Spring Break 2014: Remembering You, Mom


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My Mom, Emily Leatrice and I. Early 1954.

April 21, 2014
7:09 p.m.
Cool and clear


I’m looking at one of the refrigerator magnets I bought for you back in the early 2000s. It looks brand new. You always took such good care of even the slightest trinket or bauble I gave you.

This magnet has a the quote, “There’s a special way a mom can gently fill each day with love.”

I’d like to add that even memories of a wonderful Mom can bring that love back into the present.

Everytime I see this photo I’m reminded of what you told me happened when you delivered me at Shore Road Hospital. When you heard it was a girl you began to cry. The doctor thought you had wanted a boy. You yelled at him and let him know in no uncertain terms you got exactly what you wanted, a little girl of your own.

Later on, you and me would have some colorful exchanges, too. Especially when I was a teenager. But little of that comes back to mind when I see this picture.

The way you held me and the stories you told me about my childhood reinforced that. True, sometimes we were like a rainstorm on each other’s day but like the rain the problems cleared up.

I just needed to take this time to remember you always were and will always be the most important woman in my life. There’s so much emphasis today on asking little girls to find role models amongst people they don’t know like politicians, celebrities, authors and artists. But for me it’ll always be you.

Remembering you a little bit past the date you were born into this world, April 18th.


Spring Break 2014: A Tree of Life


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April 20, 2014
Easter Sunday
8:42 a.m.
Bright, sunny, cool.

Mom: In the quiet of the early morning hours I remembered some of the expressions you used when Springtime and Easter were near such as:

“Bright Spring, New Beginnings!”

“It’s Spring and the world is born anew.”

and most importantly,

“We are the Easter People.”

This last one resonates so vividly with me as the season changes from Winter to Spring. We live through the dark and cold days of winter with the hope and confidence only faith can bring. We anticipate the return of the bright days, the warmth of the earth, the fragrance of the flowers and the soft breezes rustling the leaves in the trees.

Of course all that blows away once allergy season sets in but still, as you said, it’s best for us to raise our thoughts above the mundane.

I feel a great sense of rebirth after the visits to Pinelawn and St. Charles on Good Friday. To meet John Milone and Karen Kennedy, the descendants of Great Uncle Irving and Great Aunt Dorothy was indescribable. And when we paused at your resting place I felt a sense of past meeting present. Each of us could touch and connect to some part of the past we longed to know about. And for a special period of time that is what happened.

The entire day was one you would describe as being caught in the flow of God’s love. Although we were moving through the day in terms of motion, the focus and the feeling between past and present took a pause. Everything was suffused with the quality you called an everpresent fullness of God’s love. Each part of the day was so perfect and so right it could not have come about without a higher power bringing it all together. Truly, it took me all of yesterday to come down to earth and pure mundane activities.

In fact I better come back down to everyday life–I misplaced the gas bill and have no idea where it went!

This winter never seemed like it would end. The display in your curio cabinet had not been changed since Advent of 2013. January, February and March came and went and the same collectibles and treasures were still on display from before Christmas. Last week I finally cleared a space of time all to myself. You know I’m not very clever or creative with arranging your little treasures the way you could. I do the best I can.

I decided to take out all your fuzzy toys and Beanie Babies and put them into the Curio Cabinet. Having those few hours to focus on changing the display was very soothing and enabled me to feel close to you again.

You had told me that the family tree should be a tree of life, a living story that anyone can read, even those not within the family. There had to be a take-away to each chapter, something people could think about and compare to their own experiences. It had to be more than just a pedigree chart and a way to document the bloodline. In order for me to achieve that I also had to start a family history project.

Your side of the family is beginning to come into that flow, too. There is so much information coming and so much enjoyment in the reunions. Still, I promise you I will never, ever rush anything and run the story out of sequence. All in good time, one after another, our family from the past will enter the narrative. The tree will grow and flourish. It’s my hope that even relatives by marriage will find enough in the tree to take away and begin their own.

Look at what you started!

I love you always.


Dorothy Kennedy 1909-2000: Loving memories of “Gram”



Dorothy Muriel Kennedy was the daughter of Thomas Aloysius and Genevieve (nee Callahan) Kennedy. Thomas is also known as Tom Kennedy, film star and comedian whose acting career began in the silent films produced by Mack Sennett.

After 1910, Dorothy and her brother Thomas, Jr. went to live with her grandparents, Terence and Emma (nee Clark) Callahan in their home at East 17th Street in New York City. She attended Catholic Elementary School in the neighborhood. She was a very bright student and quickly advanced through the required courses of study.

This photo was taken in 1927 on the day after Dorothy swam from Coney Island to Rockaway Beach and back. Dorothy is on the right. With her is an unidentified friend.

In addition to excelling at her schoolwork, Dorothy was an excellent swimmer. Her daughter Karen says she was as graceful as a swan when she entered the water. There is a photo of Dorothy at Coney Island in 1927 taken the day after a major achievement she made the night before: she swam from Coney Island to Rockaway Beach and back. Her passion for swimming was passed on to her children and grandchildren.

Irving with daughters Joan and Marilyn.

In 1930, Dorothy, her mother Genevieve, and her brother Thomas, Jr. were living in the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn. On August 12, 1930 Dorothy married Isidor Flashenberg(1) at the Municipal Building, Brooklyn, New York. The ceremony was performed by Thomas Cleary. Charles Salg was the witness.

Dorothy with her daughters Joan and Marilyn. Early-Mid 1930s.

Dorothy and Irving lived in Brooklyn near Coney Island. From this marriage were born: Marilyn (circa 1931), Joan (circa 1932); Jack Donald (1935) and Karen (1941).

Telegram dated March 16, 1940 from Buster to his sister Dorothy congratulating her on the opening of her hat shop.

Dorothy opened her own business in 1940. It was called Dorothy’s Hat Shop and was located at 2816 Surf Avenue in Brooklyn, N.Y. Upon the opening of her business her brother Thomas Kennedy, Jr. sent a telegram of congratulations which the family still has today. It was an exciting time for Dorothy and a challenge she was up to. She was a good businesswoman and mother throughout it all. Dorothy’s grandson John Milone remembers her as someone who was strengthened by all she experienced and had a broad insight into what people needed to get them back on track when they were going through a difficult time.

Gerry and Dorothy Ricciardi. Late 1950s-Early 1960s.

Dorothy and Irving divorced. In the mid-1950s she met and married Jerry Ricciardi. Jerry became a beloved step-father to Dorothy’s children.

Dorothy and Jerry had a home in upstate New York, about 40 miles west of Albany in Schoharie County near the Howe Caverns. It is in a very secluded location with over 15 acres of countryside and woodland. Dorothy and Jerry opened up their home to their children and grandchildren giving them all many happy summers to remember.

Family and friends affectionately called Dorothy “Gram”. She had a special, intuitive approach in all her interactions and dealings with children, teens and young adults. Dorothy reached out to friends and relatives who had a child going through some difficulties. She and Jerry would have them visit their country home for a summer and often successfully effected a change of heart and attitude in the young person under their care. She became Gram to a wide circle of young children and adults who would keep in touch with her as they grew older.

Dorothy was cared for at home by her daughter Karen Kennedy when she became too frail to keep up the home upstate. She returned to Brooklyn to live with Karen and passed peacefully in her sleep leaving a legacy as an example of strength, love and positivity to her grandchildren and family.

Karen Kennedy summed up Dorothy’s life in this way: “Everything she did was from the heart. She lived her life that way.”

These memories and family stories were shared with me on Good Friday, April 18, 2014 during a reunion with Dorothy’s grandson John Milone and her daughter, Karen Kennedy.

(1) Sometime after 1930 Isidor changed his first name to Irving. This is the name that appears on his son Jack’s birth certificate. In the 1940s the family had their surname changed to Kennedy. This step was taken due to his desire that his children not experience the Anti-Semitism he had experienced and which prevented him from getting suitable employment.

Supporting documentation:

1900 Federal Census entry for the family of Fredrick Kennedy, father of Thomas A. Kennedy

1910, 1920, 1930 and 1940 Federal Census.
1915 New York State Census.

Birth Certificate for Isidore Flashenberg dated March 15, 1909. Certificate no. 14738, New York City Municipal Archives.

Marriage Certificate No. 10004 for the marriage of Thomas A. Kennedy to Genevieve D. Callahan, dated May 16, 1903. New York City Municipal Archives.

Certificate and Record of Birth no. 32744 for Dorothy Kennedy, dated July 10, 1909. New York City Municipal Archives.

Marriage Certificate no. 11085 for Isidor Flashenberg and Dorothy Kennedy dated August 12, 1930. New York City Municipal Archives.

Genevieve Callahan Kennedy, 1884-1966: In Memory of “Little Mommy”


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Genevieve Callahan Kennedy (left), circa 1940s.

Genevieve was the daughter of Terence and Emma (nee Clark) Callahan.

In 1900 she worked as a dressmaker in New York City.

On May 16th, 1903 Genevieve Callahan was married to actor Thomas Aloysius Kennedy in New York City. The ceremony was performed by Francis J. Schneider. Witnesses were Francis J. Shaughnessy and the groom’s father, Fredrick Kennedy.

Thomas and Genevieve lived in Manhattan. To them were born:

Thomas, Jr. (a/k/a Buster) Kennedy (1904)
Dorothy Kennedy Flashenberg Riccardi(1909)

Genevieve would not grant Tom a divorce after he moved to Hollywood. They began to live apart sometime after 1910.

Genevieve was a devoted daugther to her mother Emma. She remained in New York after the separation from Tom in order to care for her mother after the death of her father in 1918. Genevieve was affectionately called “Little Mommy” by her Granchildren because she was petite. Genevieve is also remembered for her light blonde hair that was almost silvery and her beautiful smile.

Thomas “Buster” Kennedy, Jr.

She was an excellent, hard working mother and especially devoted to her son Thomas, Jr. whom the family called Buster. Mother and son are at rest together in St. Charles.

Interviews with Genevieve Callahan Kennedy’s Granddaughter, Karen Kennedy and Great Grandson John Milone on Good Friday, April 18, 2014 supplied details for this bio.


Supporting documentation:

1900 Federal Census entry for the family of Fredrick Kennedy, father of Thomas A. Kennedy

1910, 1920, 1930 and 1940 Federal Census entries for Genevieve Callahan Kennedy, Dorothy Kennedy and Thomas Kennedy.

1915 N.Y.S. Census entry for household of Terence Callahan.

Marriage Certificate No. 10004 for the marriage of Thomas A. Kennedy to Genevieve D. Callahan, dated May 16, 1903. New York City Municipal Archives.

Certificate and Record of Birth no. 32744 for Dorothy Kennedy, dated July 10, 1909. New York City Municipal Archives.

Death Certificate #41824 for Terence Callahan dated December 10, 1918. New York City Municipal Archives.

Marriage Certificate of Thomas A. Kennedy and Frances Catherine Marshall (a/k/a the actress Fanny Kay Marshall) dated July 10, 1922. The ceremony was performed Los Angeles on July 11, 1922 by Ray L. Chesebro, J.P. Witnesses were Ada B. Chesebro and Mary Starbird. Marriage Certificate from the California State Board of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics, Local Register No. 6772.

Spring Break: A Good Friday to remember, April 18, 2014

Background Relationship Information from my family tree.
Please read this first to understand the relationships which follow in this posting. I present this chart first as a way to understand who is who. It makes the posting which follows easier to read and also enables me to write in a more personal, natural manner. The relatives I met and describe in this posting appear in italics within the family chart of descent.

I. Terence Callahan (1858-1918) married Emma Clark (1863-1920) circa 1879.

Children of Terrence and Emma Callahan (please note that further research is needed):
Lorretta Callahan (born circa 1880)
Genevieve Callahan Kennedy (1884-1966)
Edward Callahan (born circa 1884)
Irene E. Callahan (born circa 1886-died 1918)
Gertrude Callahan (born circa 1887)
Margaret Callahan (born circa 1888)
Frank Callahan (born circa 1891)
Mary Callahan (born circa 1894-died circa 1896)

II. Genevieve, Daughter of Terence and Emma Callahan
Genevieve Callahan (1884-1966) married Thomas A. Kennedy (1884-1965)in 1903.
Children of Geneveive and Thomas A. Kennedy:
Thomas “Buster” Kennedy (1904-1944)
Dorothy Kennedy (1909-2000)

III. Dorothy, Daughter of Geneveive and Thomas A. Kennedy
Dorothy Kennedy married Irving Flashenberg (1909-circa 1970s) in 1930.
Children of Dorothy and Irving: Marilyn (circa 1931); Joan (circa 1932); Jack (1935) and Karen (1971).

Relationship to me: Karen is my First Cousin 1x removed. We met for the first time on 4/18/2014.
Irving Flashenberg is the brother of my paternal Grandmother Bessie/Blance Flashenberg Torregrossa (1905-1990).
Dorothy was my Great Aunt, Irving was my Great Uncle.

Note: Irving and Dorothy decided to change their family’s surname from Flashenberg to Kennedy in the 1940s. The change was done legally and all records after that period bear the surname of Kennedy for the children, Irving and Dorothy. This was decision was made so that the children would not experience the Anti-Semitism Irving had.

IV. Joan, Daughter of Dorothy and Irving Kennedy:
Joan Kennedy married Anthony Milone.
Children of Joan and Anthony: Tom, John, and Domenica Genevieve “Mikki” Milone.

Relationship: John Milone is my second cousin.
Through his Grandmother Dorothy Kennedy he is the Great Grandson of actor Tom Kennedy.

On Good Friday I met Karen and John for the first time. We connected through the postings in this blog about the Callahan and Kennedy families.

John Milone, Grandson of Dorothy Kennedy Flashenberg Ricciardo and Great Grandson of Tom Kennedy.


John and I exchanged many emails over the past two weeks. It was amazing how quickly we were able to connect. John gathered much information from his relatives about the Callahans and Kennedys and I was able to supply the information on the Flashenbergs (as much as I could). Very quickly we began to piece together the information we each had. We planned to go to Pinelawn Cemetery and St. Charles on Good Friday to visit our beloved departed as well as share family stories that would provide valuable information we were both seeking.

EmilyAnn Frances May and Karen Kennedy. After the 1940s, Karen’s parents changed the family surname back to Kennedy from Flashenberg.

Dorothy and Irving’s youngest daughter Karen also came along on the outing. Karen is still recovering from an operation she had 3 months ago but was gracious enough to come along and share her vast knowledge on the Callahan and Kennedy families with me.

Karen is holding the knitting bag which belonged to her Grandmother Genevieve Callahan Kennedy. It contains a treasure house of family photos and documents.

Karen brought along a knitting bag that is at least 100 years old that belonged to her Grandmother Genevieve Callahan Kennedy. Inside it are photos, family letters, journal books–so many parts of the family life and history that it is almost like a magical bag. The photos and documents are aging but still legible. I think the contents are priceless for what they provided.

I cannot adequately express what it felt like to see a small journal that was kept by Genevieve, Dorothy’s Mom, in the early 1920s. It contained the address of the home where she had lived with her parents, Emma and Terence, in the late 1910s-early 1920s. There were recorded in this little book the dates of importance in the lives of her family such as the dates of death for each parent. This was the same data I had researched last year from the Federal and New York State Census Records. Yet to see it in such personal form brought the lives of the Callahan and Kennedy families even closer in time to me.

Karen and John shared so much information and so many photos with me that it was possible to create memorials for Great Aunt Dorothy, her brother Thomas Kennedy, Jr. and her Mother, Genevieve later Friday evening. The memorials are now online at Find-A-Grave.

I’m presenting in the next two postings the bios which are part of those memorials plus a few photos that are not at the memorial but which I’m able to share here.

It is my hope that these postings will encourage those undertaking a family history project to get out there, meet the extended family and start interviewing. Take a notebook or recorder with you. You’ll be sure to get much information and you won’t want to let any of it pass you by.

For me the day provided much closure on what happened in the lives of Great Aunt Dorothy and Great Uncle Irving. It also opened up a new opportunity to get to know their descendants.

We’re still searching for Irving’s resting place. It is my hopes that the details in the bios which follow might attract the attention of someone who can help us obtain this information.

I hope my readers will enjoy the bios. There are many details that will explain some of the contents of this and previous postings. They show what a wealth of material each person brings to a family history project and the value of collaboration.

Flashenberg and Kennedy Families: Getting to know more in 2014


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Yesterday, I had an in depth discussion with John Milone about what happened to Great Aunt Dorothy and Great Uncle Irving Flashenberg. John is my Second Cousin and the Grandson of Dorothy and Irving through their daughter Evelyn Joan.

I’ve just finished transcribing a summary of our discussion. Included is a summary of John’s direct line ancestors through Dorothy. I found this a very efficient way to keep track of who is who in the summaries that follow.

Each aspect of Dorothy and Irving’s life that was discussed was broken down into sections to keep the focus organized. Each section has a title for easy reference.

I plan to do this following all phone discussions and in-person interviews I have with other relatives as the process of gathering information from living descendants is in progress. It is important to review the notes right after or the next day and get them typed up. This is one time for me where mult-tasking goes on hold.

This is proving a useful method for keeping track of all the information without stressing about when it gets posted. It also permits consideration of what gets posted and what remains confidential. I plan to send copies of the transcribed notes to all participants in this process. This way we can make any corrections.

Sometimes the stories are so fascinating my note taking slows down as I listen and am very involved in what is unfolding.

Yesterday, Johnny gave me a gift of closure. At last I not only know what happened to Dorothy and Irving after 1940. I have closure. Life went on and changed. It wasn’t easy but Dorothy never stopped being a loving, kind and beloved Mom and Grandmother. I was so happy to learn that after her divorce from Irving she married Jerry Riccardi whom Johnny remembers with great affection.

I also got a photo of Dorothy which I’ve just uploaded to the family tree at Ancestry. I feel as if in a special way I’ve finally met her, through Johnny. Now when I reflect on this part of the family history I have a more personal insight and a face to associate with her and also her grandchildren.

This is a beautiful gift as Palm Sunday morning begins.

Spring Break Will Continue Until Mid-May…


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I had planned on resuming the narrative about the Torregrossa family (my paternal ancestors) this weekend but so many developments have come up that I think a pause is in order. Otherwise the entries and energies surrounding the past will be scattered and lose impact.

There have been developments once more that amaze me so very much that I’m left somewhat dazed. It’s just the same way I felt when Jackie and I finally reconnected in early 2013. It’s a feeling that is so hard to describe: happy, elated, joyful and yet somewhat concerned about all those “what ifs” that can come to mind when meeting a relative after a long absence. My usual “what ifs” concern whether or not I’ll still be good company.

These developments come at the Easter Season, with all its power renewal. Briefly, here is what has happened:

**The grandson of my Great Uncle Irving Flashenberg and Great Aunt Dorothy Muriel Kennedy Flashenberg found me through this blog. His name is Johnny Milone. His mom is Joan, the daughter of Irving and Dorothy. Joan was my maternal Grandma Bessie’s niece.

Joan is still alive and remembers my Grandma Bessie as “Aunt Blanche” (Blanche was Bessie’s other name).

Johnny has updated me on what happened to Great Uncle Irving and Great Aunt Dorothy. I thought I would never find out since after the 1940 Federal Census they disappeared from the public records and no longer came up on Ancestry’s search results.

I’m in the process of helping create a memorial at FindAGrave for Dorothy and look forward to working with Johnny and his family to further detail this part of the extended family tree that includes the Callahan and Kennedy families.

**My First Cousin 1x Removed named Alfred, from my Mom’s side, is back in touch thanks to our Cousin Rosina from Pennsylvania. Alfred is my late Mom’s First Cousin. Alfred’s Mom Florie is my Grandma Josie’s sister. I’ve been invited to Alfred’s home for Easter Dinner. It will be the first time I meet his wife Angela and her relatives. I’ll also meet their fur babies, two cats who keep Alfred company in his home office.

Alfred is a very spiritual and kind person. I remember visiting him and his parents (My Great Aunt Florie and Great Uncle Freddie). The conversations were always in depth and could span the arts, ethics, spirituality, morality and for a bit of good humor pop culture and famous celebrities of past and present.

**Cousin Rosina is planning to stay with me around November or December 2014. We’re already considering sights to see, among them the Christmas Lights of Dyker Heights. The entire vacation will be Brooklyn based so I’m going to enjoy this a lot. We may go to the Brooklyn Museum, too.

Rosina loves the opera. The Basilica of Regina Pacis is about 10 blocks from my home. Not only is is home to a most beautiful Italianate style house of worship but also the Regina Opera Company. I’m thinking Rosina might want to attend if a performance is scheduled the weekend she comes up.

**In early May, my Mom’s First Cousin Robert and his wife Claudia will come up to New York. I’m meeting them for dinner. I haven’t seen Robert in at least 30 years. I am so looking forward to it since I have so many fond memories of visiting his parents (My Great Aunt Angie and Great Uncle Peter) when they lived in Wilmerding and then East McKeesport, PA.

The interesting development here is that all of a sudden my Mom’s family is coming to the forefront. This doesn’t mean that I don’t have time for the research into my Dad’s side, but there is now a wealth of information about my maternal relatives also on tap.

Rosina and I had talked about how important it is to interview the relatives for all kinds of details, anecdotes, family lore and legend and even memories or slice-of-life epsidoes. I think she is very right. This is especially important for me to do as a way to supplement my maternal line family research. It is very difficult to get vital records from Pennsylvania and the family interviews will fill in where vital records are not yet available.

In PA it takes about 60 years after the death of a person for the Death Certificate to be available and 105 years after the birth of a person for the Birth Certificate to be made public.

In a way the sudden developments are similar to the tug and pull I experienced as a child between my parents. It was like a piper was playing lovely music on the side where my paternal relatives were while another piper played on the side where my maternal relatives were. As a child I ran back and forth delighting in it all but would inevitably withdraw to spend some days alone with my books, dolls, sewing and day dreaming.

I feel some of that now so what I plan to do is blog about the family reunions and put up some photos until things resume a more even pace and I can resume research and reflection on what happened in the past.

Spring Break: Reunion with Cousin Jackie & Aunt Pat, Part 4


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Left to right in the back: My Cousin Michael Torregrossa and his son Paulie.
Left to right in the front: Aunt Pat Torregrossa, cousin Jackie Torregrossa Devery and her very best friend Patricia Jimenez.
Photo taken March 22, 2014, Aunt Pat & Jackie’s home, Oro Valley, Arizona.

Dear Jackie and Aunt Pat,

Thank you so very, very much for opening your hearts and home to me during our 2014 Spring Reunion. Although there was such a long span of time separating us, once the discussion began to flow I knew we were all back in the family groove. It was as if a long pause stopped the flow of relationships and now it is resuming. It was that easy to relate to you, your friends and all the children and grandchildren who are the future of the Torregrossa and Devery families.

I was very happy to meet Jackie’s best friend Pat. I think she is a wonderful soul sister to Jackie and I feel so happy to know that Pat has seen Jackie through some very tough times in her life. We all need a bestie, someone apart from the family, to offer good insights and advice when it’s needed. Often a trusted friend is like a spiritual advisor. They can sense and see things that family members sometimes can’t because of the emotional connections and closeness to a situation. Pat has been like an angel to Jackie, always helping her get back up when things seemed overwhelming. A friendship like this spanning over 20+ years is something to celebrate and be thankful for.

What was very interesting to see was how Jackie’s children and Michael’s son Paulie combine some of the traits of the Torregrossa family. At the same time, Paulie, Mikey, David and Joannah each are a unique individual. What I noticed right away is that they are all very quick to respond to issues brought up in a conversation. This is very similar to the way I remember my Dad and Grandpa Al and Grandma Blanche used to be over the Sunday dinners at their house. There was the sharp sense of humor, too.

But in addition to some behaviors ot talents that we inherit, I noticed the patterns of gracious entertainment over good food that is such a prominent feature of your household and was also part of Grandma Blanche and Grandpa Al’s lifestyle. There was a certain feeling of continuity with that experience when I saw how Jackie’s sons came to visit you after work in the week and on Sunday when Jackie made that yummy pasta and Italian sausage meal.

While it’s true times change, certain traaditions within a family carry on. Sometimes the expression is slightly different but the essence is the same. I’m so glad to see that carrying forward in the family.

May Our Lord keep you both in his loving care, keep you well and bless you with a joyous Easter season.

With love,


Spring Break: Reunion with Cousin Jackie and Aunt Pat 2014, Part 3


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The phrases “patio living” and “backyard lifestyle” rarely resonated with me until I went to Arizona in 2012 for my Uncle Sammy’s 70th Birthday Bash. He is my late Mom’s younger brother and a very important Uncle in my life. My Aunt Kathie had organized the party to be celebrated in the backyard of their Scottsdale home. I did not expect the large, open space that included an outdoor fireplace and hot tub along with a generous amount of room for many tables, chairs and other patio furniture.

Jackie’s backyard is smaller than my Uncle Sammy’s but shares the same feeling and design elements. There is a stone wall enclosing the area and a mix of plants and gravel in the garden. Walkways have flagstones and sometimes tiles.

A large roomy patio sofa and chairs, along with a table are situated under an awning. There is also an outdoor grill, TV, fountain and nighttime illumination.

When I took these photos on Sunday morning, March 23rd I know right away I was no longer in Brooklyn! The view beyond the garden wall confirmed I was in a different state where desert and cactus are not that far away. Jackie told me she can sometimes hear the coyotes howling at night and once a mountain lion jumped up onto the garden wall.

View of the garden in early morning. The fountain goes on automatically each morning. The dome topped structure is the outdoor fireplace. Past that is the grill and an outdoor fire pit. Depending on the time of day the mountains can look brown and sparse or richly shaded.

View of the wall that completely surrounds the backyard area. The tall cactus belongs to the next house.

Most of Jackie’s flowering plants grow in large terracotta pots.

Two ripe grapefruits from the grapefruit tree in the backyard. Many homeowners plant grapefruit, lemon and orange trees which begin blossoming in January.

This is the view of the land outside the garden wall. I found it a very vivid reminder that I was far away from Brooklyn and very close to the desert.

Spring Break: Reunion with Cousin Jackie and Aunt Pat 2014, Part 2



In one corner of Jackie’s kitchen is a special little entrance way for the family dog. Above the entrance is a sign which says, “Love is being owned by a Bichon Frise.”

I wouldn’t have known what that meant until I met Chewie. He brings so much love and joy to my Aunt and Cousin. It was a beautiful experience to see how much happiness a companion animal can bring to a family. For all who meet him it becomes clear that Chewie is not just a companion animal but a member of the family.

Chewie on Friday, March 21st, 2014. He was recovering from a slight mishap that resulted in the need to get his toenail removed. The collar was to prevent him from licking his foot and trying to remove the bandage.

A few days before my arrival Chewie caught his toe in the patio door. The vet had to remove the toenail and bandage his entire foot. Despite his discomfort and being on painkillers, he was well behaved and a delightful companion throughout my entire visit.

We played catch with his favorite red ball and had lots of cuddle time out on the patio and in the living room. At nights Chewie would sleep by the sofa bed where I slept and I quickly got used to his slight snoring and warmth when he settled in next to me in the middle of the night.

Chewie was in good spirits during my entire stay. His lovable personality wins over all who meet him.

Jackie told me that in general a Bichon Frise loves to be at home and flourishes when getting lots of attention from their owners. I had never heard of this breed of dog before but quickly understood why it is an excellent choice for Jackie and Aunt Pat since they are home most days.

Chewie is also a bit of an actor. He loves to put on the hopeful look and sit quietly staring at a person while they eat their meal. He has a fondness for people food and such a cute way of accepting the scraps that he’s hard to resist. These were the only times I firmly told him “No!” but later I got to make up for it by giving him a doggie treat which Jackie approved of.


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