Friday, July 26, 2013


Nine years ago my son David was evaluated and diagnosed with autism.  The diagnosis was pretty depressing, given by an impersonal ‘expert’ who painted a dismal picture of a child who would most likely not amount to much. I was sobbing as my husband and I walked out of her office. 

I began reading all I could about autism and strategies for coping with this disorder.  David was to start pre-school in a few months and was put in a Meeting Street program for some speech therapy.   At 4, he was making some sounds, but not really speaking.  Once words became part of David’s vocabulary, he would only use them to echo. 

Me, “David, do you want to eat?”
David,  “Want to eat?”

Me, “David, do you want to go outside?”
David, “Go outside.”

Tonight on the Nightly News there was a story about a 4 year old boy named Greyson who didn’t speak to his mom until a weekly garbage truck came by.  Something about the truck connected with him and he told Chrissy, his mom, “I want truck”.  And the tears came, because I was transported back to a time of despair and the frustration of not being able to communicate with my own child, feeling sorry for myself and asking why him and why me.  When Greyson said to Chrissy, “I want truck”, it reminded me of the joy I felt the day I asked David, “Do you want to watch Rudolph” (the red-nosed reindeer) and he said “Yes”.  It still makes me tear up thinking about it.  Baby steps that mean nothing to most, were huge leaps to us. 

I have spent hours tonight reading Chrissy’s blog. Here is the link: Life With Greyson.  Her post about practicing happy especially resonated with me as well as a quote she referenced from Roger Ebert in one of her other posts,

"I believe that if, at the end, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn’t always know this and am happy I lived long enough to find it out."

Well Roger, I’m trying.  Some days it’s harder than others, but I’m trying.

Since David’s original diagnosis, our younger son Michael was likewise diagnosed with autism and given pretty much the same dismal prognosis for the future.  But happily over the past eight years, we have been fortunate to have wonderful teachers and a phenomenal tutor that works with them.  David is now at the top of his class, even helping other students when they need a hand.  Michael is likewise doing well in school but needs more help and additional guidance with some social skills.  As an older parent, I worry about what will happen to them when my husband and I are gone.  I try not to dwell too much on that issue, but instead focus on the progress of their journey to the wonderful, bright young men they are becoming.  

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Derek Jeter & The Yankees at Fenway Park

An unexpected bucket list opportunity came up after we came home from the beach on Saturday.  An acquaintance of my husband had offered to sell him 4 tickets for the Sunday evening, ESPN NY Yankees/Boston Red Sox game at Fenway Park.   

Because the tickets were for seats in the first row behind the opposing team (Yankee) dugout, we would have a really good chance at getting close to the Yankee players, most importantly Derek Jeter, who my two sons absolutely adore!  My related bucket list item is getting a photo for my sons with them and Derek so I can hang it in their room.

We have been to Yankee Stadium three times, each time going early in the hopes of getting a photo with Derek Jeter.  We have not had any luck.  He has never been out signing autographs at the games we have attended and my oldest son David in particular, has been very disappointed. 

On the morning of the game I wrote a note to no one in particular, in a nutshell stating my sons were huge Yankee fans, particularly Derek Jeter fans, and it would mean the world to them if they could get a photo with Jeter.  I asked that the receiver of the note ask Derek if he would consider my request.  I folded the note and stuck it in my wallet with the tickets. 

We arrived at Fenway Park early and made our way to our seats as soon as we were allowed in, 90 minutes before the game.  A few of the players were around signing autographs.  About a half hour or so before the game, Buster Olney, one of ESPN’s announcers came by and signed a few autographs including one for us.  I asked him if he would read this note, and tossed it to him.  He put it in his pocket. 

Somewhere around the 4th or 5th inning, I had zoomed my point and shoot camera in at Derek Jeter, who was to the right of us at the end of the dugout and I snapped a couple of photos, the last of which he was looking directly at me. 

I had initiated the contact with the note and figured if he was interested in accommodating my request, he would have someone say something to us.  I didn’t want to make him think we were some crazy stalker fans.  Hindsight is 20/20 and in retrospect I probably should have followed through with a wave or something, but quite frankly, I was a little intimidated.  All right, I was a lot intimidated.   During the first inning, I had called over to him and he responded with a nod, not really looking over.  As a matter of fact, several people had called over to him throughout the course of the entire game and he did not look their way.  I didn’t want to be perceived as a pain in the you know where and irritate him when he seemed to not want to be bothered.  

I keep wondering what would have happened had the Yankees won, but I guess I'll never know.   After 11 innings, with a full count and 2 outs, Napoli hit a home run for a walk off Red Sox win.  The Yankees all made a beeline for the dugout and the bucket list item slid on the back burner once again.  

In spite of the Yankee's loss, we had a FABULOUS time watching our favorite team play in these great seats!  And it wasn't too bad having Derek Jeter within 6 feet of us for most of the game.  David & Mikey were thrilled to not only see Jeter, but have such a close vantage point watching their favorite team play!  I'm quite sure we will all be talking about this experience for a long time.

Derek Jeter was right in front of us for most of the game!!
Derek Jeter
Buster Olney - ESPN
CC Sabathia

Red Sox' Mascot Wally!
Brett Gardner

Robinson Cano

Ichiro Suzuki

Buster Olney & Andy Pettit's autographs

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Point Judith Fisherman Memorial

At the end of Ocean Road in Narragansett, Rhode Island is the Point Judith Lighthouse overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.  Less than a half mile on the right is a dirt road which leads to a beautiful park, likewise overlooking the Atlantic.  This is home to the Point Judith Fisherman Memorial, a tribute to commercial fishermen who have been lost at sea.  

The following poem, Sea Fever, is engraved on the center stone, while the names of lost fishermen are engraved on stones placed on each side.  On the day we visited, there were mementos left including two cans of Budweiser beers in 4th of July packaging.

Sea Fever
by John Masefield

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel's kick and wind's song and the white sail's shaking,
And a gray mist on the sea's face, and a gray dawn breaking.

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the brown spume, and the sea gulls crying.

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull's way and the whale's way, where the wind's a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yam from a laughing fellow rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over.

The scene is beautiful, serene, reverent.  There are sweeping views of the ocean and of the lighthouse.  Dedicated on July 27, 2008, members of the local fishing industries started and manage this strictly on a volunteer basis.  The hope is that funds will continue to be raised in order to help families who have lost a family member.  


If you are interested in their site, please view here...

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Mascots of the Ocean

Seeing the seagulls at the beach reminds me of my college days when I lived near the Narragansett beaches while attending URI (University of Rhode Island).  At the time, Bad Company was my favorite group and their song Seagull was one of my favorite songs. This first verse always comes to mind when I see seagulls flying around. 

Seagull, you fly across the horizon
Into the misty morning sun.
Nobody asks you where you are going,
Nobody knows where you're from.

Yes, they are dirty.  Everyone here hates them here.  My son Mikey loves chasing them off the beach.  But I have to admit I love watching them fly (as long as they don’t crap on my head).   To me, they are the quintessential mascots of the ocean.  And I adore the ocean.

When you talk to people at the beach, everyone seems to have a story about seagulls.  My friends watched a seagull sit on the roof of a house and take a burger off the grill while they guy cooking went into the house for a minute. He thought someone was playing a trick and when he went back in the house, the gull swooped down and grabbed another burger.

Another guy on the beach said his friend was eating a grinder (or hero) sandwich, turned his head and a gull swooped in and took the sandwich right out of his hands.  It was heavy and the gull had a hard time gaining altitude.  The guy almost got the sandwich back.  Almost. 

One day we were on the beach and another guy fell asleep with his mouth open.  His friends put a potato chip in his open mouth and a seagull swooped down and grabbed the chip.  He was so startled, he jumped up and everyone near him on the beach was laughing!  Except him.  Nice friends!

We watch the fishing boats come in every morning and you can see when they have a big catch or are cleaning fish by the amount of seagulls flying behind the boats. 

And while people shoo them away, shout expletives at them and kids chase them away on the beach, I smile, sometimes laugh, and grab my camera.

Monday, July 8, 2013

4th of July Fireworks!

Who doesn't like fireworks?  (Well, besides my husband who 'has to' clean up all the little papers that fall in our yard).  He stayed in the city babysitting the house and we were at the beach.  The town fireworks display on July 3 was not good at all because of all the clouds and fog.  To be honest, I am not quite sure why they even bothered to go ahead rather than postpone the fireworks until a better evening.  

On July 4, the beaches were packed, neighborhoods were bustling with cars full of guests for barbecues and as soon as the darkness fell, fireworks were exploding all around us.  There were so many being set off, we didn't know where to look first.

There was only one close call near us.  The house across the street lit one of those big boomers that shot straight up and then exploded into a big flash of color, but the canister tipped over and the firework first hit a tree, then exploded on the fence of the house next to me.  Luckily there was no damage and the neighbors weren't home!

epic fail! - this one got loose and almost hit a house!

I hope everyone had a wonderful 4th of July holiday!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Lights, Camera, Action – Filming Twelve Hours (a movie) by Aidan Macaluso

On Wednesday before our long weekend in upstate NY, I updated my FB status to George, Tina, Suzan, Are you ready for us?, along with a photo of a shopping cart full of lemons (for the lemon drops). This prompted several responses:

It’s the 24 hour countdown… can’t wait to see you all.
ALL of NY awaits your arrival (from a friend in a neighboring town).
It’s been very quiet here… (George)
Well George, it’s about to get noisy...

And it did!  The weekend was crazy busy.  We had a friend’s birthday to celebrate, a garden party festival to attend, friends to see, a barbeque to host, go-carts to ride and unexpectedly a movie scene to film.  The weekend got so busy in fact, that I had to cancel a spa appointment I was looking forward to.

It was over a very loud and animated dinner for eight on Friday at the 204 Bistro in Sharon Springs that George, owner of the inn we stay at mentioned to David that his 17 year old son Aidan was making a movie to enter in a school sponsored film festival.  The movie needed to be completed within a week and David would be perfect as The Producer.  So David said yes, figuring he could do a few lines to help Aidan out.  George & Aidan gave David his script late Saturday morning.  There were 7 pages of dialog.  David needed to learn it for Sunday at noon, when Aidan would film this scene! 

While David had delusions of being DeNiro, truth be told, he was worried about the amount of lines he needed to memorize.  He studied the script at breakfast, on the throne, at lunch during the festival we were attending, in the shower getting ready for dinner.  David, Jr. was coaching him.   They rehearsed the lines in the car, after drinks and before bed.  He studied all Sunday morning, during breakfast and in the shower, with David, Jr helping him.

George, Aidan, David, the boys and I all met up in Cherry Valley a little after noon.  The coffee shop we were supposed to film the scene in was closed and the owner forgot to tell his employees that we would be filming.  While we sought shelter from a pop up thunderstorm, George met up with Matt, the owner of the Rose & Kettle Restaurant across the street from the coffee shop.  He agreed to let us do our scene there.

The lighting had to be analyzed, camera was set up, sound checks were done and soon it was time to actually shoot.  Over and over, from several angles, the scene was filmed.  Lines were butchered, there were many ‘takes’, the SD card filled up, and the camera battery ran out.  Luckily I had my Nikon with me and gave Aidan the SD card.  While charging the battery, David ran some more lines.  We filmed several takes of my 4 waitress lines which I learned pretty much at film time as DeNiro (I mean my husband) hogged the script.  


The Rose & Kettle was opening at 5:00 
and the real waitresses were coming in at 4:00.  We just got out in time!

Twelve Hours is a 30 minute movie.  While David & I read the one scene we were part of, we really didn’t know much about what the movie was about, other than The Writer (Aidan) had a deadline to submit a script to The Producer in 12 hours. 

Originally created for a local film festival at Cooperstown High School, the teacher running the festival decided to rent a hall for a private screening with a question and answer session later.  She felt Aidan’s movie far exceeded the other films submitted and that a festival was not appropriate.  So congrats to Aidan for his wonderful job in creating this movie and congrats to my husband for his big film debut!

Please spend the 30 minutes to check out this film.  Aidan is an incredibly talented filmmaker, and he edited this film to perfection.  I will say with confidence we will be seeing more of his work in the future, most likely in Hollywood!