Community Family Friends Photos

New photo galleries added

It’s been a while, but I’ve uploaded more photos to my Web site. Recently added items include photos of my 32nd birthday get-together with family and a few friends and my nephew’s coming-of-age 5th birthday extravaganza. Plus photos taken at the Heart’s Desire Party at the Red Cheetah and ASG‘s Civic Engagement Series at St. Leo the Great Catholic Church in Fairmount, led by Peter Block.


What? Family party? Again?

My Grandma’s brother and sister-in-law celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary Saturday night. Family from as far away as Phoenix and Kansas City, Kan. and across the ocean in Breddenberg, Germany gathered to congratulate my Great Onkel Hermann and Great Tante Marie Jansen on their golden wedding.

We met at the consummate western-Cincinnati-defines-class eatery Dante’s Restaurant. Seems we have zillions of family and other gatherings at the place. In fact, I’ve never eaten there unless it was in one of their party rooms, upstairs or down, whether that it was for an awards ceremony, banquet dinner or some sort of birthday, wedding or anniversary. Wonder what it would be like to just go there for dinner, like with just one other person?

My cousin George – Hermann and Marie’s oldest son – wrote a very funny and touching poem. You can read it – in George’s own handwriting. There are also photos.

Though my Tante Marie is in notably declining health, she has moments of clarity and seemed to enjoy most parts of the evening. That’s good. It’s hard to see her not doing so well. It not only saddens me for her and my memories of a younger, kind, intrepid woman, but it reminds me of the increasing frailty of all my aging family members.

Gatherings like these also make me proud. I’ve got a great big, great family that really enjoys to be together. Things that used to embarrass the holy living shit out of me now are so endearing that it makes me well up as I type this. I wonder what the other patrons who sat in the dimly lit restaurant – with little oil lamps and white tablecloths and neatly folded napkins on their tables – thought when the Germans on the other side of the thin walls started all singing German drinking songs in unison and yelled “Prost!” and “Suffa!” and then downed shots of Jaegermeister? Well, they probably thought we were unrefined, crazy, drinking Krauts with a penchant for bad behavior in a nice restaurant. And we were. I was so proud to be one of them.

Happy Anniversary, Onkel Hermann and Tante Marie. Here’s to many more…

Photo captions
Hermann and Marie get toasted by John (didn’t get his last name), who was a bricklayer for Hermann for 35 years. He shared some funny anecdotes about working for Hermann and how tough he could be, but said Marie was always there with a doughnut and coffee.

Germans, family and friends raise a toast to Hermann and Marie.

Family from both America and Breddenberg, Germany (Jansens’ hometown) gather for the after-party at Bob and Maryann Jansen’s home in Bridgetown (suburb of Cincinnati).


Another party at Shelly’s

Holy Crap! Another birthday party at my sister’s house (this time her’s).

If you’ve read this Blog, you know we have a lot of birthday parties at her house. They’re all special, but I have to admit, this one was pretty cool. It was surprise party for her 30th birthday (she was sorta surprised).

I have one sibling, and though we’ve had our differences over the years (nothing more than most brothers and sisters), she’s a cool kid. I love her very much. She’s a great mother to her (count ’em) four children. Plus she’s a kind, caring person and pretty darn hilarious when she wants to be. Frankly, I don’t know how she does it. But those kids of hers are great, and as I grow older that and everything else makes our relationship all the more special.

All the usual suspects were at Shelly’s party (including my cousin Rhianna who had a piece of cake with Shelly’s likeness on it), plus some of my sister’s old friends and three of my cousins from Germany.

Last time I saw the German relatives? Four years ago. I’ll be posting more photos of them later (as soon as they let me take them). But it was so good to see them again. I am so lucky to have such a great and big family over there. I really need to get over to the motherland again soon. Maybe next year?

For now, though, enjoy another photo gallery from a party at my sister’s house.

Happy Birthday, Shelly!


Twins Turn One: No Big Deal to Them

My darling twin little nieces flipped from counting life by the month to by the year Sunday (though their official birthday isn’t until tomorrow) with another birthday party at my sister’s house and the same trademark bliss that has been key to their first 12 months. They had no idea what was going on – but loving just about every minute of it.

Birthday parties at Shelly and Sean’s house are turning into a production-line process, complete with a stream-lining expert and new modes of efficiency being implemented at each new celebration. I imagine by time my sister and her husband’s four children are fully-grown there just may be a room off to the side – maybe not yet even added-on to their house yet – dedicated to birthdays, locked, blinds drawn and only to be entered for those special days but already and always set up with cake, candles, reversible Barbie/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle table cloths and napkins and perfect acoustics for belting out the “Birthday song”.

And, as usual, their uncle was busy snapping away photos of all the action. This past month, though, I’ve been armed with a digital camera which means two things. First, I shoot a ton more photos – which is starting to even annoy me. And secondly, I can – for the first time ever – share these photos very easily. It’s pretty fun and amazing what technology can do (even a technophile like myself gets blown away at times).

As you can see by the photo above, my darling nieces were turned to plastic by the excitement as they posed – naked – outside the party for their wacky uncle Joe – you know, the un-married, odd one that lives by himself downtown and has two cats. That’s me.


Niece survives three years

My niece Kailey had her third birthday party Sunday. It was a blast to see her so darn happy – she gets it big time now. Presents. Cake. People. Kids to play with. Fun everywhere. And she showed it in her super-big expressions and her happy-go-lucky demeanor. I think I captured it in some of the photos I shot last night. More are on my Web page…

By the way, I used Picasa to get the photos off my camera, edit, manipulate and create a handy dandy Web page to share what I shot. I am getting more and more impressed all the time with the wonderful features of this free software, provided by Google.

It’s not PhotoShop (I still have a copy of that on my computer for tougher jobs), but for the quick, easy handling of a massive amount of photos, I don’t think it can be beat – especially for the price. For being someone who has become notorious for taking photos that people never see again (because it was always too cumbersome to get them to people), this is making my life easier and those who are in the photos much happier.