Half Full or Half Empty?

equip pic blog.jpg

So much of what we get out of life is what we put into it. I recently helped a woman who had called me because she was ready to rid her house of the equipment her late husband used for his side business. He offered many of the services I offer so she thought I could use the video equipment she no longer wanted in her house now that he was gone.

I met with her because I could sense that she was ready to part with that part of her life. It had been 18 months since her husband died. I really didn’t need the equipment, nor did I necessarily want it. But from our conversation, I could tell she really wanted it out of her house so I paid her a visit one evening and took some pieces with me. Whether they work or not, I still don’t know. And it is really besides the point. She was frustrated because she found that she couldn’t even give this equipment away. So, in compassion, I took it off her hands. I most likely will not be able to use it for my transfer work due to its age and condition.

What surprised me was her statement that her late husband confessed to her — he often would get depressed watching the home movies he was transferring. He said it was because it reminded him of the brevity of our lives.

I have never, ever, felt that. I feel nothing but joy when transferring tapes or film of home movies. Images cross my screen that speak of love, family ties, and the bonds of friendship. Through watching your lives pass in front of my eyes, I have recognized that, while each life is unique and different, there is more that unites us than divides us. We record the same events. We treasure the same memories. Our experiences are shared.

Memories are not to be mourned. They are to be treasured for the precious commodities they are… reminders of the happiness we experienced in years past. At Home Video Studio, we are honored to covert your memories to a format you can access and enjoy today. A format that you can bring into the future and leave as a legacy to your children’s children.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio of Mount Dora specialize in the preservation of family memories. For more information call 352-735-8550 or visit www.homevideostudio.com/mtd.


A Ship By Any Other Name


A bit of history walked through the doors of Home Video Studio yesterday. But before we get into that, some facts:

The first USS Ticonderoga was an 18-gun schooner that was in service from 1814-1825.

The second USS Ticonderoga was a screw sloop-of-war in commission from 1863-1881.

The third USS Ticonderoga was a former German cargo ship that served in the Naval Overseas Transportation Service during World War I.

The fourth USS Ticonderoga was a long hull Essex-class aircraft carrier that served during WWII and beyond; from 1944 -1973.

The fifth USS Ticonderoga was a guided-missile cruiser that served from 1981-2004.

The Ticonderoga name has served our country well in all its forms. But it was her fourth reincarnation (the aircraft carrier) that brought her to our attention. Yesterday, I was presented with reel to reel audio tapes containing the actual mission control recordings for the Apollo 16 and 17 moon missions and the Skylab recovery mission.

Back in the day, before the space shuttle and the Space-X automated re-entry boosters, space capsules returning to earth splashed down in the ocean. It was up to assigned US military vessels to be on hand to retrieve them. The Ticonderoga ( the aircraft carrier) was assigned to recover the capsules during the aforementioned space expeditions. The tapes from mission control were given to the historical society that is tasked with maintaining the official archives for the Ticonderoga. They, in turn, passed the tapes to me for digitalization and preservation.

It is an honor to be a part of this history. Just as it is an honor to be a part of yours.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio of Mount Dora specialize in the preservation of family memories. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit www.homevideostudio.com/mtd.

Google That Game


child group outdoor

It is amazing the things you find out by simply asking a question. My 90-year-old mother-in-law didn’t feel like coming to dinner last night. She said she wasn’t hungry. It is a common occurrence. Once she gets to the table, she eats whatever is put in front of her. I said, “Fine – you don’t have to eat. Just come and sit with us and tell us a story.”

“I don’t have any stories,” she replied. “Oh sure you do,” I rejoined, leading her closer to the dining room, “tell us one of the old ones. What games did you play as a child on Bergen Street?” “You mean Ringolevio?”

That stopped everyone in their tracks. Ringolevio? We were sure she just got her words mixed up. We started guessing what she meant.  Ring Around the Rosie? Red Rover, Red Rover?  “No,” she looked at us like we were crazy.  “Ringolevio.”

The dinner could wait. Out came the smart phones. We googled Ringolevio.  Wouldn’t you know, there was such a game played in the streets of New York and New Jersey.  Based on the description from Wikipedia, it appears to have been a combination of tag and hide and go seek. It was played with teams and dates as far back as the late 19th century.

It made me think of my own childhood. Most days after dinner, the neighborhood kids would gather outside to play hide and seek until the streetlights came on and we had to go home. It was fun. It was social interaction. It was childhood play at its finest. And I don’t see too much of it happening in neighborhoods today.  Perhaps we are overdue for a resurgence of some good old-fashioned Ringolevio.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio of Mount Dora specialize in the preservation of family memories. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit www.homevideostudio.com/mtd.

A Shih-tzu Miracle


I was at an after business event today sponsored by a local funeral parlor. I mentioned once before that I have provided a number of memorial videos for funeral parlors around town. While there, I tried to remember a specific service that stood out above the rest. Oddly, what came to my mind was a service that didn’t happen. It was for my son’s teenaged Shih-tzu, Mini.

The poor thing was suffering in her later years and when I took it to the vet (my son was out of town, serving in the military), I was informed that she had developed kidney stones and surgery would be required. The quoted cost, to me, was astronomical and given her age, an unacceptable expense. I made the difficult decision to have the doctor put her down and take her out of her misery.

Call it cowardly, but I couldn’t remain to watch it happen. I said my goodbyes and got in my car to drive home. I let my wife know what happened and as the emotions got the better of me, I pulled to the side of the road and started framing in my mind how I was going to tell my son the news.

Suddenly, the phone rang. It was the vet. “You can come and pick up your dog now.”

I was aghast. And speechless. Finally I stammered, “No. I don’t want to do that. Don’t you take care of disposal?”

“You don’t understand. After you left I figured there was nothing to lose so I tried to massage the stones loose. It worked. She’s a little groggy but she’ll be fine.”

I made a U-turn to head back to the vet’s office. There, I was presented with a sore and sleepy dog who greeted me with a wag of a tail and a half hearted attempt to get up. I was also presented with a bill for $2,000.00. Well, shih-tzu. What was I supposed to do now? Tell him to put the stones back in? I paid it and put Mini in the car. If you thought I was emotional before, you should have seen me 2 grand later.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio of Mount Dora specialize in the preservation of family memories. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit www.homevideostudio.com/mtd.

Jus Sanguinis

Group of cypresses, Tuscany, Italy

We watched an I Dream of Italy episode last night where the host of the show visited her ancestor’s Italian village in hopes to get information that would pave the way for her to apply for dual citizenship. I’ve been down that route.

About 7 years ago, I spent countless hours tracking down all the documents that would have been necessary to prove my wife’s claim to Italian citizenship via jus sanguinis. I got birth certificates from her father and mother; also from her grandfather and grandmother… no small feat as I had to hire a foreign genealogy specialist to visit my wife’s grandfather’s birth city (Palo de Colle, Puglia Italy) to obtain his birth records.

In the end, I came up short. In a heartbreaking discovery I found that my wife’s great grandfather, Francesco, became a naturalized American citizen on the eve of her grandfather’s 18th birthday… while my wife’s grandfather was still a minor. According to Italian law, this meant that her claim to Italian citizenship would have been disavowed as the citizenship “chain” had been broken. If only he had just waited one more day, my wife would likely have had citizenship privileges.

It was a bitter pill to swallow after investing so much time into gathering all the needed papers. Fortunately, bitter pills go down a lot easier with a glass of Italian wine… and you don’t need to be a citizen to know that.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio of Mount Dora specialize in the preservation of family memories. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit www.homevideostudio.com/mtd.

What’s Your Grandparent Name?


This lovely gift arrived in the mail for us today. Our daughter-in-law included a note saying she couldn’t resist buying them for us. What makes it special is that these are the grandparent names that her children call us.

Kate, my wife, came by her grandparent name as kind of a fallback position. In her family, the eldest woman has traditionally been known as “NanNan” by the younger generations. However, Kate’s mother is still with us and is still called “NanNan” by her kids, grandkids, and now great-grandkids. There can obviously be only one “NanNan” to a family so it was decided that when Kate became a grandmother she would be granted the oh-so-subtly different “Nana.”

My name took a bit more doing. A lot of different options were tossed around. Gramps, Grandpa, Grampy… none of them seemed to stick. Finally my daughter-in-law asked me if I had any nicknames growing up. “Only one,” I replied, “And it didn’t last long.”  When my sisters and I were born, my parents picked a cute baby name to coo at us. My sister Allison was called Ally-Oop after the comic strip character. My sister Bobbi was called Baba Looey after the cartoon character. And since there was apparently no animated character that inspired my parents where I was concerned, they decided to make one up. I was called, very briefly, Mickel the Pickle.

I should have never mentioned that to my daughter-in-law. The next time the grandkids visited I was greeted warmly with the shout “Papa Pickle!” As they got older, they must have reasoned that the Pickle part was pretty silly so they truncated my name to the much more appealing Papa. Papa is a name I can get used to… in fact, my heart melts every time I hear them say it.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit www.homevideostudio.com/mtd.

Our Roman Holiday


I transferred a videotape yesterday that showcased a family’s trip to Rome, Italy. These always contain special memories for me as I’ve been to Rome on no less than three separate occasions (it is one of the benefits/drawbacks that comes from being married to an Italian woman.) The last trip was the most special for me. We brought our 12 year old granddaughter with us to introduce her to the many wonders of the region.

It was her first time beyond our American borders and we wanted to expose her to the history and artistic heritage of a culture that dates back multi-millennia.

It was a special time for both us and our granddaughter and we commemorated it in pictures. I then turned those pictures into a photo video keepsake that we gave it to her so she might always remember the time we spent together during that memorable week.

Here’s a snippet of that keepsake. The music is from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons which was my late father-in-law’s favorite piece of music and on our last night there, we were blessed to be able to go to a musical performance of the piece held in one of the most famous piazzas (city squares) in all of Rome – The Piazza Navona which was built in the 1st century AD.

Preserving memories is what we do at Home Video Studio. We’d love to help you preserve the ones you have made during your lifetime.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio of Mount Dora specialize in the preservation of family memories. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit www.homevideostudio.com/mtd.