A National Treasure

On Sunday, David and I drove to New Haven to see  Joey Fala’s  senior organ performance for his Master’s Degree. We had a delicious lunch at Tarry Inn on Park Street with extraordinary Italian cuisine and happy banter with  Joey, Kathy, his first organ teacher from Hawaii, and Gary another organist in the Troy area.  We planned to leave immediately after the recital because of an early morning class David had to teach on Monday morning, so dinner was not an option.

The campus of Yale is amazing.  It was my first time there and we both thought it is more impressive than even Harvard.  Yale is nestled into the city fabric with parts of the old campus surrounded by wrought iron and period architecture. I have no idea what the relationship with the city is,  but imagine it is the usual suspicion of   “town and gown” in most university towns.  The appearance, though,  is one of integration

We had only time for a brief visit to the British Museum designed by Luis Kahn. He is an architect we both enjoy.  My favorite art is Italian and other art rarely meets that standard.  I did love the Long Hall with floor to ceiling paintings in a dramatic “Long Hall.”  each space had skylights for natural light.  Kahn worked his magic at Yale.  His theory of design was to “ask the bricks what they wanted to be!! This creative unorthodox design theory often needed tweaking by more practical architects. When Kahn was in India designing IIM, a spectacular campus, Doshi had to point out that the orientation needed to be changed to avoid the boiling afternoon sun.

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The British Museum at Yale.

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The Long Gallery.

After walking 7000+ steps, nearly 4 miles, we sat in the car waiting for the 7:30 recital. It is not yet on Youtube, but there is a piece played by Joey at an another concert on my previous, included, post. ( See link below the final image.)  I will post his hour-long recital when it is available.

Here are images of Woosley Hall where there are 2500 seats for various events.   Joey told us that people sit only in the back balcony of the hall for organ recitals to hear the most perfect acoustics.

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For one hour on February 05, 2017, Joey Fala and The Newberry Memorial Organ made music as one.  The program was varied and dramatic from jubilant to haunting.  This Orchestral Organ absolutely has tones and sounds of the orchestra and volume to fill this giant hall.  No matter the perfection of the instrument, the organist makes it happen. Joey Fala was the man of the hour and played with perfection.

In the last three years, Joey Fala has or will have completed two degrees in Architecture including  a Master’s Degree in Lighting from Rennessalaer and in May a Master’s in Music in Organ Performance from Yale.

What are his plans for the future?  He was uncertain or vague when I asked at lunch. There are lots of possibilities and I am sure his hard work, humility, and talent will open many doors for Joey on his life journey. There is no doubt that he will continue to inspire and bless many people along the way.

Thanks for the memories and God speed, Joey.  You are a National Treasure!

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Tragic Fact of Life Today

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Jimmy Galante OD’s at 26

Updated 9:35 am, Wednesday, January 4, 2017

This now familiar but still  tragic story has a face, a story, a young addict, his family’s pain, all cursed by heroin.  Jimmy lived in a middle class bedroom community of Albany, the state capital of New York just across the Hudson from Troy.  Another community hit hard by  heroin deaths is Postenkill to the East of Troy and the home of my daughter and her family and is  another middle class community.  Most of the victims are in their 20s who got hooked on powerful prescription pain pills when they were teens. Now that the doctors have limited these prescriptions,  the cheap and available drug is heroin which costs only a few dollars. Along with the severe addictive components is the fact that the heroin is laced with all sorts of unknown substances unknown to the buyer who only wants a high and many die in the process.

To emphasize this as a worldwide problem, in 2017, a new version of “Trainspotting” is planned for released. The first film was released in 1996 and is available on YouTube.com. The tragic problem is still around!

Jimmy Galante almost broke free from the hell of heroin.

His mother found him two days after Christmas, in his bedroom at her home in Latham. There were needles and tiny empty glassine envelopes on a desk near his body. He was 26 years old.

He had been an altar boy at Saint Ambrose Church in Latham, where his funeral Mass was held the day after New Year’s. He was laid to rest in Our Lady of Angels Cemetery.

His father is a retired Albany cop, James Joseph Galante Sr.

Jimmy was on the road to becoming a heroin success story and living a happy, drug-free life. He had completed 16 months of intensive residential treatment at Hospitality House in Albany and had been clean for more than two years before his fatal relapse.

He had been blessed with second and third, and more, chances at sobriety.

He stole cash and jewelry and prescription medication from his mother and burned a lot of bridges.

He had been brought back from near-death with Narcan in a hospital emergency room a few years earlier. He had spent time in jail after washing out of several rehab programs. Drug court gave him a fighting chance.

More Information

Fundraising information

Galante’s family has set up a GoFundMe fundraising campaign for Hospitality House. For those wishing to contribute in Jimmy Galante’s memory, go to


He had dark eyes, soft cheeks and a shy grin.

There was a life before the wreckage of heroin, a happy one. He was a Cub Scout and played Little League baseball. He was a good guitar player and loved heavy metal music. He joined a band, Lycanthrope, and they got a gig at the old Saratoga Winners.

He was wicked smart and won a free trip to Disney World put up by a high school teacher who was amazed after Jimmy aced a practice Regents exam before they had even covered the material in class.

He took classes at Hudson Valley Community College and worked as an installer at a window company and was a star employee. Until heroin dragged him down, once again, in its toxic undertow.

Recently, he had been having heart-to-heart talks with his mother, Marytheresa Galante. He spoke frankly about his heroin addiction, which started with snorting it for the first time six years ago to try to impress a girl he had a crush on.

He eventually shot up as he “chased the dragon,” seeking an ever-elusive high. His addiction soon enough became less about achieving euphoria and more about keeping at bay the horrendous and intense flu-like symptoms of withdrawal.

“He told me that when you’re dope-sick, you’ll kill your mother for $100,” Marytheresa Galante said.

His drug use morphed from smoking pot with buddies as a teenager at Shaker High School and Christian Brothers Academy. His parents transferred him to CBA his junior year because they wanted more discipline for their wayward son and to get him away from druggie friends.

“I was so naive back then,” his mother said. “It was just a better class of drug user.”

Heroin does not recognize ZIP codes or adhere to any kind of social boundary. It has left a long trail of heartache, devastation and death on dozens of families across the Capital Region for the past few years.

In a notebook his mother recently bought him, Jimmy wrote the names of friends who had died of heroin overdoses. The list, incomplete, stopped at 14. Four others were in prison.

He was friends with some of those whose harrowing heroin stories I have written about, including Dan Flood and Patty Farrell’s daughter, Laree, who died of a heroin overdose at 18 in 2013. Flood, 26, of Guilderland, who failed a dozen treatment programs and has spent time in jail, is homeless again in downtown Albany. He is a familiar sight as he panhandles just off Interstate 787 at the Madison Avenue exit. Galante always stopped to talk to Flood when he saw him out there by the highway, holding a rumpled cardboard sign. He would pass his friend a few bucks.

Galante’s father and Farrell, also a retired Albany cop, went way back. His mother has a snapshot of Jimmy with Patty Farrell at a Halloween party when he was about 3 years old. Jimmy was dressed in a little policeman’s uniform.

“It breaks my heart every time I see it,” his mother said.

Ironically, at 15, Jimmy came home from a friend’s house with a tattoo on his leg: XXX Straight Edge. It was their pact never to do drugs again. That friend, 22, died of a drug overdose at his parents’ Loudonville home in 2013. His family has not publicly shared his heroin story.

His mother posted this on Facebook last week: “Heroin addiction is a tragedy for the person it has control over as well as their family. Time to stop all the shame and secrecy. Before one more child dies.”

She got a message from a Shenendehowa High School teacher who said she knew seven former students who died of heroin overdoses in the past two years.

Young Do has been a counselor and clinical director at Hospitality House for the past 11 years. He’s seen the clients in the 72-bed facility on Central Avenue in Albany shift from primarily alcoholics in their mid-30s to mostly heroin addicts in their early 20s. Dozens are on a waiting list. Officials are searching for a larger building in the wake of the heroin epidemic.

“It’s still getting worse,” said Do, noting there has been a recent surge of new stronger, cheaper synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, which have flooded the local market with a grim lethality.

Galante’s family is raising money for Hospitality House in Jimmy’s memory.

“They gave me my son back, at least for a little while,” his mother said.

She sobbed when she looked at a photograph of last summer’s family vacation in North Carolina’s Outer Banks. Jimmy was clean. His younger brother and sister were there. It was the first time in six years they were all together. She hadn’t seen him healthier or happier in a long while.

Jimmy Galante ultimately could not escape what his mother called “this terrible demon.”

He was just a sweet kid from the suburbs.

May he rest in peace.


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The Best New Year’s Eve Ever !

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Our children decided when they had their children, that each family should be at their own home for Christmas. This, I am sure, is in response to all those years we went to grandparents’ homes in Virginia and Maryland. Another time, place, and tradition. Our children wanted to get together over this time of celebration, so they began alternating New Year’s visits. This time was the  celebration in Skaneateles at Christian’s home. It was snowy and cold in Central New York, but also in Troy.  Thankfully the  drive was doable and we arrived safely.

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Here are Christian and the newest member of their family, Chewbacca,   an 8 week old Miniature Labradoodle.  He is going to stay very small at 20 pounds full grown  and the most important characteristic is that he is hypoallergenic. There are lots of allergies in all our families and there were  no itchy eyes or sneezing over the visit.


The Skaneatles Bells had  plan an Olympic like event for the  big night.

Violet modeling the hats and horns.

Parker and Violet with the remains of Pictionary  entries.

Grace flipping small water bottle to try and have them stand at the end.

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Decorated brownies  with winners in many categories from “Most colorful ” in ages  6-7 to  “Most Creative” for ages 14-15!

The creative process of decorating the brownies.

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Finally a big smile !  Parker with his   house of cards covered with pennies !

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Chewie got the most snuggles and kisses as the New Year began.  The adults had small glasses of champagne  and  the children had  sparking grape juice.  This model of New Year’s had been celebrated in 2015 but we were on our way to India.What fun it was to be there this year.   I am so thankful for my children, the parents and partners they are in their families, and those precious grandchildren , are the joy of my heart!

Happy New Year !

This is not Chewie but is how Chris chose his puppy  on line. The woman from whom they bought their dog had three litters congruently.  Serious business this puppy business!

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Are You a Spelling Challenged Person? Check these out!

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 These Are The 10 Most Difficult City Names To Spell

06/24/2015 12:46 pm ET | Updated Jun 24, 2015

Certain places are famous for having hard-to-spell names. Butte, Montana is the butt of many a misspelling joke, while Mississippi has such a difficult name to spell that a little jingle was created to make it easier to learn.

Thanks to a new survey, we now know the 10 cities with even harder names to spell. The survey, which was conducted by Ketchum Global Research and Analytics for King Digital Entertainment, found that the 1,000 participating adults misspelled the cities below over 50 percent of the time.

According to a press release, baby boomers and millennials alike misspelled the city names with equal fervor, making us think that these names are just plain hard to spell no matter what.

10. Aquebogue, New York
Misspelled by 56 percent of people

9. Winnemucca, Nevada
Misspelled by 60 percent of people

8. Ketchikan, Alaska
Misspelled by 61 percent of people

7. Worcester, Massachusetts
Misspelled by 62 percent of people

6. Pflugerville, Texas
Misspelled by 63 percent of people

5. Champaign, Illinois
Misspelled by 63 percent of people

4. Skaneateles, New York
Misspelled by 67 percent of people

3. Saguache, Colorado
Misspelled by 68 percent of people

2. Kaumalapau, Hawaii
Misspelled by 69 percent of people

1. Meeteetse, Wyoming
Misspelled by 70 percent of people

Our son and his family live in #4.  Skaneateles is an Iroquois Native American word.  

Happy New Year! 

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Have You Heard of a Movie Tavern?

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Well,we hadn’t until spending Christmas with our son in Skaneateles near Syracuse.  It is a combination theater /restaurant.  When you enter the theater, the seats have a tray, button to call the waiter, a foot rest, and reclining seat.  The girls saw “Moana” and the guys went to “Rogue One, A Star Wars Story.”  We ordered lunch as our features started at 11 and 11:30.  I ordered a  salad and it was large and fresh. My only complaint is that I like to see what I am eating and I ate during the movie.   I think the salad was about $8 the normal price for salad/meals at family restaurants or taverns.  Breakfast is available, too.

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A full bar is available for service at your seats, if you so desire.

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This video  is of one of the theaters in Pennsylvania but it  looks just like the one we were in  New York. My guess is that it is a franchise.  The organization was started in the south and slowly covering the country. We were bummed that there is not one in Albany, the capital city of New York.  We don’t have a Costco, or a Wegmann’s ,  Bass Pro Shop, and now s Movie Tavern!   Oh well, maybe someday!

Please let me know what you think or whether you have experienced a Movie Tavern.


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Christmas Market Shopping in Roma, Italia Piazza Novona

Piazza Navona Christmas market in Rome  is  on the list of best European Christmas Markets.   It is on the ancient site of the Circus of Domitian and has the shape of a stadium because of the games played  there in ancient times.  As the Christmas season nears, the vendors set up their  toys, ornaments and delicious Italian sweets. One of my favorite items were the Christmas figures for the manger scene.  It is very difficult and terribly expensive to get the hand-carved wooden  figures, but I did see them for sale in the shops near the Vatican. The ones on sale at Navona were plastic but the gifted Italian artists worked their magic with plastic and  the expressions and details  of clothing etc. are wonderful and the price is much more reasonable.

The last time I went with my husband  for a semester in Rome, the  students were frantically finishing their design project  spending lots of hours on “charette”. ( French word meaning working night and day to finish a project. )  This seems to be the model for architecture students in all countries .. . . .  .finishing at the last minute. Well the students didn’t want to be doing this work and missing their  last days in Roma.  The professor went daily to Navona and bought sweets for a treat for them.  He would sit and read in the studio to “encourage work and perseverance!”  A posting and exhibition were planned for the last few days where students from other Roman studies’ programs would visit.  Quality work was and is important to the professor!   One day, Emily called out to David after his candy delivery, “David, are you babysitting?”  Which was exactly what he was doing!

Here are some images of Piazza Nanona at Christmas time!


Pinocchio was started in Italy and is a popular children’s gift as well as other puppets.


Puppets are very popular in Italy. I remember traveling around and coming into a small town, going to the piazza in the centro and there would be a puppet show. The most popular are slap-stick stories of Punch and Judy.  Men , women, and children would laugh, wildly,  at the foolishness!


Stuffed animals galore. . .  . . .

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Here are some of the delicious sweets!


Decorations and some of the manger figures. . . . .


Beautiful, delicate tree ornaments. . . . .  .


Yummy. . . .  .


Kid heaven. . . . .  . . . . . .


I loved the columns instead of the stable or cave. We bought some columns to use in our nativity.  Not bad for plastic figures, right?

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Lots of styles and sizes are available. . . . . . .


Buon Natale. . . . . . . .


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Christmas Shopping in New York

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This is the Rockefeller tree which stands  just above the famous ice skating rink.

My favorite part of Christmas, as a little girl in Virginia, was driving to New York on Christmas Day to spend a week in this magical setting.  Notice all the animation in the  windows of  the department stores, the colors, the lights, the skating, the tree. . .yes  a capitalists’ explosion!   But wait until the last image filmed at the Radio Center Music Hall  the . . ..Living nativity. . . . The Reason for the Season has not been forgotten  in spite of the  over the top  shopping !


Merry Christmas! 

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