moment there!)

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Sunday, June 21, 2015

365 Project - Day 172 - "Father's Day"

June 21, 2015 - "Father's Day"

A wonderful Father's Day spent with my family.

We had lunch at my all-time favorite pizza place - Colony Grill in Stamford. (Today's photo was taken just before the pizzas arrived)

When we were finished with lunch, we ordered a pizza to go - and took it over to the nursing home where my Dad lives. He and I shared some pizza... and we all talked for a while. It was a really nice visit.

The rest of the day was spent running some errands... making dinner... enjoying some wine... relaxing on the couch, watching some TV... and just having a good day overall.

It was a wonderful day spent with even more wonderful people!

"Happy Father's Day!"

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Saturday, June 20, 2015

365 Project - Day 171 - "JAWS"

June 20, 2015 - “JAWS”

It was 40 years ago today that my favorite film of all time was released in theaters.

I wasn’t born yet when “JAWS” hit the theaters. I’d have to wait another five or six years before I’d get to see it for the first time… and boy do I remember that first time like it was yesterday! It left me absolutely terrified! Not only did I refuse to go swimming in the Long Island Sound beaches of my hometown of Stamford, CT… I refused to go in or near just about ANY body of water. Pools… bathtubs… even toilets all contained sharks in my mind!

Still it would be at quite a few years before my obsession with “JAWS” really set in. I was about 12 years old and we were living in Florida. I had my own TV in my bedroom… and I also had an old RCA Selectavision Videodisc player from the early-80s. I only had about a dozen movies for it… including “Raiders of the Lost Ark”, several James Bond films, Elvis Presley’s 1973 “Aloha from Hawaii” concert… and, of course, “JAWS”.

I’d watch “JAWS” over-and-over-and-over again. Night-after-night-after-night… I’d go to bed watching the film. At first I’d fall asleep before the halfway mark… but eventually it got to the point where I’d force myself to stay awake until the very end.

As I became a teenager the obsession with “JAWS” kind of hit the back-burner for a while. I’d still watch it from time-to-time… but not nearly as much as I once had. I switched from the old Videodisc version to a much better VHS copy… and would sneak in a viewing every once-in-a-while when I had a moment without my girlfriend or friends around to bug me.

One day I found myself in my early-20s… already a father… a husband… a homeowner. Little-by-little the love affair with “JAWS” returned. It started with me watching it about once a month. Then it became a couple of times a month. Then it was about once a week. Then twice a week. Then three, four or five times a week. Sometimes it was multiple times in one day.

This, of course, went on for years. It’s still going on, actually. I tend to watch it at least once or twice a week these days. I think I’ve seen it about six or seven times in the last month… including going to see it in IMAX this past Sunday.

Friends are very used to me quoting lines from the film. My best friend Lenny shares my love for the film… so whenever we get together there’s at least a half-dozen “JAWS” references in the conversation. When I text him, the tone on his phone is a clip of laughter from “JAWS”. When he texts me, the tone on my phone is Quint saying “Here’s to swimmin’ with bow-legged women!”.

Facebook friends are used to me posting that I’m watching “JAWS” yet again. They laugh about it. They post every “JAWS” or “shark”-related thing they come across to my wall.

People often ask me just how many times I’ve seen the film. I honestly do not know. I tried to figure it out once… based on how many times I watch it on average, and how many years I’ve been doing that - and the conservative estimate was somewhere between 2,000 and 3,000 times (and counting!).

Why do I love “JAWS” so much? Because it really is the “perfect” film. The character development and relationships… the overall themes… the imagined back-stories… the intricacies of how each shot was set up… the amazing editing by Verna Fields… etc.. Every last second of the approximately 7,440 that make up the film add up to it being “perfection”.

There’s a great video out there on Vimeo that analyzes a single scene from the film: The beach scene where the boy, Alex Kintner, is killed by the shark. It’s called “The Discarded Image: Episode 01 - JAWS (Spielberg, 1975)”. Go and watch that video and you’ll see exactly how carefully constructed “JAWS” was… and why it is so “perfect” of a film.

The book, however, absolutely sucks! Don’t even bother with it! Listen to the audiobook if you must, but don’t waste your time actually “reading” it. The same goes for the film sequels - JAWS 2, 3 and 4 - don’t even bother with them, none compare with the original!


Today I celebrate my favorite film of all-time. Perhaps I’ll have a nice cold can of Narragansett beer and “Crush it like Quint”. Perhaps I’ll drink to your leg. Maybe I’ll be singing “Farewell and adieu to you fair Spanish Ladies” a few times. Quint’s U.S.S. Indianapolis speech might get recited once or twice. “You’re gonna need a bigger boat” will definitely be said at some point…

But I’m NOT going in the freakin’ water!

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Friday, June 19, 2015

365 Project - Day 170 - "Sixteen Years: Part 2"

June 19, 2015 - "Sixteen Years: Part 2"

Today marks sixteen years since we exchanged vows in our own private handfasting ceremony and held the outdoor party reception to celebrate our marriage.

Sure - we had already been "legally" married for five days, having had our ceremony with the Mayor on June 14th - the date we tend to celebrate as our actual anniversary. June 19th, however, was our "big day". It was the day when our family and friends gathered together to celebrate our marriage. It was when we truly exchanged vows... when we jumped the broom... when we cut the cake... when we tossed the bouquet and the garter...

Our vows did not include the words "Till death do us part". The words we shared... the promises we made to each other - were meant to last forever:

"Death shall not part us; for in the fulness of time we shall meet, and know, and remember, and love again."

The promises we made to each other sixteen years ago have grown more and more meaningful with each passing day... as we've experienced many "ups" and "downs" on this extreme rollercoaster called "life". So much has changed over the years... yet one thing remains...

I love you... more than you could ever possibly know!

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Thursday, June 18, 2015

365 Project - Day 169 - "Abstract (Coupon Organizer)"

June 18, 2015 - "Abstract (Coupon Organizer)"

My wife is amazing. During yesterday's grocery shopping trip we saved $142.06!

People ask how she does it. My response is that she has this whole ritual that she does before we go shopping. It involves some candles, a photo of June Cleaver, lots and lots of chanting and a sprinkle of rendered pork fat (from bacon she got for free with a coupon).

Regardless... she saves us a lot of money... which is nice!

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TBT: The Chelsea Hotel

TBT: The Chelsea - January 2011
I’ve always loved The Chelsea. Sure, there are much, MUCH nicer hotels in Manhattan - but there’s just something about The Chelsea that makes it so much more “me” than any other hotel. It’s definitely my favorite place to stay in New York City.
Yes… it’s where Sid Vicious killed his girlfriend Nancy Spungen in October of ‘78. The poet Dylan Thomas was staying there when he died in 1953. “The Lost Weekend” author Charles R. Jackson committed suicide there in ‘68. Jack Kerouac wrote part of “On the Road” there… William S. Burroughs wrote “Naked Lunch” there… Arthur C. Clarke wrote “2001: A Space Odyssey” there. Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe lived there together, and it was there that Mapplethorpe took some of his first photographs. 
In April of 1912 some of the survivors of the sinking of the Titanic stayed there, partly because the hotel was so close to Pier 54 - where Titanic was supposed to dock at the end of her maiden voyage and where the ship Carpathia finally arrived with the survivors from Titanic’s lifeboats.
Lets just say that there’s a lot of history in those walls. I’ve wandered the halls… walked up and down it’s iconic staircase… gazed at the artwork… and taken hundreds of photographs there. There’s a lot of creativity floating in the air there. That’s why I love staying there… I feel “connected” to it somehow - and I always walk away feeling energized and ready to create.
Our last stay there was a few years ago - shortly before the hotel closed for renovations. We were in Room 512 - at the back of the hotel. Around 3AM there was the sound of someone dropping something metal - like a tray or something - down the stairs. Then we heard screaming coming from the hallway above us. Lots of screaming. Lots of voices… including a woman shouting “PUT THE GUN AWAY! PUT THE GOD DAMN GUN AWAY!”. I just smiled… rolled over… and went back to sleep.
My kids won’t stay there anymore. Our first visit there with them in tow was in Room 124 - just up the hall from the infamous “Sid & Nancy” room. I loved every inch of it - from the prescription meds found loose on the floor in the corner… to the old Victorian-style couch… to the graffiti written on the walls inside the closet. In the middle of the night the very creaky bathroom door opened by itself - and footsteps could be heard on the tile of the small kitchenette. The kids have flat-out refused to stay in the hotel ever since.
One of my dreams is to take a week off and just stay at The Chelsea - just me… all by myself… writing… sketching… painting… creating. Unfortunately that dream will have to wait: The Chelsea has been closed for renovations. The permanent residents are still there - but no guests have climbed the stairs since 2011. According to their website they will be open for business again in 2016 - but will it ever be the same? I don’t know. I guess we’ll find out next year.
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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

365 Project - Day 168 - "The Rum Story"

June 17, 2015 - "The Rum Story"

It was December... and I'm pretty sure the year was 1996. There were three of us working: My brother Peter... a really awesome guy named Manny... and myself. That's it. No one else. At least not in the framing part of the business. It was hell, to say the least... as we were getting overloaded with framing orders for Christmas and it was a struggle just to keep up. Peter and Manny were constantly on the selling table taking in orders... meaning I was pretty much the only person actually framing most of the time.

The frame shop usually closed at 5PM... but in an effort to try to get as many orders done in time for Christmas as we possibly could, we decided to stay open late. I was catching a train from Danbury to Greenwich at 7:00 in the morning... and not getting on the train home until after 9:00 at night.

One night was particularly stressful. Peter was stuck on the selling table for hours on end... and Manny and I were trying to pump out as many of the easier framing jobs as we could. We were getting burned out... since we had been at this for days on end. Finally I mumbled something about how I really needed a drink. Manny - a former bartender, by-the-way - perked up and turned to me and said "Do you think we could get away with it?".

Suddenly we were planning this whole scheme: Manny would go out the front door and take a left, heading down Greenwich Avenue to the liquor store to buy some Rum. I would head out the back door and take a left, heading in to CVS to buy several small bottles of Coke to mix with the Rum and a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos to mask any hints of alcohol on our breath.

We got back to the work room at just about the same time. We each chugged a bit of Coke from our bottles... then Manny filled the empty space with a very generous serving of Rum. Each bottle had at least three shots worth of alcohol in it... and we were chugging it down as if it was nothing... and munching on Doritos, while trying not to get any Dorito residue on the artwork and such.

After a while we were both feeling the effects. We were each on our second bottles of Coke... when all of a sudden Mr. H - the owner of the shop - came into the room. Manny and I just froze. Everything became quiet as we tried to avoid eye-contact and just focused on the jobs we were each working on.

Mr. H came and stood directly beside me. He leaned in to look at the piece I was working on... and began to ask me questions about it... as well as about how we were coming along with things in general. For a good five or ten minutes he was talking with me... and I was desperately trying to avoid looking at him or breathing in his direction. Manny had his back towards us... and I could tell by his posture and movements that he was about to burst out in laughter. He was doing a good job holding it in though... and everything seemed to be going OK.

Finally Mr. H began to walk out of the room... and both Manny and I sighed with relief. We did it! We were safe!

Just then Mr. H popped his head in the door again and said something to the effect of "It has been a long day... I'm heading down to the liquor store. Would you fellas care for anything, on me?".

Manny lost it. He completely broke out in laughter, which had Mr. H VERY confused. I just smiled and thanked Mr. H and said that we were good and didn't want anything, but that we appreciated the offer. He left again... and headed out to the liquor store.

Manny turned to me with what was basically a "What the fuck just happened!?!" sort of expression. We got a bit nervous... wondering if perhaps Mr. H knew what we were up to - and threw that whole "I'm going to the liquor store" bit in just to let us know that he knew.

The room got quiet as we continued to work... both pretty much assuming that we had been caught and were going to be in trouble at some point.

After what seemed like an eternity, Peter (who did not drink, by the way) walked into the room and looked at both of us, smiling a big goofy smile. Peter said to us "I meant to tell you guys... Mr. H has a habit of going to the liquor store when we're open late... so if you want a drink, let him buy it next time." Manny and I looked at each other... looked at Peter... looked at each other again... and once again completely lost it with laughter.

Peter settled in at his workbench... we cranked up the stereo... and the three of us continued framing and laughing on into the night.

Almost twenty years have passed... and I'd give almost anything to be back in that room framing and laughing with my brother.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

365 Project - Day 167 - "On to High School!"

June 16, 2015 - "On to High School!"

Tonight was a big night for our son! It was his 8th Grade Promotion Ceremony, during which he received a President's Award for Academic Excellence. We are EXTREMELY proud of him!

Next stop: High School!

I can't believe that as of this fall I will have two children in high school. Our daughter will be in her Senior year as our son begins his Freshman year.

Where has all of the time gone!?!

(I feel old!)

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Monday, June 15, 2015

366 Project - Day 166 - "Self Portrait (Focusing Screen)"

June 15, 2015 - "Self Portrait (Focusing Screen)"

I've been out-of-focus lately. Everything is a blur.

I feel as if I'm looking through the focusing screen of my old medium format camera, trying to get the images of my life to sharpen... but no matter how many adjustments I make to the lens, things just won't come into focus.

Perhaps it's time to take everything apart and give it all a good cleaning and servicing... I don't know.

All I know is that I'm very much out-of-focus... and that needs to change.

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Sunday, June 14, 2015

365 Project - Day 165 - "Sixteen Years"

June 14, 2015 - "Sixteen Years"

It was a Monday morning... and we sat all-sorts-of-nervous in the waiting room outside the office of Mayor Eriquez.

It was a busy work day, but I had insisted on us getting married on June 14th... simply because it was "Flag Day". I don't know why... but back in those days I'd always tell people that Flag Day was my all-time-favorite-holiday. In fact, the previous year while working with my brother Peter - I went next door to a CVS on my lunch break and bought a bunch of mini American Flags and handed them out to EVERYONE: Co-workers... customers... people on the street... etc. Peter thought it was hysterical and would tease me about it every year after that.

Back to the Mayor's office: The time came... the ceremony was very short... and suddenly we were exchanging rings. Not just "any" rings, mind you... our José Grant puzzle rings, which have become sort of "Pia Family Tradition" over the years.

It was the first of three weddings for us. Five days later on June 19th we'd have our personal vows ceremony and reception... and on a beautiful March day 14 years later we'd have our Catholic marriage ceremony. Three times... yet we've always celebrated June 14th as "The Day".

So here we are... 16 years later... and 19 years after our first date. I love you just as much today as I did that day in 1999! Wait... no... strike that... I actually love you more! You are my very best friend... my everything... and I love you more than I could ever express!

Happy Anniversary, my love!

I love you!

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Saturday, June 13, 2015

365 Project - Day 164 - "Bubbles"

June 13, 2015 - "Bubbles"

I was up and out of bed at 5AM. That's way too early for a Saturday!

Playing around with my camera and a half-filled flower vase while I wait for the coffee to finish brewing.

That is all. I'm very zombie-like right now.

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Friday, June 12, 2015

365 Project - Day 163 - "Selling Dalí"

June 12, 2015 - "Selling Dalí"

It's time to start cleaning house, so-to-speak.

It's time to let go of some things I've been clinging to for far too long.

It's time to eliminate the emotional clutter of my life... to get rid of things with painful memories attached.

I've taken the first step... by listing my signed original Salvador Dalí lithograph for sale. It's "The Immaculate Conception" (aka "The Nine of Swords" in the Dalí Tarot) from 1979... and though I love the piece I just can't look at it any longer. There's just too much emotion there.

Selling the Dalí is just the beginning. More things will go as time goes on. Some will be sold. Some will be given away. Some will simply be tossed in the bin.

(I'm keeping the Keith Haring though)

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Thursday, June 11, 2015

365 Project - Day 162 - "(love)"

June 11, 2015 - "(love)"

My wife came home from the store last night with a gift for me: a single white rose... my personal favorite flower!

It's hard to believe that this weekend will mark 16-years of marriage for us... and this October will mark 19-years of us being a couple. Where has all of the time gone?

I love you Holly... more than words could ever express!

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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

365 Project - Day 161 - "Abstract (Oven)"

June 10, 2015 - "Abstract (Oven)"

Some nights your thoughts and emotions get the better of you...

Some mornings you wake up wanting to head for the oven...

... then you realize your oven is electric...

... and that's probably a very good thing.

There's no "easy way out".

There's no cheating at this game.

There's no way to get there faster, regardless of how much your heart would rather be "there" than "here"...

... and your life is too precious of a gift to let go of, or to try to return or exchange.

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"Remember, remember, this is now, and now, and now. Live it, feel it, cling to it." - Sylvia Plath

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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

365 Project - Day 160 - "Abstract (Fan)"

June 09, 2015 - "Abstract (Fan)"

It's hot today. I have no idea what the actual temperature is outside... I think it's only supposed to be in the low-70s today... but it's a freakin' oven inside our house right now! I've got the air-conditioner on... and all of the fans too, including this one on my desk blowing directly at my face - yet I'm still overheating. According to the thermostat it's around 80˚ in here right now... and it's only 10:30 in the morning!

(I hate heat!)

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Monday, June 8, 2015

365 Project - Day 159 - "HAPPY BIRTHDAY!"

June 08, 2015 - "HAPPY BIRTHDAY!"

Today is my beautiful niece Liliana's third birthday!

Her gift and card are ready and waiting to be given to her later this week.



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Sunday, June 7, 2015

365 Project - Day 158 - "Early Morning Conversations"

June 07, 2015 - "Early Morning Conversations"

Awake... Alone... Watching the sun rise.

It's just me... and some coffee... and my camera.

Well... at least I thought it was. Somehow I just know that you are here right now. I can't explain "how" or "why"... I just "know". I can feel it. I can feel YOU.

I wish you would talk to me! I so desperately want to hear your voice again... not through someone else... but direct from YOU. I want to hear that you are OK... but I want to hear it from YOU. I want to hear that we're all going to be OK without you... but I want to hear it from YOU.

I need that. We all need that. Your wife and daughters need that most of all.

So please, Please, PLEASE let us hear your voice once more!

I know you Bro... I know what you're up to up there... so stop hitting on your mother-in-law for a moment and talk to us!

I'm begging you!

"Do not be afraid, but speak and do not be silent; for I am with you..." - Acts 18:9-10

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Saturday, June 6, 2015

365 Project - Day 157 - "Words to Remember"

June 06, 2015 - "Words to Remember"

Today's Vigil Mass (for tomorrow's "Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ") at St. Matthew's in Norwalk will be held with the intentions for my brother Peter.

For some reason as I brought out my Missal in preparation for today's Mass I was reminded of this verse from the Book of Isaiah (41:10):

"Fear not, for I am with you, be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you."

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Friday, June 5, 2015

365 Project - Day 156 - "Abstract (Greeting Cards)"

June 05, 2015 - "Abstract (Greeting Cards)"

Cards for Birthdays... Cards for Father's Day... Cards for Graduations...

So much going on in the month of June! Our calendar is completely filled!

Well... almost completely filled. There is ONE weekend day this month without anything planned, but I'm not saying which one it is... because I'm hoping to keep it that way!

And our calendar for July is just as full! Every single weekend day is already "booked"... and most weeknights too.

Lets just say that life is very "full" right now.

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Thursday, June 4, 2015

365 Project - Day 155 - "Another Lazy Day"

June 04, 2015 - "Another Lazy Day"

It's another lazy day in the Pia house.

Exhausted... I keep nodding off... and I have no energy or drive to do anything...

... and it seems that Leica is feeling the same way today!

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Wednesday, June 3, 2015

365 Project - Day 154 - "Chained"

June 03, 2015 - "Chained"

Have you ever felt as if you have a ton of chains wrapped around your entire body... weighing you down... holding you back?

That's how anxiety feels to me.

Some days are better than others. Some days I'm able to do things that other days I just can't bring myself to do no matter how hard I try. Simple things - like talking to someone on the phone... or having to ask a store employee a question - can become a nightmare scenario for me. Yet at other times I'm able to strike up conversations with strangers like it's nothing... or even get up in front of a crowd of people I do not know and give a speech without any nervousness whatsoever. It is very frustrating!

This isn't something new... it has been going on for many years... and I am being treated for it.

Lately the "good" days have been very good... and the "bad" days have been very bad. Thankfully there have been more of those "good" days these past two months than there have been "bad" ones. Still, even on the good days the fear of things going wrong weighs heavy upon me.

It really sucks, feeling "chained".

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Tuesday, June 2, 2015

365 Project - Day 153 - "Abstract (Little Drops of Rain)"

June 02, 2015 - "Abstract (Little Drops of Rain)"

It's raining... again.

A few droplets fell on the plastic bottles waiting to be recycled...

... and so I captured them with my camera.

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Monday, June 1, 2015

365 Project - Day 152 - "Another Doctors Office"

June 01, 2015 - "Another Doctors Office"

Another day...

Another doctors office.

Nothing is wrong... just another routine visit - but I am getting very tired of doctors offices and hospitals!

And for some reason I really want a cheeseburger today.

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