The Accident

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It is funny the things you remember.

I was a junior in high school. During spring break, I went on an extended camping trip with my dad to visit nine college campuses in hopes to narrow my preferences. It was a profitable but tiring trip (I ultimately decided upon Westminster College in New Wilmington PA) and we were both glad to be heading home. We were about twenty miles from our house on Interstate 95 when our rear tire exploded. From then, everything seemed to go into slow motion (even though we were traveling around 65 mph.)

All of our camping gear was loaded into the back of our trusted Ford Fairlaine station wagon. When we lost the tire, we drifted into the left lane and as our luggage and camping gear shifted in the back, we lost control of the now unbalanced car which spun around 180 degrees so we were facing the oncoming traffic as we slid back across the 3 lanes of the highway and onto the shoulder and adjacent hillside.

After checking to make sure I was ok and giving thanks that we did not impact any other vehicles, my dad came up with the game plan. He would stay with the car and our possessions while I flagged down a motorist and catch a ride to the next exit where I would arrange for a tow truck to get us off the highway. I was also tasked with finding a pay phone to call home and tell my mother that we had been in an accident. This was before the age of cell phones.

No matter how nonchalant you try to sound, when you call collect to tell your mother that you’ve been in an accident, you should prepare yourself for a world of worry and concern to come your way. I tried to convey that we were ok and just needed a ride home but I’m not sure she believed me.

In just under an hour, my mother raced into the gas station where our car was brought. She was wearing a housecoat, slippers and I remember distinctly, a pair of ankle socks with puffy pom poms sewn above the heels. As she hurried anxiously to us, our well-being her only concern, I reacted as only an oblivious teenager could.

“Jeez, Mom… Did you have to wear those socks?”

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio of Mount Dora specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

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What’s Important

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It is sad to say but sometimes it takes a tragedy to get us to recognize the true value of things.  We often take things for granted until faced with the real possibility that we just might lose them.

I’m working with a woman whose parents own two homes just outside of Paradise, CA which has been devastated by the wildfires that are ravaging that part of the country. Thankfully, their parents heeded the evacuation orders and they are safe but they have not been able to return to check on their properties. They are preparing themselves for the possibility that everything they own may have been lost to the fire.

The one saving grace is that a few years ago, the parents shipped to my client a box filled with Betamax tapes. They are old, unlabeled and nobody seemed to know what’s on them or what to do with them. My client has just been storing the box for her parents all this time. Suddenly, due to the recent events, she has realized exactly what she had been sitting on. That box potentially contains the only evidence that exists of the long life her family has shared together. It has gone from just one more piece of clutter under foot to the most precious possession in her house.

I feel privileged to unlock the memories that may be stored on these tapes and deliver them back to the family. I hope it provides some solace or comfort for the family as they prepare to face whatever they find awaits them.

Here’s a link to a site that describes how people can best help victims of the California wildfires.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

We All Make Misstakes…

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We’re in our 5th year of serving our community and helping families protect and preserve the memories they’ve recorded over the years. During that time, we’ve seen some wonderful videos, photos and slides that capture the essence of what it is to be a family.  I’ve also been in a position to observe some of the common mistakes made by people who wanted to record their memories.

#1 – Scenery is nice but not always memorable. It’s ok to take a picture of a mountain – just be sure to put someone you love in front of if. If you want to point a video camera out of a moving car to capture a road trip… try provide a running narration so we’ll know decades later what we’re seeing.

#2 –  I know it can sometimes be annoying to have someone point a camera at you but you’ll be thankful he or she did twenty or thirty years from now. So just grin and bear it. Why ruin a memory by showing your annoyance to the camera? Is that really how you want to remember this time?

#3 – Time stamping or mentioning the date and year will help you organize your video clips in the future. It is easy to lose track of time and place as the years pile on. Little clues go a long way when trying to fill the gaps of our older memories.

#4 – Keeping the camera steady will greatly add to one’s viewing enjoyment. Fast pans, quick zooms and shaky footage can actually bore or tire viewers out. When available, use a tripod or camera stabilizer. If you must go handheld, keep your elbows close to your body when shooting.

#5 – The bigger the family, the fewer the pictures or videos of the youngest members. I know it may feel a little like deja-vu to capture yet another 1st grade concert or Pop Warner football game but it’s all about capturing the young one’s first experience – even though you feel like you’ve seen it 100 times before.

#6 – If you find an old piece of media and you’re not sure what’s on it, please don’t throw it away. It’s like tossing away an old wallet before checking to make sure it doesn’t contain anything valuable.

#7 – Don’t assume that no one in the family would want to see the old stuff. Nostalgia can unexpectedly strike at any age. Teens may not want to sit for long periods of time watching themselves as babies but when they have tykes of their own, they’ll be asking “what ever happened to my baby tapes?”

#8 – Family memories are best viewed, when possible, as a family. It is what we used to do in the 50s and 60s before our entertainment options grew to seemingly infinite bounds. Gathering in front of a projector or TV and telling the old family stories and jokes that come to mind as we watch the “olden days,” is part of the family bonding process. One that is sadly in short supply. With the holidays fast approaching, consider having a tape or two transferred to digital so it can be played at your next family function.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio Mount Dora specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of films, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

I’m Flying

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My eldest son recently completed his first solo flight. I’m sure it was an exhilarating moment for him. Not being particularly fond of flying myself, I never had the desire to put myself in the cockpit. It’s all I can do to strap myself into coach.

But I try to find things in my past that I can use to relate to the experiences others have. So I dug into the recesses of my mind and thought about the last time that I had the sensation of being free and unencumbered by gravity… soaring like a bird resting on invisible currents of air.

I came up with this image.

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In the fifties and sixties, hands-free had nothing to do with cell phones or wi-fi… in fact we didn’t have those.  We did have hi-fi which stood for high fidelity – the trademark of a good stereo cabinet or transistor radio. But that’s another story.

To be hands free in my day meant coasting down a neighborhood street, preferably one with a steep hill and letting go of the handlebars of your trusty Schwin. Where do you think the expression, “Look Ma, no hands” came from? Leaning back in the banana seat, arms thrust outward, head back to let the wind rip through your closely cropped hair.  (Bike helmets were not yet invented. ) The only sound to be heard was the familiar tic-tic-tic-tic-tic of a Sandy Koufax playing card clothespinned to the spokes of the rear wheel.  I was flying.

So I get it. I understand the feeling of solo flight. I’ve been there in my mind. I just prefer to experience it on a bike. It’s way closer to the ground.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio Mount Dora specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

And remember, special discounts available through Oct 15th with a donation of canned or dry packaged food items during our Fall Food Drive. All donations to go to Lake Cares Food Pantry.

Memory Town

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It turns out that reflecting on memories can have a therapeutic effect on a person. It’s something that I think we all recognize intuitively at some level.  I was fascinated to read the attached article about the development of “Memory Towns” that cater specifically to dementia or Alzheimer’s sufferers.

Quoting from the article by Amanda Kolson Hurley, “Studies have shown that reminiscence therapy has positive effects on the mood, cognition, and communication level of dementia patients.” Borrowing from an experiment that took place in the Netherlands, the George G. Glenner Alzheimer’s Family Center designed and built a fake city they call Town Square. Built to resemble a typical small town circa 1953-1960, it is fashioned to evoke the memories that tend to be the strongest within us.

Built inside a 9,000 square foot industrial warehouse, the first Town Square opened in San Diego, California and a second is scheduled to open in White Marsh, Maryland near Baltimore. Organizers are optimistic that more and more locations will be rolling out in the near future.

It’s what I have always said… “Memories Matter.” Take the step to preserve yours today.

For the full article about Memory Town, click here.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotape, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information call 352-735-8550 or visit our website

Bum Rap

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Throughout my adult life I’ve carried with me an air of what I thought was self-confidence… self-reliance… self-assurance…  All of which I believed to be positive and desirable qualities. I come to find out that what I thought was self-confidence, others perceived as arrogance.

Go figure.

The realization came over a dinner conversation I had with my 90 year old mother-in-law, God bless her. We were talking about how difficult it can be to trust people that you don’t really know and I made the tongue-in-cheek remark of: “Yeah, you didn’t really like me at first, did you?” And to my great surprise, she agreed.

My wife was aghast. “What do you mean, you didn’t like him?  What was wrong with him?” She deadpanned, “He was arrogant.” And then she turned to me, stone-faced. I immediately went defensive.

“I have heard that before,” I admitted, “but it isn’t true…” I’m just comfortable with who I am. I don’t find that I have to put on a polite facade when I meet people.”

“Like I said,” she quickly replied, “Arrogant.”

I had no response. And my wife was too busy laughing to come to my defense.

It’s hard to be arrogant when you are bested by a 90 year old in a battle of wits.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

New Is Not Always Better

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My wife and I like antiques and have pretty much furnished our home with them. Perhaps 80% of the furniture we use is over 50 years old if not older. One thing we quickly realized is that certain concessions have to be made when you choose to populate your living space with old things.  Like not expecting them to always work as they should.

We have a 100 year old storage cabinet with drawers that always stick… to the point where I don’t remember what we’ve stored in two of the drawers because it’s been so long since I’ve been able to open them. But the cabinet itself looks great and fits the space. And so far I haven’t missed whatever might be in those two drawers so I really don’t feel the need to replace it.

However, our dining room table which was bought from a Sears catalog in 1905 was admittedly beginning to show its age. The table itself still looked in good shape but whenever we inserted its leaves to accommodate visitors, my wife was so embarrassed by their condition she needed to use a tablecloth to cover the flaws.  (Which kind of gives me a clue as to how she’ll be dressing me in years to come.)

Anyway, we started pricing out replacement dining room sets and the costs to get something of quality were exorbitant. So we just kept the old Sears set until we could figure something out. One day, at an antique auction, I spotted an old dining room set that was being put up for sale. Nice carvings, chairs looked great. And it was a drawer-leaf table – meaning it went from a 4 top to a 8 top by pulling out its built-in leaves. And they were in great shape… original to the table which means no tablecloth would be needed.

I looked at my wife who shrugged and said, “I don’t think so.”  By this time, we’d been looking for over a year without finding even a potential candidate. I was excited by this find but my wife was not so I played it cool.  I sat down and watched the auction.

The table came up late in the sale. Still looked good to me. My wife sat stone faced. The auctioneer opened the bidding. Crickets. No one wanted it. He dropped the opening bid price. Sounds of silence from the crowd. He looked at one of his partners and said, “Looks like I’m buying this one. $100 to…”

I thrust my paddle in the air so quickly, I broke the sound barrier. Based on the expression my wife gave me, she must have heard it. But I bought the dining room set: One expandable table, six chairs, in near perfect condition, for $100.00. It now sits proudly in our home as a table no one sits at… right near the cabinet that doesn’t open and the clock that doesn’t chime.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

I Am Grout

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I’d like to meet the twisted mind that invented grout… or at least the consumer application of it. It’s difficult to apply; impossible to keep clean; and a major pain to remove. Really, what’s to like?

Guess what I spent the weekend doing? Why my wife puts handyman items on my weekend todo list I will never know. After so many years of marriage, you’d think she’d pick up on the fact that, while I have many long suits, being handy is not among them.

But the state of the grout in our shower stall has been skeezing her out for a while now so as I approached my Sunday chore list I saw written (in capital letters) REGROUT THE SHOWER TILES!  First step: I immediately went to get a six pack of beer to use as a celebration once the job was done. It is important to self-motivate.

Turns out, I got lucky. It wasn’t the grout that needed replacing. The silicone sealer had become stained over time – probably because it was poorly installed the last time it was done. (Not one of my finest efforts.)

So out with the old, in with the new. To be honest, it wasn’t that tough a job… at least it wouldn’t have been for a guy under 5 feet tall. But at 6’3”, and something something years old, my body doesn’t bend and maneuver in a small square space all that well. It did get a little looser after I self-lubricated by cracking the celebration beverages a bit early.

So mission accomplished. Our stall has been re-silicone sealed. Can’t wait to see what is on the list for next Sunday.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

They’re Having A Bowl!

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A few years back I was asked to sponsor a neighboring community’s bowling league to help it get launched. Why not I figured? I always like to help out my fellow Floridians.

The league was launched in Oxford Fl, just outside of The Villages, the nation’s premiere retirement community and was open to all residents of The Carriage House, which is an independent living facility and the current home of my own mother.

I paid a visit to see how the fledgling league was getting on and to my surprise, it has grown and flourished. Multiple teams, two lanes (plus a practice lane on another floor), some teams even have cheerleaders rooting them on.  Scores and stats are diligently kept. Granted, we’re talking Wii Bowling but these octogenarians are eating it up. And they’ve gotten pretty darn good. And, a little prideful boast… last season, my mom’s team came in first. They call her team the Studio Stars… thanks for the plug, mom.

It actually does good to see our older citizens enjoying an activity together, having fun despite the aches, pains and other difficulties that seem to increase with every year that passes. Really, isn’t that what we should all wish for? To enjoy as much of this life as we can, spend time with people we like or love, and not let the frailties that may come with the passing of time steal all the pleasures we can derive from this life.

So bowl away seniors. Don’t you let a pin remain standing. We’re all rooting you on.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio cassettes, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

I Talk To The Trees

 

Sometimes, I feel a bit like Rodney Dangerfield… I get no respect.  After I shopped for, prepared and cooked a scrumptious dinner – (Indian Curry with Chicken and Peas – here’s the recipe), we sat around the dinner table to enjoy good food and pleasant conversation.

We talked about our day which, for all of us, seemed to be very busy.  My wife had a full day planned and didn’t get to any of it as chore after chore  prevented her from carrying out her schedule.

I brought my laptop home to catch up on some video editing in between handling some finances and repairing a curtain rod that needed fixing. I worked all day long.

I then turned to my 90 year old mother-in-law who had thus far been silent and said, “What about you Laura? What do you have to complain about?”

“I don’t complain,” she replied, “Nobody listens to me anyway.”

I jokingly broke into song. #I talk to the trees but they don’t listen to me. I talk to the stars but they never hear me. The breeze hasn’t time…#  I stopped as I saw both my wife and mother-in-law staring at me with confused expressions.

“What?” I said, “That’s from Paint Your Wagon. It’s a famous song. Clint Eastwood sang it in the movie.”

Without missing a beat, my mother-in-law turned to my wife and deadpanned, “I hope he sang it better than that.”

No respect.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio of Mount Dora specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of films, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.