Thursday, August 25, 2016

I must be a fool...

I must be a fool...  I keep thinking that at some point, the 2016 presidential election will reach peak insanity, and start moving toward something more like a “normal” election (whatever that is – I can't remember any more!).  The events of the past couple of days have proven me wrong once again.  At this point, it's trite to observe that this election is so implausible that Hollywood would never accept it as a script – but I'll observe it nonetheless. 

So now I'm pondering the notion that there will be no peak insanity; that the wackiness and implausibility quotients will just keep moving inexorably higher.  That leads me to wonder what could possibly come next?  Some things that occur to me:
  • Clinton announces that she plans to appoint Bill to the Supreme Court
  • Trump reveals that his favorite dish is roast puppy
  • Wikileaks dumps 10,000 emails between Putin and Clinton, containing details of their planned secret alliance
  • Carville accuses Trump of planning to turn the White House into a hotel, and Trump says it's a great idea
  • Clinton seeks to allay concerns about her health by walking up the Capitol stairs, trips, suffers a concussion and complete amnesia
  • Trump announces that he's had a blast, but is no longer interested in running for president (never was, actually)

A close call...

A close call...  Each morning when I let the dogs outside there's joyful barking and a mad rush to get out the door, with four dogs all jostling – hard – to be first.  For whatever reason, generally they run out and take a hard right, looking like a stampede of miniature cattle.  Then by the time I amble out and start looking around at the morning, they spread out, calm down a bit, and start investigating, playing, and just generally being happy dogs.  This is a pattern that I'm very used to.

This morning's dog release started out the same way: the mad rush, the jostling, the hard right – but then the barking stopped, two of the dogs turned right around and ran back to the door wanting to go back inside, and the other two were growling and sniffing, alternately.  What the hell?

Figuring that caution was best, I called all the dogs inside, then went out to investigate.  I saw a small set of glowing eyes, first (it was dark here, but I had the outside light on).  When I got closer – a big old striped skunk!  Nearby around some of our current construction there were some handy dirt clods.  I grabbed a handful and started pelting the skunk.  This he found very confusing. :)  After a couple of clods bonked him on the head, he decided to skedaddle.

If events had proceeded even just slightly differently, I might have a few very smelling dogs to clean up this morning.  Thankfully I did not!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Paradise ponders...

Paradise ponders...  I had a first-in-my-lifetime experience yesterday that I'd much rather have missed.  While backing Debbie's pickup out of our driveway, I ran into a construction worker's pickup.  It was all my fault – knowing my driveway well, I just used the driver's side mirror to keep my side lined up.  The construction guys had parked to the other side, out of that mirror's view, to unload their tools.  I never saw their truck simply because I never looked in the passenger side mirror.  Smash!  Bang!  Tinkling of glass and plastic everywhere.  Thankfully nobody was hurt at all.  The two pickups?  That's another story altogether.

The rear bumper, side panel, and right taillight on Debbie's Toyota Tundra are smashed beyond repair (see at right).  Some other internal parts are bent, but they can be fixed.  The other pickup had substantially more body damage (Tundras are tougher than Fords, apparently!), but amazingly their taillight was still working.

Our insurance company is covering the damage I did to the other truck.  Our truck doesn't have collision insurance (that never made economic sense for us, as we've never before made a claim on it!).  So I called Hyrum Tire, our local repair shop that we just love, and asked if they did body work.  Nope, they do not.  They did recommend someone, though: Mountain View Auto Body in Hyrum.  I'd never heard of them, but when I looked them up I discovered that they're only a couple of miles from our house!  I drove there yesterday to get an estimate.  Their shop is located in the center of a field, in a building they put up next to their farm house.  It's a father-and-son operation with four bays and modern-looking equipment and software.  Mitch, the proprietor, was as friendly, direct, and straight-shooting as the folks at Hyrum Tire.  He took some quick notes and photos, then used his fancy software to generate an estimate: $2,500, two thirds of which is parts.  Ouch!  But I'm not really complaining; that's less than I had feared it would be.  The truck goes in on Monday for a week-long stay in the “hospital”...

Construction update...

Construction update...  The workers assembling our sun room finished yesterday.  Woo hoo!  Now we have to get the floor tiled, the porch built, the wiring done, and the wallboard installed and painted.  I guess we're not quite finished yet. :)  But it's definitely progress!  Some photos:

In addition to that, the framers showed up yesterday to start framing up the mud room.  Talking with the workers, I found out that they were only here because the crane on another job broke down, so they had nothing to do.  Our builder, like any successful builder, is working on multiple projects at the same time.  In addition, he and his wife are moving into a new house themselves, one that he also built.  The worst part: I'm certain that we're one of the smallest jobs he has going.  So ... we're not exactly at the top of his priority list.  Dang!  But at least something got done!  Some photos:

All three of the additions we're making are changing the shape of our house.  If you were to look at our original house from above, it was basically a simple rectangle.  Now, viewed the same way, one end has a rounded extension, one side has a small rectangle sticking out, and the other side has a large rectangle sticking out.  I can't quite visualize it all yet, but I'm pretty sure the result will be more interesting looking.  It will certainly be less regular!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Paradise ponders...

Paradise ponders...  I had the dogs outside around sunset last night, and caught this scene with my iPhone.  It's a beautiful spot we live in...

Construction update...

Construction update...  The sun room is nearly finished.  I'm expecting them to completely finish today.  I'm a little surprised how nice it looks on the end of our house – almost like someone with an actual architectural sense designed it. :)  Some photos taken yesterday:

Even better: the framers are here today, starting on the mud room!  As I'm writing this, they're busy ripping siding off and preparing to tie the new frame into the existing house's frame.  Yay!

Monday, August 22, 2016

More memories...

More memories ... from my mom's photo collection...

I love this photo, but you might not see why at first blush. :)  The photo is undated.  In my mom's handwriting, on the back it says “Dad with a big one!”.  It's written with a fountain pen, something I don't recall my mom ever using.  The man in the photo is her dad, my grandfather, Donald MacLaughlin.  He looks young there compared with most of my memories of him, so I suspect the photo dates from roughly 1950, give or take 5 years or so.  Now why do I love this photo?  Because it's fake!  If you look carefully at the fish, you'll see that it is a halftone image (made of little dots).  That means it was printed on an offset printing press, most likely for a magazine or newspaper.  Someone cut out that fish and glued it to the photograph!  That's how they Photoshopped photos, back in the day.  It's also the kind of jest my grandfather would have enjoyed, whether he did it himself or someone did it to him. :)

I have no idea where this was taken, but they're on a large boat – probably it's a bay or even on the ocean.  The lab dates it to June 1955.  My mom wrote “Elinor Tom 1955” on the back (using a fountain pen, again!).  My mom was 22, and had had three children at that point; my sister Holly was only a few months old.  My dad was 31.  They look so young, and so happy!

Oh, man, did this photo bring the memories pouring back in!  The lab dates it as December 1958, and it's clearly taken at Christmas time.  My mom wrote on the back “one of our poorest but one of the best Christmases” My sister Holly is sitting on something wheeled – I think it's a toy tractor, and she's sitting on its seat, but facing rearward (so the tractor is mostly hidden behind her).  I'm grinning from the cab, next to my mom.  I'm wearing a bow tie, which seems very weird to me – I don't remember us getting dressed up at Christmas time.  The location is our living room, looking to the east.  Our rarely-used front door is behind the cardboard locomotive.  Over Holly's head you can see the cage that held our pet flying squirrel.  Somehow we caught the thing; I've forgotten how.  I'm not sure how long we had that flying squirrel, but I remember him whizzing around in the cage.  Looking at it now, I don't believe my dad could have made it – the joints are square and straight, and the screws or nails are evenly spaced.  Can't have been him! :)  That makes me wonder who the heck did make it.  To the right of the cardboard locomotive is a family treasure, though it doesn't look like much.  It's a table made from the wood of American holly (Ilex opaca) trees, a very white and fine-grained wood.  It's a rare holly tree that has an straight wood in it, even the trunk is usually bent.  It's also rare for them to have trunks more than about 6" in diameter.  I don't know where they found the wood to make that table, though my dad once told me that it came from our farm and from specimens in the New Jersey pine barrens.  Holly now has that table in her home.  On the table is a clock I remember, the kind with a spring pendulum behind glass on its bottom, twirling to and fro to regulate the clock.  I've no idea whatever happened to that.  The chair to the left of Holly I remember very well, though not with those cushions (the ones I remember were solid green).  That cardboard locomotive I also remember, as well as the sounds of dad putting it together.  On Christmas Eve (we opened presents on Christmas morning), when we were pretending to try to sleep, I could hear dad being quite unhappy in the basement, trying to understand the assembly directions for that locomotive.  Building a kit was not the kind of thing he had much practice at. :)  Years later, on one of our trips, he told me that at several points during the night he was so frustrated that he nearly threw the damned thing out.  There were several points where he simply gave up on the directions and just held it together with tape and staples.  It was perfect so far as us kids were concerned.

 That's me at left, on a hike in (I think) Maine, almost certainly with my dad (and I'm assuming that he took the photo).  The lab dates it to December 1958, but clearly it was taken in the summertime.  They must not have developed the photos for a few months (taking photos on actual film sure was a different kind of experience than we have today with digital cameras!).  Most likely this was taken between June and August of 1958, when I'd have been almost six years old.  We're on a low mountain or big hill, and you can see a lake in the background, along with some other mountains.  We kids, especially my brother Scott and I, went on dozens and dozens of hikes with my dad over the years, up through 1957.  It's a core part of our family life, more than any other family I've ever run into.

This is another photo of our 1958 Christmas, dated December 1958 by the lab just like the third one in this post.  My mom wrote “The first 2 wheeler” on the back.  That's me on the bicycle, and my brother Scott on the tractor.  We're in the living room, looking west out of our beautiful picture window.  I'm sure if my mom wasn't holding me up, I'd fall right over.  Look at the wheels and tires on that thing!  It looks like a truck.  I wonder what that beast weighed?  We used bicycles a lot on the farm, and before I got a car in the late '60s I drove my bicycle all over central and southern New Jersey (it's not that big a place :).  I can't get over the fact that I'm wearing a bow tie!  There's a sad looking doll face-down on the floor, and bowling pins – I don't remember them at all!

Finally, here's an undated photo of my family at a picnic.  From our ages, I'll guess this was taken in the summer of 1957, when I was four, Scott three, and Holly two.  Left-to-right it's my brother Scott, my dad, me, and my sister Holly.  Presumably my mom took the photo.  We're in tall pines somewhere; could be Maine or in the New Jersey pine barrens.  I remember that metal ice chest, built like the proverbial tank.  Didn't insulate worth a darn, though. :)  There are glass mugs on the table filled with water, standard for us.  Dad is shoveling some large piece of food into his face, totally standard for him. :)  We had a lot of picnics like this...

No more than eight times?

No more than eight times?  Have you ever heard the claim that it's impossible to fold a piece of paper in half more than eight times?  Allegedly it doesn't matter how big the paper is, how thin, or anything else.  I read that somewhere years ago, and dismissed it as nonsense with a simple thought experiment: if I took a long enough piece of paper, clearly I could fold it in half 9 times (at least).  For example, just to make the math easy, imagine that I had a piece of paper that was 1 meter wide by 512 meters long, and 0.1 mm thick.  Folded in half 9 times in the long direction, I'd have 512 layers, or 51.2 mm of paper thickness, each of these pieces roughly 1 meter square.  For you non-metric folks, that's roughly 2 inches thick by a yard square. 

So with that thought experiment, I dismissed the claim as complete nonsense. 

This morning I ran across a reference to a young woman (Britney Gallivan) who rather more formally debunked the claim.  That's her at right, with a piece of paper folded 11 times.  I'd not heard of her and her work before.  It's delightful!  Here are a couple of stories about it.  Even better, now if you search for "can't fold paper in half more than", you'll get all sorts of references to her paper.  She's famous, to a certain set of geeky folks.  :)

I took a peek...

I took a peek ... at the stock market graph for today, and it looks remarkably like a noisy square wave displayed on an oscilloscope.  There were apparently four events that affected the markets in a roughly equal manner, and the timing was such that it resembles a square wave with a 50% duty cycle.  I don't remember ever seeing something like this before!

If what I just said makes no sense to you, don't worry about it.  It's sort of an electronics geek insider joke.  I'm not making any comment about the market here, just noting a strange coincidence.  I'm certain it means nothing of significance.  :)

Paradise ponders...

Paradise ponders...  Yesterday morning, early, Debbie and I took a drive to Hardware Ranch and the 5M Ranch on the way to Ant Flats.  There were two highlights for us. 

First, near the dammed lake on the way to Hardware Ranch we saw two moose: a mama and her baby.  Baby was about the size of a VW Bug, and mama most of a locomotive.  Those things are big.  They were south of the road about 200' when we first pulled up to watch, but within a minute or so they ambled off into the willows lining the river.  It was quite impressive how fast those two monsters totally disappeared into the cover.  For a little while we could see the willows twitching, then ... nothing.  You'd never know they were there. 

Later, very close to Hardware Ranch itself, we saw a tiny little chipmunk very busy eating the seeds from mature grasses near his rock.  He'd climb up a stalk, bite off the seeds, then retreat to peel them all off and stuff them in his (tiny little) cheeks.  You might wonder why we'd be excited to see a chipmunk.  Here's why: squirrels and chipmunks are almost completely absent from the areas near us, as are rabbits.  We very occasionally see a rabbit up in the mountains, and even more rarely a squirrel.  This was the first chipmunk we'd seen since moving here two and a half years ago.  We can't figure out why this is true.  It looks to our eyes like rodent heaven here, both in the mountains and in the valleys.  It's a mystery to us.

Later in the day I made a new dish for us.  Besides tasting good, we're also trying to lower sodium and raise calcium.  I started with a steak, but used Mrs. Dash (zero sodium) seasoning instead of our usual salt-based seasoning.  Then I warmed up some corn tacos, mashed some avocado, chopped some Napa cabbage, and made a drizzle of sour cream, lemon, onion, oregano, and cilantro.  I sliced the steak into thin pieces.  All that made a nice taco kit, and we disappeared the whole thing.  Along with a can of low-sodium refried beans that were surprisingly good.  We weren't hungry for a while after that! :)

Sunday, August 21, 2016

More memories...

More memories ... from my mom's collection of photos...

This is Demmy, the young man paired with my dad as a Big Brother; I've mentioned him in a previous post.  The photo is undated, and on the back my mom wrote “Demmy”.  Judging from his age, this must be from the late '70s or early '80s.  The photo is taken looking roughly westward, with the driveway toward my grandparent's house stretching away under the trees.  Our larger shed, if it was still standing at this time, would have been just out of view on the left, on the other side of that broad driveway.  Our house was also to the left, about a quarter mile down a dirt road.  You can see some nursery display beds just on the other side of the driveway; there would have been more on both sides and behind the photographer.

This is an interesting photo for a couple of reasons.  There's a note on the back that reads:
The colour on the rock was a disappointment.  The hike was a gem.  Glacier Park, 1969
The hand printing is unfamiliar, and it's a bit jarring to see the British spelling – we had no British relatives that I know of.  The closest thing we had to British friends were a Scottish family, the Denholms – but I don't recall them being interested in camping and hiking.  Maybe one of my siblings can help me on this one?  The comment about the color likely refers to the original photograph, on which the color balance was thoroughly screwed up by the development lab.  I've made an attempt to correct it in the scanning process; it's not perfect but it's way better than the print I scanned it from.

Here's an undated studio portrait of my brother Mark.  Guessing from his apparent age, I'd say 1971 or 1972.  The print I scanned from has an intense purple cast, another color balance screw-up.  I remember that being quite a common problem when getting photos developed – sure is a lot nicer with digital cameras and PhotoShop! :)

Finally here's a studio portrait of my brother Scott, also undated.  I'm going to guess 1958 or 1959, from his apparent age.

More memories ...

More memories ... from my mom's photo collection...

This photo is dated (by the lab) December 1979, and my mom wrote “Ray” on the back.  I met this young man very briefly, once, when I was home on leave from the U.S. Navy.  He was a friend of my dad's who helped out on the nursery a great deal for a number of years.  About eight years ago I spoke at some length by phone with Ray's dad, who is a police officer in New Jersey.  Ray was troubled by some of his interactions with my dad, and his dad was searching for understanding.  I have a great deal of sympathy for both Ray and his dad; I've long hoped our conversation was some help, even if in some small way.

Christmas 1957 at our house!  The lab dated this January 1958, but it could only have been taken on Christmas Day with that mess!  Top-to-bottom there's me, my brother Scott, and my sister Holly.  My memories of Christmas time at home are apparently all out of whack – I'm very surprised by all the toys visible here, not a single one of which I have any memory of!  We're all still in our pajamas, so this is probably early on Christmas morning – probably right after we opened all our gifts.  I don't know why I'm wearing a cap – perhaps that was a gift, too.

Here's me, feet stuck into my dad's boots, with my brother Scott in the background holding a sock which must be my dad's, too – it's way too big for him! :)  My mom wrote on the back: “He does fill those shoes.”  I'm sure she meant that in a cutesy way, but the first thought that came to my mind as I read that was “You’re wrong, mom.  I don’t even come close to filling those boots – not then, not today.”  The two of us are standing just below the rarely-used front porch of our house.  I can tell from the landscaping that it's at most a few years since the house was built, and the lab's date confirms that: August 1956, just before my fourth birthday.

Here are three more photos of me.  The first one has a note from my mom on the back:
Little Tommy at 4½ months.  He's 13½ months now, weighs 24 lbs.
I am, unfortunately, considerably heavier than that now. :)  The second photo is dated (by the lab) as June 1954, when I was a few months shy of two years old.  My mom wrote “Tommy” on the back.  It looks like I'm sliding down a grass-covered hillside with mature trees at the top – I can't think of any place like that on our farm, so we must have been visiting somewhere else.  The last photo my mom wrote “Tommy 4½ months”, which puts the photo date in January 1953.  I have no recollection of that giant stuffed bear.  At that point we were living in the rented apartment in my Uncle Donald's house, and I don't remember the furniture there so I can't tell if that was taken in our apartment.

More memories...

More memories ... from my mom's photo collection...

The photo at right has notes on the back in unfamiliar hand printing.  It's most definitely not my mom or dad; I know their printing very well.  It's written with a fountain pen, something that I've never seen my parents use.  The notes say: “June, 1953  Stan and Grove at quitting time on the Dilatush’s home.”  Presumably Stan and Grove are the masons who built the foundation.  We're looking at the north wall of the foundation, with the kitchen bay poking out.  One thing of interest to me: the west wall right under the guy sitting on the top is solid.  I remember that wall having a rough doorway; really, just a hole.  It led into the foundation for the “old bathroom” which appears to be missing in this photo.  I'm guessing that the bathroom was added on at some point during the construction, and wasn't part of the original house plans.  It looked like an add-on, too – a wart on the otherwise straight west side of the house.

This photo is undated and has no notes on it.  The boy leaning out of the window has to be my brother Scott, and the baby alongside is likely my sister Holly.  That dates this photo to roughly 1956, when Scott would have been between two and three years old.  I think that's the east-facing window of our dining room, and the photo taken in the morning with the sun to the southeast.  I can make out a picture hanging on the wall opposite, but the light colored rectangle behind Scott is a mystery to me.  The woman whose face is mostly hidden doesn't look like my mom, but I don't know who else it could be.

This photo is dated (by the lab) June 1955, and it looks like we're on a boat.  I posted one yesterday that was also June 1955 on a boat, but all three of us were in different outfits in that photo.  I'm guessing we had another day on the boat.  That's me on the left, holding a bucket (bait?), and my dad holding my brother Scott.  Dad must have been cold – he's wearing a long-sleeved shirt, probably cotton twill though possibly even flannel.

 Here's another photo of our Magnolia grandifloras, and a better view of the flagpole, dated (by the lab) March 1959.  Certainly it was taken in the winter; the trees in the woods have dropped all their leaves.  In my mom's handwriting, a note on the back says “tree to the right of the flagpole is our big magnolia”.  The south end of our house is just visible on the right; this photo was taken facing south-southwest, apparently (from the shadows) quite early in the morning.

That's Jessie Johnston at right, in a photo dated by the lab as August 1972.  In my mom's handwriting on the back there's a longer-than-usual note:
Jessie Johnston – Papa Johnston's daughter, Sally Smith's sister.  One wonderful lady died too young – has a dental clinic named for her in Bath, Maine.
I don't remember either Jessie or Sally, but I certainly remember Papa Johnston – a “character” of epic proportions, and the main figure in dozens of hysterically funny stories.  It looks like that dental clinic is still around, and that Jessie's married name was Jessie Albert.

Finally, three photos of me.  All three are undated studio portraits.  On the first one in my mother's handwriting it says:
My beautiful oldest son – I love this photo.  He looked so much like the Ivory Baby.
I think my mom may have been just a little bit biased. :)  There's nothing on the other two.  So far I've seen about 10 studio portraits of me, and I don't remember ever sitting for even one!

More memories...

More memories ... from my mom's photo collection...

This fellow is Jimmy Cole, from another family we made friends with while camping.  Jimmy and his parents lived in Oakland, Maine – and I believe we met them while camping in Maine somewhere (maybe the Katahdin area?).  We visited their home a few times, and I remember going on Jimmy's paper route with him – quite a novelty for this farm kid! :)  This photo is undated, and it was taken in our home's living room.  I don't remember them visiting us, but obviously they did!  It's a mystery to me why Jimmy has a paper headdress on, and is holding a stuffed animal with another one.  I remember thinking that his parents were old – I'm not sure whether that's actually true.  I know my parents heard from Jimmy once in a while, and that he'd gotten in trouble with the law a few times.  Don't know anything else.

This photo is dated by the lab as February 1961, when I'd have been 8 years old.  That's me in the foreground, and I think that's my cousin Jonathan in the background.  I've no idea where the photo was taken – nothing in it looks familiar at all.  There are no notes on the photo.  Maybe my siblings will recognize it.

I didn't have any idea who these people were until I saw my mom's note on the back: “Picnic Jimmy Gurlick on right man who built our house kitchen and bathroom cabinets”.  The lab dated the photo as June 1955.  I believe that's me sitting next to the dark-haired girl (whom I don't recognize), and Scott in the high chair (which I remember).  It looks like we're in our yard, on the northwest corner of our house.  I don't remember that picnic table at all, but it looks like the sort of thing my dad might have built, farmer-style.  Jimmy did a beautiful job on our house and cabinets.

This photo is undated and unlabeled.  My brother Scott (at right) and I (in the inner tube) are swimming in a place I don't recognize at all.  It looks like a sand beach with scrub pines in the background, so I'm going to take a wild guess and say it's Oswego Lake in the New Jersey pine barrens.  I'll guess (from our ages) that the date is summer of 1955 or 1956.

And finally a small collection of Overs.  The first photo is dated (by the lab) as August 1952, the month before I was born.  In my mom's handwriting, the people are identified as Dannie and Joyce Over, cousins of mine, the children of my mom's sister Betty and her husband bill.  The second photo isn't dated, but in my mom's handwriting: “Mike Over Betty’s son”.  I don't have any specific memories of any of these Overs...

More memories...

More memories ... from my mom's photo collection...

This one has on the back “Christmas morning” in my mom's handwriting, but no date on it anywhere. We're in the living room, my brother Scott is on the left, I'm on the right, and my dad is in the background standing in the door to our bedroom hallway.  Judging by our age, I'd guess this is 1956.  I love the way Cynda is following us. :)  The picture window is out of picture to the right, where we're heading – and that's where our Christmas tree would have been up.  That stuffed armchair I remember very well.  One memory welling up: my dad sitting in that armchair, with me on his shoulders, brushing his hair while he moaned with pleasure.  I don't remember the rugs at all – but now I've seen them in several photos, so they couldn't be some temporary thing.

 This is the “front” of our home on the Robbinsville farm, the one my parents built.  The photo is undated, but on the back in my mom's handwriting is “1st and only year this blasted thing ever bloomed”.  I don't remember that tree, so I don't know what it was.  Judging from the landscaping and the sidewalk, I'm guessing this photo was taken in 1956 or 1957.  We're looking at the northeast corner of our house, and the dining room was right in that corner.  The front door, visible to the left of the photo, opened directly into our living room.  The bay just visible on the right of the photo is the north end of our kitchen.  I'd completely forgotten that the front porch had a roof over it.  We rarely used that entrance, so I guess its details never soaked into my brain. :)  The dormer visible above the porch roof I do remember – but from the inside.  We had a large attic that my parents used for storage, and that dormer held the boxes of stuff that were most interesting to me: my dad's papers and photos from the war and before.  For some reason I was often the person detailed to go up into the attic to find something, and I had the chance, a few times, to look through those boxes.  The entrance to the attic was a “hatch” over the end of our bedroom hallway.  I remember hundreds of photos of scenery, most likely from North Africa and Italy, where he was stationed in the war.  There were a couple of locked boxes that I never got into, darn it.  I remember some foreign money, some sea shells, and bags of seeds.  All of that stuff is long gone, unfortunately; I'd sure like to have it today.

This is my dad and I, in June 1954 (lab date) when I was almost two years old.  On the back, in my mom's handwriting: “Tommy and Tom”.  That curved sidewalk has been in some other photos; I think it was at the southeast corner of my grandparent's home on the farm, but I'm not at all certain of that.  I'd give a lot to hold my dad's hands again...

Here's one of several photos I'd never seen before: our house on the Robbinsville farm while it was being built.  On the back, in my mom's handwriting: “building our house 1953”.  From the foliage in the woods behind, that's in the summertime.  We're looking at the northeast corner of the house, and the worker is in the northwest corner of what would be our dining room.  The big steel tank in the foreground must have been the oil tank (for our heater), which was buried on the north side of the house.  It's interesting to see the old-fashioned construction techniques on display here; anyone familiar with modern home construction will immediately pick out all sorts of differences.  One thing that jumps out at me, because I'd forgotten it: the tall opening (with a lower top) in the basement wall, the second opening from the left in the photo.  That was a doorway that opened into a small storage area underneath our front porch.  It was like a closet in the basement.  There was a second such basement “closet” on the northwest corner of the basement, under what we called the “old bathroom”.

Here's one I'd love to know the story behind.  It's dated (by the lab) June 1955, and on the back in my mom's handwriting it says “Cape Cod fishing boat”.  That's my dad on the left, holding my hand; I'm holding my brother Scott's hand.  Scott is holding a little girl's hand, but it can't be my sister Holly because she'd have been an infant at that point.  I have no idea who that little girl was.  Likewise, I don't recognize any of the people in the background, or the boat itself.  And I have no memory of ever being on a Cape Cod fishing boat.  On the other hand, my dad knew quite a few fishermen – a result of his love of home-cooked seafood.  He found gems of seafood eateries all up and down the east coast.  It wouldn't surprise me at all to discover that he had a fisherman friend on Cape Cod.

Finally here are a couple of kid photos: my sister Holly on the left, and my brother Scott on the right.  These are studio shots, and undated.  I'd guess 1961 or 1962 for Holly's, and a couple years earlier for Scott's.