Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Moving forward; looking back

A personal best, creating family memories and meeting new friends from a common past.  That, in a nutshell, describes our Memorial Day, and Buffalo half marathon weekend.

58 degrees Fahrenheit, we stood around for forty-five minutes, while the crowd grew from a few hundred at 0615 to 7,600 by start time.  Dressed in our running togs under cover of warmer duds to be discarded just before the start, we commented on how lucky we were; the temperature for running a half marathon couldn't have been better and would not have risen to the day's high forecast of 85 'til long after we finished .

Finish we did; Michelle, my daughter, had a personal best and even out performed her coach's recommendation.  And as for me, I cut 7 minutes off my time from last year.

This year is the fourth that Michelle has run the Buffalo half marathon and the third for me.  Buffalo became the venue of choice because  my youngest son, her brother, lives in Niagara Falls and this would be a chance to have a family get together as well as start off the year's running endeavors.  So for the past three years my wife, Michelle, and I meet at Jacob's home to reminisce, renew relationships and create memories with and for our grand children and in-laws. I related the story of how Michelle and I became involved with this running hobby just a few weeks ago and so won't reiterate it here, but if you have a burning desire to have those details you can go here; http://pciyrtpy.blogspot.com/2015/04/marine-corps-marathon.html

We, both war veterans,  albeit different wars, having entered into a compact to compete and complete the 40th Marine Corps Marathon come Oct 25th, 2015 used this race as a part of our training for that upcoming commitment.  We will follow up in 3 months with a 18.12 race and then finish with the MCM. 2 months later.

It's always nice when a little serendipity pops into an already complete and satisfying occasion.  Michelle, through Facebook, has renewed/maintained a friendship with a couple who rescued her from a airline SNAFU while she was stranded in Belgium a few years ago.  It seems Marine Corps vets have a way of showing up to each other's aide at opportune times.  The husband in this couple was indeed a Marine Corps veteran.  When he saw on Face book that Michelle was going to be running in Buffalo he, being form Cheektowaga during the warmer months, messaged her and asked if they might arrange a get together while she was in town.  She invited them to join us at the Olympic restaurant for our traditional after race breakfast.  They accepted and were there when we arrived.
At introduction we, Fred and I, confirmed that we both had served in Viet Nam within a year of each other.  We had much to chat about, as you might imagine, or not.  Anyway, in the course of our talk Fred told me he had written a book about his experience in Viet Nam and suggested, no encouraged me to do the same, for no other reason than to purge myself of a troublesome time in my life.  He offered to send me a copy of his book, and emailed today to let me know that he did just that.


I look forward to reading it.

Incidentally, Fred and his wife Kathy reside in Florida during the colder NY months and, wouldn't you know, just a few hours north of our winter home in Florida.  Coincidence or fate,  I'm  grateful for making their acquaintance and hope this begins a greater friendship.  But if this be the only time we meet, I'll consider it a fortuitous gift and add it to my cache of serendipitous meetings in my life.

Truly; a memorable Memorial Day weekend.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

All work and no play

My wife likes the statement, "write drunk; edit sober," and she likes to attribute it to Hemingway, who, in all likelihood, did not utter those words.  We know he wrote and successfully.  We've heard of his exploits, both with spirits and the ladies.  But if he was able to write drunk and remain coherent, then kudos to him, for I find it impossible to maintain a train of thought long enough to write it down when drinking.  I admit that the flow of thoughts and ideas is prolific when I've loosened my self-conscious reticence with a drink or two or three.  Blending those thoughts into a sensible train is another matter altogether.  Hemingway not withstanding, my thoughts are running to consideration of change and it's good and bad qualities.  Change is constant and many, if not most, times I relish change; it's a chance to learn, and expand experience.  But change that is forced upon one isn't always embraced with welcoming arms.

When I took my present job there were 9 anesthesia practioners on staff.  In two years that number has shrunk to 5. Initially there was sufficient non-work time to enable me to go to the gym everyday, which was rewarding.  At the same time I found it convenient to stop by the grocery store, just across the street from the gym, when I was finished with my workout and on my way to the apartment.  With the reduction in staff the work load remains constant and so, I've been lucky to get to the gym one or two days a week and haven't been to the grocery in 3 weeks.  My satisfaction with the situation has lessened and I'm reconsidering my options/choices.  I still enjoy my work but when my days become; work, eat, sleep; repeat X 5, I feel like Jack of "all work no play" fame..  I didn't create or invite the change, but change came just the same and the attractiveness of the situation that brought me here has lessened. 

It is beginning to look as though I will be considering a change to offset the change imposed by circumstances over which I had no control.  The new paradigm doesn't work for me.  I'm at the point in my life/career where I require more off time and less work time, not vice versa.

Friday, May 01, 2015

Lunch with the cousins part II

In March of this year my cousin Janet texted me, inviting me to a luncheon at her home.  She considerately had thought that it would be a good opportunity for some of the Rochester area cousins and I to meet and reacquaint if not meet for the first time.  Knowing that I would probably be traveling back to Dansville from Morristown on a Sunday afternoon, and her home was on my way, she suggested we get-together this past April 26th.  I agreed and the date was set.

As I alluded to in my last post, Rochester has been a magnet for my family for at least 3 generations.  To wit, my sister Julie, and her husband, has lived in the area for most of her adult life.  She mentioned that the "cousins" hold these get-togethers often, and I'm happy to be included.

My GPS routed me differently than my Google search had suggested, and just as well, because it took me by way of the back roads and off the interstate.  It was a much more pleasant drive and, in fact, got me to Mark and Janet's house a few minutes earlier than the thruway route predicted.

In short order, give or take a few minutes either side of the three o'clock established date, everyone had arrived. The list of people in attendance:
1. Mark and Janet Mahoney Gregor ( Janet is my 1C1R) first cousin once removed. (daughter of Bob and Eileen Mahoney {1C }Reiss)
2. Michele Mahoney and Rick Dejonge. (Michele is my 1C1R) daughter of my first cousin Bill Mahoney.
3. Julie McCarthy (My sister) daughter of Bob and Millie LaRock
4. Bob Reiss and Shirley (Bob Married my 1C Eileen Mahoney and is dad to Janet, Bob, and {Bill; Not in attendance})
5. Bob and Kathleen Reiss (Bob is My 1C1R) son of Bob and Eileen Mahoney Reiss and Janet's brother.
6. Robin and Alex Mirzaoff (Robin is my 1C1R) daughter of my first cousin Tom Mahoney.
7. Pat Saricen Mahoney (Pat married my first cousin Tom Mahoney)
8. Tricia Mahoney (Geisler?) (Tricia is my 1C1R) daughter of my first cousin Tom Mahoney and Pat Saricen.
9. Mary Kay LaRock SSJ ( my first cousin) daughter of my uncle Tom and Mary LaRock.
10. Moi.

Most of those who came I had met only once or twice in my life time, and those occasions were either funerals and birthdays.  The exceptions, of course, my sister Julie, and first cousin Mary Kay LaRock.

Michele brought Aunt Hellen's photo albums and we spent a goodly portion of our time going over these and trying to fit pieces of our genealogical history together. Lots of fun exchanging stories.

The food was scrumptious; everyone, it seems, contributed a dish and Janet had ordered Subs.  There was no reason to leave hungry.

I look forward to more of these get-togethers.  It makes the family history real as opposed to just names on paper in a genealogy.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Life; Why for

One gets older.
the past piles up like
paid and unpaid bills.
the future,
the end of the future looms...
the "living in the moment"
becomes increasingly relevant.

Smoke an aromatic cigar,
sip a tawny port.
savor each draught;
imbibe the pleasure of this
Heady, no past, no next,
only now.

move on;
live each moment for it's
own enjoyment.
quality over quantity.


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Lunch with the cousins

You know the old saying; "you can choose your friends, but not your family."  The best of both worlds is when you can choose to be friends with your family, and they, you.

My particular family has centered around three places in New York State.  There are, of course, many other places that have significance in our genealogy but for my generation of LaRocks, the preceding and following generation, three places are paramount.   They are Ogdensburg, Morristown and Rochester New York.  The stand-out figures in these communities are Aunt Nellie Montroy, (actually my great aunt, being she was a sister to my grand father, Frank C. LaRock.) who resided her whole life in Ogdensburg New York and it was this homestead that all returned to annually to touch goal so-to-speak.  So then, Ogdensburg is the place where this microscopic view of my ancestry begins.  The second community/home of importance is Morristown, NY and the central figure there would have to be Frank C. LaRock, my paternal grandfather.  Thirdly, we migrate to the city of Rochester and the main character there is undisputedly, Hellen LaRock Mahoney, daughter of Frank C..  For this narrow glimpse of our family history, these people and communities are the weave, warp and weft where we all intersect.

Let's go back a couple of years to the weekend of June 22nd and 23rd, 2013.  Arrangements had been made for a get-together between myself, living in Morristown, NY, and three cousins from Rochester, NY.  The purpose of the visit was to acquaint the cousins with their "beginnings," their roots.  They visited Ogdensburg; the homestead that was Aunt Nellie's and Uncle Ed's place, the French catholic church, and the French cemetery.
The following day I showed them around the small village of Morristown.  The LaRock family moved around a lot; story has it that they were poor and had to move. I don't know if that's true, but that was the story.   We saw the house where uncle Tom, father to two of my visitors (Mary Kay and Barbara) was born, the double house where the family lived when my dad was born and where the family photo was taken on the porch there-of.  We visited the lot where the last house they lived in was located before it was torn down a few years ago.  This is the house where, so the story goes,  Uncle Fran would look out a bedroom window, facing the cemetery, and say "goodnight Mrs. Dake."
Mrs. Dake was the wife of Henry Dake who bought the general store from Frank C.and had died recently.  Aunt Hellen told this story every time she came to visit us in Morristown. Of course we checked out the post office that had been our grand father's general store from circa 1915 to 1925.  This was also the place were our grandmother died, in the apartment over the store, in 1923.  My dad was 3 years old at the time.  We also visited the home shared by spinster, and Morristown librarian Ethel Ackerman and her mother.  Frank C. married Ethel after his wife, Mary, died.
Mary Kay and Barbara, mentioned above, are my first cousins; both were raised in Rochester, NY.  Later their family move to Ohio where Barbara and her family still reside.  The third person in the trio of visitors was Janet, granddaughter of Aunt Hellen LaRock Mahoney.  She also was raised in Rochester and resides there still with her family.
It's unclear to me, or if I knew, I've forgotten, why more than a few of my relatives moved from Ogdensburg/ Morristown to Rochester, but the fact that they did is undisputable.  I suspect the underlying factor was economic as is the case so many times. 
Aunt Hellen was born in Philadelphia, Pa. in 1908.  By the time she was 2, the family was living in Ogdensburg, where her brother Francis was born.  They may have returned to Ogdensburg earlier, I don't know.  She would have been 7 when Frank started operating the general store on Main St. in Morristown in what is now the post office.  In 1925, Hellen graduated valedictorian from Morristown high school.  When she relocated to Rochester, I do not recall, but she married William Mahoney on July 1st, 1929 at St. Bonaface church in Rochester, N.Y..  She remained in Rochester for the remainder of her life raising here immediate family of three children and surrogate mother to a number of her siblings.  A stated above, her mother died in 1923.  Her dad died 1933.
Just as Aunt Nellie and Uncle Ed (they had no children of their own) served as the center of family life in the Ogdensburg/Morristown area, Aunt Hellen was the focal point for the extended family living in Rochester.  Hellen's husband, Bill, died in 1939, leaving her a single mother to raise three children; Bill, 6 years old, Tom, 3 years old, and Eileen, 1 year old.
Bill, Tom, and Eileen lived, married and raised their own families in Rochester.
And that, my friends, is where this story begins. 


Sunday, April 26, 2015

When little things hold you back

The week wore on and I resolved to run a long run of 13 miles on Saturday in my preparation for a half marathon in four weeks.

Saturday morning dawned at 28 degrees Fahrenheit; too cold, for me, to embark on a training run.  With a forecast that promised low 50s later in the day I decided to get some chores done around the yard while waiting for the air to warm up.  One thing leading to another and pretty soon it is nearing 2 o'clock in the afternoon; two hours after my, self imposed, deadline to start a 3 hour run.  And still the temp was only 49.

"It's now or never. So I'll miss lunch.  Probably smart since we're going out for supper and I'll more than likely eat a day's worth of calories."

I don my running tights, long sleeve, cold weather, running shirt, running cap, and my new running shoes that I'd brought with me from Dansville. I strap my Garmin Forerunner GPS to my wrist, turn it on and walk out the door ready to "do this."  As I'm strolling across the porch I glance at my shoes and notice that they don't match.  "Are you kidding me!"  I'd picked one new and one old shoe from the closet at 0300 before the 3 1/2 drive home and just ass-u-me-d I'd taken my new pair.  [@&""$/(#%}!!!!!
"OK, not that big a deal. Suck it up butter-cup."
Standing in the drive waiting for the Garmin to find a satellite. Sometimes it takes a few minutes at this location.  After a few minutes I notice that the GPS doesn't seem to be searching any longer.  Attempt to turn it off fails.  No matter what button I push the screen stays frozen.  "Really?" I bring it inside and plug it into the charger; no change, still frozen up.

I'm discouraged; many little things are conspiring to make me think that, perhaps I should rethink running a long run on this day.  Oh, did I mention I don't like long runs and only do them because I know without diligent continuous training there will be no finishing a marathon or even a half for that matter.

I argue mentally and out loud with the "don't run" gremlin in my head, and finally decide, after sage advice and encouragement from my wife, to just do a five mile run.  "You'll feel better if you do some miles," she says.

So, with mismatched shoes, a phone gps (whose battery rarely stays charged for more than 8 miles,) a vest and gloves to block the wind blowing frigid river temps into my face, off I start down the hill, resolved to get a five mile run in.

By the time I reach the mile mark I'm feeling like a million bucks.  I'm running far too fast for me, but it feels so good.  Besides I only have two speeds; running or walking.  I decide to run/walk at a 3:1 ratio to slow myself down.  At the 3 mile mark I think, "shit, I could do 13 today easily,  well not easily, but 11.5 easily and then slog out the last 1 1\2.  Too late now but if I do the river loop in the park, I can get 7 miles in.  "Go for it!""

It was't 13, but better than a stick in the eye.  I'm feeling good and my legs are telling me that a fast 7 is almost as good as a slow 13.

We did dine out and my reward for doing a long run was poutine, a black and blue bacon cheese burger and washed down with a maple porter.

Update on the Garmin; I had decided to shit-can the device, it is 10 years old, and get a new one.  A Google search showed me that anew one, at cheapest, would run about $250.00. I left it on the table over night. This morning I pick it up along with the charger cable with the intent of tossing them into the trash. I notice that the here-to-fore frozen screen is blank. I push the on button and the screen comes alive with the message; battery needs charging. Voila, my Garmin gps is back in the game. And just to clarify; yesterday when I turned it on it said 7 hours of battery left.

Moral of the story; don't let the little things deter you from striving to meet your goals.

Sunday, April 12, 2015


The look of recognition on her face was unmistakable; you know, the look that lights up her face.  Her entire face smiles: lips, eyes, cheeks.  Without a word, her countenance telegraphs the message; I remember you, and I like what I remember.

 For me to know her when she approached my table is understandable; I never forget a face, well almost never.  Names on the other hand elude me.  If I remember your name, I’d better get me to the lottery ticket seller most rickey-ticky.

This was the third time I’d encountered this waitress.  The first time, like today, was on a Sunday morning, a few months ago, for breakfast.  Very crisp, and efficient with the perfunctory smile and vacant glance when asking, “how can I help you.”  At the end of the meal she left the bill and I put out the requisite cash + a substantial tip.  In this particular eatery it’s customary for the customer to take the bill to the register and pay and then if they want to leave a tip, take such back to the table before leaving.  On this occasion, because I was reading a book and enjoying the last dregs of my coffee, this waitress offered to take my payment up to the cashier.  I told her “It’s all set, no change is necessary.” A few minutes later she returns and questions if I misread the bill because I’d over paid by twelve dollars.  I said, “no, I know exactly how much I gave you.”  And that was that.  The next time, a few months later, my wife and I had breakfast at this establishment and the same waitress served us and we, all three, engaged in extraneous conversation as well as ordering our meal.  Again she was dutiful but no more, and no more was expected; good service and good meal.  And again I left a substantial tip.  No question this time.  You may wonder why I leave a generous tip.  I was a waiter and bartender while going through school and I know how much tips mean.  Diner breakfasts are inexpensive and any tip, even 20% is a paltry sum.  So I give a good tip when the service is up to par or above.

Today when said waitress came to my table, there was no doubt, she recognized me.  Today I took my bill of $12.04 to the cashier and returned $8.00 to the table.  Do you think that was too much?