There’s No Place Like Home

ruby slippers.png

It is good to be home again. Traveling to different places, even for work reasons, can be fun. It can break up a monotonous routine, bring some new experiences and broaden one’s horizons… but it pales to the comforting feeling we get when we know we are going home.

Returning to familial surroundings after even a brief time away is something we all can appreciate. It is magnified even more when we had a hand in building the environment we call home. Here, in my office, surrounded by my books and belongings, puts me in a frame of mind where I am settled and better positioned to accomplish whatever tasks lay ahead with efficiency and ease.

But that is the rule… there are exceptions. I remember making a surprise visit home from college during a short Thanksgiving break. I walked in the front door and immediately headed to the same bedroom I had occupied since I was five years old, only to find out that in my absence my parents had turned it into a storage room/den space.  I ended up sleeping on the couch.

Once, when I took a much needed vacation from work, a day before I was to return I received a call from a co-worker telling me to stay away – to extend my vacation. It turned out that a corporate takeover was in the works and my early return would have complicated the transition. I was let go shortly thereafter.

But most of the time, homecomings are happy occasions. Like this one. I recognized it immediately as I came off the flight and into the arms of my lovely wife. It’s true – there is no place like home.

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.

Downhill Racer


I’ve been watching some of the ski competitions taking place in this year’s Olympic Games. The skill level, dexterity, and speed being displayed has been enjoyable to see.  Personally, I’ve never been much of a skier. Tried my hand at it once. But, as with so many things, my personality shaped my experience.

The problem is that I’ve never had much patience to learn something before I jump in and try it. So, during my first and last ski outing, I simply strapped on the skis and after an uneventful trip down a rather unremarkable bunny slope, I was ready (I thought) for the ski lift. Lessons were offered and quickly dismissed as unimportant and unneeded. I had always prided myself on my natural athletic abilities.

My first run down the intermediate slope was, to put it kindly, ungainly. But I managed to make it to the bottom in one piece without causing harm to myself or others. And with every subsequent trip I became more and more confident that I had mastered the sport well enough to hold my own. Unfortunately that’s when my friend, an accomplished skier, asked me if I minded if he went up to ski the “blacks.”

“The heck with that,” I countered, “I’m coming with you.” He did his best to dissuade me but I can be obstinate. As we passed the drop off for the intermediate slope and headed up, up, up to the advanced level, I quickly understood why this might not have been such a good idea. The smooth, wide, expanse of the intermediate slopes disappeared and in its stead was a boiling river of snow with mounds and hills and no real clear path to the bottom.

I fell the minute I left the ski lift. Picked myself up, said a prayer and tried to follow my friend down the mountain. I fell again after two feet. Picked myself up, advanced another foot and fell. I then took off my skis and and started walking. I still managed to fall three more times.

I happily returned to the intermediate slope where I promptly hit a patch of ice and went down hard, breaking my collarbone. But, on the upside, I got to ride in one of those stretchers on skis down to the clinic which is an experience not everyone gets to have.

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

How Are Things in Bora Bora?


I spent much of the day marveling at some remarkable underwater images that I was transferring from 35mm slides to a digital form for a customer. The colors of the tropical fish, coral reefs and other marine life that she captured were dazzling. Makes me wish I had spent more time underwater.

I did do some snorkeling once back in the 70s… in Bora Bora of all places. My employer at that time rewarded me with a paid vacation to a destination of my choice. Being in my 20s, I choose the remotest place I could think of; a location that I would probably never have a chance to revisit. In hindsight, I should have done a bit more research. There’s not a lot to do in Bora Bora. I quickly fell into a pattern.

I woke up, had coffee on the deck of my thatched hut overlooking the lagoon; then I got into a dugout canoe and paddled myself through what I found out later to be shark infested waters (which is a story for another time) out to a neighboring uninhabited atoll. I sat on a rock, read the paperback I brought with me, and then paddled back to the main island in time for dinner.

I did that for 4 days straight.  I think the other people where I was staying took notice because on the fourth day as I canoed up to my atoll (in my mind, I took possession of it), one of the other guests was already sitting on my rock. Being an astute observer, I couldn’t help but notice that she was female and topless. She waved and held a snorkel high above her head.

“Do you know how to use this?” she shouted out. “Not really,” I replied, “But I’m a quick learner.”

Then, in what remains as my most clueless moment ever, I took the snorkel from her and went swimming. When I came back to the atoll, she was gone.  But the fish sure were pretty.

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.