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A Million Little Pieces Of My Mind

About Me

By: Paul S. Cilwa Viewed: 12/7/2023
Page Views: 18681
My personal life…don't read about it if you don't want to know about it!

I once met a man who was in his nineties, and still lived in the house in which he was born. He had never traveled outside his county in Nebraska, had never wanted to, and still did what he had done all his life: work the farm he'd inherited from his father.

If he's at one end of the spectrum of human experience, I might well be at the other. I've been married to a woman and to men (at different times); been a father to four and a grandfather to five (so far). I've been a radio DJ, a sailor, a truck driver, an instructor, a ditch-digger (for one day—that was enough), a computer programmer and a writer. Oh, and an actor and a lifeguard—and an aficionado of camping and whitewater rafting. I've visited almost twenty countries (again, so far), and been in an alien spacecraft. I've gone from being a Catholic to exploring various religions until finding that "spiritual, not religious" works best for me.

In this section of my site you'll find some of the history and people that led me along these roads and made me the man I am today.

Styertowne Apartments
930 Bloomfield Ave
Clifton, NJ
148 MacArthur Avenue
Garfield, NJ
Blueberry Hill
River Road
Victory, VT
1½ C St
St. Augustine Beach, FL
312 St. George Street
St. Augustine, FL
19 Matanzas Circle
St. Augustine Beach, FL
504 B Street
St. Augustine Beach, FL
15 Sevilla Street
St. Augustine, FL
208 Beach Street #7
Tampa, FL
Hollywood, FL 15 Sevilla Street
St. Augustine, FL
311 Laurel Street
Palatka, FL
Breezy Brae Trailer Park
205 Wildwood Drive
St. Augustine South, FL
4 Sebastian Avenue
St. Augustine, FL
Fort Lauderdale, FL 14½ Grant Street
St. Augustine, FL
United States Navy
Training Center
Great Lakes, IL
Zion, IL El Patio
St. Augustine Beach, FL
Breezy Brae Trailer Park
205 Wildwood Drive
St. Augustine South, FL
Bakersville Fire Tower
Bakersville, FL
715 W 15th Street
Panama City, FL
Pensacola, FL Arlington, VA Pensacola, FL Alexandria, VA Ironwood Court
Manassas, VA
Omaha, NE Blair, NE Elkton, FL Silver Spring, MD camping, VA Inlet Court
Reston, VA
Bluefish Court
Fort Myers, FL
Winterthur Apartments
11901 Winterthur Lane
Reston, VA
Deep Wood
Reston, VA
Windemere Apartments
1761 Main St.
Dunedin, FL
near Tampa, FL Cape Coral, FL Countryside Village
60 Village Circle Way
Manchester, NH 03102
3 Eagle Nest Way
Manchester, NH
trailer in
Snowflake, AZ
Miller Trail Rd.
Snowflake, AZ
8759 Greenbrian Rd.
Peoria, AZ 85382
14630 N 90th Lane
Peoria, AZ 85381
10143 E Lobo Av.
Mesa, AZ 85209
9526 E Natal Avenue
Mesa, AZ 85209
2400 N Arizona Av. #1124
Chandler, AZ 85225
9233 E Neville Av. #1006
Mesa, AZ 85209
14109 N 83rd Av. #324
Peoria, AZ 85381
108 N Greenfield Rd. #108
Mesa, AZ 85205
4800 S Alma School Road
Chandler, AZ 85248
5726 N 10th St. #12
Phoenix, AZ 85014
1932 N Mesa Drive #9
Mesa, AZ 85201
1464 S Stapley Drive #1097
Mesa, AZ 85204
1464 S Stapley Drive #1057
Mesa, AZ 85204
Serenity Slope
PO Box 940
Hana, HI 96713
Acero at Cooley Station
3939 E Vest Avenue #249
Gilbert, AZ 85295
4417 E John St
Gilbert, AZ 85295
My babyhood in Clifton, New Jersey. We move into my father's factory. I get another sister. The birth of my youngest baby sister. The time we lost my baby sister. I am thrown into the educational system. I did not like my first-grade teacher. Rural life in the 1950s. My continuing education. At 7 years old, I experienced my second death-in-the-family. Picking up where I left off. My continuing education. I begin my second year in the 3-grade schoolroom. My last month in a Vermont school. That time we moved to St. Augustine, Florida. Changing schools can be daunting. Changing cultures, even more so. The year I met one of the most influential people to come into my life. My very first openly racist teacher. My continuing education. My first wedding was to Mary Ann Steinberg of St. Augustine, Florida, in February, 1972. Playing 'Married' at 20 years old. Michael and I were married in the Unitarian Universalist Church of Surprise, AZ on August 12, 2000, at noon, by the Rev. Walt Wieder and the Rev. Surya-Patricia Lane Hood. Feel free to browse our wedding album. You're invited! Despite my concern that I would never be able to own a house…I bought a house.
1st Grade
Our Lady of Mt. Virgin
Garfield, NJ
2nd Grade
Concord Elementary
Concord, VT
2nd Grade
Fairview Elementary
Bloomfield, NJ
3rd Grade
East Concord Elementary
East Concord, VT
4th Grade
East Concord Elementary
East Concord, VT
5th Grade
East Concord Elementary
East Concord, VT
5th Grade
Cathedral Parish School
St Augustine, FL
6th Grade
Cathedral Parish School
St Augustine, FL
7th Grade
Cathedral Parish School
St Augustine, FL
8th Grade
Cathedral Parish School
St Augustine, FL
9th Grade
St. Joseph Academy
St Augustine, FL
10th Grade
St. Joseph Academy
St Augustine, FL
11th Grade
St. Joseph Academy
St Augustine, FL
12th Grade
St. Joseph Academy
St Augustine, FL
Stanley Chair Company
Tampa, FL
Sears
Auto Department
Hollywood, FL
The Hungry Pelican and St. Johns Title Assurance
Palatka, FL
Palm Coast
Tourguide
Palm Coast, FL
WAOC Radio
St Augustine, FL
King Pest Control
Ft Lauderdale, FL
Night Security Guard
St Augustine, FL
United States Navy Florida State Division of Forestry (CETA)
Bakersville, FL
Florida State Division of Forestry
Panama City, FL
University of West Florida at Pensacola Environmental Protection Agency
Alexandria, VA
University of West Florida at Pensacola Environmental Protection Agency
Alexandria, VA
Professional Micro Systems
MacLean, VA
GTE Telenet
Tysons Corner, VA
EDP Temps
Tysons Corner, VA
Applied Communications, Inc.
Omaha, NE
Independent Consulting Entre
Tysons Corner, VA
National Association of Securities Dealers
Washington, DC
GBSI
Fort Myers, FL
Arlington Hospital
Arlington, VA
AdvenTech
Falls Church, VA
Nielson Media
Dunedin, FL
Harris Corporation
Cape Coral, FL
AIG Insurance
Manchester, NH
Hunneman Real Estate
Boston, MA
Independent Corporate Instructor
USA, Canada, Mexico, Germany
Writing Assignment
The Sun City Cannabis Club
Schneider National Carriers
Ontario, CA
PETsMART (through Office Partners)
Phoenix, AZ
Software Testing Solutions
Remote, work at home
Best Western (through Office Partners)
Phoenix, AZ
Toyota Financial Services (through Adecco)
Chandler, AZ
Retired
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1951 1952 1953 1954 1955 1956 1957 1958 1959 1960 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023

(For details on the places I've been, check out my Places section.)

My autobiographical essays are not yet complete. But you may use the following links to get to them in chronological order, if you wish.

1880s
1880

Mom's Immediate Ancestors (1880-1910)

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 1/1/1880
Posted: 3/25/2022
Page Views: 629
Topics: #EdnaMaeBrown #EdnaMaeCilwa #PhotoColorization #PhotoRestoration
Photos and narrative of my mom, Edna Mae Brown Cilwa's, parentage, from 1890 up to her birth in 1912.

Rarely, one gets to look at a photo taken in past decades and marvel at how contemporary someone looks. Grandpa's hair and outfit are too 19th Century to mistake him for a modern-day youth. But his expression of youthful optimism, unsuppressed even by the necessity of keeping still for a long exposure time, shines through the years.

Read more…

1900s
1901

Dad and his Ancestors (and friends)

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 12/12/1901
Page Views: 531
Topics: #WalterSigimundCilwa
All I know about my Dad, Walter Sigimund Cilwa, of New York City and Victory, Vermont.

My father, Walter Sigimund Cilwa, was born at 14 Delancy Street, Manhattan, New York, on December 12, 1901, and died November 11, 1958 when I was 7.

Read more…

1910s
1912

Mom's Childhood (1912-1937)

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 6/18/1912
Updated: 3/23/2022
Page Views: 647
Topics: #Colorization #DorothyWeemsBrown #EdnaMaeBrown #EdnaMaeCilwa #MaryViriginaArmstrongBrown #PhotoRestoration #VernonBrown
Photos and narrative of my mom, Edna Mae Brown Cilwa, as a young adult.

In the first years of the twentieth century, cameras were still too bulky—and babies too wriggly—to make infant photography practical. Mom's first portrait was taken when she was about 1½ years old.

Read more…

1930s
1937

Looking for Love (1937-1948)

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 6/18/1937
Updated: 3/23/2022
Page Views: 693
Topics: #Colorization #DorothyWeemsBrown #EdnaMaeBrown #EdnaMaeCilwa #PhotoRestoration #VernonBrown #WalterCilwa
Photos and narrative of my mom, Edna Mae Brown Cilwa, and her life up to her marriage to my dad.

By the end of the 1930s, the Depression was easing but the clouds of war were looming on the horizon. In 1938, the Browns sold the house in Pawlet and Mom and her mother used the money to spend the winter in Florida. The following year they returned. That would be Mom's last vacation with her mother. Mary Virginia died of complications from diabetes in 1940.

Read more…

1950s
1951

And Then I Was Born…

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 4/8/1951 7:05:00 PM

Milestone: #Birth
Page Views: 687
Topics: #Autobiography #Clifton #NewJersey #StyertowneApartments
My babyhood in Clifton, New Jersey.

Milestone: Birth
Who: Paul Sigmund Cilwa
Date and time: April 8, 1951 7:05 PM
Where: Mountainside Hospital, Glen Ridge, New Jersey
Father: Walter Sigimund Cilwa
Mother: Edna Mae (Brown) Cilwa

Read more…

Four Months' Report

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 8/29/1951
Page Views: 510
Topics: #Autobiography #Clifton #NewJersey #StyertowneApartments
My mom kept a baby book on me.

As the first born, my mom went all out to document my every moment. (My younger sisters enjoyed more anonymity.) Here's her first six months' report.

Read more…

My Baby Book

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 9/27/1951
Page Views: 377
Topics: #Autobiography #Clifton #NewJersey #StyertowneApartments
Only an extraterrestrial would want to know this amount of detail of my infancy.

That my mom put so much minutiae regarding my infancy into my Baby Book, and hung on to it for some six decades, for me to recieve…well, it just seems like there's so reason to preserve what she wrote indefinitely. (Internet, don't fail me now!)

Read more…

1952

My First Sibling

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 6/18/1952
Page Views: 769
Topics: #Autobiography #Clifton #NewJersey #StyertowneApartments
I get a baby sister.

Milestone: Birth
Who: Mary Joan Cilwa
Date and time: June 18, 1952
Father: Walter Sigimund Cilwa
Mother: Edna Mae (Brown) Cilwa
Age: <% =AgeInYears("June 18, 1952 7:05 PM", Null) %>years

Read more…

My First Move

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 9/1/1952

Milestone: #Residence
Page Views: 5228
Topics: #Autobiography #Clifton #NewJersey #StyertowneApartments
We move into my father's factory.

Milestone: Change of Residence
Address: 148 MacArthur Avenue, Garfield, New Jersey

Read more…

The White Dream

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 12/1/1952
Page Views: 4844
Topics: #AlienAbductions #Autobiography
An early nightmare…or alien abduction?

Sometime before my third year, something happened that I remember, though out of context. That is, it happened, and I remember it too clearly to be a dream; but I have no lead-in memory and no lead-out memory.

Read more…

1953

Visiting Aunt Gene

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 1/15/1953
Page Views: 461
Topics: #Autobiography
My dad's younger sister and her family.

My dad's youngest sister, Gene McGirr, lived in Towacco, New Jersey. When my sister was about six months old, we went to visit. It was pretty cold, but I had my snowsuit.

Read more…

My Dad, The Bowler

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 6/12/1953
Page Views: 538
Topics: #Autobiography #WalterSCilwa
I'll never forget those happy hours at the bar, listening to the jukebox.

Bowling was Dad's sport. He belonged to a league and was very proud of his "unofficial" perfect game. (That's where one gets a score of 300. It was unofficial because it didn't happen during league play.)

Read more…

Louise Is Born

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 10/10/1953

Milestone: #Birth
Page Views: 740
Topics: #Autobiography #Louise
I get another sister.

Milestone: Birth
Who: Louise Alfreda Cilwa
Date and time: October 10, 1953
Father: Walter Sigimund Cilwa
Mother: Edna Mae (Brown) Cilwa
Age: <% =AgeInYears("October 10, 1953", Null) %>years

Read more…

Grandma Johnson

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 11/1/1953
Page Views: 4813
Topics: #Autobiography #GrandmaJohnson
Who WAS that woman, anyway??!

After the birth of my sister, Louise, a person known as Grandma Johnson came into our lives. She was a woman from "the old country" (Sweden) whose daughter-in-law had thrown her out of the house. My dad, with the soft heart I've inherited, took her into our home with the idea that she could help my mother care for her growing brood of children.

Read more…

1954

Dorothy Gene Is Born

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 6/24/1954

Milestone: #Birth
Page Views: 727
Topics: #Autobiography #DorothyGene
The birth of my youngest baby sister.

Milestone: Birth
Who: Dorothy Gene Cilwa
Date and time: October 10, 1953
Father: Walter Sigimund Cilwa
Mother: Edna Mae (Brown) Cilwa

Read more…

The McGraws Visit

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 3/1/1954
Page Views: 459
Topics: #Autobiography
My dad's younger sister's daughter's family.

My dad's youngest sister, Gene McGirr, had an adult daughter with a husband and a child of their own, my cousin Mike. (Since I was very young, I pronounced that "co'n Mike", which my mom continued to call him even after I was grown and had kids of my own.

Read more…

1955

The Toy Box

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 6/1/1955
Page Views: 4736
Topics: #Autobiography
Toy boxes should not lock.

My father had given me an antique sailor's trunk, with the year 1911 carved into it, to use as a toy box. I had it in my room and it was pretty well packed with Lincoln Logs, model train pieces, stuffed animals, and the like.

Read more…

A Death In The Family

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 12/16/1955

Milestone: #Death
Page Views: 837
Topics: #Autobiography #DorothyGene
The time we lost my baby sister.

My first experience with death came when I was about five. My father and his first son, "Billy", had extended the living quarters of the factory with a beautiful new room added beyond the master bedroom. This was to be where my sisters would sleep, though it doubled as a playroom.

Read more…

1956

Blizzard

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 12/25/1956
Page Views: 4794
Topics: #Autobiography
Four-year-olds don't necessarily know when to come in out of the cold.

Now, I had done this before. Forbidden to cross the street, no one had told me I couldn't go all the way around the block. One by one, I had knocked on the neighbors' doors and asked them if they had a record player and, if so, could I see it? Most had invited me in, given me cookies and milk, and allowed me to choose a record to listen to. In this way, I had discovered there were such things as automatic record changers, and long-playing records that rotated incredibly slowly but played beautifully.

Read more…

The Gift Of Music

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 3/1/1956
Page Views: 4774
Topics: #Autobiography #Music
How my dad gave me the most precious thing I own.

My father loved music, and one of the first things he got me was a wind-up, "portable" phonograph. That was followed by an electric combination record player and radio, and then an RCA player for the new 45-RPM records.

Read more…

Mysterious Visitor

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 4/8/1956
Page Views: 5122
Topics: #AlienAbductions #Autobiography
And then I was visited by an alien…

It was weeks later, and I had been put to bed on a normal, uneventful, night. However, I awoke in terror to find my room lit by a strange, blue light that glowed from the living room visible through my open door. Between the door and my bed, clearly silhouetted in the doorway, was a tall, angular figure, hooded and gray. To me, it looked like a statue; so I thought the Blessed Virgin was in my bedroom…and it did not belong there. I was terrified, and tried to scream for Mom—only to discover I was also paralyzed.

Read more…

Mommy's Little Helper

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 6/1/1956
Page Views: 4876
Topics: #Autobiography
How I stumbled on a method to avoid doing chores for the rest of my life.

I put the four items into the sink—I had to stand on a chair to reach it—but what I really wanted to do was mix cleaning products. So I got the egg beater and pitcher, half-filled it with warm water, and started adding every thing I could find: Surf, Spic 'n Span, hand soap; I even poured in a little shampoo from the bathroom. I then used the egg beater to blend it all to a nice, frothy, consistency.

Read more…

The Time I Ran Away

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 6/2/1956
Page Views: 454
Topics: #Autobiography
Typical of me, I wasn't really running AWAY…I was running TO.

My father took me for a walk, one day, and we reached the top of a hill just as the sun was setting. I had asked where Disneyland was, and my father pointed in the direction of the setting sun. Of course, he meant "west" but I thought he meant, just over the next hill.

Read more…

Hanging with Preschool Friends

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 1/7/1956
Page Views: 434
Topics: #Autobiography #Christmas
Yes, we played in the streets…amd survived!

By summer of 1957, I was starting to get sophisticated, in that I felt I understood the world I lived in. I had toys that I used in specific ways (for example, taking apart and reassembling my record player), I had friends. I was looking forward to starting kindergarten in the fall, though I didn't really know what fall was or, for that matter, kindergarten.

Read more…

Kindergarten

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 9/9/1956

Milestone: #Education
Page Views: 3773
Topics: #Autobiography #Education
I am thrown into the educational system.

Milestone: Education
Grade: Kindergarten
School: Mount Virgin

Read more…

1957

First Grade

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 9/10/1957

Milestone: #Education
Page Views: 4647
Topics: #Autobiography #Education
I did not like my first-grade teacher.

Milestone: Education
Grade: 1st
School: Mount Virgin
Teacher: Mrs. Buzanowski

Read more…

Christmas, 1957

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 12/25/1957
Page Views: 554
Topics: #Autobiography #Christmas
How to teach a kindergarten student to distrust authority.

As the year drew to an end it grew cold and snow fell on the ground. When we wanted to go out Mommy bundled us up in garments called "snowsuits" that were basically full body armor filled with down. They were supposed to keep the cold out; I believe they would have stopped an AK-47 slug as well. When they were on, every part of our bodies was covered, even our mouths, thanks to the woolen scarf that had been wrapped around us prior to the enveloping by the suit. Then came mittens (which prevented us from using our fingers) and rubber boots (which just about prevented us from walking). Once we'd been safely insulated, Mommy would open the door and allow us to go outside.

Read more…

1958

That Time We Moved To Vermont

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 6/1/1958

Milestone: #Residence
Page Views: 9240
Topics: #Autobiography #Vermont #Victory
Rural life in the 1950s.

My folks waited until school was out for the summer, then packed all our stuff into an open-framed trailer, and us into the Studebaker; turned the house over to the family who had rented it from us, and headed North to a century-old house in Victory, Vermont. At 7, I had no idea where Vermont was or even what it was, much less why we were going. All questions were answered with, "You'll see."

Read more…

Second Grade

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 9/8/1958

Milestone: #Education
Page Views: 4596
Topics: #Autobiography #Education
My continuing education.

Milestone: Education
Grade: 2nd
School: Concord Elementary
Teacher: Mrs. Alice McGinnis

Read more…

Farewell, My Father

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 11/11/1958

Milestone: #Death
Page Views: 5005
Topics: #Autobiography #WalterS.Cilwa
At 7 years old, I experienced my second death-in-the-family.

As the days grew shorter and colder, Dad stayed home more. He wasn't feeling well. I was unaware of details and didn't know how long this had been going on. One day I asked how come he wasn't going to work.

Read more…

Christmas, 1958

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 12/25/1958
Page Views: 4733
Topics: #Autobiography #Bloomfield #Christmas #NewJersey
Spending a winter with grandparents after my father's death.

My father had passed away, but life goes on. We were at my grandparents' garden apartment in Bloomfield, New Jersey; but it was November and everyone else was in school, so it was lonely during the days. And it was cold, too; so it wasn't much fun to play outside. Still, we did; and I had my first experience getting lost.

Read more…

1959

Second Grade in New Jersey

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 1/2/1959

Milestone: #Education
Page Views: 7060
Topics: #Autobiography #Education
Picking up where I left off.

Milestone: Education
Grade: 2nd
School: Fairview Elementary

Read more…

Return to Victory

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 4/27/1959
Page Views: 6495
Topics: #Autobiography #Vermont
The return to our house in Vermont after my father's death.

By April, Bloomfield's snow had melted. The same was not true in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom. The fields and meadows were laid out in great swaths of white, like a Norse god's formal dinner table. As we reached the unpaved section of the River Road that connected North Concord and Victory, it was clear not even the sturdy Country Squire was going to be able to traverse twenty miles of mud to the house. And so Mom turned around and rented a room in the nearest town of size, St. Johnsbury, to await the break of spring.

Read more…

First Communion

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 5/10/1959
Page Views: 457
Topics: #Autobiography #Vermont
Being groomed into he rituals of my mother's religion.

Catholic kids normally celebrate their First Communion when they are seven; but my Dad's death had thrown that schedule off. So Mary Joan and I attended Catechism classes in nearby Lunenburg at St. Leo's Church, under the guidance of Father Michael Dimassi—"Father Mike" as we called him.

Read more…

Third Grade

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 9/7/1959

Milestone: #Education
Page Views: 4740
Topics: #Autobiography #Education
My continuing education.

Milestone: Education
Grade: 3rd
School: East Concord Elementary
Teacher: Mrs. Gwen Howe

Read more…

Third Grade Artwork

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 10/1/1959
Posted: 9/10/2022
Page Views: 491
Topics: #Artwork #Autobiography
Early attempts at drawing. All about space and Superman!

My mom, it seems, saved everything I ever did. In her memorabila box, preserved by my sister, Louise, I found my report cards, letters I wrote, and of course, drawings.

Read more…

My Oldest (Surviving) Story

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 10/10/1959
Posted: 9/17/2022
Page Views: 541
Topics: #Autobiography #Mrs.Howe #Writing
I wonder if Stephen King's mom saved his childhood stories?

My mom saved all my school papers, or so it seems. Among them was my oldest surviving story. (I remember writing stories when I was in kindergarten, but those have been lost to time.) The actual assignment was to simply write sentences demonstrating the use of various verb declensions. But I had to make the sentences flow into a story.

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Our First Vermont Winter

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 12/25/1959
Posted: 4/28/2007
Page Views: 6849
Topics: #Autobiography #Christmas #NorthConcord #Val'sMotel #Vermont
Reminiscing about Christmas at Val's Motel in North Concord, Vermont, in 1959.

As a widow with three children, with winter of 1959 approaching, my mom decided we could not remain in our isolated house down 20 miles of snow-covered, gravel road with no telephone. And so she found an "efficiency" apartment available for rent at Val's Motel, about 25 miles from the house, but on a paved highway and with modern conveniences like phone and electricity. She arranged for us to spend the winter there, and brought over enough clothes and cooking utensils to tide us over. Once the snow closed in, we would either have to do without anything we forgot, or buy a new one.

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1960s
1960

Renovations

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 6/1/1960
Page Views: 5300
Topics: #Autobiography #Vermont #Victory
How we turned a 100-year-old house into a lovely home.

Sometime in October or so, when we were still occupying the house in Victory, my penis began to sting when I pee'd. I said nothing, embarrassed that something was wrong "down there" until the pain reached the point I could keep it secret no longer. Mom took me to the emergency room in St. Johnsbury, where we were told I had developed a simple infection from not cleaning myself properly. Mom, it turns out, was supposed to have taught me (from infancy) how to retract the foreskin and wash each day when I bathed. Now, the foreskin had tightened and wouldn't retract. I was given an antibiotic but would have to have "an operation" to prevent a recurrence.

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Three Attics

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 7/1/1960
Posted: 11/25/2022
Page Views: 468
Topics: #Autobiography #Vermont #Victory
If kids don't have a playroom, they'll make one. Or three.

As an adult, looking back, I realize that what we called the "first attic" was actually just half the second floor of the house, a half that had never been "finished" as we now say. But my sisters and I didn't care; it just meant we had a whole half-floor to play in. This was where my wind-up Victorla was located, and where my sisters would establish doll villages.

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4th Grade

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 9/6/1960
Posted: 9/14/2022

Milestone: #Education
Page Views: 485
Topics: #Autobiography #Education
I begin my second year in the 3-grade schoolroom.

When I returned to school in the fall, my teacher was, again, Mrs. Howe. That's because she taught, and the room held, third, fourth, and fifth grades. She would teach the third graders something, then have them work on something while she taught the fourth graders, and so on. This was actually kind of ideal for my ADD (undiagnosed, but easy to recognize) as I never had to think about the same thing for very long.

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1961

Spring, 1961

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 4/1/1961
Posted: 1/13/2019
Page Views: 2371
Informal family portraits.

We spent the winter of 1960/1961 at Val's Motel in Concord, Vermont. We had become friends with the proprietors so when the snows melted and we were ready to go home, we took pictures with them. And then, again, when we did get home, we took more!

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Visiting Grandparents in St Johnsbury

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 6/1/1961
Posted: 1/13/2019
Page Views: 3439
Family portraits taken at my grandparents' apartment building.

After my dad died, my grandparents moved from Bloomfield, New Jersey, where they had lived forever, to St Johnsbury, Vermont, to be closer to us. They moved into a townhouse apartment in a small, four-unit building. Their landlady was Mrs Cox, a widow.

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From Vermont to Arizona in 1961

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 7/29/1961
Posted: 9/14/2022
Page Views: 819
Topics: #GrandCanyon #LittleColoradoRiver #MesaVerde
At the end of July, 1961, I went on the longest trip I'd yet made: From Vermont to Arizona and back, without air conditioning.

In 1961, after three years of trying to raise three children in rural Vermont by herself, my mom decided to move to a gentler clime. But where? There were two places on her list of possibilities. One was St. Augustine, Florida, where she had spent a couple years as a teenager; the other was Arizona, a place she'd long wanted to see but had never been.

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A Visit From The Browns

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 8/3/1961
Posted: 1/13/2019
Page Views: 2305
My mom's cousins descended upon us for a visit.

My Mom's cousins lived in upstate New York, and one day came for a visit. They were led by Cousin Jairus, who had a terrible allergy to pollen, one so bad we would now call it asthma. But I didn't understand such things, and in any case, no one had warned me. So, when the cousins had arrived, I went into the meadow and gathered a huge armload of goldenrod, and brought it in as a welcome gift.

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5th Grade

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 9/5/1961

Milestone: #Education
Page Views: 397
Topics: #Autobiography #Education
My last month in a Vermont school.

In the summer after I was promoted to fifth grade, we made a cross-country trip from Vermont to Arizona and back again. The purpose of the trip had been to see if we (and by "we" I mean Mom) wanted to move there. Mom had never previously experienced Vermont winters; when she was a kid, they spent summers only in Pawlett. But we made the Arizona trip during the very hottest part of the year; and that was too hot. So that left Florida.

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1961: The Beach House

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 10/2/1961
Posted: 2/10/2009
Updated: 8/28/2022
Page Views: 7616
Topics: #Florida #St.AugustineBeach #Travel
Our biggest move yet, from Vermont to Florida.

In the 1920s, my Mom and her mother made several winter trips to St. Augustine, Florida (without her father, who remained in Bloomfield, New Jersey, to work his optometry practice). Mom liked it there, especially the mild winters and laid-back attitude common to many Southern towns of the period.

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Christmas on St. George Street

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 12/1/1961
Updated: 8/28/2022

Milestone: #Residence
Page Views: 515
Topics: #Autobiography #Florida #St.Augustine
That time we moved to St. Augustine, Florida.

This was my first Christmas old enough to know the truth about Santa Claus, and also old enough to not say anything to my sisters about it (unlike the previous summer in Vermont, when I had figured it and out of the blue started warning my sisters that, if they didn't behave, Santa wouldn't bring them anything. (I was trying to be supportive.)

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1962

Welcome to Cathedral Parish School

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 4/22/1962
Posted: 8/29/2022

Milestone: #Education
Page Views: 395
Topics: #Florida #Louise #St.Augustine
Changing schools can be daunting. Changing cultures, even more so.

So, in addition to having moved into the second new house in Florida after leaving the home we loved in Vermont, my sisters and I had to deal with going to, not only a new school, but a new kind of school as well: a religious one. Cathedral Parish School on St. George Street was an easy walk from our new house. Dealing with new students, new teachers and new rules and rituals was a bit more challenging.

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New Friends and a Piano Recital

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 5/12/1962
Posted: 8/30/2022
Page Views: 540
Topics: #Florida #Mrs.Capella #PianoLessons #St.Augustine
My friend, the piano teacher.

When we first moved to the Saint George Street house, my sisters wasted no time in meeting the neighbor kids. I had never been that good at making friends my own age, except when I "borrowed" my sister's friends. For example, somehow they met a girl whoaw grandparents lived on our street. Her name was Kim Bauer, and her father was the manager of the local Ripley's Believe It Or Not museum. That meant that my sisters and I could visit Ripley's for free!

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Another Move, and a Rattlesnake!

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 6/1/1962
Posted: 4/15/2013
Updated: 8/29/2022
Page Views: 568
Topics: #Autobiography #MatanzasCircle #St.Augustine
My childhood near-death experience with a rattlesnake.

I was suddenly startled back to reality, however, by a loud rattling sound directly in front of me. I lowered the script and saw, to my horror, a huge rattlesnake, about four feet in front of me, coiled in striking position.

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Another Move, To The Beach!

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 8/10/1962
Posted: 8/30/2022
Page Views: 507
Topics: #Autobiography #CoquinaGables #St.Augustine
My very first move into a brand-new home.

Our next move was to be the last for several years. But it was into a brand-new, just-built, development home within easy walking distance of the beach. Plus, it was on an island, sort of. (And I've always liked islands, for some reason.)

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1961

6th Grade

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 9/7/1961
Posted: 10/14/2022

Milestone: #Education
Page Views: 460
Topics: #Autobiography #Education #Forson
The year I met one of the most influential people to come into my life.

During my elementary and high school careers, I had both nuns and what they called "lay" teachers (as in layperson, or non-cleric). Of the three non-nuns, Mrs. Howe and Mrs. Forson tie for most influential in my personal growth. I'd had Mrs. Howe for parts of three school years; I was to have Mrs. Forson for parts of three as well. However, as I arrived for my first day of sixth grade, I had no way of knowing that.

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1963

A Visit From The Vice-President

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 3/11/1963
Posted: 9/8/2022
Page Views: 649
Topics: #Autobiography #LyndonB.Johnson #MissionNombredeDios #St.Augustine #Vice-PresidentJohnson
My first meeting of a celebrity.

As a Catholic school student, I was all but required to practically worship John F. Kennedy, the United States' first Catholic President, and by extension, anyone in his orbit, which of course included his Vice President, Lyndon B. Johnson. So try to imagine the excitement of us fifth graders when we learned that we would form an "honor guard" to greet him at the Old Mission, or as it was more properly known, the Mission Nombre de Dios.

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Coquina Gables Neighbors

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 4/1/1963
Posted: 9/8/2022
Page Views: 574
Topics: #Autobiography #St.AugustineBeach
Meeting the neighbors in our new neighborhood.

Although in my seventies I self-identify as an introvert, that clearly wasn't always the case. As a 5-year-old in New Jersey, I had walked around the entire block, introducing myself to any neighbor who answered the door and asked them if they had a record player. I was a little more subtle as a 12-year-old, but I was still ready to get to know the neighbors.

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Welcome to the Jungle

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 7/1/1963
Posted: 9/8/2022
Page Views: 518
Topics: #CoquinaGables #Hiking #StAugustineBeach
After moving to Florida from Vermont, I was happy to be able to explore the woods.

South of our little development was nothing but Florida scrub. My sisters and friends and I spent nearly every day each summer, either exploring and playing in the woods, or going to the beach…usually both.

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1961

7th Grade

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 9/7/1961

Milestone: #Education
Page Views: 380
Topics: #Autobiography #Education
My very first openly racist teacher.

Milestone: Education
Grade: 7th
School: Cathedral Parish School
Teacher: Mrs. Kaye Forson; Mrs. Usina

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1964

8th Grade

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 9/7/1964
Posted: 4/4/2023

Milestone: #Education
Page Views: 346
Topics: #Autobiography #Education
My continuing education.

Milestone: Education
Grade: 8th
School: Cathedral Parish School
Teacher: Sister Trinita, SSJ

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Hurricane Dora

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 9/11/1964
Posted: 9/13/2022
Page Views: 635
Topics: #Autobiography #HurricameDora
Mom seeks shelter from a hurricane…on an island.

After three years in Florida, we had had a couple of hurricane scares, but the storms had always missed us. However, in 1964, a huge hurricane, Dora, was predicted to hit St. Augustine dead on. With my grandfather's health failing, my mom was concerned that, should be become ill and need medical care while the hurricane was actually happening, we would be unable to get help from our house on Anastasia Island. After all, the hospital was on the mainland, and there were only two bridges to it, and both, we were told, would be closed.

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1965

Cross and Sword Year 1

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 6/1/1965
Posted: 10/14/2022
Page Views: 472
Topics: #Autobiography #CrossandSword
The Oldest City gets a play with the Oldest Plot.

On Anastasia Island, when I took the school bus from our beach home into town, we passed a section of Florida jungle that had been cleared, stripped down, and was home to something being built. This was all through 1964. Now, I didn't know that we were about to become hosts to Florida's Official State Play. But everyone knew about St. Augustine's big anniversaery coming up: it's 400th since the city's founding by Don Pedro Menendez de Avilles in 1565. (And yes, I just typed that from memory. Some things are such a big deal you can just never forget them.)

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Father's Day Photo Op

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 6/20/1965
Page Views: 2904
Topics: #Autobiography
Pa got the camera, and thought that he'd take pictures of the family.

Back in the day, holidays were a time to dress up; and dressing up was justification for buying a roll of color film and taking photos of us, dressed up. On Father's Day, 1965, my grandmother crossed the street to the home of the Heitmans, and asked if they would mind taking photos of the family. Of course they didn't mind; and, since it was Father's Day, they were dressed up too and so wound up in one of the photos, too.

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The Three Young Atkinsons

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 7/1/1965
Posted: 10/15/2022
Page Views: 501
Topics: #Autobiography
Every neighborhood has its eccentric, right?

Mr. Atkinson was a college professor, or had been; he was also a published author of both textbooks and more popular fare, such as his first book, Intellectual Tramp. His books were autobiographical and revealed a man whose lofty opinion of himself was balanced by the scorn with which he viewed most others.

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9th Grade

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 9/5/1965
Posted: 10/25/2022
Page Views: 459
Topics: #Autobiography
A thumbnail portrait of my first year in high school.

Milestone: Education
Grade: 9th
School: Saint Joseph Academy
Homeroom Teacher: Sister Saint Dismas, SSJ

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Dedication of Prince of Peace Church at Mission Nombre de Dios

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 9/8/1965
Posted: 10/16/2022
Page Views: 433
Topics: #Autobiography #MissionNombredeDios
Part of the St Augustine 400th Anniversary celebration.

As part of St Augustine's 400th Anniversary celebration, the Catholic Church (or our diocese, or somebody—no one discussed particulars with me) put up a new, modern church on the grounds where, in 1565, Don Pedro Menendez de Avilles first landed and the first Mass on the New World was said. This was to supplement the very old (and very small) chapel that was already there.

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1968

My Date With Carla

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 11/23/1968
Posted: 8/16/2017
Page Views: 3037
Topics: #Autobiography #GulfLifeTower #Rascals #UnionGap #WAPE
How I managed to make a spectacle of myself on two separate visits to the Big Coconut.

Ah, to be young again, and to make ghastly mistakes out of well-meaning naïveté! Like the time I dragged my high school buddy to experience neighboring city Jacksonville, Florida, when I had no idea how to do that myself. And then, to compound the error, I repeated them with my date to the biggest monster concert so far. But perhaps I should start from the beginning.

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1969

Flying Saucers I Have Known

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 5/3/1969
Page Views: 4578
Topics: #AlienAbuduction #Autobiography #UFOs
About a couple of weird things that happened near St. Augustine Beach.

Our neighborhood, while a conventional subdivision, was nevertheless almost as far south as development went on Anastasia Island. Consequently, it was very dark there at night. And several odd occurrences happened to us while we were there.

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Class Night

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 5/31/1969
Page Views: 3053
Topics: #Autobiography
How I avoided being blinded by grain alcohol the night before graduation.

Being an older teenager is an exciting time yet also terrifying. There are all these new things we're expected to just know about, and we pretend we already do, when in fact it's all new and scary. Sex, dancing, drugs, cigarettes, and, of course, drinking alcohol are all rites of passage through which we must navigate. That's why last night's Class Night party was such an adventure, as I'd been told I would be drinking, whether I wanted to or not.

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My First Plane Flight

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 9/19/1969
Posted: 7/25/2007
Page Views: 5029
Topics: #Autobiography #Florida #Humor #Travel
My first flight was rougher than I had expected.

How in 1969, I managed to embarrass myself and disgrace my family name for generations to come…all during a 20-minute jet flight from Jacksonville to Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

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1970s
1971

Adam Parker Pye

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 4/1/1971
Posted: 1/13/2016
Page Views: 6603
Topics: #AdamParkerPye #Autobiography #Florida #Titusville
All I know about my high school girlfriend's baby.

When I was a sophomore in high school, my school, St. Joseph Academy, had both "day" students and "boarding" students. I dated one of the boarders, Marrianne Pye, that year, which was the last St. Joe had boarders. So, after that, I could no longer date her, since she lived in Titusville, Florida, about a 2 hours' drive south of me. But we remained friends, exchanging letters on a monthly basis.

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1972

My First Wedding

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 2/14/1972

Milestone: #Marriage
Page Views: 5781
Topics: #Autobiography #MaryAnnSteinbergCilwa #Wedding
My first wedding was to Mary Ann Steinberg of St. Augustine, Florida, in February, 1972.

I'm not saying I wish it hadn't happened. It happened perfectly. I adore my children and grandchildren and was friends with my ex-wife, up to and including being the one who became her caregiver when she came down with cancer. But it has to be said: my now ex-dead-father-in-law tricked me into marrying his daughter.

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Our First Apartment

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 2/19/1972

Milestone: #Residence
Page Views: 4705
Topics: #Autobiography #Florida #Palatka
Playing 'Married' at 20 years old.

In the early '70s, people—especially Mary's 80-year-old father—still had the idea that getting married equaled a stay-at-home wife. And so, when she and I got married, Mary quit her job—one that she enjoyed and was good at, working with blind kids—and we moved into our new apartment on Laurel Street in Palatka, Florida.

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Palm Coast

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 4/5/1972
Page Views: 5282
Topics: #Autobiography #PalmCoast
My first job after the wedding.

So Mary and I, and our friend John, settled into our airy single-wide mobile home in Breezy Brae Trailer Park, in Florida. It was the middle of April, 1972. Mary and I had been married for two months. Now all we needed were jobs.

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On The Radio

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 6/15/1972
Page Views: 6872
My six months of fame.

I had always wanted to work at a radio station.

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1978

How I Spent My Summer and Fall Co-op Terms

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 12/15/1978
Posted: 12/11/2019
Page Views: 937
Topics: #Co-operativeEducationProgram #EnvironmentalProtextionAgency #UniversityofWestFlorida
This was my term paper for my first two co-operative education terms (spent with the EPA).

In 1978 I returned to college (the University of West Florida) for the spring session, during which I was tapped to join the school's Cooperative Education Program, which (in my case) would have me traveling to Washington, DC, to do work study with the EPA. At the end of the second term, I had to submit a term paper (covering both terms) describing what I had done and what I had learned.

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1979

The Co-op Syndrome

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 4/15/1979
Posted: 11/26/2021
Page Views: 1164
Topics: #Co-operativeEducationProgram #EnvironmentalProtextionAgency #GTETelenet #ProfessionalMicroSystems #QuestSystems #Synchronicity #UniversityofWestFlorida
This was my term paper for my third co-operative education term (spent with the EPA).

So here we are again, about to describe what would have been another six months of co-oping in Washington but turned out to be mere three…plus a "real" job at a terrific salary, and a dashing example of what the Co-op program can result in, even in spite of itself…

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Professional Micro Systems

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 9/12/1979
Posted: 10/12/2023
Page Views: 371
Topics: #Autobiography
And then one I day I went from student to consultant.

Then I found myself back in school for another six months. It was a strange time; because I had already learned at the EPA just about everything my school classes had to teach me—and more thoroughly. Finally I just took most of my remaining classes by examination. Now, the only thing left between me and my degree in Systems Science were two courses in Accounting, one in Statistics, and one in Calculus.

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1990s
1991

Christmas 1991

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 12/25/1991
Page Views: 4824
Topics: #Autobiography #YearinReview
An early Christmas letter.

As you might recall from last year's letter, January found me job-hunting, just after having moved to Melbourne, Florida. As rough as that was on me, you can imagine how unsettled that left the rest of the family, wondering what state they were going to live in next.

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1992

Christmas 1992

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 12/25/1992
Page Views: 4702
Topics: #Autobiography #YearinReview
A brief overview of the past year.

This has been a banner year for the Cilwas, in the way that Dan Quayle could be said to have been a remarkable Vice President. The population at 185 Village Circle Way went from a high of 10 people to a low of two.

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1993

1993 Year In Review

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 12/1/1993
Page Views: 4851
Topics: #Autobiography #YearinReview
All the things that happened to me in 1993.

I'm sitting in a motel room in Atlanta, the evening of December 1st, suddenly aware that it's time I put the year in perspective for my annual Christmas letter. It's been a busy year, and a busier last two months, but I'll do what I can.

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1994

1994 Year In Review

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 12/4/1994
Page Views: 4713
Topics: #Autobiography #YearinReview
A brief look at how I spent 1994.

What a year this has been! And how fast it's gone by! It seems like January was just last week, and now it's December. Mary's and my divorce was made final on February 12, 1994—our anniversary. Aren't we lucky to have judges with a sense of humor? But that made it easy to calculate exactly how long we were married: 22 years.

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1997

How A Good Boy Went Bad

By: Paul S. Cilwa Posted: 8/12/1997
Page Views: 3889
Topics: #Autobiography #ComputerProgramming
How I became a computer programmer.

This autobiographical article was first published in Windows Tech Journal, as a way of introducing my WinWidgets column to the readers. It provides a punch line to the old joke, "Six years ago I couldn't even spell 'programmer'…now I are one!"

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1998

1998 Year In Review

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 12/25/1998
Page Views: 5121
Topics: #Autobiography #YearInReview
A brief look at my doings in 1998.

It is once again that time of year when we wax nostalgic for all our friends and relatives and wish we could have shared more of our year with them

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2000s
2000
2003

2003: Christmas Dinner

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 12/25/2003
Page Views: 4857
Topics: #Christmas
Photos of the Cilwa/Manion's 2003 Christmas Dinner.

2003's Christmas Dinner was a relatively small affair. For those of you who missed it, here's what we all looked like.

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2005

2005: Merry Christmas

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 12/25/2005
Page Views: 4938
Topics: #2005 #Christmas #MichaelManion
The Cilwa/Manion's 2005 Christmas Letter.

2005 was another wild wide for the Cilwa/Manion clan. We began the year with Michael attending Glendale Community College as a sophomore, and Paul underemployed at Best Western, still trying to find a position that would make appropriate use of his skill set. Daughter Karen, ex-wife/friend Mary, and grandson Zachary rounded out the household. Paul's Mom, Edna Mae, returned home after a short visit to his sisters in Florida in March. That was expected. But the month before, our son John returned from Iceland, after trying for several years to deal with his increasingly irrational spouse. His son, Max, remains in Iceland, it being very difficult to sue for custody from another country.

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2006

Wisdom Teeth and Intelligent Design

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 1/24/2006
Page Views: 2991
Topics: #Evolution #IntelligentDesign #Science
I have a wisdom tooth removed.

Yesterday afternoon I went to the dentist. More specifically, I went to the Arizona School of Dentistry, where I get cut-rate dental work done by students. This sounds scary, but I had an emergency tooth-pulling done there and it was a lot less painful than the teeth I had pulled when I was in Navy boot camp.

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Christmas Wish List

By: Paul S. Cilwa Posted: 12/5/2006
Page Views: 6504
Topics: #Christmas
My Christmas wish list for 2006.

I hate making out these lists. Frankly, it seems like anyone who knows me well enough to be giving me a gift, should know what I might like. However, everyone who does know me, says they need a list. I do have a wish list at Amazon.com:

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Christmas Letter 2006!

By: Paul S. Cilwa Posted: 12/18/2006
Page Views: 4755
Topics: #Christmas
Our Year In Review: 2006.

It's time again for your yearly recap of the adventures of the Cilwa-Manions.

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2007

Christmas Letter 2007

By: Paul S. Cilwa Posted: 12/16/2007
Page Views: 6252
Topics: #Christmas #Family
A recap of the doings of the Cilwa-Manions in 2007.

For the second year in a row, my annual Christmas letter is being presented as part of my blog. Is this a trend?

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2008

Merry Christmas, 2008

By: Paul S. Cilwa Posted: 12/10/2008
Page Views: 6800
Topics: #Christmas
A recap of the doings of the Cilwa/Manions in 2008.

Oh, my, oh my…what an amazingly full year 2008 has been! Complete with cast changes and changes of scene, it seems appropriate at this time of year that I recap the doings of the residents of 10143 East Lobo Avenue and share them with you, our dear friends and extended family.

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2009

The House On Natal

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 8/29/2009

Milestone: #Residence
Page Views: 4627
Topics: #9526E.NatalAve. #Arizona #Autobiography #Mesa
Despite my concern that I would never be able to own a house…I bought a house.

For whatever reason, I have always had this idea in my head that home ownership is a scam. Nevertheless, Michael really wanted to own a house. As did everyone else in the family. Now, it did turn out I was right—I wound up losing the house. Still, it was fun while it lasted.

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25 Random Facts About Me, Paul S. Cilwa

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 2/23/2009
Page Views: 4362
Topics: #Autobiography #Humor
More than you're likely to ever want to know.

It used to take a few weeks for a fad to sweep the nation. "Sorry about that, Chief!" needed at least three episodes of Get Smart! to air before everyone in the country was repeating it. (My mom was still saying it the day she died.)

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Going Where No Man Has Gone Before

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 4/11/2009
Page Views: 6820
Topics: #Colonoscopy #Humor
My first colonoscopy.

Today I had my first colonoscopy. When Mom had her first one, maybe 20 years ago, it was a miserable experience for her, one which not only hurt as it was happening, but for weeks afterwards. People are supposed to have a colonoscopy performed at 50 years of age, which for me was 8 years ago. But Mom's experience caused me to hesitate. Still, we've had a number of family members succumb to colon cancer. So it seemed like I really shouldn't put it off any longer.

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Wheel of Seasons

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 9/17/2009
Page Views: 6072
I ponder the changing of the seasons as the temperature drops down to two digits.

I've lived, now, in three corners of the United States so I guess I'm as qualified as anyone to reflect on the seasons and the difference in how they change. I'm moved to do this now that the days here in Phoenix are cooling in preparation for autumn. Today's high will be "only" 97°F.

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Christmas Letter 2009

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 12/15/2009
Page Views: 7471
Topics: #Autobiography #Christmas
Our Christmas Letter for the year to all our friends and family.

Like you, we at the Cilwa-Manion household are stunned at how quickly this year has flown. Can it really be time for the annual Christmas (excuse us, "Holiday") letter already? Well, it is; so without any further ado let's recap what we've been up to.

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2010s
2010

Office Space

By: Paul S. Cilwa Posted: 2/24/2010
Page Views: 6528
Topics: #Autobiography #Toyota
In which I show off my place of employment.

Many of you know that I work at Toyota Financial Services. (At, not for, as I am a consultant.) Partially since Toyota has been in the news lately, and partially because we can't bring in visitors (for safety reasons), and partially because I just moved to a new desk, I thought I would describe my work environment and, in general terms, what I do here.

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Our Kitchen

By: Paul S. Cilwa Posted: 3/1/2010
Page Views: 982
Topics: #HomeImprovements
In which we install new lighting in our kitchen.

Regular readers may recall we moved into a new house…our own house…in October. I've been posting photos of its rooms as we make changes. This weekend we had our friend Greg come over to help put in some new kitchen lights, as well as a few other things.

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DVD Case

By: Paul S. Cilwa Posted: 3/2/2010
Page Views: 937
Topics: #DVDCase #HomeImprovements
I show off our brand new DVD case.

Visitors to our new house have been very kind not to look askance at the boxes of DVDs we have had stacked in our family room. I've been collecting DVDs for years, but of course such a collection is only useful if the DVDs in it can be easily accessed at will. In our old house, we had simply stored them alphabetically in a couple of bookcases. But I had a better solution in mind for the new house.

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More Home Improvements

By: Paul S. Cilwa Posted: 3/22/2010
Page Views: 906
Topics: #NatalAvenueHouse
Michael adds a few more touches to our decor.

While Jenny, Zach and I were camping, Michael (in between bouts of studying) was adding to the appeal of our mansion, with a little table and a fully-loaded china cabinet.

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A Nicer Kitchen

By: Paul S. Cilwa Posted: 3/25/2010
Page Views: 967
Topics: #NatalAvenueHouse
Blog Entry posted March 25, 2010, in which we get a new stover and refrigerator.

When we first moved into the New House, we found kitchen appliances in the stainless steel decor that so many people like. Well, except for the refrigerator, which didn't exist; the previous owners apparently loved it so much they took it with them to Minnesota or wherever the heck they moved to. Which meant that the day we moved in, I had to buy a refrigerator even though I had just spent my last penny on the down payment. But I did, from a guy who advertised on Craig's List. Sadly, the $250 unit I bought didn't work nearly as well in the house as it seemed to in the guy's yard. Thus, Tuesday, I bought a new refrigerator. And then, since I was in the Sears Outlet Store anyway, and had just saved $700 by buying a floor model, I went and bought a new stove, too.

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New Furnishings

By: Paul S. Cilwa Posted: 3/28/2010
Page Views: 972
Topics: #NatalAvenueHouse
Blog Entry posted March 28, 2010, in which we add to the family room, living room, and pool area.

Since I got back early from my camping trip, Michael suggested I pick up end tables and a coffee table for our still-sparsely-furnished living room. Then, we spent a couple of hours at the swap meet down the street, where Jenny bought new pool furniture. Finally, Jenny and Zach put up the family room curtains, which came with the house but I'd paid $90 to have dry cleaned. So, it's time for a few more house pictures.

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Oh, My Arm!

By: Paul S. Cilwa Posted: 5/13/2010
Page Views: 6500
Topics: #Health
I whine about my pulled muscle.

I tore a muscle in my arm two weeks ago in Hawaii. It was almost healed by the past weekend, when I re-tore it on a whitewater rafting trip. Yesterday was my regular visit to my doctor, and I had to explain why my arm looked like someone had backed over it two or three times with the Chrysler.

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Enjoying Our Pool

By: Paul S. Cilwa Posted: 5/16/2010
Page Views: 6924
Topics: #NatalAvenueHouse
In which we actually get in our pool!

As you may know, our new (as of October) house includes a pool and today was the first day I actually got to go in it! In addition to Michael and me, and Jenny and Zach, we also had Mary visiting and our son John and his girlfriend Rachel (who will be moving back in with us at the end of the month).

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Guns and Roses

By: Paul S. Cilwa Posted: 5/31/2010
Page Views: 5527
Topics: #MemorialDay #NatalAvenue #Zachary
Zach shoots his BB gun, I photograph our garden, and we ponder the meaning of Memorial Day.

What could be more appropriate on Memorial Day, than to send the kids out to do target practice?

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The War Between Cats and Dogs

By: Paul S. Cilwa Posted: 6/4/2010
Page Views: 6391
Topics: #Cats #Dogs #NatalAvenue
In which we let sleeping dogs (and cats) lie.

We have two dogs and two cats living with us. All my life, I had heard how cats and dogs despise each other. It's true, one of our cats is rather standoffish and doesn't seem to really like the dogs. But she doesn't like us, or for that matter, the other cat, that much, either. Her name is Cassie and she will let Zachary do absolutely anything to her; but the rest of us see very little of her.

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Oh, My Hands!

By: Paul S. Cilwa Posted: 6/6/2010
Page Views: 6765
Topics: #Arizona #Cactus #Tonapah
Don't pick up a cactus without gloves, like I did.

I've lived in Arizona since 1997, and visited here seven times before that. I have seen cacti before. Close-up, even. So you'd think I'd know better than to load up my hands with cactus needles. But, apparently I don't.

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Clearing The Air

By: Paul S. Cilwa Posted: 6/28/2010
Page Views: 966
Topics: #EnvironmentalToxins #NaturalHealth #Toxins
Blog Entry posted June 28, 2010, in which we change our home's air filters. Who says I don't blog EVERYTHING?!

Where do you breathe the most toxic air all day long? On the highway? In your office? Getting your nails done? Actually it might indeed be the nail salon, but few people have daily manicures. So the most dangerous place for you to breathe is actually your own home. And, as with all environmental toxins, no individual breath will kill you; it's the cumulative effects of millions of such breaths (plus other toxins) that result in what we call "aging" but is actually just reaction to a toxic body burden in the form of obesity, high blood pressure, cancer, wrinkled skin, and a host of other illnesses.

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Tenth Anniversary

By: Paul S. Cilwa Posted: 8/12/2010
Page Views: 6785
Topics: #IreneZeigler #MarriageEquality #PastaBrioni #ThePoisonedPen
Michael and I celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary.

Today, Michael and I celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary. For some odd reason, the tenth is supposed to be the "tin" anniversary. That is, we are supposed to receive gifts made of tin. Does anyone make anything of tin anymore? I propose that we officially rewrite the anniversary gift lists and designate the tenth wedding anniversary the Porn Anniversary. By now, that would be a useful gift!

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Nancy Drew and the Missing Cell Phone

By: Paul S. Cilwa Posted: 10/2/2010
Page Views: 7345
I spend the day trying to locate my cell phone.

Today I planned to go camping at Lockett Meadow in the San Francisco Peaks, north of Flagstaff. Instead, I spent it trying to locate my lost cell phone. Here's what happened.

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Welcome Dish, Goodbye Cox

By: Paul S. Cilwa Posted: 10/13/2010
Page Views: 1008
Topics: #DishNetwork #NatalAvenueHouse
Blog Entry posted October 13, 2010, in which we switch from cable to satellite TV.

Today, we said "Hello!" to the Dish Network and "Goodbye!" to Cox cable. My friends are getting a lot of mileage over the unlikelihood of my ever saying goodbye to Cox and I didn't expect it either. My daughter, Jenny, instigated this by virtue of her being the one who pays the cable bill, as part of her contribution to household expenses. She discovered she could reduce our monthly payment by $50 by going with Dish and so, today, it happened.

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Uh-oh, I Wet My Cellphone

By: Paul S. Cilwa Posted: 10/17/2010
Page Views: 5468
Topics: #Cellphone
Blog Entry posted October 17, 2010, in which I have another cellphone misadventure.

I do not have a long history of bad luck with cellphones. In fact, they've done pretty well for me. But two weeks ago, one of Zach's friends swiped mine; I got it back, but yesterday I fell into the pool with it. So either my luck has changed for the worse, or it was really time to get a new phone.

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Augusta Ranch Picnic

By: Paul S. Cilwa Posted: 10/23/2010
Page Views: 6546
Topics: #NatalAve.House
Blog Entry posted October 00, 2010, in which we go to out neighborhood's semi-annual picnic.

Tonight our homeowner's association held a community picnic. Michael and Zach and I, along with Zach's friend Tyler, attended. (Jenny decided the laundry, and her bed, were more appealing.)

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Halloween, 2010

By: Paul S. Cilwa Posted: 10/31/2010
Page Views: 6373
Topics: #Halloween
Blog Entry posted October 31, 2010, in which we celebrate our third favorite holiday.

On the yearly holiday countdown, today is #3: Halloween. And we celebrated over the entire weekend, beginning with an awesome party last night and the candy-ladling tonight.

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Christmas Letter, 2010

By: Paul S. Cilwa Posted: 12/21/2010
Page Views: 7206
Topics: #Christmas
Blog Entry posted December 21, 2010, in which we attempt to summarize the past year.

Like you, we are stunned at how quickly this year has flown. Can it really be time for the annual Christmas (excuse us, "Holiday") letter already? Well, it is; so without any further ado let's recap what we've been up to.

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Jason

By: Paul S. Cilwa Posted: 12/27/2010

Milestone: #Relationship
Page Views: 5116
Topics: #Jason
I announce a new boyfriend, fiance, and life.

Then, when I least expected it, this past October I happened to meet a young man named Jason. And that changed everything for me. I couldn't stop thinking about him; and when I did, my heart skipped a beat. By November 11, I realized I was falling in love with him and told him so. To my joy and amazement, Jason admitted that he was also falling in love, with me.

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2011

Oh, My Leg!

By: Paul S. Cilwa Posted: 5/4/2011
Page Views: 10482
Topics: #Flesh-EatingBacteria #Health #NecrotizingFaciitis
My near-death experience with flesh-eating bacteria.

My last blog entry was dated January 7th, and I apologize for that. I didn't die. But, it seems, I came pretty close. Here's what happened.

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Jason and Paul's Grand Canyon Wedding

By: Paul S. Cilwa Posted: 6/16/2011
Page Views: 7388
Topics: #Arizona #GayMarriage #GrandCanyon #Jason #MarriageEquality
Blog Entry posted June 16, 2011, in which Jason and I marry at the Grand Canyon.

Today was the day that Jason and I eloped and got married.

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Obsession

By: Paul S. Cilwa Posted: 10/25/2011
Page Views: 7135
Topics: #Jason #OCD
in which I discover Jason has OCD.

As previously documented, I fell in love with a man named Jason and married him in a private sharing of vows at Grand Canyon. In a fairytale world, that would have led to "happily ever after". Sadly, the real world seldom operates that way. And, despite the claims of popular songs to the contrary, sometimes love just ain't enough.

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Codependency

By: Paul S. Cilwa Posted: 11/1/2011
Page Views: 6779
Topics: #Codependency
It's time I recognized my role in my past unsuccessful relationships.

I've just ended my fourth romantic relationship and it's time to look at the role I played in why they didn't work out, as a first step in learning to stop perpetuating this pattern.

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Christmas, 2011

By: Paul S. Cilwa Posted: 12/30/2011
Page Views: 4979
Topics: #Christmas
In which I review the past, tumultuous year.

This is the first year, since I started sending Christmas letters in 1976, that I am doing so while living alone. Nevertheless, here is my annual Christmas letter for 2011.

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2012

Relationship 2.0

By: Paul S. Cilwa Posted: 1/18/2012
Page Views: 6440
Topics: #Codependency #Jason #OCD #Peoria
I explain how Jason and I got back together.

A glance at the masthead shows that Jason and I are back together. This is what I hoped would happen, though I had no idea if it would, when we broke up.

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2013

A Letter To The Court

By: Paul S. Cilwa Posted: 2/5/2013
Page Views: 5532
Topics: #disability #necrotizingfasciitis #SocialSecurity
I try to explain to the judge at my hearing why I deserve to be on Social Security Disability.

I am preparing this statement because my short-term memory loss makes it tricky for me to present a complex train of thought without interruption. I've taken days to write this, but if it will get across to you an accurate understanding of my situation, it will have been worth it.

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2015

Risks

By: Paul S. Cilwa Posted: 4/11/2015
Page Views: 5000
Topics: #Alcohol #Drugs #Recovery #Risk
Taking chances with risks.

Today's news is, perhaps, not wholly unexpected. I got a text from a friend, that a mutual friend of ours is in the hospital with alcohol-induced hepatitis. In other words, he is dying from continuing to engage in behavior that is generally considered to be risky: Drinking heavily despite constant warnings and cajoling and threats by his loved ones to stop. And it makes us all wonder, why didn't he just stop when he saw it was making him sick?

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2016

Farewell, My 2015

By: Paul S. Cilwa Posted: 1/5/2016
Page Views: 4932
Topics: #AnnualLetter
A brief review (with lots of photos) to bring you up to date on the year just passed.

It's been a few years since I've done one of these year-end letters. It's not because I tired of doing them; it's just that I've been recovering from my bout of flesh-eating bacteria from 2011 and, frankly, this is the first time since then I've felt up to doing one.

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2016: Year In Review

By: Paul S. Cilwa Posted: 12/23/2016
Page Views: 4110
Topics: #2016InReview #AboutMe
All the things that happened to me in 2016.

Most people, with a few happy exceptions, had a pretty shitty 2016. This is actually something I predicted several years ago, as this is the last year before August 21, 2017, when Earth officially reaches adequate quantum frequency to say we're in 4th Density. Before then, the Darkness will make a last, frantic stab at not disappearing, since Darkness cannot abide the Light of the increasing frequency. However, that said, 2016 did provide many blessings to the Cilwa clan, and to Keith and I in particular…mostly because we made an effort to have a great time!

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2017

Our Little Home In Key West

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 3/25/2017
Updated: 6/13/2017
Page Views: 3130
Topics: #Autobiolgraphy #KeyWest
Keith and I will be moving to Key West in October, and this is the place we'll be moving into.

My daughter, Jennifer, moved to Key West late last year and, as I did some years back when I moved to Arizona and encouraged the rest of the family to join me, Jenny is now encouraging us all to move to Key West. Keith and I both love the Keys, so it wasn't too hard to make the decision. So we picked a place, and got a batch of photos that will have to do since the condo is currently being rented. (It will be available for us to move into in October.)

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Changing Sanctuaries

By: Paul S. Cilwa Posted: 4/27/2017
Page Views: 2954
Topics: #Autobiography #KeyWest #Phoenix
Pondering an upcoming residential move.

It's a small, enclosed patio, a garden, really, though my gardening skills are meager at best and now that I'm recovering from a leg broken in two places, non-existent. Yet it's my favorite part of this condo. It feels so sheltered and safe despite its location in Central Phoenix. There may be crime occurring within a square mile, but here, it's quiet but for the sounds of birds and the hum of distant traffic from the freeway. But nothing is more constant than change, and it appears that Keith and I will be moving to a condo in Key West come October. It too has a porch, overlooking the inner row of condos and, possibly, a glimpse of the Gulf.

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Flash Wedding

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 8/19/2017
Page Views: 4310
Topics: #Autobiography #KeithJim #Wedding
All the photos from my wedding to Keith Jim.

Oh, joyous day! Today I married my love, Keith Jim, in a small, family ceremony near Sunset Crater, just outside of Flagstaff, Arizona (location chosen because it's between Phoenix, where Keith and I and much of my family live, and Shiprock, New Mexico, where most of Keith's family lives.

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Christmas 2017

By: Paul S. Cilwa Posted: 12/24/2017
Page Views: 2899
Topics: #Christmas
2017 was a year filled with endings and beginnings.

As it was for pretty much everyone, 2017 was a helluva year. We had a wedding but also multiple funerals; moved out of two places and into a new one. So let's get started, shall we?

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2018

My 67th Birthday

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 4/8/2018
Page Views: 2629
Topics: #Autobiography #FamilyGet-Togethers
All the photos from my birthday party.

I made it through another year! And we celebrated at my daughter, Jenny's, home (also known as "The Castle"). In attendance, in addition to myself and Jenny, were my husband, Keith; my co-grandparent Michael; my son, John; Jenny's husband, Jimmy; Jimmy's niece Danielle; and Jenny and Jimmy's babies, Gianna and Dominic. In addition we Facetimed with my daughter Karen. (My other daughter, Dorothy, was at work.)

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Christmas, 2018

By: Paul S. Cilwa Posted: 12/17/2018
Page Views: 2614
Topics: #Christmas
In which I review the past year.

2018 was a pleasant year for Keith and me, as we took it easy while I continued healing from the leg break I suffered in 2017. In keeping with that, we went on as many hikes as possible, as well as an excellent vacation in Malibu.

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2019

Indigo Springs Apartments

By: Paul S. Cilwa Posted: 11/2/2019
Page Views: 401
Topics: #Autobiography #IndigoSpringsApartments
Keith's and my latest apartment.

After spending a year sharing an apartment with Michael (and, a half-year with Michael and his friend Roman), Keith and I decided to move into our own apartment. But we liked Michael's apartment complex; so we got another, one-bedroom, apartment at the same place: Indigo Springs Apartments.

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2020s
2020

Life in the Time of Coronavirus

By: Paul S. Cilwa Posted: 3/17/2020
Page Views: 2767
Topics: #Coronavius #Health #Maui
Hunkering down in paradise.

Was it a Chinese plot? Was the Illuminati behind it? Did utterly incompetent leadership make it worse? The answers to these questions are irrelevant, because we've got it, it's here, and the population of the Earth is spending a few weeks or months or years "hunkering down", isolating ourselves to slow the spread of the new coronavirus, COVID-19.

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2022

Aging Gratefully

By: Paul S. Cilwa Posted: 3/6/2022
Page Views: 2032
Topics: #AgingGratefully
One man's experience of hitting his seventies.

Starting with my coming out of the closet, I've made my life an open book on these pages. It may seem self-serving, but that's not actually the reason I keep it up. The first reason is to give my grandkids an insight into how it was to live and grow up in the 20th Century and the opening decades of the 21st. The second is to reach out to folks who may be going through some of the things I have, and who could benefit from reading that they aren't in this all alone, after all. So, now that I've started into my seventies, and since I have concluded my Coronavirus blog, I've created this new section of web site, where I plan to complain about aches and pains but also about my triumphs and overcomings of my age-related health.

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