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4 posts from September 2010

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Never Give Up On Your Dreams - A Secretariat Story


On Friday, October 8th, a remarkable true story will be shown in theaters everywhere - Disney's "Secretariat."  The story will take you on a journey with owner Penny Chenery (Diane Lane) as she overcomes great odds and unlikely successes to earn the respect of her peers in the male-dominated horse-racing industry by taking "Big Red," better known as "Secretariat," on his own journey to be the greatest racehorse of all time and the first Triple Crown winner in over a quarter of a century in the year 1973.

This movie was as exciting as watching the real Secretariat win the 1973 Kentucky Derby! My entire family were on the edge of their seats as if each race was happening for the first time.  Disney's story of how Penny changed the face of horse racing and raised the incredible Secretariat is a fantastic story of family, loss, courage, determination, and faith, and will leave you breathless.  It is about one woman's determination to learn the ropes, climb the ranks, and never lose hope despite many in the industry and in her own family who were sure that she would fail.

I was so happy when BlogHer and Disney offered me and my family the opportunity to see a pre-viewing of "Secretariat."  Being the movie buffs that we are, there are few movies that I would claim to be a "winner," but this one is just that. You will leave the movie inspired with your adrenaline flying high with pride and excitement.  Disney did it again with a great movie for the entire family.

You can learn more about Secretariat by visiting the official website  or by visiting Disney's official site.  Check out the Secretariate Facebook Page, and follow the story on Twitter as well

Now for a funny story from my childhood - a story involving this great horse.  My parents are from Kentucky, and every year we would watch the Kentucky Derby on television.  My father and I were the most avid watchers of the derby and every year we would make a chocolate cupcake bet.  You see, Dad and I would each choose the horse that we thought would win the derby, and if by chance, our horse won, the other had to serve the winner chocolate cupcakes with milk after dinner for a week.  I chose "Secretariat."  I recall my dad looking at me with this lopsided gaze and saying "No way that horse is going to win!"  My dad always chose the horse with the greatest odds.  He did ask me why I chose Secretariat, and I told him it was because I liked his name.  He sounded like a winner.  So, with no further ado, I thought I would share with you that 1973 Kentucky Derby that I watched with my father:

My father was not happy.  Me? I was ecstatic and the first words out of my mouth were "Where are my cupcakes?!!"  Every night for a week my dad served me up 2 chocolate cupcakes with a glass of ice cold milk.  One night, however, we were out of cupcakes and he said "you're not gonna make me run 12 miles up the road to the grocery store for those cupcakes are you?"  - "Yep."  He got them for me of course, and I never forgot what an exciting time that was and how special it was to share it with my father - cupcakes and all.

On October 8th, pack up your family and head to the theater to see the story of the greatest horse of all time and the story of the lady who made it all possible.


Saturday, September 25, 2010

Sonata quasi una Fantasia "Moonlight Sonata" Opus 27 No 2

Beethoven I love this piano sonata.  It moves me.  I just want to hear it and feel it - in quiet.  It is so romantic.  Well, today while at the Music & Arts store with my daughter, Sarah, where I bought her the advanced solo music of "Carol of the Bells" so that she can prepare for the talent show at her high school, I picked up the one piece that I never did learn before and wanted to - the Sonata quasi una Fantasia "Moonlight Sonata" Opus 27 No 2 by Beethoven.  It is so beautiful.  All 3 movements - 23 pages masterfully reprinted from Beethoven's original work.  The Sonata was originally written and dedicated to Countess Giulietta Guicciardi, a young woman with whom Beethoven fell madly in love.  You see, Beethoven was quite the romantic, and his poetry and letters of love were as beautiful as his music.

What you may not know is that Beethoven's contributions to piano literature include 32 piano sonatas, 5 concertos, and too many other piano compositions to mention.  His Opus 27 consists of 2 piano sonatas, each of which are entitled Sonata quasi una Fantasia (Sonata in the style of a fantasy).  The first of these is in E-flat Major.  The second, is in C-sharp Minor and is better known as the Moonlight Sonata.  And, you may find this interesting, but that title was never known to Beethoven in his lifetime.

The poet/critic, Ludwig Rellstab, who was a personal acquaintance of Beethoven, gave his sonata this most popular title in 1832, four years after Beethoven's death.  Rellstab had written an article about Beethoven saying that the opening movement of this sonata reminded him of "moonlight rippling on the waves of Lake Lucerne," and while many who love Beethoven have objected to this sentimental title, it certainly has had no detrimental effect on the popularity of this magnificent and romantic work, which is without question among the most beloved and frequently performed compositions by Beethoven or any other great composer.

Giulietta Beethoven composed this Sonata in Vienna in 1801, and it was first published in 1802 by Gio. Cappi of Vienna.  Beethoven dedicated the piece to his love, the young Countess Giulietta Guicciardi, who, at the time, was one of Beethoven's piano students.  He was 31 y/o and she was 17 or 18 y/o.  It is believed that Beethoven proposed marriage to the Countess, but it is also believed that she was not able to accept his proposal.  Her father, who was a high-ranking Councilor to the Austrian Court, opposed her marriage to a man "without rank, fortune, or permanent employment."  He never stopped loving her.  A portrait of Giulietta was found in Beethoven's personal desk after his death.

What a beautiful and romantic poet Beethoven was ...

My Angel, My All, My Very Self,

Just a few words to-day, and only in pencil . . . Can our love endure otherwise than through sacrifices, through restraint in longing.  Canst thou help not being wholly mine, can I, not being wholly thine.  Oh! gaze at nature in all its beauty, and calmly accept the inevitable - love demands everything, and rightly so.  Thus is it for me with thee, for thee with me, only thou so easily forgettest, that I must live for myself and for thee - were we wholly united thou wouldst feel this painful fact as little as I should . . .

Now for a quick change from without to within:  we shall probably soon see each other, besides, to-day I cannot tell thee what has been passing through my mind during the past few days concerning my life - were our hearts closely united, I should not do things of this kind.  My heart is full of the many things I have to say to thee - ah! - there are moments in which I feel that speech is powerless - cheer up - remain my true, my only treasure, my all !!! as I to thee.  The gods must send the rest, what for us must be and ought to be.

Thy faithful,


I leave you today with this most beautiful piece, performed by someone other than myself - at the moment anyway.  Hopefully, in the next several months, I will have mastered the 23 pages of the Sonata quasi una Fantasia, and I will have my Big Bear videotape me playing this for you - and hopefully, God willing, error free.


Saturday, September 11, 2010

2,973 Souls and One Mission


He bent over to kiss his sleeping 2-year-old son. He patted the belly of his pregnant wife, and told her again that he loved her. Then Kevin Hannaford melted into the predawn darkness. That was the routine — reassuring, expectant — in one house in Basking Ridge, N.J.

Some three hours later, Eileen Hannaford was standing in the shadow of the World Trade Center's north tower, where her husband worked as a commodities broker for Cantor Fitzgerald, 105 stories above. The first plane had hit, she and other commuters had been evacuated from the PATH station below, and now she was frantically trying to reach him on her cellphone. Finally, she decided it was best to go to her office across town.

"If Kevin had been looking for me, which he would have done, he would have gone directly to my office," she reasoned.

Kevin James Hannaford was 32, young enough to enjoy playing soccer, mature enough to be an attentive husband and father. In the delivery room after the birth of Patrick two years earlier, he had thanked her for her friendship, and for their son.

On Jan. 9, four months after her husband died, she gave birth to their second son. He is healthy, wonderful, and his name, of course, is Kevin James Hannaford.

Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on January 22, 2002.


Kevin James Hannaford simply couldn't wait to try and impart his zest for life on his son, Patrick James. 

Always the first guy on the slopes in the morning, Mr. Hannaford bought the boy his first pair of skis when he was just 18 months old. 

Friends and family say it was typical of a father who relished nothing more than watching his Patrick, now 2, take his first steps or first awkward slide down a snowy hill. 

On the morning of Sept. 11, Mr. Hannaford woke before dawn to leave for his job as a commodities broker for Cantor Fitzgerald on the 105th floor of the World Trade Center. His wife, Eileen, who is expecting the couple's second child in January, said she usually simply rolled over in the dark, but that morning got up to hug him good-bye. 

"We hugged each other and told each other how much we loved each other, he touched the baby and said 'I love you, baby,'" she said. "I'm so grateful I got up and hugged him." 

The 32-year-old Mr. Hannaford has not been seen since. 

Born in Brooklyn, Mr. Hannaford lived in Walnut Creek, Calif., before his family returned to the East Coast and settled in Basking Ridge. 

Eileenandboys He and Eileen, acquaintances at Marist College, began dating while they both lived in Hoboken in the early '90s. They married on April 4, 1997, and moved to Basking Ridge two years later. 

Mr. Hannaford carried a love of sports throughout his life, from his days on Basking Ridge's undefeated state Group 2 championship soccer team, to summers working as a lifeguard on Long Beach Island, to his weekly games with the Montvale Men's Soccer League. 

The Rev. Michael Ward met Mr. Hannaford while living in Hoboken. Ward was working as an administrative assistant for Merril Lynch but was contemplating entering the seminary. 

"He thought it was cool," said Ward, who now ministers at St. Cecilia's Church in Kearny. "He was very supportive." 

Ward added Mr. Hannaford "truly loved life and he always put family first." 

Mr. Hannaford also is survived by his parents, James and Nancy Hannaford of Basking Ridge; his sister, Elizabeth Saraceno, and his brother, Patrick Hannaford of Morristown. 

Profile by Brian Donohue published in THE STAR-LEDGER.

* * * * *



A Tribute from cantor families:

Kevin James Hannaford

Date of Birth: October 8, 1968
Department: Tradespark
Position: Commodities Broker

Kevin James Hannaford, 32, of the Basking Ridge section of Bernards Township, died in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York City, on Tuesday, September 11, 2001. He was employed as a commodities broker for TradeSpark, a division of Cantor Fitzgerald. His office was located on the 105th floor of the tower.

Kevin moved to Basking Ridge with his family when he was 8 years old. He was an avid swimmer and soccer player for the Somerset Hills YMCA, as well as a triathlon contender. He was also on the undefeated State II championship soccer team. His swimming experiences afforded him the opportunity to be a lifeguard at Long Beach Island. He continued his soccer enthusiasm up to the September 11th disaster as a member of the Montville Men's Soccer League.

He thoroughly enjoyed skiing and bought our son, Patrick, his first pair of skis at 18 months old.

Kevin's greatest passion and pride was his family. In the words of many of his friends, Kevin was seen, standing back and watching, smiling with pride at the many accomplishments of our son, Patrick.

Kevin moved to Hoboken in 1990 and lived there for several years. It was there that Kevin and I rekindled an earlier relationship we had in our college years. We were married on April 4th, 1997 and later moved to Basking Ridge in March of 1999. Later on that year we had our first child. Patrick James was born on May 12th, 1999. Patrick will be joined by a brother or sister in January of next year, 2002.

In the words of his mother, Nancy, "He was a very good friend and he had many good friends. Everyone will dearly miss him."

In addition to myself (his wife Eileen) and son, Patrick, Kevin is survived by his brother, Patrick Hannaford; his sister, Beth and her husband Bob Saraceno and their son, Evan; his mother and father, Nancy and James Hannaford; my parents Mary and Patrick McGinley and my brother, Patrick McGinley.

Kevin was special and God called him. In his short time on earth, he left us fullfilled and enriched. He will make a special place for us all in the future.

A dear friend is putting together memory books for Patrick and his-soon-to-be brother or sister, so that they have many memories of their daddy, Kevin. Please send them a note containing stories, thoughts or memories about Kevin.

Contributions may be made to the Hannaford Bereavement Fund, c/o Soloman Smith Barney Co., Attn: Michael Betzag, 767 Fifth Ave. 7th floor, New York, NY 10153.

* * * * *

These are just a few of the tributes to Kevin.  I never knew Kevin.  But, I have come to know his beautiful wife, Eileen, and their 2 sons Patrick and Kevin, Jr.  Shortly after the attacks on 9/11 I received a Mercy Band from my brother, Mike, and inscribed on the band was one name - Kevin James Hannaford and under his name was simply WTC.  I wanted to know more about this soul who lost his life on that day and whose name I would wear on my wrist and so I did some research and that is how I located his wife and family.  I wanted her to know that I wore the name of her husband on my wrist and would remember Kevin.  She was so happy that I had reached out to her.  We got to know each other a bit during the months leading up to the birth of her 2nd son - Kevin James Hannaford, Jr.  born on January 9, 2002.  Eileen was 5 months pregnant with their 2nd child when the attacks happened.  

Eileenandboys2 Eileen is a remarkable woman and mother.  She has taken the events of that day and the loss of her husband and created something as remarkable as she - the

Kevin James Hannaford Sr. Foundation

.  Eileen writes:

"Kevin, in his short time on earth, left us fulfilled and enriched. The outpouring of love and support from family, friends and strangers following Kevin's death on September 11, 2001 was amazing. Patrick, Kevin Jr. and I want to give back some of what has been and continues to be given to us in our time of need. It is with these thoughts that we have formed the Kevin J. Hannaford, Sr. Foundation, Inc. The Foundation contributes to the educational and enrichment needs of children who suffer the loss of a parent to death. With the help and support of so many, Kevin will live on in our hearts and through our gifts to these children. Together, we can take a tragic event and create something everlasting in his name. We hope you will join us in supporting our mission as we keep Kevin's memory alive through our love and support - one child at a time."

I had the pleasure to meet Eileen at the hospital in New Jersey the day after the birth of her son Kevin James Hannaford, Jr.  I came bearing gifts, comfort, and love.  I offered the bracelet to Eileen but she said "No - Susan, I want you to keep it and remember Kevin."  And so I have.  I have kept the bracelet that bears the name of her husband, wearing it every year on September 11th in memory of the 2,973 souls who lost their lives and the families who lost a loved one, and to remember Kevin, Eileen, and their 2 boys. Yesterday, however, my daughter, Sarah, wore the bracelet to her high school.  All the students were requested to wear black in memory of the victims of 9/11.  When I pulled out the white box and opened it, I saw the somewhat tarnished bracelet nestled atop a bed of cotton together with an aged 4-leaf clover wrapped in cellophane and I thought of Kevin. And I thought of Eileen and their 2 sons.

So today, I want to remember Kevin by asking all of you to please make a donation, no matter how small, to the Kevin James Hannaford, Sr. Foundation and make a difference in the life of a child who has lost a parent to death.  You can help a child.  You can make a difference. What better way to respect the families of 9/11?  Please contribute so that the memories of our loved ones, friends, and acquaintances are never forgotten.


A wonderful book and tribute to those who lost their lives on 9/11.  Personal stories and more, you will to back to this book time and time again and make a connection to every soul.  Just click on the image of the book cover above.



Connect with the Kevin James Hannaford Foundation on Facebook!



Sunday, September 05, 2010

Getting Cuter Every Day

I gotta tell ya, my granddaughter is getting cuter every day.  Of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't share with you some of the pictures of the most precious baby girl on earth. 


This time last year, she wasn't even born yet.  But when she came into the world on September 5th, she was bound for greatness.


From the start, she had excellent fashion sense.


She also made it perfectly clear that she did not want to eat her vegetables!


She celebrated her first Christmas, Valentine's, and Easter, and she did so in style I might add.


She's a growin' girl and becoming more precious every day.


She grew hair and began wearing cute clips, and she began to crawl all over the house.


When Spring rolled around, Reagan spent her days at the park swinging and looking very cool in her shades.


Reagan was a cutie pie from day one, and getting cuter every day with eyes to melt your heart and a smile that was sure to make you smile too.


Yes, we are enormously blessed to have a daughter who is a very good mother, a loving mother, a caring mother, and a generous mother.  Reagan is one very lucky baby girl to have a happy family who loves her more than anything in the world!


As all babies do in their first year, she began to teeth and everything that she picked up went into the mouth.  Unfortunately, everything she put in her mouth ended up on the floor, keeping Kim on her toes to keep things clean.


Reagan discovered Elmo, and soon, he became her very first friend.  She watched him on television and she played with him too.


Reagan enjoyed doing impersonations during bathtime - like this "Kiss" impersonation.  She's pretty good at it too!


There is something about Reagan - a sense I have - a feeling - that she is going to do something important, something wonderful - and will make a positive difference in this world.  I just know it.


But first she has to convince others to drink this disgusting formula.


And eat this disgusting baby food.


Next thing you know, Grandma Susan (that's me folks), was making her stuffed donut toys, 


and dresses.


Reagan has been sitting in grocery carts and enjoying the view at the grocery store on a regular basis.


She became quite the little model this past year too.  The camera is her friend ...


There's no doubt, Reagan is a ham for a laugh from Mommy and Daddy.


Naturally, like all girls do (usually this doesn't start until their teen years), Reagan has "the look" - the look that says "Go ahead and make my day," or "If you take one more picture of me, Mommy, I am going to make you regret it for the rest of the day," or "leave me alone already, I need a nap,"  or "You just wait, Mom, paybacks stink."  


Soon after "the look" this happened - and we all know what that means - Payback.

I just know that Reagan will reach for the stars and have a good life.  She is full of sugar and spice and everything nice.


This first year, Reagan took her first plane ride too and was mesmerized by the view from the window.


And the view from the front seat of the rental car too.  Learning to drive starts early.


Reagan celebrated her first July 4th in Utah, wearing one of my "Grandma creations" - a cute little romper with a patriotic teddy on the front.


Reagan went with Mommy and Daddy to see the most beautiful sites.  I think it was a time to reflect on our blessings.


How can I express the love I feel for this baby girl, her mother, and my son-in-law?  I suppose by showing you in pictures what this first year of her life has meant to me.


Her hair isn't the only thing that has grown this year ...


So has Elmo ...


And her angst to get up on her feet.


Yep, Reagan has got her eye on a bright future.


She knows what she likes - like standing over vents.


This year has been an exhausting year for Reagan.  So much to learn and do, so many things to see and touch.


So many new hairstyles to experiment with.


And Reagan has the best Mommy and Daddy a baby girl could ask for.  I sure do love my daughter, Kimberly, and she sure loves her honey - Zak, and together, we all love Reagan!


It seems like just yesterday this precious little angel graced our world and blessed us all with her smile.


Life is a magnificent thing, a gift from God.  God blessed me with the most wonderful children, and now, my daughter, Kimberly, and her hubby, Zak, have blessed us with a granddaughter.  A special little girl who will make a positive difference in this world.  


How do I know this you ask?  Because she already has.

Happy Birthday my Sweet Baby Grandbaby Girl!!  We love you so, so, much.  You've had a busy first year, and you have a family that loves and adores you.

I hope your first birthday is a special day for you and may you have at least 99 more that are just as memorable.

Love, Grandma  



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