Happy Birthday. I just remember the day. Eric was born on the last day of third grade for me. That would be Elkins First Ward School. Lot of memories there. I awoke and mom had delivered overnight. Dad was getting us breakfast. John and me. He had left us alone overnight. We slept and never knew it. I barely remember when John was born. All I remember is that they kept acting like I might be jealous of someone new in the house. He did not affect me in the least. We were expecting a girl (Eric). Hoping for a girl. I don’t know why. It seems ok by me that I got another brother. His name is closer to the front of the alphabet. And he got a middle name.
Me? My mother used a baby name book. She bailed at V. WXYZ not too much further to go. And no middle name. “T” it was on my birth certificate. No, I did not know till I was sixteen. My first summer job as a waiter in a camp and when they returned our birth certificates someone pointed it out. “Oh, well, I didn’t have a first name for you. So I just saved a spot.” Great story. And each brother got a letter closer to the front of the alphabet.
My mother was one of seven children. The last three were sisters. The youngest sister my dear Auntie Fu Ching told me after my mother had passed away, “Your mother lied on your birth certificate.” Huh? The older sister Emily told her she was too old to have a baby (me). So she told my mother, “Lie about your age.” Great! I have looked and I know that I am not a girl.
You’d be surprised but a lot of Chinese guys have my name. I can’t get my name alone as an identifier for email or username. The most fun I had was entering Hong Kong after I visited China. I was separated from my group and placed in a room with a very nice man with a rifle. It was clear he was guarding me. I, of course, did not have a guilty conscience. But I cooled my heels for a while. And when released (I was released with a smile) my friend informed me that the customs folks thought they had just caught one of the big drug smugglers with my same name. Geez!
I hide out in an alcove of the hospital. No office. Nowhere to hide. There was an area on the second floor…but they told me people would hide out and have sex. Damn, why do I always miss out on stuff like that. So I am being harassed by my buddies. They make fun that they see me sleeping when they walk by. I know it’s not true because they have never complained about my snoring. Faisal is on the right. He is from Yemen and is my gym buddy. He calls to wake me when I pass out on the gym mat. Rida is my neighbor in the compound and the chief of eye surgery. The whole body – and all he cares about is 2 square centimeters of eye. Yeah, pretty funny. Obviously I was not sleeping. I took the picture! Right? Yes, it’s not much of a portrait, but then again this was not a beauty contest.
There’s been a clamor in the family for a picture of Lulu. It’s a silly but has Arabic roots because it means pearl. Had I known she would adopt me I would have picked another name. But now I call her Squeaky. It doesn’t matter. She doesn’t respond to either name. Maybe it’s my poor Arabic. Or, she doesn’t speak human. For sure she doesn’t follow commands – simple or complex. But she squeaks. No meow. No howl or whine, it’s squeak. And she does it and it works because I come when she squeaks. Yes, I’m getting my star as a trained human.
When she adopted me I was ok. And I waited to see if she really wanted to stay. This morning she tested me. She went on out the door and sat under the hedge and munched grass. She did not respond to my call or my offer to let her back into the house. Later when I got home from work, no Lulu. I whistle and the other cats in the compound come around to eat for free. No Lulu. Went to lunch… and upon return I found a cat meowing – not Lulu. But after a minute of whistling, along she came. And she squeaked. She’s got a streak of dirt along her nose. I was good. I was going away for a couple weeks. Now I have to engage the care giver to look in on my new found cat. It’s never boring in my house. Did I mention that she chases her tail?
Yes, Happy Birthday Dave. Big one! Thirty years ago. His obstetrician showed up sleepy eyed. She was a member of a group so I met her for the first time in the delivery room. Her name was Ida. Hey! Get it? Ida Ho. The state, the potato, one of the names I wanted for my kids. Or Ivan… She was not too comical at 4AM. And poor Aunt Audrey was there at home taking care of Jules, his sister. She had asked that Dave not be born in the wee hours. She was sweet. She came from the Bronx to watch Julia in the middle of the night. And, my chief resident had last said to me, “Don’t go into labor, we got a big operation in the morning.” And, it was a terribly difficult vertebral artery aneurysm. And of course, we postponed the operation. In order to assuage the poor patient, I told him that I had named my son after him. A year later he appeared for his post op visit and asked how his boy was. My puzzled look was followed by, “You know! Vincent! Vincent Pallazoto Jr.” Oh, yeah!
This is wedding weekend again. You just gotta love the shot. We had a muscle car courtesy of the rental upgrade in Los Angeles. A Dodge Challenger! Yes, it’s a fast car. We never did get to drive it fast. But the boys looked cool sitting on it.
And for Susan, here’s another shot of the kids as they are today. And for those who want to see the dad, here I am again.
Got your attention , huh? As a photographer, I’m usually not in my own pictures from my camera. Dave and I did a selfie. And then I shot Jules and Dave. I’m glad they grew up and are healthy and have jobs and … Yes, wedding for a day, a return to the event and a look back. I should retire. But then again I like what I’m doing. I still have skill. I was fortunate enough to have found a job in which I actually enjoyed the work. I don’t like the side stuff.
No, indeed! But on the whole I never dreaded going to work. So as long as my skill is good and my judgment is sound… There are those who might protest, but I have pulled off some spectacular saves. There are still a few left for me to do. I’m hanging in. Besides, who else is issuing checks to pay the bills. Yin and yang. There is a balance to life. Good and bad, happy and aggravated. Oh! Never let’em see you happy; someone will want to mess with your serenity. Grrrr….
It’s that same trip to Africa. We were camping. Gee, all the sudden I got camp memories. I’ve been a Boy Scout. Tent, no running water, no shower, open fire, sleeping bags… This was not too shabby at all. The tents had a floor and a cot and blankets and screens and a porch…. The Masai escorted us to and from the dining tent. In the dark it was a possibility to be attacked… by lions. Oh my! The morning we departed I shyly motioned for a picture. Soon enough these guys all rushed to be in the picture. All smiles and delighted to have their picture taken, I was surprised. I usually am not so straightforward to impose upon strangers. And their enthusiasm charmed me. I was searching for that African jump image. This smile one always brings a fond memory and smile to me. Yup, a highlight image!
Ok. Why not? The kids visited in a whirlwind in 2013 December. It was a visit filled with tension. Too little time and all at the seemingly last minute. The visa to visit was not confirmed until almost the day they traveled. The Saudi government does not grant visitor visas. And the kids were over 18 years old. So it was not so easy to apply and required a visit to the Saudi government office. Then the process started again in the US where additional paperwork required more difficulty.
Old city, al Balud, the area is now designated a heritage area. They are actually preserving history…just in time. (To digress: they still toss glass bottles out their car windows on the highway.) The kids are here just before renovation has begun. We goofed around. I inserted myself in the pic. You can see that I was learning about bending your knees. Remember it. It’s a good tip.
Jules had been in Africa teaching in a remote school in Namibia. It was the perfect excuse to visit Africa for the first time. It’s funny because we did not visit her in Namibia but instead were in Tanzania where she had not been either. She revived my memory of jumping. So good. On a hillside in the evening in remote Africa in a Children’s Village there we be and the moment is memorialized.
This is an image from a dim and distant post. Remember the wedding jump? It was only a couple days ago. Cousins. Two sets. There are more cousins. My kids are the oldest. We were spontaneously goofing around. They all lifted off. It was one of the first times I used this. And one of the last was at the wedding. Hey! It still works. I’ll keep it in mind in the future.
This is not my first jump shot and won’t be the last. In fact this post has several. Ha ha. I think I’ve lost it. Giddy! Truly. But how can you be serious jumping? Jules more or less introduced me to it once again when we traveled in Africa. And I pull it out periodically. Day after – the morning after – the bride and groom actually got some sleep. The party was shortened by the rain…not dampened but surely shortened by a steady rain as the reception ended. Jeff shot the “Jump.” He kind of missed.
But hey! Later on I got a shot at the top of the hill. That view you see behind Dave and Josh is the Pacific Ocean and the idyllic view that the wedding backdrop was set against. It wasn’t even 24 hours. Perfect sun drenched scenery with a California sunset was only a mere day off. Yup missed by that much. I hate it when the weatherman is right.
We forgot to get a shot of the family. Yes, we got the formals. But Jules felt bad she missed the images with the rest of the immediate family which is not too large. I actually had to instruct this group how to jump effectively. If you just jump, it doesn’t work well. Huh? You got to bend your knees. Yes! Then it looks like you got some real air time. See! Works. They got it in one lesson! But not in the first shot. Priceless!