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  • Jul19

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    Back when my wife and I bought our new house, one of the first things that needed to be done was to raze the overgrown front yard that didn’t look like it had been touched since Nixon resigned. (I blame Nixon for all of my own failures to finish projects.)

    As I tangled with tons of ivy and yelled at yellowing yucca, I saw we had a bigger problem to deal with – the wood in our steps and a retaining wall was infested with termites. So, I ripped it all out immediately and began to devise a replacement.

    After some thought, I purchased several skids of Pennsylvania wall stone and other supplies, then spent several weeks building things back, all by hand. My technique was to lay out all the stone on the ground, then scan for the next “right” stone – and go until done.

    I found that within each skid of stone I had picked there happened to be some larger flat pieces – which led me to build the part I’m most proud of – the new steps.

    It was terrifically hard work at times, but I was gratified in the outcome. Until today I had completely attributed my apparent innate ability in this regard to my Czech grandfather, who was a stone mason. He worked in the cemeteries of Queens and also built a summer home and garage in upstate New York out of native stone.

    But, after seeing a photo today, I now think my stonework ability is more likely an inheritance shared by both my Czech and Irish sides. Behold a photo of stone steps on Skellig Michael alongside my own off the cuff handiwork…

    Skellig Steps Comparison

    By the way – no mortar was used in my steps or wall, only gravity.

  • Jun21

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    Sorry, couldn’t resist the lithp joke – I wanted to post a favorite photo and on Thursdays past I’ve called them “Thilent Thursday” posts in an obvious hat-tip to Wordless Wednesday of many bloggerists.

    Toddler Mike Tierney, about 1929. But then I had a better idea.

    Or a worse one, depending on your perthpective.

    So, moving on. A favorite photo of my Dad as a toddler in a sailor-looking suit, about 1929, probably in Jamaica, Queens, NY.

    Mike Tierney, Navy Portrait, WWIIFunnily enough, he joined the US Navy in World War II.

  • May21

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    'Bessie Egan' is written on reverse.'The girl in this Irish photo from our family albums is still a mystery to me, even with a named written on the reverse of the photo: “Bessie Egan.” No one on in that part of the family on either side of the Atlantic has yet recognized the name, although my Grandmother did have a daughter Elizabeth that remained in Ireland until at least her early teens. However, later known photos of Elizabeth don’t really look like this girl to me.

    In any case, even with her unknown identity, it is one of my favorite family photos.

  • Apr26

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    Mike Tierney & Pals, Central ParkA favorite photo of my Dad and some pals on a hill in a very un-treed Central Park, probably about 1942. (He’s on the left.)

    I believe the two-towered building back behind them is the San Remo building, which you can read more about on this Flickr page if you are so inclined.

    So, I’d guess they are probably standing somewhere in line with 65th Street or so.

    I’ll have to check out that spot next time I am in the neighborhood and see if I can find that hill.

  • Mar18

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    Last summer in my blog post Then and Now: Simanek Family Home I described a nice find when I looked up my grandmother’s home in the Czech Republic using Google Street View and then found a matching photo in our family albums.

    Aaand, we’re back in The Republic again!

    First, thanks to a distant cousin, Pavel Vanac who sends me all sorts of links and information on our shared Vanac lines. He has been looking for all the Vanacs and descendants and is hoping to have a reunion one day in Prague and I really hope I can attend.

    For this year he has scaled back the idea to an online reunion – which may be difficult since I have only a tiny bit of the Czech language in my brain. (We normally communicate using Google Translate between us – which has sparked some fun confusion on both sides.) But I am still looking forward to that!

    Back to the story here – Pavel sent me a small photo over the weekend with the message: Read More | Comments