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Thursday, March 19, 2015

In honor of my Father.

"There ain't nothin' in the world that I like better
Than bacon 'n lettuce 'n home grown tomatoes
Up in the morning, out in the garden
Get you a ripe one, don't get a hard 'un."

For those of you who knew my Dad, and for those of you who didn't, you either knew his passion for growing tomatoes or wish you had. When it comes to gardening, I know of no one who enjoyed it more than my Pops.

At the tail end of winter, when most of us were looking skyward for warm rays of sun, all you had to do was travel to our basement on Heather Ridge Drive and the "growing lights" were already in progress. My Dad would plant tomato seeds and over time they would sprout and start the process. He didn't enjoy it, he loved it!

My niece was recalling how she was part of the planting cycle. The two of them would go out, purchase the seeds, and then proceed to plant them and watch them grow over the weeks that followed. Brooke went to my folks house every Thursday while my brother went bowling; it was her moment with my Mom and Dad, but there was that special bond between she and my Dad. 

For many years my Dad tried other vegetables; some were successful, some were not. Of what I recall, there was one year he tried to grow watermelons—I think they exploded from the heat. True story. Either that, or maybe someone did what I would have done as a kid—I am hoping they just exploded on their own without any help.

My Dad's crop was more than a few tomatoes, there were hundreds. More than two people could consume; friends and neighbors knew when the crop came in, tomatoes were given to anyone who wanted them. My Dad even had a rock in his garden—it said, "Si's Garden." Yes it was his garden and I wanted nothing to do with it. No weeding, no garden weasel, nothing—I got my wish.

The tomatoes stopped after my Mom passed away; my Dad, after a few years was not able to handle all it took to grow them. I am sure the nearby grocery stores saw an increase in sales when my Dad stopped sharing—his were much better.

The photo above was online today and it made me think of an idea I am really hoping I can get done. For sure my Dad will not be growing tomatoes any longer since he has passed away. But that doesn't mean his mark on this world has to end. 

I want to place a tomato plant next to his stone; I want the tomatoes to grow and for anyone who would like one, feel free to take it. It sounds easy, except tomatoes need a lot of water and St. Louis summers can be very hot and dry. No water, no tomatoes. I have a thought, and would love for people who are visiting their loved ones at the cemetery where my Father, Mother, Grandparents, Aunt and Uncle now reside—bring a quart of water and feed the tomato plants. Chances are the next few times you are visiting, you will see somethings never die and you can walk away with one of "Si's tomatoes." 

Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Magic Moment.

"This magic moment
So different and so new
Was like any other
Until I kissed you."

Chances are we have all been there. It's our first kiss, the feeling, the emotions all wrapped up into something we'll never forget. If this didn't happen to you, my condolences. I remember it like it was yesterday—not really, but I do remember it!

Moments are what make life; whether it's the first kiss, birth of a child, or better yet, the first Chicago Bulls game you attend, when you boil it all down, it's something that's implanted in your memory. It's funny, but there are memories I recall and discuss with people who were there, and they look at me like I am nuts. I was talking with my cousin the other day, and we were discussing my grandfather and how he retired when he was in his early 40s. It wasn't because he won the lottery, they didn't have it back then, it was because he slipped on a bottle cap and broke many bones in his leg. (To this day, whenever I see a bottle cap on the ground I either pick it up or kick it to the side!) He didn't remember it.

The magic moments so deeply planted in my mind, range from going to the St. Louis Arena and watching the first Ali V. Frazer fight, bringing a tropical fish on a flight from Florida (my parents were fine with it), to the births of all my children. Of course there are thousands in-between, but these were more out of the ordinary. There's one I have tried to push out of my memory for many decades—it's the time I almost stepped on a water moccasin. Although more than 45 years ago, I remember it and it still bothers me. 

There are plenty of moments still to come; I know of several I would love to see happen, but am not sure what the future holds. Many are in business, some are in photography, but most have to deal with my family. Will I tell? Sure, when they happen.

So you might be wondering, since I usually have a photo accompany "Snap. Shot.," where is it? 

This is only the second time I have left one out. Here's why.

Recently, I had a photo shoot. It was one where I shot a lot of photos. But there was one that turned out to be the most important. When I shoot, I will often (okay, always) ask for the person to do something out of their comfort zone. Usually it's sticking out their tongue, crossing their eyes, or something silly. This time, I suggested two people give a peck on each other's cheek. That was met with, "no way." Well, I am pretty good at getting what I when it deals with photography, and sure enough, I got the shots. 

No big deal right?

It was. One of them had never kissed or been kissed. When it was done, I was asked to please not show anyone. I lived up to the request. However, apparently when the Mom found out about the picture, she wanted it. Not just wanted it, she said she was ecstatic to see it. I said, "I promised I wouldn't." She went on to tell me that the first words she heard after the event was, "Mom, I kissed someone." They were on cloud 9. Probably higher.

So, I did send it, but I will not break my promise—so there's no photo. As I see it, when you make a promise and it's a magic moment, it's something that is kept as a memory—-unless your Mom wants to see it!

Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas any more.

"Somewhere over the rainbow
Way up high,
There's a land that I heard of
Once in a lullaby.
Somewhere over the rainbow
Skies are blue,
And the dreams that you dare to dream
Really do come true."

Everyday someone reading "Snap.Shot" thinks or dreams about what would "life be somewhere over the rainbow?" If not, I do. It's part of my nature of wondering what's ahead.

It's not like I don't appreciate what's happening in the moment, or  has happened in the past, I just like to anticipate and dream about the future. Sue me, I do it and will likely continue. Dreaming about the future usually puts me in a very creative space; one where I can let loose and think. I love to think; some of my counterparts and friends think I am weird—I have news for them, I am!

When I was much, much younger, the movie, "The Wizard of Oz" would be on "regular" TV at least once a year. The times I remember usually occurred on a Sunday night on the Walt Disney show; we're talking decades before cable and the Disney channel. On those "once a year" nights, we would usually gather around the TV and travel to Kansas and the land of Oz— like we had never seen the movie before. One of our neighbors, the Shapiro's, were there at least a few times—these memories are obviously deep inside my past.

Dreaming is very healthy. It's an optimistic way of transforming a real-time crappy moment into hope and a happier feeling. Recently, it's been challenging, but every day it's gotten better. The last two weeks have been a blur, but around Wednesday of this week I found the spark making every attempt to re-ignite. It's registering a lot more heat—I am very happy it's working its way back. 

Today I have a meeting, and of course I can't discuss the dynamics, but the optimism and hope is bursting. There is a lot of convincing to do on my part, but the strategy and content is solid. Most important, it's a very cool program. Let's hope others think so. What's most important for me, it's my world of course, is how it came together. The surprises found in the information discovered as I ventured around Google and other web sites. It was as if someone was suggesting I go here, then go there, and end up with the answers. Mystical? Nope, it's just finding the path. 

The photo above was taken at the "Eyes on Lisle" Fair that occurs each summer around the 4th of July. This was our second time we attended—the balloons are colorful, alive, and huge! Yes I am a believer in fate, love, and all of the emotions that surround us in life. There are going to be rough times but on the flip side, ones that make you happy and alive—perhaps it's spring or just an outlook change, but somewhere over the rainbow, lies for those who "dare to dream" the chance for them to come true.

Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The drive.

"Who's gonna hold you down
When you shake,
Who's gonna come around
When you break,
You can't go on
Thinking nothing's wrong
Who's gonna drive you home tonight." 

It's hard to believe I am coming up on the 41st anniversary of being able to drive. Legally that is. In many respects, when I was first starting out with my license in my wallet, the last thing I should have been able to do was venture out onto the streets of Chesterfield and the surrounding communities. In the St. Louis area, we really didn't travel too far outside the boundaries of our community—in the beginning I would say Olive, Ladue and maybe Hwy. 141 were as far as I went. That lasted about 2 weeks.

My Dad was the brave one who taught me how to drive. He must have had ice in his veins as he had been through my sister and brother already; now I am not going to be specific, but two of us got their license on their birthday, and one…well let's just say it took a few tries. 

When the magic day arrived, I remember being nervous about one thing…parallel parking. Back then, and I am not sure if it is still done today, there would be two poles placed on a street and you would have to guide your car in between them. Simple right? Not for all of us.

Of what I remember, I hit both poles, and on my second try—the person gave me a mulligan—I I hit one pole twice and the back pole only once. Let's say I had points marked off for this part of the test. Today, some 41 years later, I still avoid parallel parking. My wife always laughs and she has, more times than once, switched places and done the task for me. 

Recently, when I was back in Chesterfield, I thought back to the days before Olive Street Road was widened. When I learned to drive, "Olive" had what I would call a "pie crust" rim on the side; it was there to let the driver know when they had left the main road and were now going up the side of the cement with dirt of gravel awaiting the tire. I knew these rim's very well. There were times before I had my license where I not only went up the rim, but over and onto whatever lie beyond. It scared the crap out of my Dad—then I would I started with, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry." Fortunately, Olive was eventually widened.

Move forward nearly 41 years and today the roads that provided me with the freedom are a lot different; there are many more stores, restaurants, and diversions that would have made my early driving years impossible. Thankfully, texting, e-mail, and iPhones, were a long way off.

The photo above was taken last week at the Bulls game. Russell Westbook drives the lane and guides his body toward the waiting basket. Unlike my early driving, that night there were no poles, pie crusts, or diversions (except players in his way) to his awaiting goal. I wonder where he got his license?

Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Roads? Where we're going, we don't need roads.

"When I was ten years old
I remember thinking how cool it would be
When we were going on an eight-hour drive
If I could just watch TV
And I'd have given anything
To have my own Pac-Man game at home
I used to have to get a ride down to the arcade
Now I've got it on my phone."

It's fitting that on the very day Apple launched their new line of watches, the watch my father wore back in the 70s came back to life. In its day, this was not only futuristic, we were witnessing the Jetson's.

Whereas I can only guess, I believe around 40 years ago, my Dad let me where his then brand-new Pulsar watch to a youth-group dance. I remember being decked out in a 3-piece suit (can't forget that vest) and on my wrist was the coolest piece of jewelry of the day. Not only was I amazed by what it did, so were others.

Move forward four-plus decades and the Jetson's are truly here. You can now talk through a watch, check e-mail (what's e-mail?), and so much more—all housed between your hand and elbow. We had no idea what was ahead that night 40 years ago.

Recently, when I was exploring my Dad's house after his passing, I found a box that was branded, "Pulsar, The Time Computer." I couldn't believe it—I opened it slowly sure that it was empty. Sure enough, housed inside was the watch I cherished that evening so long ago. Along with the watch were the instructions, an additional piece to use in setting time, and a magnet that's imperative for up keep. I pushed the buttons and to no great surprise, it didn't work; it probably had not been worn in more than 35 years. My thoughts…I wonder if it still has any value? I checked E-Bay and sure enough there were others and were being bid on. Some worked, some didn't. 

With little confidence, I took the watch to this shop located in the adjacent building from where I work. It's not an actual shop but more of a "kiosk" where they replace batteries, bands, and anything else that has to do with a watch. When I showed it to them, their eyes lit up like it was Christmas, Chanukah and Kwanza. "Oh we have not seen one of these in so many years, is it working?" I said, "No and probably hasn't since the late 70s." Optimism faded instantly from all of our faces. 

Now mind you, this couple is seriously into watch repair. They let me know the batteries for this watch were no longer available and certainly it would be a mess inside. This turned out to be true. But, determination, pride, and real fixation with watch repair, they were determined to tackle this challenge.  After explaining to me what they did, and not understanding a word of what was explained, they begged me for a copy of the instruction book incase they ever needed to fix another. No problem.

Today watches are no longer as popular having been replaced by smart phones. Hopefully, with the new Apple watch, and others out there, the wrist will be back in vogue. 

The photo above was taken yesterday. With my old friend back, I stared in amazement as the red digital lights stayed lit for about 1 second and turned black creating a piece of unique looking jewelry. Knowing the watch I have been wearing, and the number of years I have worn it, it's great to have a memory back—it's so nice to go back to the future.

Thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Seeing the forest for the trees.

"Don't blink, just like that you're six years old
And you take a nap
And you wake up and you're twenty-five
And your high school sweetheart becomes your wife."

There are times when we are sure what we see, is what really is in front of us. Some times.

I have been one who has hoped that what I thought I was doing, and seeing, was what I was supposed to do; but when you are so caught up in the moment, it's possible to lose sight of it all. I have done it, maybe you have too, but in the end hopefully we will begin to focus on the right things. I am working on it.

For many years I focused heavily on work. I didn't take the vacation time I had earned, I was one of those individuals Mastercard sought out—in so many words, they were saying, "Hey fool, what are you doing? You're wasting those days you earned" When I would go on vacation I would stay in "work mode" because what would happen if I missed something that was going on while I was not there? I am sure I am the only person in the world who goes through this. Really? No.

So, what am I doing about it? My daughter has decided that we, as a family, need to go on a vacation; she is actually paying for part of it—when I am there, I already know there is no electricity during the day, only at night. That means, no internet, no news to watch, no opportunity to connect with the outside world. Well, that is unless we go into town and then I can get caught up—this is going to be really hard. I am really hoping I can break away from life, catch up on lost moments, and re-connect. Good luck to me…I wouldn't go to Vegas and bet on it.

I have already been told it's alright to bring my camera and take as many pictures as I want. Knowing where my focus is right now, I would suspect there will be fewer photos taken; no worries, instead of 10,000 pictures I will probably shoot 8,000 or more. I guess we will see if I can actually do it.

Before we made our final decision on location, there was one thing I insisted on—I needed to make sure I was not going doing my business in the trees. That's something I just can't deal with; I am told that will not be an issue. Let's hope not.

Time is something I am working to get a better grip on; I need to make sure with the time I still have left—and there had better be plenty of it—I can work to achieve greater balance. It's likely I'll fall short at times, but I am going to give it my best. Hey, I am only me. I know myself very well. 

The photo above was taken this past Fall at the Morton Arboretum outside of Chicago. I really wanted to capture the sunbeams as the day came to life. Unfortunately I did not dress properly that day. I wore shorts (no biggie) but as I walked through the brush to get the perfect setting, I didn't notice the poison "whatever" rubbing against my legs and ankles. I suffered for days—-lesson learned.

Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, March 9, 2015

For all we know.

"But time alone will tell
Let's take a lifetime to say
I knew you well
For only time will tell us so
And love may grow for all we know."

Recently I have heard radio commercials for the California Psychic Hotline. Their claim to fame, "If you don't feel this is the best reading you have ever had, there's no cost." Knowing my history with psychic readings, it would not only be the best, it would also be the worst; I have never had one—nor will I.

Whenever I have heard commercials which claim someone knowing, or being able to predict the future, I sometimes think, "What if it were truly possible?" What if we really could be Marty McFly and go Back to the Future?"

What would we do?

Play the lottery and win? Easy. Of course. Become the greatest financial analyst in the world, yet still only have an advertising degree from the University of Missouri,  where I avoided math class like the plague? You betcha. 

What role would we have in letting friends and family know of impending doom, illness, or even worse, whether or not their favorite sports teams were going to fold in the playoffs? Just kidding. Maybe. I still have faith in the Bulls.

Knowing the future would be as bad as winning the largest jackpot in the lottery; you would have new friends coming out of the woodwork…friends you didn't even know you had or wanted to meet. It would be horrible— no matter how wonderful it sounds. We are not supposed to know the future, it takes all the surprise out of life's events. 

One of my favorite movies of all time, and this will show you how sophisticated my movie taste is, was "Big." It offered the magic of knowing your fate; what it would be like to grow old over night and experience life as an adult yet still have a young mind. It offered freshness of dreaming and wishing to live in the future all with the possibility of coming back concept, not interested..

Recently, if you have been reading "Snap.Shot." I wrote of my Father's passing. Like anytime you look back, I wished I had spent more time with my him. I regret not being there when he took his last breath. But, I know he will forever be in my mind—I have experience in this wish, my Mom passed away more than 5 years ago.

Time does fly by; even though there will always be 24 hours in a day and 365 days (or 366) each year, I know how important each day is and I want to live it to its fullest. Of no great surprise, the one request I had when we were walking through my folk's house collecting keepsakes, was to able to watch over the photos my Dad had taken of our family as we grew up. Mainly in slide form, they are now housed very carefully where they will be safe. They're not mine—I am just the keeper.

The photo above was taken recently of my son Jason and his son, Brandon. It seems only a few short years ago when I was the one holding Jason; funny thing about life, no matter how prepared we are for the future, there's really so much we don't know.

Thanks for stopping by.