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I love the business of Real Estate even as difficult as it is. For one, I like to triumph over the odds which my team and I do year in and year out, but that's not the primary reason why. I pride myself on doing the very best I can for each and every client as does everyone within the River to Shore Group team and it shows by increased sales each year the market is in decline. While it's certainly nice to receive the paycheck at the end of what sometimes is a long and protracted deal, it's even better when you receive a note of thanks, a gift, or other gestures that one might send our way to that shows their appreciation. It is truly rewarding and gratifying. 

This week we received certainly one of the most creative expressions of thanks from Mark and Nancy Tepping formerly of Rebecca Lane in Guilford. We met through an on-line connection and we hit it off from the start. We made our plans, executed the preparation punch list, got their home on the market and had it gone in 7 weeks. We negotiated an nice deal on a model home condo in Chester for them and got both places closed as they desired overcoming the normal bumps in the road you sometimes get in today's market. 

After they settled in they had a party celebrating all that those that assisted them in their big move. They had the Pizza truck onsite that provided marvelous fare, from appetizers to dessert, and all had a very nice time.  We met family, new neighbors, and even their sales person from the Old Saybrook Barn. No one was forgotten. It was certainly a first for us to experience a loving and genuine act of gratitude of this level. During the event, Nancy read aloud many limericks. She wrote one for each professional she hired to assist her in their move. It was flattering for sure and we all felt honored.

 I felt compelled to blog about this because of the level of vitriol we see between the daily discourse on the air and in print.  There's been a serious decline of civility in the world and a decline in simple politeness. There was a recent news article on NBC news that interview a waitress who's tip was "try losing a few pounds." instead of the 15% gratuity she had hoped she would get for her good service. People on the road are in a rush, will cut you off, or won't let you in when the traffic is stiff. It's sad. 

It's really simple: If you want love, give love. 

OK...so the real reason I love this business is because of all the great people I have met and made friends with along the way. I can say the only downside is that I certainly have more wonderful relationships today than I have free time to nurture so Facebook and blogging and the occasional personal note to many will have to suffice between those rare personal visits.

Mark and Nancy, thank you so much for being a great example of what true gratitude can be. We are honored, flattered, and appreciate your gestures beyond words. May you have the best of luck in your new home and have many happy healthy years there.

I respectfully submit to you, the reader, for your consideration that the next time you're at a restaurant to leave a larger tip than you normally would and write a note, if deserved, to let the server know how much you appreciated the good service. Thank the service rep at your auto dealer, the cashier, your massage therapist by sending them a card. I recently sent a card to the manager of the Old Saybrook spa telling her what a great experience I had with staff member Eleni. I had also sent a gourmet package of cookies that I asked the manager to give to Eleni as a token of my appreciation. The next time in I was even more appreciated. Hence...if you want love....give love. That is all.

A good doer deserves credit, no?

by Mick Marsden

There are many people who give to other's and never ask for anything back. They work quietly enjoying the satisfaction that comes only helping another person in need. Here's a little story about one person's good and selfless work. 

 

I network a lot. While networking I met Paul Knutsen at an event and found him to be a guy with a heart and wonderful sensibilities towards life and helping others. So, It was not a surprise to find that he runs Gladeview Health Care Center from a completely different place than most. While having breakfast in Deep River at Kristen's with Paul, he pointed to a cross that was hanging in the restaurant across the room that was made from rope in a particular fashion. He told me his father, John Knutsen, now retired for many years, was making them by the bag and giving them to pastors of churches, to homes like Gladeview, and to those he meets on his travels.

 

 

John Knutsen at his home workshop...

 

John worked for 30 years at Pratt and Whitney and took an early retirement that has kept a grin on his face ever since. "It takes a lot of time to do nothing and I work hard at it," John told me. He was a customer relations contact with airlines for last 15 years of his career. When he first retired and became his own boss he spent a lot of time fly fishing. Health reasons kept that from being as frequent an activity as he would have liked. John decided to focus on another activity so he started making things from rope. He learned Chinese knotting and is really good at it. He delved into knot tying in a big way and came across sailor's cross. The legend is that Portuguese seaman make these from scrap pieces of rope for the bow of their long boat for divine protection. His Navy background and strong faith drew him to make these "sailor crosses" and offer them to those in need.  

 

The Sailor's Cross is one of many types John ties...

 

John was married to his bride Marie in E. Greenwich, RI. The church they got married 52 years ago was where Marie grew up. John's Navy shore patrol brought him to the area and they met at one of the local community dances. The Pastor of this church told John how good people felt having received the crosses that he placed in a basket, free for the taking, by all who came through their doors. 

 

John uses a variety of line, rope, and leather to make his crosses.

 

John became addicted to making them and started making them by the hundreds. I also learned during my short visit with him that Scouting was in his past…no surprise. Being an Eagle scout myself…knot tying was a certainly one of scouting's mainstays. 

 

 

John gets a lot of satisfaction out of making someone happy and introducing a different energy into their lives. I'm honored to have met and talked to John and thought I'd write a small tribute to his good work. 

 

If you're interested in getting some of his crosses for your good work, write me an email and I'll connect you. 

For a Unique Vacation, Check Out TropicalBirding.com

by Dale Athanas

My youngest son, Nick Athanas, paid us a visit recently.  Nick is one of the owners of TropicalBirding.com which is located in Quito, Ecuador. He only gets home to visit once or twice a year so his visits are always special. Nick and the other guides at Tropical Birding.com lead tours all over the world for people interested in seeing rare and unusual birds. Nick has become something of an expert on South American birds. His photography is excellent  as can be seen by the accompanying photos and he is particularly well known in the birding community for his audio recordings.

 

Crimson Hooded Manakin                                Nick Athanas ©2010


I visited Nick two years ago and spent ten days with him. We went from the high Andes to the Amazon rain forest. It was a great experience. It is difficult for someone from the U.S. to comprehend the incredible number and variety of bird species in South America. Here in Connecticut, we have one hummingbird, the Ruby Throated. During my ten days in Ecuador, I saw over 50 different hummingbirds - there are over 140 in Ecuador alone and many more throughout South America!

 

Bronzy Jacamar                                                Nick Athanas ©2010


My favorite part of the trip was my stay at the Tandayapa Bird Lodge which is affiliated with TropicalBirding.com. The lodge was built in 1999 on a steep ridge at an elevation of 6000 feet in the Andes cloud forest. There are twelve fully furnished rooms and a spacious balcony that looks out over the forest. Meals are included in the room rate and the food here is excellent. Whether you have an interest in birds or not, this is a great place to just relax and get away from it all - no internet, no telephone, no interruptions! You can just enjoy the lodge and the balcony or you can walk the many trails and dirt roads - the mountain views and wildlife are spectacular. However, if you are looking for nightlife and/or tourist attractions, this is definitely not the place to go!


Hyacinth Macaws                                             Nick Athanas © 2010

 

So, if you are looking for an unusual vacation in South America or any of a number of exotic locations world wide, contact Tropical Birding.com. You won’t be disappointed - I know I wasn’t.


Balcony at Tandayapa Bird Lodge  As many as 20 different hummingbirds can be seen at these feeders at the same time!

A Real New England Spring!

by Dale P. Athanas

For those who do not live in New England, I can tell you that spring is a rare commodity here. In Connecticut, we have had precisely two real springs in the last twenty years and the spring of 2010 is one. The usual scenario is cool and damp through mid-June and than hot and humid overnight. So when we do get a real spring, we really savor it. 

 

As I write this it is 6:00am on a Friday morning in late April. According to our local weather prognosticators, we should have temps in the low 70’s today and the 80’s on Saturday and Sunday. Joy, my fiancée, and I are very tuned into the wildlife and growing things. With 200 acres of woodland behind our Old Lyme home and another 400 in front, we do get our share of birds and animals. 

 

 

The excitement this week was definitely the return of the Ruby Throated Hummingbirds. Last year we had four feeders out and counted as many as 12 of these beautiful little birds at one time. And boy do they put on a show! For those who do not know, these hummingbirds are territorial and very aggressive. They are constantly bullying each other and chasing all over the yard. We have a large awning over one level of our deck and these tiny little rockets will fly right through and will sometimes stop and hover right in front of our faces as if to say “Hello and thanks for the food”! Another of our wonderful feathered friends that visited us this week was a Barred Owl – fairly small so probably a male. He was here for around a half hour and kept going from tree to tree – probably looking for one of our many Chipmunks. He was finally chased away by several Blue Jays. We have also been entertained by a pair of nesting Red Shouldered Hawks. To round off the day, our local Opossum wandered through the yard right after dark to eat his fill of the spilt birdseed. We suspect that he has taken up residence under our deck.

 

 

And of course, the other big spring bonus is the flowers. Joy has planted at least 2000 daffodil and tulip bulbs on our property so far and is enthusiastically planning to put in at least a thousand more this fall – that’s what happens when you have a big piece of land – things tend to get out of hand! To add even more color to the spring pageant, we are having a spectacular year for the flowering trees especially the dogwoods and cherries. And of course, spring would not be complete without fresh asparagus right out of your own garden. We cut ours for the first time this year – ah, nectar of the gods!

 

So, in closing, take some time away from your busy day to get outside and really appreciate this beautiful spring weather – who knows, it may be the last for many years!

Davis Gallery: Photography on Canvas by Mick Marsden

by Mick Marsden

I was flattered when Davis Gallery owner Jennifer Duff encouraged me to show my work. Although I've been an avid photographer for 35 years and have worked professionally on a part-time basis in the past, I never looked at my work to be displayed in a fine art way. Many have complimented me on my "eye" and abilities which has been the word of mouth that has driven the professional work I've done, it was just hard for me to wrap my arms around the idea that my work was fine art quality. 

On April 17th 2010 from 1-4 I am my show and reception begins. Please come and judge for yourself. I am hoping you will love what you'll see and perhaps go home with one of the 31 images Jennifer has selected from my library! That would be great. If you can't be there for the reception my show will be up for 30 days. 

 

Where to buy your Nikon D700

by Michael Marsden

If you're anything like me, when it's time to buy something you want at the best possible price. Most start on the Internet and start googling the product name and model number and start drilling down into different sites that are offering the product to find out where the catches are especially on those sites offering the product you're looking for at a significantly lower price.

I am a semi-pro-photographer and was in the market to buy a Nikon D700 to complement my Nikon D300 that I have liked very much. The Nikon D700 is sold on a multitude of websites in the big hitters like B&H photo video, Adorama camera, and the like all offer this camera at its list price last an instant $300 rebate essentially selling the camera for $2700. So when you happen upon a website that offers a product at $2079 one wonders if it's legitimate and what the catch is. Many of the sites I researched and even tried to order from that offered a similar price were lowlife, bait and switch, foreign national merchants that exclude the included accessories where they then tried to sell you a $50 battery for $280. When I ordered a body from one site where it stated it was in stock at a great price it became out of stock when I refused to buy exorbitantly priced extended warranty or package of crap nobody wants.

I happened upon the legitimate online merchant who was selling my product at an unbelievable price quite legitimately. The first thing I do is pick up the phone and call the sales department to gauge their legitimacy. The site in question is softstream.biz. It's for real. When I spoke to one of the company representatives I asked him the obvious question: "how are you selling this product for so much less than others? What's the catch?" The response was simple: "I am simply making less of a profit margin."

While I had him on the phone I substantiated that the product I was seeking was in fact a genuine Nikon USA product with all of its components and accessories intact and came with a full warranty. He assured me that the product was not refurbished or gray goods. (Gray goods in the business are products intended and produced for other countries that are diverged from their intended delivery location in those countries and brought in illegally to the United States. These products, although manufactured by Nikon, have no warranty in this country.)

I took my research further and visited several sites were other online customers rate their experience with the various merchants that sell online. When I read that seven people had stated that this purchase was for real and in fact ship the product that they advertised at the price they advertised I felt confident to try to purchase my camera here.

If you're in a hurry to receive the product, move on to another site. I am happy to wait a little longer to receive the product I want for a substantial discount so this was not a problem for me. I placed my order, my credit card link through PayPal was debited, and in about a week the product was shipped. The merchant was extremely good at communicating with me in answering my questions any time I asked via e-mail. When I got the notification that my order was processed I e-mailed the individual who I spoke to on the phone and asked if I could upgrade my shipping from ground to overnight as I was quite anxious to get my hands on my new baby. The reply was fantastic in that he told me he upgraded my shipping at no additional cost to standard overnight. When I received the shipping e-mail he told me that he included an 8 GB CompactFlash card at no extra cost as a courtesy.

All this blew me away. He was a merchant that I found online who gave me a great price, great customer service, and kept his word. This merchant sold me my camera for $600 less than anywhere else I could find and threw in the extras to boot.

I have my new Nikon D700 in hand and am delighted. It's the best camera I have ever owned or worked with. It's FX CMOS image sensor in lowlight performance is a mind blowing. The idea of using a flash or tripod is now a distant memory. I highly recommend this camera to any serious photographer, like me, who was wishing for Nikon to drop the price of their flagship D3 or D3X Pro cameras. The 700 has the majority of what is offered in the D3 and 3X models for third the price. It's lighter as well.

In short, I am enthusiastically endorsing softstream.biz who offers other products besides cameras for those looking for a serious and legitimate discount online merchant for the products that they offer. In cameras they offer a good selection of both Canon and Nikon products, a short selection of flatscreen TVs from Sony, and the like. Their selection is not deep, but if they have which are looking for, rest assured they will beat the pants off any other merchants prices you'll find.

CT Farm Fresh Express on NBC 30 and NPR!!

by Michael Marsden

I would be remiss, if not stupid, for not giving a few lines to my wife's startup (now a year old) CT Farm Fresh Express, LLC. A year and half ago my bride, Deb Marsden, wanted to change careers from graphic design and production to something she felt more passionate about. She also wanted to do something to make a difference in the world...and more specifically here locally and in CT. Deb was thinking green long before if was fashionable. She promoted recycling, conservations of land, water, and other resources, and eating right. She detests industrialized farming and all that it stands for and what it delivers. There's a reason America is a collective big fat pig now. Processed food full of corn by-products like high fructose corn syrup, and CAFO raised beef, pork, and poultry are part of the problem. Industrialized farming also has one big fat carbon footprint which is part of our global warming issue. 

Deb started CT Farm Fresh Express, LLC helps all of what is near and dear to her. CTFFE is the link between CT farms and consumers and restaurants who share the same idea of eating local healthy foods. Deb and her team visit 30 farms across the state and picks up delicious produce, meat, poultry, honey, baked goods, maple syrup, and much more. Only CT grown and produced foods and products are allowed in the mix and must be certified organic or be naturally raised. She opens her on-line store each weekend and closes it on Wednesday morning when she starts her day. She started with 8 customers and 7 farms and now has many customers and has a growing list of farms. Each Friday she delivers to homes and in the beginning of the week she delivers to her restaurants. Food is sold a farmer's market prices plus a delivery charge based on the distance from source to you. (visit: CTFFE.com and CTFFEstore.com

Deb has had many editorial articles written about her in local newspapers all along the shoreline and Middletown and was on Faith Middleton Show on NPR and on NBC 30's Green is Universal segment this month. 

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE FAITH MIDDLETON SHOW ON SAVING CT FARMS AND EATING LOCAL. 

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE NBC 3O GREEN IS UNIVERSAL SEGMENT 

 

For me the bonus is eating fabulous, local food that tastes like the food I grew up with. I am pleased that the farms are planting more this year to supply the demand that CTFFE and my wife has brought them. I am also happy that this is a very green thing to do and helpful to the environment. 

Thanks to all for reading this. 

 

Farewell To Raymond Bartolucci

by Michael Marsden

 

The maternal side of my family came Fano, Italy. My mother's father Silvio came to this country along with brothers Leebrow, Guido, Raymond, and their sister Laura Bartolucci. Last week the next to last of this generation died at age 92. My great uncle Raymond was a kind and generous person who lived a rich and full life which included being a state police auxiliary officer, a ballplayer for the Cardinals, an electrician at electric boat, and working other jobs along the way such as security at the casino, the funeral home which held his funeral, and was the grand exalted ruler of the London Elks among other things. He will be missed.


Below is his obituary.

 



Groton - Raymond Bartolucci, 92, of Hillside Road, Groton, died on Feb. 12, 2009, at his home.

 

He was born on Sept. 30, 1916, in New London, the son of Alfred and Louisa (Ciavaglia) Bartolucci.

 

 

During his high school years, Ray was an outstanding varsity athlete in baseball, football and basketball. He was a key player in the historic football game between Chapman Technical High School and the Bulkeley School. The historic win gave Chapman Tech an undefeated season in 1933.

 

After graduating from Chapman Tech, he was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals baseball organization and played for farm teams in the Midwest and later in the Penn League for four years.

 

He was united in marriage to Bernice “Bee” (Koch) Bartolucci on Dec. 28, 1971, in St. Mary Church, Stonington; Mrs. Bartolucci died Jan. 4, 2003.

Ray served in the Army in World War II. Upon returning from Germany, he served as a supernumerary in the Connecticut State Police.

 

He was employed at Electric Boat for many years as an electrician. He played football and baseball for the Electric Boat Athletic Club and the former Morgan Park baseball league. Later he managed the baseball teams in both leagues. 

 

Mr. Bartolucci was currently serving as president for the Electric Boat Athletic Club retirees. He was a life member in the New London Elks # 360, was past exalted ruler, and served in many other official capacities. He was a member of the Italian Dramatic Club in New London.


He enjoyed playing golf and was a charter member of the New London Country Club in Waterford and a member of Shennecosset Golf Club in Groton, were he worked as a starter for many years.


He worked part-time for the late Anthony Impellitteri at the Impellitteri Memorial Home and continued with Impellitteri-Malia Funeral Home. Mr. Bartolucci worked for the Mohegan Sun Casino as a security officer until his illness.


He is survived by a sister, Laura Lanzoni of Waterford; two stepsons, Dean Christie of Griswold and Tom Christie of Stonington; a cousin, Alma Verbillo of New London; three grandchildren, Michael, Danielle, and Jenna Christie; and a great-grandchild, Noelle.

He was predeceased by three brothers, Lebro, Silvio, and Guido Bartolucci.


His family will receive relatives and friends from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday at the Impellitteri-Malia Funeral Home, 84 Montauk Ave., New London. Funeral services will be held at 1 p.m. Tuesday at the funeral home followed by interment in Jordan Cemetery, Waterford.

In lieu of flowers, donations in his memory may be made to Hospice Southeastern Connecticut, 227 Dunham St., Norwich CT 06360

 

 

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