DelBloggolo

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

NEXT YEAR I WANT MINE

TLW (The Little Woman) gives religious instructions to little 2nd graders every fall, winter and almost early spring. In the course of teaching these little heathens, she prevails upon my ability as an artist to create different kinds of aids, and projects throughout the year such as: puzzles, black and white line drawings for the kids to color in, word finds and book covers for photo albums, plus the big project where I create a 30” by 40” board of all the classes that exists, with the pictures of the kids in these classes.

Every year, at Christmas time, TLW gets presents from the parents of the children. She gets the presents, I don’t. I want mine. I get the chocolate covered pretzel sticks that she won’t eat and any licorice, which she hates.

I want mine. Now!

Mind you I do get a mention in the church bulletin, TLW presents it to me at the end of the year, after everything is done, it says “Hi DelBloggolo”

I want mine, NOW!

Some gift suggestions for the parents to be distributed at the beginning of December:

Genoa Salami with Provolone Cheese nicely gift-wrapped.

A large bottle of Jack Daniels along with sweet vermouth to accompany it, of course gift wrapped also.

A first class round trip plane ticket to Port Ste. Lucie for spring training. Simple plain envelope will suffice for wrapping.

Of course you may improvise along these lines as long as it is tasteful, just like this little blog is today.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

A VICTIM OF SUGGESTION

Yes, that is exactly what I am. Subliminally I can have a yen for anything that is suggested in that fashion.

Today in the newspaper in the weekly food report is Chinese food. One of my favorite foods is Chinese. Anything Chinese. Yesterday on the History Channel I watched how then President Nixon opened the diplomatic door to China, I viewed all the old footage of him at the banquets toasting and eating what appears to be interesting little morsels of Chinese culinary masterpieces.

I remember when that happened, I took TLW (The Little Woman) to lunch that day, and you can guess what I ate. Yes, Chinese food. I was in the spirit of things, doing my patriotic duty, imbibing upon oriental atmosphere and enjoying the fact that I helped in my own small way to make history.

I now have a yen (Sometimes I even amaze myself) for Chinese food again. I can taste it, I need it, but I won’t get it. Why? Because #2 Son has my car, so I can’t go out and get some. I drink tea to get my mind off of it, but Chinese people drink tea, lots of it. You would think I’d give myself a break and want English food, but no, I want Chinese food.

Egg rolls don’t do it for me. I have to have dim sum, Szechuan beef or pork, maybe a nice fish or veggie in sesame oil with rice. I am even open to some sushi. Maybe a little Thai shrimp soup would help me overcome my desire for Chinese food.

I think the thing about Asian food is not only the taste, but the exotic look and the different kinds of dishes that are prepared.

I hope this little essay has forced you to have a desire for some Chinese or Asian food, and that it is takeout, so when I do go to a Chinese restaurant it won’t be crowded.

Monday, February 26, 2007

MY CAR, MY CAR, A KINGDOM FOR MY CAR!

TLW (The Little Woman) asked me to call the auto repair shop that was working on #2 Son’s car after his accident. He has been using my car for the past 2 weeks and I was really missing it. The reason I was to call was that they had called and said it would be ready tomorrow. I was to find out if they took credit cards for the deductible, or a certified check.

I call and get a very nice young lady that informs me that the place would honor a credit car, and in fact I could come down today because the car is ready!

Oh joy! Oh sweet lady, how wonderful the sound of your voice, the car is ready now!

I wait for #2 Son to return with my car from work and together we drive to the auto repair shop and we enter the office.

Me: “Hi, I’m here to pickup the Nissan Altima.
She: “Oh, I wasn’t sure you were coming today so I had them bring it to the car wash. It will only be about 15 or 20 minutes. I’m sorry to make you wait”
Me: “Noooo problem” I happily respond, just 20 minutes more.

I sit and I stand and I walk, and I sit again. Suddenly this car pulls up and the owner comes in and gives me the keys. Something is wrong! These aren’t the keys!

Me: “These aren’t the keys for his car!”
Him: What?” “Are you sure?”
Me: “Yes, I am.”
Him: “Let me check. What is your car?”
#2 Son The Nissan Altima-2000”
Him: “2000! OOPS I made a mistake! You are not supposed to be ready until tomorrow, and –wait a minute, you have the special wheels, it might not be ready until Thursday, because I had trouble getting the special wheels. I’m so sorry, it was my mistake.”

No, it is my mistake, I should have known it would never be ready ahead of time, or for that matter on time, yes, everything is normal now, I will have to wait.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

REMOTELY SPEAKING

All hail the queen of remotes, her majesty: TLW (The Little Woman.)

The other night I got into bed to read, and sitting up in the bed was TLW, watching TV. The bed was raised and of course she was half way between watching the TV and watching the back of her eyelids.

I climbed in and reached for my book, (ONE THOUSAND AND ONE WAYS TO SHOP FOR YOUR WIFE) and decided to raise the foot of the bed to get more comfortable. I reached for the bed remote that was next to TLW, and as I did I heard a slow growl. Looking over TLW’s eyes was starting to flare and she was stirring about. Chills started to run up and down where my spine is supposed to be, and the hairs all over my body (except for the top of my head) began to stand up.

TLW has beautiful eyes, very expressive, and when she was young, her eyes used to talk to me, conveying messages of love and affection. Well they spoke to me once more as I picked up the remote, they said: “What the hell do you think you are doing? Hum?

I dropped the remote and begged for her forgiveness, groveling and pleading for one more chance at life.

P. S. She did let me raise the foot of the bed!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

SATURDAY NITE AND I AIN’T GOT NO RESERVATIONS

After my encounter with the Tamale family, and learning about life in Levittown in the early fifties, TLW (The Little Woman) and I decided to go to dinner somewhere. Being how it was early and we had no reservations we figured we could probably get in anywhere.

Big mistake.

One place at 4:50 pm had an hour and forty-five minute wait! We scratched our heads and thought about other possibilities and finally decided on a steak house we had been to before, when we got there we were told 30 to 40 minutes waiting time. We decided to spell our time at the bar and wait it out. The place was hopping with younger couples and although we didn’t feel out of place, I tried my best to fit in. I ordered the usual and took notice of the couples waiting for tables and how they should really be home eating salads like me. Actually the only one skinny there was TLW!

We sat at the very corner of a three sided or horse shoe shaped bar, and next to us around the corner sat a young bald fellow with a moustache and his wife (she was clean shaven), and I was suspicious of him because he kept staring straight ahead. I thought that maybe he was listening to everything TLW and I said, and sure enough, he and his wife both interrupted me to make a comment. It was a friendly comment, but they were listening already, so it was too late for me to sound like an ax murderer, being how all my conversation up to that point was sane for me.

So what do you do in a case like that? I ordered another drink, and told TLW she was driving home after dinner. The wait was over an hour, but the steak was worth the wait, and so were the two Jack Daniel Manhattans and the premium beer that went down with the steak.

Man, I know how to eat! TLW and my two sons think I can remember every meal I ever ate, which is ridiculous, I mean haven’t they ever heard of actual conscious memory? I think it starts about two and a half years of age.

Friday, February 23, 2007

MR. LEVIT, AND THE TAMALE FAMILY.

Yesterday TLW (The Little Woman) and I went to the Stony Brook Museum to view the Arthur Levit and his Levittown exhibition. It was a nice inside look at the development of low cost housing for the returning GI’s of WWII, the big one.

Being how the museum is small the house was packed, I had to find a parking place, and after driving around for awhile, the security guard told us to park right in front of the building, in a “No Parking” area. We exited the car, and entered the building when the guard noticed that a family was leaving as they were heading for their car.

Running out to the car, I jumped in and followed the family to their car, waiting as the family assembled in front of this powder blue1987 station wagon, with Mr. Tamale driving, Mrs. Tamale on the other side of the car, waiting to get in were Grandma and Grandpa Tamale, and Chico Tamale the 8 year old, along with sister Conchita the youngest Tamale.

Grandpa Tamale positioned himself about 15 feet from the rear of the car as Papa Tamale cranked up the old Ford as it puttered and whined in the gloam of evening, putting out little smoke puffs and then a bang. Grandpa would be the guiding light for Mr. Tamale when he decided to back out. Momma Tamale was now sitting next to Papa, waving her hands and probably yelling at one of the Tamale family members. Little junior Tamale would not get into the Tamale wagon until Grandma Tamale got in, since Chico probably wanted the window seat, but had to yet deal with Grandpa Tamale.

There is nothing worst than a mess of Tamale’s jockeying for position in the Tamale cart!

It was now going on ten minutes of waiting when I figured out that perhaps the Tamale Clan was not going to move for fear that I would be with the Department of Immigration and would ask for their “green card.”

Mr. Tamale must have thought: “Ha, the Gringo he thinks can fool me! I, Miguel Zapata Tamale will not get deported, I will make camp here in parking lot uno, the new home of la familia de Tamale.”

I must admit, the “Stony Brook” sounding address has a nice ring to it.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

ENJOY YOURSELF, ITS’ LATER THAN YOU THINK

You know how that song goes: “Enjoy yourself while you’re still in the pink. Life goes by, quicker than a blink, enjoy yourself, enjoy your self its’ later than you think.”

Being how I’m retired now, I’ve developed some enjoyable habits and some enjoyable needs. The habit and need of wanting something to read everyday, a book that I can take from the library and spend part of an afternoon with, enjoying a cup of tea, the want and need to have a project that I can express myself for part of an afternoon, the sheer joy of freedom, to finally do what I want to do when I want to, to luxuriate in a hot bath tub in the quiet of the empty house.

Today I went to the library to get a book, they have a café there that sells coffee and sandwiches, and one can read a book or newspaper, or if you like a magazine and sip a hot cup of coffee in front of a real fire in a fireplace in a comfortable chair, making for a very civilized afternoon.

Sitting with me in front of the fire was an older gentleman who was reading a book, and a young woman who was reading a People Magazine like it was a suspense novel at its critical juncture, all the while holding on to her cup of coffee. There were no children to listen to, and no conversations to overhear, just the pure joy of solitude.

I think I will make this a habit of mine at least once a week, to take in this solitude and enjoy a different place and different atmosphere in which to read and think. I would sure have missed this opportunity if I were in the rat race still.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

AND HE SHALL LEAD THEM.

It was a sad occasion, the passing of an individual that all of Olympia’s children had to attend. None of her children really knew the deceased, but out of respect we all attended the wake because we had to, indeed a sad occasion.

As wakes go, it was nothing special; in fact it was somewhat dead. I was getting antsy, and needed a cigarette and decided to go downstairs and try to kill the boredom. As I descended so did the rest of Olympia’s children, all five of us, down into the lounge that usually sits in the basement of the funeral parlor.

Being the type that likes to entertain my sisters, I was making jokes and having a grand old time, finishing up my cigarette, I decided to explore the basement and out of curiosity see what was behind some of the slatted doors. All four sisters followed me, as one door after another was opened and closed, being nosey and commenting as I went.

Suddenly I came to a larger set of doors and instinctively knew what was behind them, but told the girls it was a kitchen. With that I allowed them to bravely pass through the doors as I closed them, leaving the sisterhood in a large dark room surrounded by what else but coffins!

I think we resurrected the dead person upstairs, as all four let out a scream that had to be heard in the next town!

This I consider one of my greatest moments in brotherhood.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

IT’S OFFICIAL: I CAN NAP!

You heard it on the radio, watched it on TV, read it in the newspapers and it even appeared on Yahoo: taking a short nap is good for your health!

They laughed when Columbus said the earth was round, they laughed when they said the Red Sox would win a World Series, they laughed when they said the Berlin Wall would come down, they laughed when I said: “napping is good for you.”

It seems that taking a half hour nap in the late morning or early afternoon helps the heart if you are a man. Of course the people who made this discovery tested both men and women, the men tested conclusively, while the women kept getting up looking for chores for the sleeping husbands to do out of habit, so the study was unable to get results for the women.

TLW (The Little Woman) is always making remarks to the effect: “Did you get your nap in?” Har, har: very funny. Little did she realize my master plan was in effect: napping to better health.

Let this be a lesson to all wives: that husbands nap to insure the future of their families, by protecting their health and hearts. After all, the family does come first. You women should be out there looking for the best equipment and encouraging him, to help your man succeed.

Thank you, very much.

Monday, February 19, 2007

THE VISITATION

The time for dinner was set at 2:00 pm. I called my Mom to ask her what her Beau liked to drink, and he answered in the background: “Juice.” I reminded Mom that I would see her at 2:00 pm and she said she would be there.

Right on time Mom arrives with her Beau in tow (I like that) at 3:45 pm. Bearing a monster cake she arrives at the door and is greeted with the usual fanfare from my dog, barking and sniffing and unhappy to have company. We actually named her Happy, but now that I think about it, I must have misunderstood the name, it should have been “Unhappy.”

The visit was an opportunity for TLW (The Little Woman) and me to better get to know a very shy man in Henry, as we were able to spend some hours without distraction.

What followed was a great shock to me. I really like the man! No kidding, he is a gentleman, and very sociable if the pond is small. Also very interesting, never being married, he has traveled a lot, and turned out to be an old Brooklyn Dodger fan! How’s that?

Being how he came from Astoria, TLW’s family’s stomping grounds (Not that they all have big feet) TLW was very talkative with him and liked him as well.

Here is the unbelievable part: TLW invited them to come with us in the spring to the city to visit the NYC Tenement Museum near Little Italy and Chinatown. I can just see it: four old people trying to figure out why we are doing this sightseeing

Sunday, February 18, 2007

MOMMA IS ON HER WAY

I invited my 88 year-old Mother and her “Boy friend” over for dinner on Sunday. It is a time of great anticipation, as years ago when she could see well, we vacuumed and swept and cleaned places we never even saw before, knowing full well that Momma would be coming. It got so bad I was even cleaning my man Bill’s house next door, just in case I got drunk and we wandered over there by chance. And Carol keeps a clean house!

As the years went buy Mom lost some sight in her left eye, which made the cleaning easier since we never touched anything on the left side of the house to clean, and I spent that time watching TV or snacking. When she was going home, I always managed to back her out of the front door. Now she has thrown us a curve, her gentleman friend. He can see. He will tell her, I have to clean left and right again.

This really puts a damper on things, TLW (The Little Woman) would never allow Marie Barone to see a messy house, if we were hit with an earthquake. Mom is 88 years old and I’m still scared of her!

Watch out Carole, here I come.

Tomorrow, the visitation, stay tuned.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

BUILDING FOR THE BIG BUILDUP

All too often when it’s my turn to win, the best I do is a draw! For about 7 weeks, I’ve been dieting and exercising and anticipating my quarterly visit to the doctor’s office where I get to pee in a cup and stand on a scale, debating whether I should take my shoes off or not.

Having lost some weight, I figured that would make the medical genius I employ very happy. Eating with great care, I can feel the difference, working out every morning I can sense the loss of volume in my pants, (let me rephrase that) loss of weight as my clothes are starting to get bigger.

I go to the doctor’s office, given a cup in which to leave a little bit of my vintage self, and am asked to step on the scale. The assistant or nurse or whatever she is zips the weight way down to the end, thinking I weigh what I did the last time. “Ah!” she says: “Lost some weight!” I step down, sensing the coming triumph that I will receive from El Medico, Il Professoro, “Da Dacter” the man who after every visit tells me: “Everything looks great, just lose some weight and exercise if you can.” Well doc, today is the day! What have you to say? Huh? See the difference? Doc? Are you paying attention? Hello, I lost weight; I’ve been working my chair padding off for 7 weeks, SAY SOMETHING.

“Doctor, did you notice I lost some weight? And I’ve been exercising too.”

“Huh? Oh! Great!”

Not even a lolly pop for being a good boy!

Friday, February 16, 2007

OUT OF THE PAST!

Every once in a while I get a call from someone out of my past. I was sitting in my easy chair, with a cup of coffee and a newspaper when the phone next to me rang. Picking it up I said the usual “Hello?” and the voice on the other end said, “Joe, Is this Joe?
I thought maybe it was a movie mogul wanting me for his next picture as the love interest for Kim Bassinger, but no, it was Joe “The Coal Man” Coleman! Joe is one of those people you never want to forget, a real decent man, with a good set of morals and a big heart. And talk about loving his kids, wow!

Joe and I met at Publishers Clearing House many years ago, then teamed up for a while to do some freelance. Somehow our paths split into different directions, and we lost touch. Funny thing is I was thinking of Joe only recently and realized I couldn’t get in touch with him.

Once “The Coal Man” asked me if I wanted to see pictures of his Pride and Joy, and I said “Yes”, expecting photos of his kids, but instead got pictures of the products Pride and Joy the cleansers! He has since then given his son the pictures, and so another Joe “The Coal Man” Coleman is at large.

Corn was his forte, using it as any occasion that may present itself. This meant funerals, hangings and embalmings always a humble man, never bragging and always hustling, Joe would stop by my office to chat and before you knew it the time had escaped me. So we continued our conversations at lunch, just to make sure the corn was all used up.

Well roll out the corn on a cob, Mr. Joe “The Coal Man” Coleman is back in town! He started to give me his e-mail address and it started with the letters “JC” and I asked: Does the original JC know you are using his initials? There was a long pause as Joe had stepped away from the phone. Coming back I asked, what happened and he said he had to get away from the window because he was afraid of being struck down by lightning.

The official weigh-in:

O lbs. lost!

Well I didn’t gain any weight, and according to the doctor’s scale I lost 2 additional lbs.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

THE PERFECT VALENTINE’S DAY

It was a perfect romantic night, the snow was swirling around in big circles outside the large bay window of our dining room, and the howling wind was making the cold bitter, but inside the house was warm and toasty. The candles set the mood as the night and its gloom was setting all around outside, but the flicker of candles defied the darkness.

Being it was Valentine’s Day, I planned a special diner for TLW (The Little Woman) that took a lot of cunning and subterfuge, keeping TLW from suspecting anything.

Two days before I went out and bought all the groceries, figuring out the logistics, and where to hide things so TLW wouldn’t see them. The lobster and shrimp cocktail I put out in the freezer in our garage, the asparagus was already in the refrigerator, the soon to be stuffed mushrooms tucked away in the crisper draw with all the trimmings. I still had to bury the strawberries and whipped cream, so I took anything TLW might use that was in “the frig,” and placed it all in the front so she couldn’t go reaching and discovering all the surprise.

Taking a small corner of the dining room table, I set the china out, lit the candles and served TLW, course after course, with cocktails and wine, coffee and dessert with canola cream filling and chocolate covered strawberry that tasted so good after so long from not eating them.

And in the end, all I saw was a very beautiful lady enjoying her feast, on the day that says it all: I love you.

Trying something like jewelry, clothes, flowers or candy can be pretty predictable, maybe next year I’ll try something else

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

WHY I STILL LOVE HER

It’s funny, I look at the wedding pictures and I see a young beautiful woman, one with a fresh young unsuspecting smile. I look today at her and I see a beautiful woman with a wise smile, one who has witnessed everything.

That wise smile has a history of both triumph and great tragedy, one of wisdom and patience, one of quiet love and a good, good soul.

I can’t make up for the tragedy, nor am I responsible for the great triumphs, (her two sons are) but I witnessed the Lady forever being “The Lady.”

Being married to her I learned that “Home” is just a word that exist solely as the place she occupies at the time I am with her. Home is at a store, the car, an emergency room, a sun lit beach if we are together.

I am a lucky man, she never complains about my joking on this space about her, she has a name (Ellen) and TLW (The Little Woman) is just her heart and soul to me.

Although her nose is always cold, (she never sweats), her heart is very warm, and her voice to me is as magical as the first Christmas a child remembers. When she comes home at night, my dog Happy starts to bark and run about all excited, I can’t do that but feel like I should.

I guess after 36 Valentine Days, beautiful love still blooms in me for her, I think I still love her; she hasn’t gotten older, just wiser.

“Come grow old with me,
The best is yet to be.”

Two secrets to keep your marriage brimming
1. Whenever you're wrong, admit it,
2. Whenever you're right, shut up.
Nash

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

BECAUSE SHE SAID SO, THAT’S WHY

Yes, Mom ruled with an iron fist and a wooden spoon. Actually it was 3 spoons; made from the finest ash, the same wood they were making Willie May’s bats with. The size varied according to the crime I committed.

Mom was adamant about what she demanded, and when she said something that was it. “You can’t go to the movies today.” Me: “Why not?” “Because I said so, that’s why,” pretty strong words, words that meant business. I would through the rest of the day, accepting those words knowing full well that a wooden spoon would back them up.

Mom had another weapon in her arsenal, the “point” which she pretty much reserved for the girls. I would always get the point with or without words or spoons. The point was a very pointed expression she would use to save her breath, and get across her wishes. Getting her point across had real meaning.

My Dad was really not a disciplinarian, but rather the lame threat Mom held in reserve. I can only remember once when my Dad chased me, all the other times were just a little yelling and an occasional threat. We never feared Dad, but Mom would say: “Wait till your Father gets home.” I would usually laugh and she would then reach for one of her wooden spoons.

“Where is he? If I get my hands on him, wait; wait till your father gets home. Wait, just wait till you get married, and have children of your own, I wish one on you just like yourself.”

She sure could sound pretty definite.

Monday, February 12, 2007

IS THERE A DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE?

Today I visited the doctor for my quarterly checkup. The Doctor likes me to show up every three months to be sure I’m still alive and plan his vacation (he needs the money.) If I don’t show up, he knows enough to burn my file. Happily everything was AOK, as I lost weight, good blood pressure and the pee was top grade, made from the finest of barley hops.

As I was standing at the receptionist’s desk, paying my co-pay, there is a sudden rumble. The roof is shaking; violently, one can feel the tremor in the floor from the violence. Was it an earthquake? Not on Long Island, my wallet opening, - no it makes a different noise, a terrorist, no, the Doctor is not a pediatrician, what could it be? I continue to have my money extracted by the receptionist (you can perform certain surgery for the doctor if you are a receptionist) when all of a sudden the violence begins again!

Suddenly a patient runs out of one of the examining rooms and says: “They are fighting up there! They are effing this and that and fighting! Someone should call the police, call 911. Yup, someone should.

I left the place knowing it wasn’t going to be me making the call, and I know that the combatants did pick a great place to have a donnybrook, right over the doctor’s office

Sunday, February 11, 2007

YOUR GOVERNMENT AT SLEEP

It all started last evening when I sat down after dinner to watch a little TV in my den. The night was frigid and everything was toasty warm in the house. My stomach was satisfied, and TLW (The Little Woman) was happily yakking away with her big sister on the phone in the kitchen. All of a sudden, caller alert acts up and she cuts into her call to take the incoming call. I hold my breath, because #2 Son is out. Sure enough it is #2 Son calling. The muttering of a low conversation way over in the kitchen begins, as TLW sways this way and that and finally sets her eyes on me. The words I hate the most come out: “Well, your Father will have to come and get you, I have to leave soon.” Upsetting that it is that the kid is out there like that for the first time, and upsetting as it is for me to deal with it, I have to go.

A cringe goes through my body, I know I now have to get up from my pleasurable existence and get my son. “Where is he?” I ask, and am told the he is on some busy road that I am unfamiliar with, in the midst of a fender bender. After several attempts at describing the location, and how to get there, I want to go to bed, not go find #2 Son. “You will have to help him, get the insurance cards etc. for him, blah, blah and don’t forget blah. Fortunately #2 Son was not hurt.

I put on my coat and step out into the cold, the wind attacking my legs and crawling down the back of my neck, a great feeling when it is 18 degrees out with a wind-chill factor of minus umpteen degrees. I claim him, make arrangements for a tow truck and we go home.

This morning TLW tells me to call the tow truck company to arrange for them to transfer the car to the recommended auto-body repair shop. I call, the owner asks me if he could keep the car to fix it and it will be ok with the insurance company. I say: “No”, because I don’t want any complications with the insurance company. He says: “Ok, but it will cost you $250.52 for me to tow the car, that includes storage for two days and the towing plus handling and taxes. Plus I want a check from you, and the insurance company can reimburse you for the costs.”

I call my insurance company they say they will take care of it. Another call later from the insurance company tells me that we will have a three-way conference call with the new auto-body repair shop where I will authorize them to pick up the car from the towers and work on the vehicle. Five minutes later, the Auto-body shop calls and says the towers will not release the car without written authorization! Can I come down to sign a piece of paper allowing them to pickup the car? I tell them I don’t have a car, (#2 Son has borrowed it for work) or fax machine.

My insurance company shows up at the door with the authorization form for me to sign, I sigh and sign where indicated.

I get angry, and want to file a complaint against the tow company, I call the County, they refer me to the town, who refers me to the county, which makes me think maybe I should just move away and no one can find me. I say: “I called the county, they referred me to you.” “Oh!” goes the lady on the other end. “How about the State or the department of Motor Vehicles?” I say “How about the Better Business Bureau?” “Yeah, even that is good!”

Somewhere in this world, maybe not in this country is an alert, competent government employee, who is awake and somehow helping someone lodge a complaint?

You can sleep soundly tonight, your government is.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

YOU GOTTA KNOW WHEN TO HOLD ‘EM

Know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away, know when to cook.

Yes, indeed.

It started with TLW (The Little Woman) laying out the menu for the week, and instructing me to cook the vegetarian tacos recipe for the evening meal. With those instructions she said she was leaving for her Weight Watcher’s meeting.

?...

Off she went as I started to gather all the ingredients to make this hardy meal. It meant that after I gather, I have to chop and dice, measure and sauté, all in the name of good health. I read all the instructions once through and then again as I do each step.

TLW returns, as I am still dicing and cooking while keeping up with the rules of the recipe. She comes over and begins to give out helpful hints; “Shouldn’t you be heating that through in the pan? Shouldn’t you be adding some of that in the tacos?” I don’t answer, knowing full well the answers to these questions are all: “No.”

I hand her the bean dip and measuring cup, and say: “Would you like to cook?” She wouldn’t take it. “Are you sure?” She again counters. “Let me see the recipe, I could have sworn you have to…!”

Not a word did I utter except to say: “gee, I’m glad you’re not cooking tonight, you would have screwed it up!”

Revenge in commanding way, she didn’t want to cook.

Friday, February 09, 2007

AFTER ALL, I’M JEWISH!


The trouble with minding my own business is that #2 Son does not recognize my need for solitude. No, it is a constant attempt to alter my state of mind, and create mindless opportunities with conversations that lead me to utter despair.

While contemplating my next move for the day: do I nap, eat, do some work, wood carve etc., #2 Son flies into the house and lands at my side, bursting with comments and things to say and do. This is the same child that peed on my shoes 19 years ago in the birthing room, sending a yellow stream in a steady arc, aimed so as to miss his Mother while the doctor held him up to prove he was a boy.

Me: “Hey, how are things in the worker’s paradise?” (He’s a budding socialist)
He: “I need for you to do some work for me.”
Me: “What, how much does it pay?”
He: “If you want I can pay you when Mom comes home and gives me some money from my account.”
Me: “Well when I work, I expect to be paid for it. What is it you want me to do?”
He: “I need some Klesmic (sic) music.”
Me: “What???!”
He: Klesmic music-Don’t you know what Klesmic music is?”
Me: “No, why don’t you tell me.”
He: “Jewish folk music. I love the sound of it, the flute sounds so cool. I’m surprised you don’t know what that is. You look Jewish. I think you probably know more Jewish words than you do Italian, and all my friends when they come here think you are Jewish. You look Jewish, in fact, we all look Jewish!”
Me: “Why don’t you look for it?”
He: “I tried and can’t find it.”
Me: “Now how am I suppose to find it?”
He: “Go to Walmart and look under the $3 CD’s and you should find it cheap.”

To think I could have been napping.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

THAT CERTAIN LOOK

Recently TLW (The Little Woman) informed me that she wanted to go to Best Buy to buy a universal remote for the den. I mentioned that I wanted to go to Circuit City. She inquired why and I told her that The Macaroni Man had given me a gift certificate, and I wanted to treat myself. Being a wife she asked me more questions. “What do you want to buy?” Me being the husband in this case decided to answer her inquest.

Me: I want to get a recorder that I can carry around with me.
Her: Why?
Me: Because I can remember things better.
Her: What do you have to remember, what things?
Me: Oh, subjects about the blog I can write, or things I want to remember. Then I can get rid of this little pad I keep in my breast shirt pocket.
Her: You’re retired, what do you need to remember, besides, you look retired with the bulge in your shirt pocket.

I’m speechless, as usual. I should try spending more time napping and less time talking.

I can tell you that I do not always have a bulge in that pocket, nor do I keeps a lot of pens in it. The fact to the matter is I still drive like I always did, with TLW giving the car body English and saying things like: “OOH!”

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

OH, BROTHER! BROTHER JUSTINIAN THAT IS

He was a tall man, with jet-black hair and a protruding Adam’s apple. He wore a long brown robe and brown shoes with a white rope tied around his waist. He was the principle of the Boy’s section of Our Lady Of Lourdes Elementary School. He was THE MAN, not to be fooled with, when corporal punishment was in vogue.

One could clearly hear Brother Justinian while standing under the Broadway Junction El, as the train would clatter and rumble by, making things tremble in the wake of it’s passing! His voice was so powerful it commanded respect; you prayed you never had to hear it. The only time you heard his voice was when there was trouble.

He would patrol the schoolyard playground with his arms crossed and his hands tucked into his large oversized sleeves, not daring to look him in the eye for fear of retribution for something that you may or may not have done. If you were suspected of any transgression, a big hand, about the size of a football field would come down and lay waste to your head.

I was in first grade when I had my first encounter with THE MAN. I was not that good at telling time yet, but I did know the time that school started. As I entered the school building, with its golden brick façade and heavy green metal doors, I noticed how strangely quiet things were. No one was in sight. Standing in front of his office was THE MAN. Waiting for me to go by, he stood in his familiar pose, arms folded, hands hidden, feet planted, and a hungry look in his ferocious eyes. As tried to slip past him with my first grade leather brown school bag with straps and buckles, his arm reaches way down and holds my shoulder. I stopped in mid-stride: looking way up I noticed he is showing me his watch. “Please God, I don’t KNOW how to tell time yet,” I thought. THE MAN: “What time is it young man?” boomed his voice, nearly knocking me down. I look; I see the small handle pointing to the “9.” I’m saved! “9 O’clock!” I proudly proclaim. I think: “He’s going to kill me for being late, but I’ll at least know what time I died!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

UNCLE EDDIE AND AUNT MARY-A LOVE STORY


He was a big man, very big. When he walked he stooped down somewhat and when he sat he wore the chair. He always wore his shirts out of his pants, and he came from the good people, people that worked with their hands and toiled long hours to make their lives bearable. Employed by Con Ed, a sheet-metal worker, who paid his bills and kept his life uncomplicated. He loved his Mary and a good visit with a beer or even a glass of wine. Give him a steak, a beer and Mary and it was heaven for him.

Mary was the love of his life; he didn’t have any real interest except old war movies and the “Duke”, his Duke, John Wayne and Mary. No pets, and certainly no dalliances of any kind. If you sat with him to talk, you were king or queen, you became special, treated like a brother or sister, never judging you, and insisted you join him for a glass or a pint. When family got together, he took out his accordion and played all the old tunes, most Irish ditties and “Mary”, and when he played that, he would look at his Mary and tears would well in his eyes.

He had a child-like innocence, a teddy bear look, and a very basic love for his country. When he got angry, it was because he heard someone make a disparaging remark about his America.

She was a lady, someone who spread laughter if she could, who could brighten up the darkest day and the darkest of hours. Mary was the light left on, waiting for you to come home during a stormy night. She loved her Eddie, she would admonish him on occasion, but loved him without fanfare or qualifiers, without showing any outward emotions toward him, but she loved him. She was a lady of great dignity, a moral compass as was her Eddie. Mary worked for years at St. Regis Paper as a secretary, She had a sister, Helen my Mother-in-law and three brothers, and she was the baby of the family.

They met late in life, being introduced by their paperboy, her nephew Tommy, never having children, they had adoring nieces and nephews, and later in life, the people that married into their families learned that loving them was natural and easy.

Then one day Eddie, walking down the street to his home from an errand for his Mary fell to the concrete and days later was gone. He had lain in a hospital for a few days, but his big heart was no longer able to beat, and a lot of hearts stopped beating for a moment when they learned he passed on.

And sometimes like a lot of love stories, Mary, Eddie’s Mary soon followed, when a few months later, after suffering for years with arthritis there was pain in her stomach and an ache in her heart. On a beautiful Easter Sunday close to midnight we got a call from the hospital that Aunt Mary had join Eddie.

If you believe in God, or if you don’t, believe this: they are together somewhere special, and you can hear the strains of “Mary” being played out on an accordion, the music drifting across an open room called paradise, the sun is shinning in his heart and her eyes as she looks at him play.

Today they are together one more time, sharing the same crypt in Pinelawn National Cemetery, as they always wanted it, as they always had; together.

Monday, February 05, 2007

SUPER BOWL, OR HOW BIG IS THAT POTTY?

OK, the grouch in me is coming out. Being how the Super Bowl was played yesterday, and two great franchises played in it, there were no real losers. However, the game itself is lost.

What am I saying? Think about this: when they played Super Bowls I, II, III, and IV, they played for significance to the fan. The rooting interest was about who was the champion of professional football. Today that significance is all but lost.

The hype is stupid, comparing head coaches physically, as if that would have an impact on the game. They compare cities, as if that would have an impact on the outcome, they (the press) make all these silly comparisons, based on some notion that these “stats” bear some kind of value to the real fan.

The problem I’m having doesn’t even end there; there are also the sponsors. Selling food for Super Bowl Sunday. When did deciding the national championship include a menu? No wonder we are all overweight, and looking sloppy. I can understand the sponsors wanting to sell to a vast market, one that has no age or sex limit, nor does it discriminate against locale, all are fair game in selling and marketing goods and services, let alone ideas. But come on, I want to see a game played by two great teams. I want to see football, long TD’s and open field tackling.

So we arrange a big spread that we lay out before us. We have chips, ribs, chile, beer, booze, we cook pastas and make dips, a whole array of food and drink. Mexican, Chinese, TexMex, Italian, even Kosher. When do we eat it? At the kickoff? Some of the participants don’t know a first down from down under, don’t know a field goal from a field mouse, just there for the party!

Well, for me, I’m watched the game, for the game’s sake, food did not play a part for me (I wouldn’t mention booze.) I had my dinner before the kickoff, and when I felt like snacking, I did.

Being how the Jets were not participants of this event they call the “Super Bowl”, could have defied my diet and get some Chinese dumplings, with that great sauce they put on it, maybe a little wonton soup, and eggroll, and afterwards as I try to sleep, ask myself this question: “What the hell was I thinking about? My stomach doesn’t want me to sleep, and I have to exercise tomorrow, how can I even move?”

Hey, life is filled with contradictions.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

SPIDERMAN

I have been blessed with not only sons but nephews too. I have a few that remind me of myself, or a son, or my Dad, or even some of the women in my life, but one nephew stands out among them all. He is kind of special because he is my first nephew, my older sister (much older) Tessie’s second child. I am his godfather, and he my first godchild. He’s also a fan of the blog.

He reminds me to some degree of myself in that anything can go, and usually does. He is a very generous individual of who I’m very proud of, and like all the rest of my nephews, I love him like a son. He is great for traditions that relate to the family, liking the old ways that he grew up with. When you see John, he will wear a smile on his face, a comment on his lips and a very handsome face. (My side of the family)

I think of John as “Ivan the Joker”, master of the inside joke, teacher of the unabashed, lord of the devil himself. I say this sincerely because it is true, and like I said, he reminds me a little of myself. (Well, maybe a lot)

“Ivan” is a running commentary, that laughs at life and then makes critical observations about those around him, giving pet names to people that follows a family tradition that grew from our days in Brooklyn. If John ever joins the mafia, he will already have his moniker: John, Ivan the Joker. I can see the headlines now: “John (Ivan the Joker,) picked up today by the police for setting fire to the Chief of Police’s shorts, while dating his daughter.”

Of course I really know the true side of Ivan, he is very kind and generous. After a major operation, (I had my wallet practically removed from my pocket) he came over to the house and completely raked and bagged all the leaves on my property, and never asked for anything. That was a huge job! After all, it was still summer! (Only kidding, but he did do it well into the night.) I finally had to convince him to take some money.

He always greets his Aunt TLW (The Little Woman) me with respect. He is Son #1’s best friend in many ways, Son #2 models himself after John to some degree, a Nana yelled at me when he was born, because I didn’t see him until a week after he was born. I was working for two weeks straight, Saturdays and Sundays on Lufthansa, (Der Sherman Airlion) at my new job in the city.

He grew up as Spiderman, to #1 Son’s Batman, and together they ran around as superhero’s, and on Halloween, they saved the metropolis.

His greatest love is homemade macaroni, and some day, he’s coming over to eat some as I will make a couple of pounds of it for just the two of us and my other nephew The Macaroni Man himself. I will be amongst greatness and giants in the macaroni consumption world. (See Blog on “The Macaroni Man.”) TLW can come if she wishes, as can John and Macaroni Man’s Mom, and of course, Daddy John, John’s Dad. (If we can pull him away from his money.) Oh, we can’t forget Nana now can we.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JOHN!
This blog is for you Pal!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

WHEN IT IS GREAT TO GET OLDER

I can remember when I was a preteen, and even in my teen years, how I couldn’t wait to get older to be able to drive or join the service or go to college, or just to get a job. Not all those things are great shakes in themselves, but they do mark milestones in people’s lives.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of visiting my older sister (much older) and sitting there was her oldest, Laurie. Laurie is my oldest niece, my first claim to being an uncle. She‘s a teacher and has been for many years, and is married to a teacher. In fact there are so many teachers in my and TLW’s (The Little Woman) families, that whenever I have a get together like a graduation, there are so many teachers standing around, you have to raise your hand to leave the room if you want to get to the toilet!

Next to me at the dinner was my Mom, 89 in May and still volunteering at the local hospital with a “Boy Friend” in tow. I thought about the fact that she now has great grandchildren, and that her grandchildren are all making contributions to society, not necessarily as teachers, but in TV and movies, business and the arts, education, nursing, and maybe someday even a doctor or two. I think it is marvelous that from this little old lady while still cutting my meat, with 5 children grew so much pleasure in all our lives! I am very proud of my sons and nieces and nephews, creating and building from what their parents left off at, all good things happening so quickly and it seems so suddenly.

I remember when they came to us as children to adults, asking for help or direction, soliciting our opinions, and now, as they travel the world, do new things, learn new technologies, it is we the older generation that must look to them and ask for help.

It was yesterday that I got my drivers license, and now today the baby of the family has his, wow, where does the time go?

So to all you parents, uncles and aunts, grandparents and great uncles and aunts: Congratulations, you are experiencing this very same joy!

Friday, February 02, 2007

IT WAS A SNOW JOB!

Today as I look out my window, it is snowing, and it takes me back about 25 years ago on another snowy Friday. I hadn’t been on my new job 6 months yet, having worked in the city of New York practically all my career, when I took the position at Publishers Clearing House, located in hilly Port Washington. It was a Friday, and although the morning went quietly, the afternoon would prove something else.

I came back from lunch that day about 1:15 pm, with a light dusting of powdery snow falling, and a report on the radio stating that everyone should go home early if they could. Being how I lived 44 miles east of where I worked, I thought that that was a good idea.

Leaving my office about 1:30 pm, I started out figuring it would take my usual hour and fifteen minutes about two and a half hours, twice as much driving. There was still a light dusting on the road, but it was a little icy, and some slush was building on the center of the road. Along the way there is a long and curving roadway that concludes at a very steep incline, opening up into a three way intersection, traversed by buses and heavy trucks, along with the usual autos. As I started uphill, I notice many cars trying to negotiate the incline and some were spinning out of control and coming back down sideways towards me! I had to make it up that hill, because it was the only way out of the peninsula called Cow’s Neck. Slowly I went uphill in 2nd gear, looking for any dry spots I could find when suddenly a big green bus starts heading my way directly towards me sideways! Fear can grip you by the throat, as all my internal organs were sitting between my teeth, with my tongue holding them down from popping out of my mouth. Somehow the bus manages to grip the road again and recover, but I knees didn’t react as well. I finally negotiate the hill and have to follow this road that is one lane each way that leads to the main highway. I sit on this road for over an hour and a half, inching very slowly, one half car length at a time, with the snow starting to stick and coming down heavily. Between stops, I would jump out, clean a part of the windshield, wipe off the ice that was starting to build, and clearing off the side-view mirrors.

After about 3 hours of my journey, I finally reach the main highway, a trip that shouldn’t have taken more than 20 minutes! As I descend down the entrance ramp into traffic, I notice it is moving pretty well, and that hopefully no more than an hour would be spent on the road. The snow at this point is really coming down at an alarming rate, the traffic is responding to the snowfall and slowing down, but everyone is moving. Heavier and heavier comes the snow, and with it are whiteout conditions, not to mention that I need a toilet by now. Darkness is settling in quickly and I notice that more and more cars are starting to drift out of their lanes, something like a speedway.

Driving a little Toyota Corolla was probably the only good thing I can say about that day. Suddenly the wiper blade on my side stops working, as the ice buildup is occurring so quickly that everything is freezing up fast! I pull over to a rest stop and try to fix the wiper blade, but even with gloves, the cold and ice took over. I couldn’t grip the blade with the gloves on, and tried to do it without gloves. Impossible to even move my fingers. I decided I had to use my scraper as I drove to push off the snow and lean to my right to really get my bearings.

After a few hours more of intense tension, not to mention back and arm strain, I see my exit. It is pitch dark from the cloud cover and nightfall, but there is a tiny light hanging from the pole that lights the exit. The exit is covered with about 3 feet of snow! What do I do? I step on the gas, and plow through the drifts and get through. The rest of the ride was uneventful, but if it weren’t for the Toyota, I’d still be out there. When I walked in the door, TLW (The Little Woman) blessed herself and was just putting dinner on the table like nothing happened. I actually got home at my usual time!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

WE DID IT!

I have a nephew about 5 years of age. Actually he is my niece Lauri Ann’s adopted son from Asia. She adopted him as an infant and he is as cute as a button, and smart as a whip. Now that I’ve gotten all the cliché’s out of the way, a few years ago, he was struggling to get a folded dishtowel onto a stove door handle, and after many attempts finally did. “I did it!” came the cry from this little tyke, and it stays in my head every time I accomplish something.

Today I proclaim: “We did it!” When I say “We” I mean: TLW (The Little Woman) and I that is. After many hours with our new remote, after trying to figure out what we did wrong to program it, then doing so successfully, we had to still learn how to operate it.

If you notice, there is a pattern starting to develop, my reactions have become more and more childlike! This is making me happy, this is where my life is heading? But I must tell you, that being able to operate a TV, DVD, VCR, Cable Box AND Tivo all from one remote is just terrific. We did this without the help of a teenager, too.

There will be no stopping me now, with or without TLW! Yes, I will go even further, I just need some challenges, something I can really sink my teeth into, and not get bitten back. It would help also because it gives me another subject to discuss with you dear reader.

To my little nephew Sean, the “I did it kid”, put on your pajamas and go to bed. Now.

All of today is not “We did it”, or “I did it.” I weighted myself today, and after two and one-half additional weeks of dieting, I lost “0” lbs.

0