Ordinary Legacy Moment: Eagle Scout Project

curiousCuriosity leads to ordinary legacy moments, make no mistake about it.  When something catches my eye, even in the midst of garage sale goings-on, I’ve got to take a look.

What a moment I stumbled upon.  Picture this, it’s 86 degrees around noon on the day of my cousin’s garage sale.  We are scrambling to put up a tent for cover from the sun and I see this van stop up at the corner.  Some kids jump out, and get to work?  On what?  By the time the tent is up, I’ve missed it.

But looking down the other side of the street there they are again.  Ok, I’m curious (otherwise known as nosey, I get it) because they are all crouched down on the screaming hot pavement painting a Maltese cross on the black top.  Did I mention it’s 86 degrees?  Probably 155 on the street…ok I exaggerate but it was damn hot.

Can I ask what you’re doing?  Sure, says Daniel Buda, it’s my Eagle Scout Project.  We’re painting a Maltese cross on the pavement in front of every fire hydrant in Dumont (NJ) so that in inclement weather our fire fighters can recognize the hydrant location.  If a hydrant isn’t shoveled out in winter, chances are the cross on the pavement will be seen after the snow’s been plowed.




And there you have it, Daniel Buda of Scout Troop 1345 (Dumont/Bergenfield NJ) and his friends Sean Adomilli, Naomi Castaneda, Kendra Chaiken, Kyle Villareal and Eric D’Anna were going from hydrant to hydrant on one of the hottest summer days to insure that the firefighters of their town could do their job most efficiently…say what you want about the youth of today, these are the kids who are already ordinary legacies in the making. They were off again in a matter of minutes, on to the next location, being led by Daniel and shuttled by two wonderful gentlemen volunteers, I regret I didn’t get their names.

Later in the day when I was done with my garage sale shift I met the man who’s house was behind the hydrant, he hadn’t been home when the kids did their thing.  We had a great conversation about how cool it was and he told me that he’s lived in this house his whole life, I estimate his age at around 85, and his father was once the Fire Chief in town.  What a moment, what a good bunch of kids.


Made my day then, even more coincidentally I couldn’t help noticing all the Maltese crosses I passed on my way to Gramma’s today.  That is an ordinary legacy moment relived.  Thank you Daniel and company for a job well done. Let us know when you make Eagle Scout.


Sing Every Day

“He who sings scares away his woes.” ― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

It’s no secret I like to poke around the community gardens at the senior housing building where my mother lives.  It’s rich in soil, produce and wisdom.  This is Amalia (not sure of the spelling), who I met enjoying the day in the gardens several months ago.


Can I take your picture? Instead of saying yes she got up and posed near one of the planted areas.  It’s such a reflection of that generation that having one’s picture taken means posing near just the right spot.  I have dozens of them, mostly black and white that look just like this.

Even with our language barrier we had a wonderful conversation about my mother and the lifestyles of the elders living in the building. Her advice to my mother was simple, sing every day.  Singing she said does something healthy to the brain.  She motioned that the energy travels up from your voice to your brain and fills it with something wonderful that travels back down and through your whole body.


It can’t help but make you happy every day.  Her song was delightful, though I didn’t know a word of it, and I could indeed feel it travel from her voice to my brain and through my whole body.  I smiled all day. Thank you for that good advice, which I passed along to my mother and now to you.

“And all meet in singing, which braids together the different knowings into a wide and subtle music, the music of living. ” ― Alison Croggon,




August was…

August was

Bee-like.  Busy in a laid back sweltering way, creatively productive, sweet in its return on courage manifested and hopeful.  I had the opportunity to take part in August Break 2016 on Instagram.  Using the thoughtful prompts from Susannah Conway I thoroughly enjoyed each day of capturing my ordinary take on the subject and sharing among her many followers.  Making space on her site for us to share our blogs shows the true measure of her generosity.  Not only am I grateful but I’ve taken away many a lesson.

One of the prompts was “handwriting”. Of course it came at the exact moment I was trying to figure out where to start my summer work:

once you see it

It was my intention to use my down time to launch the Elder Beauty Project instead I’ve scraped it.  As a project, I’ve scrapped it as a project because the real project is and always has been Ordinary Legacy. Thank you David for reminding me of that and now I see it again.

The fact that I’m tired of talking about myself remains.  While this has been the outcome of my summer work, the month long journey to get there has been amazing.  After a somewhat delayed start, read procrastinated for weeks, I worked up my courage to send an email to the director of the Mahwah Senior Center, Susanne Small, telling her about what I do and how I’d love to do it.  She loved the idea, with enthusiasm and more generosity I was invited to the center to share my vision.  I was also invited to speak with several of the seniors about my vision.  While they are a bit curious, I’ll need to come back with a bit more for them.  Suffice to say you’ll be seeing more of this:

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Susanne has graciously offered to work with me to develop the questions most likely to yield the result I’m looking for, she knows our seniors and what makes them open up.  I’ll be able to leave brochures for them to consider working with me sharing bits of the ordinary that make their lives distinct.  That got me investigating and developing a concept brochure.

Which in turn led to Bergen County Camera, where collectively they know everything, to look for a new lens for my DSLR.  I mean they know everything so showing them what I do now and how I want to tweak it took a bit more courage.  They didn’t flinch at my work, thank God. It always helps to lead with the fact that you understand full well that you are an accidental photographer… I have a new lens, which I like but the jury’s still out on whether or not it will perform the magic I require.  What? I’m practicing and keeping an open mind, I mean believing in my talent…like I always say, you shoot enough you’re bound to hit something.

True to form once you allow yourself to see it, you will see it everywhere.  Like here:

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And here:

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And here:

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These are the stories, the ordinary legacy stories that have been right under my nose while I was too busy being all about me.  Not very Jeanette-like as it turns out.

So going forward Ordinary Legacy will continue to be about preserving the ordinary stories that are all around, hopefully full of senior insight, definitely traditional recipes that may be lost, collections and oh those amazing ordinary legacy moments in time.

I can’t let go of the Heartlines series I just started because it’s been so well received.  If you haven’t seen them yet, they are heart shaped letters to a specific someone but not addressed to them.  They tackle that someone’s current situation/dilemma/angst/ without mentioning their name.  In the end there are always several people who would swear that the Heartline is meant for them.  The beauty of us all being in the same boat as it turns out.

For me September has always been the beginning of the New Year.  I don’t do resolutions but I can see this year I’m headed away from Facebook, because their algorithms are becoming a pain in the ass, and leaning toward and loving Instagram where images=stories, duhhh.  I’m glad to be back, renewed and ready to keep allowing myself to see all those ordinary stories I’ve been overlooking.  Hope you’ll stay tuned and join forces along with me.