Monday, August 31, 2015

365 Project - Day 243 - "Memorare"


August 31, 2015 - "Memorare"

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary,
that never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection,
implored your help, or sought your intercession,
was left unaided.
Inspired with this confidence,
I fly unto you, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother.
To you do I come, before you I stand, sinful and sorrowful.
O Mother of the Word Incarnate,
despise not my petitions,
but in your mercy, hear and answer me.

Amen.

*   *   *

Sunday, August 30, 2015

365 Project - Day 242 - "Abstract (Water Bottle 242)"



August 30, 2015 - "Abstract (Water Bottle 242)"

I did not sleep well at all last night.

Too much on my mind.

My brain is scrambled.

My marbles have been lost.

Wanting to just crawl back in bed and hide... but I have commitments I've got to stick to.

Feeling very "abstract" today.

Wishing that I wasn't.

*   *   *

Saturday, August 29, 2015

"Walking Alone"



"Walking Alone"

Early this morning I found myself walking along the tide-line... thinking of you...

I found myself looking out across the water... thinking of you...

I found myself gazing up at the sky... thinking of you...

... and then I thought I felt your presence.

I turned around to see nothing but a single set of footprints in the sand...

... and you were not there...

... not the way you promised you would be...

... not the way I needed you to be. 

I stared at the footprints, knowing that they were my own...

... and I knew that I was walking alone.

*   *   *

365 Project - 241 - "The Baptism (Rebirth)"


August 29, 2015 - "The Baptism (Rebirth)"

These are the types of moments I like to capture... "real" moments. Moments in everyday life that others might walk past without even knowing that they just walked past a beautiful moment.

This was one such moment. A "real" moment. A beautiful moment.

Why?

I find it incredibly beautiful that someone can be so sure of their beliefs that they are willing to completely turn themselves over to them.

I find it incredibly beautiful that someone can have such strong faith and love in something that they are willing to wash away the remnants of the life they have always known and step upon a new path.

This is "real". This is beautiful.

(lifeisgood!)

*   *   *




Friday, August 28, 2015

365 Project - Day 240 - "Self Portrait with the Master"


August 28, 2015 - "Self Portrait with the Master"

I was talking with a good friend about this particular photograph just this afternoon... which led me to take this shot.

The artwork is "Calla Lily" (1986) by Robert Mapplethorpe.

Mapplethorpe is one of my all-time favorite photographers... and this particular image of his is one of my all-time favorite photographs - which is why I have this print of it framed and hanging in my bedroom.

Looking at "Calla Lily" online doesn't do it justice. The images you find on the internet are almost always poor quality copies that appear to have the whites blown-out. Even the image of it on the Guggenheim Museum's website pales in comparison to the actual photograph.

Seeing the photograph in person, however, is an entirely different experience indeed. It's a rather large print... about 20"x20". Everything about it borders on perfection - at least in my mind. The whites are beautifully bright, but not blown-out. The blacks are deep and pure. Everything about it - the exposure... the focus... the detail - is amazing. The image is both "hard" and "soft"... both "strong" and "delicate" - at the same time.

In my days as a picture framer I had the pleasure of working with several original Robert Mapplethorpe photographs. Being able to touch them... to examine them up close - was truly an honor. I was in awe!

And so I found myself standing in my bedroom gazing at my framed print of "Calla Lily"... and when I noticed myself staring back at me I reached for my camera and captured the image of me with the master.

*   *   *

Thursday, August 27, 2015

365 Project - Day 239 - "Tears and Prayers"


August 27, 2015 - "Tears and Prayers"

What hurts more than one's own pains and sorrows?

Seeing those you love and care for hurting...
wishing there was something you could say or do that could make everything better for them...
and knowing that you can't.

Whether they are grieving the loss of a husband or wife... a father or mother... a brother or sister... a son or a daughter...

Whether they are hurting because of a situation they are stuck in which is pulling them downward and they just can't get out of it...

Whether the relationship they thought was "the one" has ended, and now they're left feeling lost...

Whether they're struggling with the pains of a physical ailment...

Whether they're unable to break away from an addiction that is slowly killing them and their relationships with those around them...

Whether they're struggling to get out of bed in the morning... wondering why the hell they should even bother trying anymore...

... it doesn't matter.

It's all the same.
It all hurts.
It's all pain.

And when all you're able to do is offer yourself as an open ear and a shoulder to cry on... well... it sucks.

It sucks not being able to ease the pains of the people you love.
It sucks to have to see them suffer... knowing that you can't make it all better for them.
It sucks having to constantly have to pray for help... begging for someone you love to finally get a break in life.
It sucks to cry into your pillow night after night after night wondering why the hell we all seem to be cursed and what it's going to take for it all to finally end.
It sucks.

So what do we do? What do we feel? What do we say?

We say that:

It will get easier... it just takes time. Sometimes a very long time.

He would want you to keep on living... to live your life to the fullest... to do what you know is the right thing for YOU.

Someday you WILL find the way to get out of that hole. Maybe not today... maybe not tomorrow... but someday.

Someday you will know what happiness is again.

Someday you will find "the one"...  and the two of you will have an incredible journey together.

Someday your body will become whole... and your pains will be lessened.

Someday you will have the strength to walk away and to start truly living your life.

Someday you will wake up and realize that "yes", this IS all really worth it...

... and when that day comes you will smile again...

... and I will smile again too.

*   *   *





Wednesday, August 26, 2015

365 Project - Day 238 - "Abstract (Star)"


August 26, 2015 - "Abstract (Star)"

Today an empty Heineken Light bottle becomes my play-thing.

That's all. Nothing more.

(lifeisgood!)

*   *   *

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

365 Project - Day 237 - "The Last Words Spoken"


August 25, 2015 - "The Last Words Spoken"


I know the exact date and time that I last saw and spoke with my brother: Sunday, January 11th at exactly 7:18PM. 

How do I know? 

My camera told me.

It was the night of my niece’s 18th Birthday Party. There were so many people and things were so hectic that I hadn't had a chance to really sit with him and talk like we usually would at a family gathering. 


As I was leaving the restaurant, Peter came out to talk to me. I was in the middle of taking photos of the Christmas lights that were in the tree by the entrance. We talked about getting together soon to sit down and work on getting my photos printed and to go over framing ideas and such so he could display and sell them in his gallery. He promised we would get together soon. We hugged and said "Love you, Bro" to each other... then he turned and went back into the restaurant and I turned and snapped one last photo of the Christmas lights. 

It was that last photo which I ended up using for my "365 Project” entry that day. I had hugged him just a few seconds before pressing the shutter. The camera marked the time of the shot: 7:18:57PM. 

Sunday, January 11, 2015 at exactly 7:18PM. That was the last time I ever got to hug my brother and tell him that I loved him. If I knew that it would be that way I would have held on much tighter and much longer... and said so much more.

In the weeks that followed we texted and messaged each other quite a few times... trying to set things up for getting together to get the whole photo thing moving along… but that’s all there was… just texts and messages. I never heard his voice again after 7:18PM on January 11th. I distinctly remember that moment though… and I am grateful that the last words we spoke to each other included “Love you, Bro”.

And then he was gone… and every aspect of our lives changed forever. 

At first I was extremely angry with God… upset that He took my brother away from us. 

Now… I find myself constantly thanking God for blessing us with the gift of having had Peter in our lives… and for the lessons learned since his passing.

One of those lessons I've learned is that life can be very short and ANYTHING can happen. The best thing we can do in this world is to view each and every day as a blessing and a gift. 

Another lesson I’ve learned is just how much we need one another.

Almost five months have passed and, although Peter has ALWAYS been a tremendous influence in my life, I’m finding that he has become an even bigger part of who I am these days than he ever was before. 

In some ways it’s just little things… little behaviors and interests of his that have become part of my life. Take watches, for example. I’ve always had a thing for watches… but now my thing for watches has become much more in line with Peter’s thing for watches - which bordered on addiction. I cannot go past a jewelry case without looking at the watches. My wish list on Amazon currently has almost two dozen watches on it - as well as a watch repair kit. Then there’s the listings for watches on eBay that I’m keeping track of. If we're out someplace and there's time to kill, I'll whip out my iPhone and start looking at watches. I already know exactly which one will be my next… once money becomes available, that is. 

But the whole “watch thing” is incredibly small in the great big scheme of things.There are much larger, more important, more meaningful ways in which he has influenced and changed my life these last five months. I cannot explain them… I just know that they are there and that they come from him. My wife sees them as well… and points them out to me from time to time. 

My brother is constantly with me in one way or another.



And for that I will be forever grateful.

*   *   *

Monday, August 24, 2015

365 Project - Day 236 - "Love is..."


August 24, 2015 - "Love is..."

True love…

… is unquestionable.
… is being willing to ride the roller coaster together.
… is holding each other’s hands as you walk side-by-side through the scariest of life’s moments.
… is recognizing the moments when you need to let each other’s hand go. 
… is knowing deep down inside that your life is made better by the other person.
… is recognizing that your words and actions affect the life of the one you love.
… is complete, unhesitant trust.
… is knowing when to compromise.
… is the willingness to listen, even when you’re being screamed at.
… is being willing to admit when you are wrong.
… is being willing to forgive.
… is to never give up on one another.
… is to never stop dreaming of growing old together.
… is to be best friends with one another.
… is to share every aspect of life together.
… is when spoken words are not even needed.
… is seeing the beauty in each other.
… is allowing the other person to be themselves.
… is being the shoulder that gets cried upon.
… is being willing to cry your eyes out.
… is opening yourself up and exposing your true selves to one another.
… is letting the past stay in the past.
… is choosing to focus on “now” and the possibilities of tomorrow.
… is joining as one.
… is being able to say that you WILL be there for one another - for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health.
… is actually living by those words… those promises.
… is celebrating each and every blessing life brings you.
… is facing the challenges that life throws at you, together.
… is squeezing each other’s hand as the doctor delivers the news.
… is holding each other through the night.
… is knowing that, together, you can.
… is sitting at the hospital bedside offering softly spoken words and unspoken prayers.
… is holding on until the heartbeat can no longer be heard.
… is crying oceans.
… is getting out of bed and facing the new day even though it’s the last thing you want to do.
… is celebrating life the way you know they would want you to.
… is cherished memories held deep in your heart.
… is continuing the journey alone.
… is knowing that you are never really alone.
… is trusting that you will be together again in another time and place.

… is forever.

*   *   *

Sunday, August 23, 2015

365 Project - Day 235 - "Summer's Almost Gone"


August 23, 2015 - "Summer's Almost Gone"

Tomorrow is the first day of school.

The "Spirit Halloween" store is already hiring.

Stores are stocking shelves with everything autumn... including all of the fall plants in the garden center.

Summer's almost gone... which reminds me of a song...

*   *   *

"Summer's Almost Gone" by The Doors

Summer's almost gone...
Summer's almost gone...
Almost gone...
Yeah, it's almost gone...
Where will we be...
When the summer's gone?

Morning found us calmly unaware...
Noon burned gold into our hair.
At night, we win the laughin' sea...
When summer's gone...
Where will we be?
Where will we be?
Where will we be?

Morning found us calmly unaware...
Noon burned gold into our hair.
At night, we win the laughin' sea...
When summer's gone...
Where will we be?

Summer's almost gone...
Summer's almost gone...

We had some good times...
But they're gone...
The winter's comin' on...
Summer's almost gone.

*   *   *

Saturday, August 22, 2015

365 Project - Day 234 - "Brown Bears Playing (Bronx Zoo)"


August 22, 2015 - "Brown Bears Playing (Bronx Zoo)"

Today was spent at the Bronx Zoo.

It was a day of "ups" and "downs".

"Up" - Seeing my beautiful niece Liliana laughing and smiling and having fun during her first ever trip to the Bronx Zoo.

"Down" - My wife Holly taking a tumble before we even got to the gates... spraining her ankle and ending up in a wheelchair for the entire day.

"Up" - Having fun with Holly in the wheelchair... threatening to let her go while we were heading downhill so she could slam into a rather large butt that was in front of us.

"Down" - Pushing the wheelchair uphill.

"Up" - Spending the day with family.

"Down" - They ran out of vanilla soft-serve.

All-in-all it was a great day... and Holly's little tumble got her a few free tickets to come back to the Zoo again before the year ends. When we do come back I'm wrapping her up in bubble-wrap though... to prevent any injuries.

(lifeisgood!)

*   *   *

Friday, August 21, 2015

365 Project - Day 233 - "A Photographer's Stockpile"



August 21, 2015 - "A Photographer's Stockpile"

I really need to start doing something with all of this film! After all, my Leica... Rolleiflex... and Polaroid are all just sitting there, itching to be used!

(lifeisgood!)

*   *   *


Thursday, August 20, 2015

365 Project - Day 232 - "Abstract (Filtered)"


August 20, 2015 - "Abstract (Filtered)"

"The worst is all the lovely weather,
I'm stunned, it's not raining.
The coffee isn't even bitter,
Because, what's the difference?
There's all the work that needs to be done,
It's late, for revision.
There's all the time and all the planning,
And songs, to be finished."

 - "Someone Great" by LCD Soundsystem

Today I'm playing with a well-used gold coffee filter basket and the light from a stained glass window.

(lifeisgood!)

*   *   *

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

365 Project - Day 231 - "Abstract (Folders of Memories)"


August 19, 2015 - "Abstract (Folders of Memories)"

I'm not really feeling up for much photography today.

Actually, I'm not really feeling up for much of anything today.

So I'm sitting here staring at this stack of folders which contains memories.

And I'm thinking I should probably eat some breakfast.

*   *   *

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

365 Project - Day 230 - "Summer Work"



August 18, 2015 - "Summer Work"

School starts on Monday.

This means, of course, that my son is in the middle of a mad-dash to finish up the mound of summer work he has "only" had ten weeks to work on!

Yep. School starts on Monday.

(lifeisgood!)

*   *   *

Monday, August 17, 2015

365 Project - Day 229 - "Disintegration and Little Earthquakes"


August 17, 2015 - "Disintegration and Little Earthquakes"

I remember when my first "real" relationship came to an end. We had started dating when I was a senior in high school and our relationship would last for three years. I was sure that she was "the one"... so sure, in fact, that I already had an engagement ring on hold at a jewelry store near my job... a fact she knew nothing about. It just wasn't meant to be, however. Our relationship ended exactly two months before the night that I planned to propose.

The pain lasted for what seemed like an eternity... made worse by the fact that we tried to remain friends even as we each entered new relationships. I remember the sadness and the hurt and the depression quite well. I tried to make it look like everything was OK... but it wasn't. Far from it, actually. I buried myself in music. "Disintegration" by The Cure and "Little Earthquakes" by Tori Amos seemed to be on an endless loop. My poetry and artwork became rather "dark". I moved to a different town, partly to not have to face the past each and every day. It was all very deep... very real.

And then life went on.

That first real relationship helped to shape who I am today. It taught me many valuable lessons... and forced me to face emotions and aspects of myself which I had been avoiding for a very long time. It helped me to figure out who I was... and who I wanted to be.

Jump to today...

I've been happily married to my very best friend for over 16 years. We've been together for almost 20 years. I love her more than I've ever loved anyone or anything... and I know with absolute certainty that she truly is "the one".

Together we have two amazing children who are now both in high school. They are each facing their own first relationships... and the "issues" that come with them. They are faced with figuring out who they truly are... and who they truly want to be.

To my children I can only offer this advice:

You deserve to be loved. You deserve to be with someone who loves you unconditionally and never questions whether or not they want you to be a part of their lives. Your life is a radiant star shining bright... don't allow any relationship to cause that light to dim, even for a moment. Never settle for less than you deserve... and never forget that you deserve the world and more! 

*   *   *








The Great Italian-American Debate: Is it "Gravy"? Or is it "Sauce"?



Is it "Gravy"? Or is it "Sauce"?


In my family we call it “Gravy”. Others I know insist that it’s “Sauce”.

So… is it “Gravy”? Or is it “Sauce”? 

The short answer is that Italian-American immigrant history says that if it has meat in it... and has been cooked for hours... it's "gravy", not "sauce". If, however, it’s quickly made and does not contain meat, it’s just a “sauce”.

Why?

After emigrating to America many Italians began referring to their traditional ragú and sugo meat sauces as “gravy". This was particularly true in the boroughs of New York City, parts of New Jersey, Southwestern Connecticut, South Philadelphia and the North-End of Boston - all places with large Italian immigrant communities.

Some historians say this was because there was not a differentiation amongst the many Italian dialects between a "sauce" (salsa) and the meat-based sauces (gravies) the Italian immigrants saw Americans eating. So - assuming that “gravy” was what Americans called a sauce made from/with meat - Italian immigrants started referring to their own meat-based sauces as being "gravy". 

Other historians disagree... and say that Italian immigrants started calling their sauces "gravy" because of the abundance of tomatoes and meats they found in America - which allowed them to "live large" compared to the way it was back home. So their ragú, which was now overflowing with meat - became the "gravy on top”. 

Most historians go with the former, rather than the latter.

Either way... Italian-American immigrant history refers to the standard “Neapolitan Ragú” - which is traditionally cooked after Mass on Sundays - as “gravy". As time passed many Italian-Americans started referring to it as “Sunday Gravy”.

Those of Sicilian or of Sardinian descent tend to be split on the issue. Keep in mind that at the height of Italian immigration to the United States, Sicily was still clinging to the idea of it being “not Italy”. Sicily had been its own independent kingdom until the Italian Unification in 1861… and wasn’t declared a Region of Italy until the Italian Republic was formed in 1946. Some Sicilian immigrants considered themselves to be an entirely separate class and people from the other Italian immigrants. Many would say that they were “Sicilian first… and Italian second”. The same with many Sardinians. 

Americans, on the other hand, lumped them all together. No longer were you “Napoletano” or “Calabrese” or “Sicilian” - you were now considered “Italian” whether you wanted to be or not. As a result, all of the different regional customs and traditions became known as “Italian” - regardless of whether they originated in Rome, Naples, Palermo, Cagliari, Parma or Bologna. Everything became blended… and eventually American influence led to the heavily cheese-covered cuisine we call “Italian food” here in the States. Suddenly cured meats from Parma were being paired with soft cheeses from Naples on pastas that were from Rome - and the whole meal was paired with wines that were from Tuscany. This was something that just didn’t tend to happen in Italy where, at that time, things were still extremely regional.

As Italian immigrants and their descendants started fanning out across the U.S., their regional traditions and identity became lost… and the blended concoction that is “Italian” was truly born. As third- and fourth-generation Italians moved around the country they started to distance themselves from that Italian immigrant heritage. “Gravy” became “Sauce” as this new breed of Italian-Americans moved west or south, and quickly discovered that those areas of the U.S. had very distinct views on what a “gravy” was compared to a “sauce”.

In the late 20th-century and early 21st-century some Italian-Americans started to reclaim their regional heritage. The popularity of the Food Network and celebrity chefs like Mario Batali and Lidia Bastianich led to many people learning that “Spaghetti with Meatballs”, for example, doesn’t even exist in Italy… at least not the way we know it here in America. In an effort to promote a renewed pride and love of one’s Italian heritage, certain aspects of early Italian-immigrant history and culture were pushed aside. Suddenly Italian restaurants were calling it “Ziti al Forno” instead of “Baked Ziti”. Suddenly Italian-Americans were ordering Saltimbocca instead of choosing the Veal Parm. Suddenly you were told you were “wrong” if you referred to your ragú as “Gravy” or your pasta as “Macaroni”. It just wasn’t fashionable. You were Italian… and therefore you were expected to know the difference between a “Neapolitan Ragú” and a basic and quick “Salsa di Pomodoro”. You were expected to know the very slight difference between “Spaghetti” and “Tonnarelli” or between “Fusilli” and “Fusilli Bucati” - and you also were expected to know which sauces go with which.

As Italian culture became more mainstream (especially with TV programs like “The Sopranos”) - Italian-Americans tried to be “more Italian”. Unfortunately they often had no idea “why” they were doing the things they were doing. They’d wear a red or gold Cornicello pendent - which they’d call an “Italian Horn” - and not know what it was for. When you’d point to it and try talking to them about Malocchio they’d have no clue what the heck you were talking about. They’d go to Italian festivals and order “Pasta Fazool” and not understand why the old Italian lady serving them would pronounce it “Pasta e Fagioli”. They’d buy fresh “Mozzarella” without knowing that it’s really supposed to be made with milk from a Water Buffalo, not a cow… and they’d have no idea what the heck “Burrata” is. They’d enjoy their Soppressata with some Provolone and maybe a hunk of Ciabatta with no real understanding of their regional history.

Is any of this “wrong”? No. It isn’t. Soppressata with Provolone and Ciabatta is an extremely tasty combination! How can it be “wrong”?

So… back to the original questions: Is it “Gravy”? Or is it “Sauce”? 

To me, it all comes down to my personal family history. My great-grandparents emigrated to the United States from Lazio, Campania and Basilcata. They came to America seeking a better life than they knew in the old country. They lived and worked in the boroughs of New York City and parts of New Jersey before seeking an even better life here in Connecticut. They spoke Italian and knew their heritage. When we gathered around the table on Sundays it was “gravy” that we put on our “macaroni” - regardless of whether we were eating Spaghetti, Rigatoni, Gemelli or Rotini. My grandparents and great-grandparents knew a hell of a lot more about what it meant to be Italian/Italian-American than I ever could! I trust their knowledge… and therefore it’s “gravy” to me. It always has been… it always will be… and there isn’t a single culinary expert on the planet who could possibly convince me otherwise!

*   *   *

Sunday, August 16, 2015

365 Project - Day 228 - "Abstract (Water Bottle)"


August 16, 2015 - "Abstract (Water Bottle)"

An empty plastic Dasani water bottle + some blue food coloring + some window-light + my camera = Me suddenly wanting to listen to "Tommy" by The Who.

(lifeisgood!)

*   *   *

Saturday, August 15, 2015

365 Project - Day 227 - "Beach Day"


August 15, 2015 - "Beach Day"

We spent most of the day today at Sherwood Island State Park on Long Island Sound in Westport.

I have many fond memories of this place, and used to come here quite often. I haven't been here since the late-80s though. My brother Peter used to take me here all of the time back then. We'd spend most of the day flying kites in the fields next to the beach, actually. He was very big into kites at the time... and we're not talking about your basic "toy store kites"... we're talking about expensive "pro" kites - that took two hands to control and would lift you off of the ground if you weren't careful. I remember he had one kite that consisted of a half-dozen diamond kites in a row - which he could make do loops and tricks and such. Then there was the awesome "Skynasaur" kite... which I still have, actually. One time we were flying that one and it lifted Peter up off the ground and he went about 20 or 30 feet across the field while I ran after him trying to grab his legs!

After a full day of kite flying we'd head over to Fuddruckers for some burgers... then we'd end up at Arnie's Place to play some video games for a bit.

A lot has changed.

Both Arnie's Place and Fuddruckers are long since gone. Sherwood Island is still a beautiful place... yet somehow "different" than it was back then. Most of the license plates in the parking lot are from New York now.... and, speaking of parking lots, there's more of them now than there once was. What used to be open field is now filled with spaces for cars. There seems to be lots of large family groups having big gatherings... rather than small groups of people spread out here and there. Music is played very loudly - and hard to escape... unlike back in the day when people would have smaller radios that you could really only hear in the direct vicinity of their own little space.

Still... it's a wonderful place to be on a Saturday in August! The skies were bright and sunny... the water was cool and soothing... the horizon was filled with sailboats... and the concession stand had Coconut frozen fruit bars, which I haven't had in at least a dozen years or so!

After our day at the beach we made our way over to Stamford to visit my Dad for a bit... then met up with my Sister-in-law, my niece and a good friend of ours for pizza and conversation at Colony.

All-in-all it was an amazing day!

(lifeisgood!)

*   *   *

Friday, August 14, 2015

365 Project - Day 226 - "Abstract (Egg Salad)"


August 14, 2015 - "Abstract (Egg Salad)"

Last night I was boiling a dozen eggs at around 11PM so I could make some egg salad today to be used for sandwiches for tomorrow.

Now I've got this empty styrofoam egg carton to play with along with my camera.

(lifeisgood!)

*   *   *

Thursday, August 13, 2015

365 Project - Day 225 - "The Dream"


August 13, 2015 - "The Dream"

Yesterday I completed a project dedicated to my brother Peter - a photo book I call "The Dream".

The book is based on a handwritten list that Peter gave me last year... a list of the first batch of my photos that he wanted to display and sell in the gallery of his shop - "Peter's Art of Framing".

I posted a photo of that list as part of my 365 Project back on April 6th... and I received a lot of messages and notes from people suggesting that I do some "something" - some sort of project - with the photos that Peter had chosen. I thought about it and thought about it, trying to come up with something fitting... and finally decided to turn the photos into a book dedicated to Peter.

The book contains all of the 25 images he picked... displayed in the order in which he listed them. The front cover shows an image of the empty gallery of his shop on the final day before the keys were turned over to the landlord. The back cover shows my copy of the key from that same day. Inside there's a bit of an explanation of the project and a photo of the list on the first page... as well as the closing lines of the eulogy I gave at my brother's funeral on the final page.

As I said in the book, I have no idea "why" Peter chose the images that he did. All I know is that he had big ideas for what he planned to do with each image... and unfortunately we'll never know what those ideas and plans were.

It has been four months since I lost my brother... one-third of a year. My first thoughts each morning are of him... as are my final thoughts each night...

From the final page of the book... taken from my brother's Eulogy:

There is a Psalm verse that I love and I often shared with Peter when times were tough for him. It is from Psalm 30…

“Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints,
and give thanks to his holy name.
For his anger is but for a moment,
and his favor is for a lifetime.
Weeping may last for the night,
but joy comes with the morning.”

May we all trust in the Lord. May we find comfort in him. May we all continue to remember Peter and cherish and share the many wonderful memories we have of him. May we shed our tears… knowing that, maybe not as soon as we would like, but someday, joy will come with the morning.

*   *   *

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

365 Project - Day 224 - "Abstract (Syrup Bottle)"


August 12, 2015 - "Abstract (Syrup Bottle)"

Playing around with my camera... an empty Hazelnut Syrup bottle... and some brightly-lit colorful backgrounds... all while thinking of my brother. Somehow it just all came together...

(lifeisgood!)

*   *   *

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

365 Project - Day 223 - "Abstract (Cracked)"


August 11, 2015 - "Abstract (Cracked)"

Another rainy day.

Woke up feeling very "old". Aches and pains and creaks and cracks. Stiffness in my neck and back.

Then I had some coffee... and everything was good again!

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Monday, August 10, 2015

365 Project - Day 222 - "Abstract (Organized)"


August 10, 2015 - "Abstract (Organized)"

The accordion-like sides of my wife's coupon organizer... which helped to knock well over $100 off of our grocery bill this past weekend.

(lifeisgood!)

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Sunday, August 9, 2015

365 Project - Day 221 - "Abstract (Leather)"


August 09, 2015 - "Abstract (Leather)"

The corner-joint of one of the leather wrapped picture frame corner samples from my brother's shop. It currently sits on top of my computer monitor... sort of "framing" the upper left corner of the screen.

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Saturday, August 8, 2015

365 Project - Day 220 - "This is not 'Nam. This is bowling. There are rules."


August 08, 2015 - "This is not 'Nam. This is bowling. There are rules."

We spent the afternoon bowling with our very good friends Lenny & Kristin.

There were a lot of gutterballs...

There were some strikes...

There were quite a few times that the pins seemed to be giving us the middle finger...

There were fries and sodas...

There was goofiness...

There was laughter and smiles...

And, of course, there were a lot of lines from "The Big Lebowski" quoted.

It was a wonderful afternoon. It left me remembering Donny.

"Donny was a good bowler, and a good man. He was one of us. He was a man who loved the outdoors... and bowling, and as a surfer he explored the beaches of Southern California, from La Jolla to Leo Carrillo and... up to... Pismo. He died, like so many young men of his generation, he died before his time. In your wisdom, Lord, you took him, as you took so many bright flowering young men at Khe Sanh, at Langdon, at Hill 364. These young men gave their lives. And so would Donny. Donny, who loved bowling. And so, Theodore Donald Karabotsos, in accordance with what we think your dying wishes might well have been, we commit your final mortal remains to the bosom of the Pacific Ocean, which you loved so well. Good night, sweet prince."

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Friday, August 7, 2015

365 Project - Day 219 - "The Not-So-Quiet Morning"


August 07, 2015 - "The Not-So-Quiet Morning"

This is the view from my kitchen window this morning.

Well... it's part of the view, anyway. What you don't see is the large excavator digging off to the left... or all of the trucks blocking my driveway... or all of the junk that is now in my front yard... or the dozen or so workmen who are wandering all around my house being quite loud. You don't see the cars lined up trying to get in or out of our neighborhood... honking their horns in frustration.

Apparently there will be no "getting in" or "getting out of" our driveway for the rest of the day. Nor will there be any playing in our yard. Then there's the dog issue: It's pretty much impossible to keep her from going crazy when we take her out to pee and there's strange people all over her turf.

So it has been a not-so-quiet morning here. No relaxing or concentrating... not with all of the noise. The way things look it's going to be a not-so-quiet afternoon too... and possibly a not-so-quiet evening.

Since it's going to be noisy as hell anyway, I think I'll be blasting some Iron Maiden all day today. Yep... that'll definitely help!

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Thursday, August 6, 2015

365 Project - Day 218 - "Abstract (Wine Glass)"


August 06, 2015 - "Abstract (Wine Glass)"

It's quiet here today. My wife is at work in Manhattan... my daughter is at a dance intensive in Stamford... my son is quietly doing summer work that has to be completed for the first day of school in a couple of weeks... and my dog is passed out on the couch.

The only sounds I hear are a couple of fans blowing... the tumbling of the dryer down the hall... the clicking sound of my keyboard as I type this... and the thoughts in my head.

It's a very quiet... empty... abstract kind of a day. Just a hint of color... but not too much. A sharp focus on what needs to be done... surrounded by a blur of what can wait. Quiet. Empty. Abstract.

(lifeisgood!)

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Wednesday, August 5, 2015

365 Project - Day 217 - "Abstract (Empty Sketchbooks)"


August 05, 2015 - "Abstract (Empty Sketchbooks)"

A half-dozen empty sketchbooks sit on the shelf of my new art-space waiting to be used.

Now all I need is a heavy dose of inspiration!

(lifeisgood!)

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Tuesday, August 4, 2015

365 Project - Day 216 - "Abstract (Baseball Glove)"


August 04, 2015 - "Abstract (Baseball Glove)"

It's a bit too warm to be playing outside today, so instead I'm inside enjoying the air conditioning while playing with my camera and the baseball glove that was a present from my son.

Hopefully this evening it will be a bit more comfortable out and we can toss the ball back-and-forth for a while. We'll see.

(lifeisgood!)

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Monday, August 3, 2015

365 Project - Day 215 - "Father/Son Lunch"


August 03, 2015 - "Father/Son Lunch"

Two cheeseburgers cooked medium-rare... and a shared plate of fries covered with cheese and gravy. Coffee for me... hot chocolate with whipped cream for him.

But the food is actually unimportant.

What IS important is that this was our first "Father/Son Lunch" out at a restaurant in over six years. The last time was in May of 2009 - when I let him miss school and he and I took the train down to Manhattan for the day. We had lunch at a pizza joint on St. Mark's before heading over to Tompkins Square Park where he played in one of the playgrounds for a while. He had his hair done up in a dark blue mohawk that day - which got him a lot of attention and made him fit in quite well in the East Village!

I don't know why... but it took us over six years to have another meal together at a restaurant... just the two of us. Today was long overdue!

We talked about all sorts of things... but I'll keep that personal, other than saying that a large portion of the conversation had to do with high school, which he is about to begin in just a few weeks. I gave him a scanned copy of the letter my brother Peter sent to me two weeks before I started my freshman year of high school. He gave me lots of advice about what to do and what not to do during my high school years. Advice that - looking back over 25 years later - I really wish I had listened to and taken seriously. So we talked about that side of it as well... about making tough choices... going in the right direction... and being able to walk out of it with as few regrets as possible.

All of this in a diner which has played an important role in our little family's history. This is the diner I hung out in almost every day when I was in high school. This is the diner where my wife and I first had a meal out together. This is the diner I'd stop at for breakfast before catching the train to Greenwich when I worked with my brother. This is the diner where I've gathered with friends countless times over the last two and-a-half decades. This is the diner where my grandparents used to stop to eat while on their way up Route 7 from Stamford over five decades ago. This is the diner I used to sit in at 3:00 in the morning - all by myself... with just my thoughts... some coffee... and a notebook - desperately trying to figure things out...

... and now I sit here with my teenage son... sharing a meal... desperately trying to help him figure things out.

So much has changed over the years. The last seven or eight years have been an absolute roller-coaster ride for our family... and for the relationship between my son and me. The last four months have been hell for our family... and a whirlwind of emotions. But this... this moment... this is good. This is important. This is what we've needed.

I only hope that it doesn't take another six years for us to have such a moment again.

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Sunday, August 2, 2015

365 Project - Day 214 - "The Mets Win!!!"


August 02, 2015 - "The Mets Win!!!"

Tonight was an absolutely incredible night - spent at CitiField watching the New York Mets kill the Washington Nationals to sweep the three-game series.

Nine of us went to the game as a tribute to my brother Peter, who was a huge Mets fan. Our little crowd consisted of two of Peter's daughters... my brother Kenny and his daughter... Liz, a very good family friend... and, of course, my wife and children and myself.

Peter must have been watching from above, with a huge smile on his face... especially during the third inning when Curtis Granderson, Daniel Murphy and Lucas Duda all hit home runs - with Kevin Plawecki and Yoenis Cespedes also scoring for a total of 5 points! Today's photo is of Lucas Duda's homer from that incredible third inning.

Noah Syndergaard pitched a terrific game for eight innings... with Tyler Clippard doing an excellent job closing out the ninth. The Mets won with a final score of 5-2.

The crowd - which was over 35,000 strong - was absolutely electric during the entire game!

During one point everyone got up to hit the concession stands while I stayed in the seats, keeping an eye on the bags and purses and such. As I was sitting there alone (well... as "alone" as you can be in such a crowd) - I gazed up at the sky and the emotion set in. I clenched Peter's ring, which hangs on a chain around my neck... and tears fell as I just "knew" that he was there with us. I quickly wiped the tears before everyone else returned, bearing hot dogs and fries and pretzels and popcorn.

After the game we all posed for photos... and James Brown started playing on the stadium speakers - yet another sign that Peter was there with us!

Tonight was a truly incredible night! I think we might just have to make this a yearly tradition!

Peter... I love you Bro... and I miss you more than you could ever possibly imagine - yet I know that you are still with us... smiling.

(lifeisgood!)

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Saturday, August 1, 2015

365 Project - Day 213 - "Abstract (Folders)"


August 01, 2015 - "Abstract (Folders)"

Rows of colorful folders in the "Back to School" section of the supermarket tells me that summer is quickly drawing to a close.

(lifeisgood!)

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