DelBloggolo

Monday, April 30, 2007

WAIT A MINUTE, I’LL WRITE IT DOWN

Today I had to go to the agency that I volunteer at and sign some checks. I was handed three folders with checks in them and as I signed I noticed that one of the folders had some checks for others to sign. I pointed it out to the bookkeeper and she thanked me for pointing it out. I said I was afraid they may be looking for those particular checks and would spend a lot of time in the process.

It for some reason reminded me of all the names I write on slips of paper, websites and phone numbers that I forget to put names to. Taking the number down, I think to myself; “oh, I’ll remember this” and don’t. Often I think, I’ll sit down today and dial the numbers to see who answers. Then I think, no. I can’t do that; say they have caller I.D.? You know it could be your number I wrote down.

Then I thought about how absent minded I have become, seeing something, I tell myself I will fix it, move it, or do something to it, but I get distracted and forget all about it. This morning I finished my exercise tape, rewinded it and left the room to do something, and forgot all about it for an hour and a half!

Even when I type notes, notes that no one but I will ever see, I eliminate widows, restructure the sentence or do something to correct it for publication! Old habits from my career as an art director getting ready for presentation or press are still steeped in my veins as I correct everything including line and letter spacing.

I think I need a vacation from myself, but I can’t remember why?

Saturday, April 28, 2007

AN HISTORICAL EVENT

This morning I came downstairs for my breakfast coffee, and TLW (The Little Woman) informed me that the HDTV was not working. My first reaction was to say very intelligently and my may add astutely; “What?”

I know that sounds kind of brilliant and something with all his marbles would say, but I said it anyway. “What?” There, I said it again!

The reason I used such comprehensive language to communicate is that the TV is brand new, really just out of the box, so why would it do these terrible things to me?

After careful investigation and analysis, I found the TV remote. Yes, it takes careful investigation AND analysis to find the darn thing in my den. I switched to a higher channel, 704 and compared it to channel 4, and sure enough, the higher channel worked, but the lower version, channel 4, which is the same broadcast looked pixilated going into and out of clarity, as my brain would do when it becomes pixilated.

I mentioned to TLW that the fault lay with the local feed, but she insisted that it was the case on the high definition channels also, “See, the whole screen is not being used!” stated TLW. “Yes it is” stated I, “no it’s not” countered she, “Oh yeah, look at the blue crawl along the sides of the picture!” in triumph said I.

With the height of victory rushing to flush my mind and soul, the pure joy of being right for the first time in 36 years of my married life, I immediately grabbed the morning newspaper, checked the date, and recorded it. Mark this date down, I plan to have an anniversary celebration blog in one years time. April 2nd, 2007 at 7:16 AM, I was right and TLW was wrong.
Look, I know it isn’t such a big deal to you normal folk, but life is short, I need a victory and this was it.

Friday, April 27, 2007

TRAVELING CHATTER


Yesterday TLW (The Little Woman) and one of my sisters, Mary Ann, ventured up into the wilds of Connecticut to attend a bridal shower for Kelly Ripa. Well not really Kelly Ripa, but if I had said Kate Dzicek would you have known? Katie is my beautiful niece from Connecticut that is marrying on July 6th of this year, and she is a dead ringer for Kelly Ripa, in fact she even acts like her.

The long journey started early yesterday morning as they piled into my wife’s car for the drive. Along with TLW and Mary Ann went my talking GPS, and believe me it didn’t get a word in edge wise.

I actually look forward to these trips by TLW because she loves to talk, and what could be better than when she is talking and listening to someone other than me for a change. She gathers information like the CIA and then by the end of the day, after countless chats and chatter, will bring home a briefing that is anything but brief.

Filling me in on all that was and will be, she (TLW) then gave me a run down on the menu. Now when I ask; “what did they serve,” I expect a one or two word answer. For instance, prime rib, or lobster, or pork chops. Being the perfectionist TLW is, I got a garden salad first! Who cares about the garden salad? Had she thrown in the dessert, that would have been good also.

She arrived home just as I put on the Mets pre-season show, a show I was waiting for all day to come on. Immediately I got all the news about this sister and that sister, or this niece or nephew, while I strained to look and act interested while trying to see what Jose Reyes would be doing this year. Somehow it gets confusing, having David Wright batting behind my Mom on opening night in St. Louis!

I think I’ll check the box score if I don’t see the game. I know Mom could hit when I was younger, I still have the bruises, but at 89 I wonder if she can still leg it to first base?

Thursday, April 26, 2007

APPRECIATING THE APPRICIATED

It’s that time of the year when I get dressed up and go to a function that I particularly enjoy. It is called “Staff Appreciation Day” and what it is; is the recognition of staff members that teach, administer and care for a vulnerable population of retarded people.

The day is usually sunny and warming up for summer, as I drive to the Timber Point country club out in Oakdale, Long Island, New York. Situated on beautiful Long Island’s Great South Bay, on a golf course that overlooks the water, water that gives off gentle sea breezes and the fresh smell of salt water.

Usually I sit outside with a drink, and watch the golfers play through and the pennants flying in the wind, chatting with fellow Board members about anything that comes to mind before the festivities begin.

The real reason I go is to show my appreciation to these great people that sacrifice earning power for love of mankind, the people who fall in love everyday with people of disabilities; both physical and mental.

If you are a parent, guardian or sibling of a disabled person in your care, then you realize just how wonderful, important and generous these staff people are. If you walk through the agency, and meet the staff, you run into quality care people: secretaries, typist, clerks, nurses, administrators and maintenance, program directors and number crunchers, all caring, all doing a great job that allows parents like myself to sleep better knowing that my loved one is cared for.

Meeting them and their recognizing you only add to the joy and being there.

Thank God we have them.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

AMERICA’S GRANDMOTHER?

Once in a great while you can meet someone by chance, that has a special quality about him or her that makes you glad you’ve met. That someone happens to be paying a visit this coming May and she and TLW (The Little Woman) will be off for a brief visit to Chicago for a few days.

Taking TLW off to Chicago with her does not in itself make her special, but what she has demonstrated through the years is what does. Her name is Maureen, and she is my sister-in-law and TLW’s older sister.

Maureen is the kind of person that reflects her parents, particularly her Dad’s parenting, and the fact that you never say an unkind word about anyone, and as far as I know she hasn’t. When she sees you it’s with a warm smile and a hug, and always a cheerful greeting. Maureen is the oldest of four children, a graduate of Malloy College when it was strictly a women’s college, and a retired mathematics teacher for a private school. Living in Connecticut she taught teenagers with attitudes, and if you don’t believe there are dedicated teachers, just ask her how much she made compared to the regular school system. When you dedicate your career to needy people, you have achieved what I call: “Life’s achievement”, that is; you’ve given something to the world that is worthwhile, you have contributed a lasting gift to mankind. How many of us can say that?

In all the years since we’ve had our children, she never forgets them, especially my daughter Ellen, and she always makes sure to build a special connection with each of them. Having two children of her own and grandchildren to boot, she remembers my kids like they were her own children or grandchildren. She should be America’s Grandmother.

But the scope of her personality does not rest with children only; Maureen has many friends, who are visited whenever she gets the chance. A sort of modern day Magellan, she travels the world and is a work in progress, with her own criteria as to what Maureen she be, taking up classes for self improvement and just for the sake of learning.

But learning is what she does best, when Maureen meets you, she will take an interest in your life, without being intrusive or nosey, just caring. She is a special gift to her family and friends, and all who know her well love her.

I HOPE JESUS WASN’T WATCHING

Every Sunday morning my Mother would gather her 5 children and march us to the car, wake up my Dad and he would drive us to St. Joseph The Worker R.C. Church in East Patchogue, NY for 9:am Mass.

If it was winter, Dad would leave us off at the church and go home, then in 45 minutes come back to pick us up. If the weather were nice, he’d stay in the parking lot, read the Daily News or sleep until we came out. He believed in God, just not long rituals and a lot of kneeling.

Mom would lead us into the church as we followed single file, by age except for me. I was to close out the family procession, and this would separate me from Mom, so she wouldn’t know what I was up to.

There was an elderly couple that had given money to rebuild the church, and so had a pew with a plaque with their name on it. The old lady felt her largesse entitled her to this pew at any time, day or night 24/7 for eternity.

She usually wore a mink stole, pearls and a fancy dress, being how she was a dumpy old broad, looked like a steel teapot as she strolled down the aisle in her bluish white hair. Her husband was a lawyer and wore a brown suit and tie along with a fedora he held throughout Mass, walking about two steps behind her.

One Sunday we as a family choose this pew, because it was the only one empty, and when Mrs. Moneybags arrived was put off by that fact, and in fact decided to sit somewhere else out of her Christian anger. Her husband was indicating that there was still plenty of room as we all slid over, but she would not have it.

After her demonstration of Christian love towards my Mom and four sisters, not to mention myself, I felt revenge was in order. During the week I found a rather large spindle legged spider and captured it, putting it in a small white cardboard jewelry box and took it to church with me.

The procession began with Mom first, followed by her children and sure enough we sat right behind Mr. and Mrs. Moneybags. The witch hated me because I used to say the “Our Father” out loud, and I would deliberately say: “Hollow Ed be thy name,” instead of Hallowed be thy name, where then she would turn around and give me the meanest look in a church as if I was the devil himself.

My plan was simple for the old hag. When the priest said: “Let us pray”, I would slip the spider out of his captivity and set him free, all the while singing silently to myself, “Born Free”. I really needed to make it a religious experience. Sure as I sit here typing, the Priest says his thing and I swing into action. Where do I put it, but into her nice thick well sprayed blue white hair. Off goes the spider happily along one of her strands deep into the lushness for hopefully the rest of the day. Well, this touches off a minor convulsion for my little sister as she watches the spider jaunt along Mama Moneybags hair. My Mother looks over to see what the commotion is and I look straight ahead, at Jesus on the cross, knowing full well that if Mom finds out what I did, it is Move over Jesus Time, because here I come.

The interesting thing is I could not look at my sister during the rest of the service for fear of either one of us breaking out in laughter. When we got in the car, baby sister tells all, my father is laughing and my Mom has this “I don’t think it’s funny but I’ll let it go this time” look.

Amen

Monday, April 23, 2007

MAKE IT SHORT

I figured it out that after 60 some odd years and three haircuts a year that comes to over 180 haircuts in my lifetime!

One thing I hate is going to the barbers for a haircut, the time it takes, waiting for my turn, the old magazines, and the usual chitchat that one must endure throughout the ordeal. Since most of the barbers I know and knew are foreigners, the conversation was always about what he read in the papers that day. Sometimes it’s politics, sometimes baseball, but always ending with the price of the haircut.

First thing I do is set the ground rules; make it short, and make it short. Short for the haircut and short for the time we spend in conversation, the reason being that I have experience as a customer, never to engage in a dispute as to any topic, when the maestro has the scissors or razor in his hand, and if he is Italian, will use body English and hand motion for emphasis. I don’t want short ears too.

One barber I used to go to was Hungarian, and had a habit of rolling his “R’s” when he spoke, necessitating my need for an immediate shower after the one he gave me. His partner was from Italy and would talk about things that happened in Italia, during il Segundo world war, aka: World War II.

Once I had a woman barber that was extremely hot looking and when she cut my hair, she would lean into my face with her chest, causing all kinds of guilt feelings when I got home and faced TLW (The Little Woman). I may have increased the frequency of haircuts during that period of time.

So today I either took or had a haircut, depending on how now I want to sound, but it was short, with little conversation, and no chest/head butting, and took only a few minutes!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

I MUST BE NUTS

For the last few years I thought I had a compulsive disorder where everything has to be a certain way. The pictures have to hang next to each other at exact distances, towels folded a certain way, tables set exact.

This morning I was putting toothpaste on my toothbrush and spent time getting that little swirl to work at the end of the paste, so it would stand up and look good. It hit me! It’s not a compulsive disorder, but I was still being an art director! Yes, I was getting ready for studio shoots! What is wrong with me? I thought I retired?

I set the table to eat and all the napkins have to face a certain way, all the arrangement of knives and forks must be so, if there are spoons, they must be perpendicular to the rest of the stuff.

You should see my sandwiches. If there is lettuce and tomato involved, it must be where the lettuce hangs out of the bread only a little, while the tomato sits at 3/16 of an inch and red. The meat must have a certain fold to look appetizing, but my one concession is cheese, lots of it. (Coming from a long line of rats, I like cheese.)
Only kidding.

I confirmed my suspicion by the fact that my office at work where ever it was, was always neat and everything was put away. Yet my studio at home is a mess usually. Now I’ve been straightening it up too.

Now if you will excuse me, I would like to fix my keyboard so it is centered like it should be, maybe a sheet of paper can hang from the clipboard and, Oh, I’ll need a pencil to lay across the paper.

About the only thing left in my life is my messy car, not that it is really messy, I just haven’t had it at the car wash in a while and I need the ice scraper to clean the windshield and it’s 70 degrees out!

I wonder if Monk is a repeat?

Saturday, April 21, 2007

THREE STRIKES AND YOU GET THREE MORE.

Being a father of two boys, I’ve had more than my share of Little League Baseball, Football, Basketball and Soccer games.

It actually started 29 years ago this spring, on a clear and sunny Saturday, as I packed off my new 2nd baseman to participate in his first organized baseball game.

My kid knew where first base was thanks to his old man.
With new glove, hat and shirt we went to the coach to report for the beginning of what surely would be the road to the major leagues, I was all excited as I sat on the ground to watch 4,000 little boys go out on the field as the first kid stood at the “T” for “T-ball” and his first swing.

The first order of business was to get the little fellow to face the field, so he could hit at someone on defense. The second order of business was to put him next to the “T”. The little fellow swings at the stationary ball and hits it. All 3, 999 fielders run to get the ball, there is a big pileup and the ball squirts loose. The batter standing at the “T” looks bewildered as all the parents start to shout orders to run to first. But where is first base? Somewhere under the pileup of future Jose Reyes lies first base.

Football had its greatest moments in the midget leagues, as one day I went to a game. The team was dressed in their green jerseys, helmets and white pants for the life and struggle to the death as only six year olds can play. As the battle swayed back and forth, and the lead see-sawing from one team to the other, half time came along, and none too soon as all the starting eleven stood across the field, facing the woods along the sidelines, peeing with their backs to the crowd, numbers showing clearing who was the biggest pisser.

Friday, April 20, 2007

THE LONG SPOOKY HALL

When I was a young kid under 10 years of age it seemed that a lot of things in life were played up by my imagination. I could image anything was something else, and amuse myself that way. It was not only material matters, but people too.

One of the things I would imagine in my mind’s eye was mysterious appearance of strange omens and signs that could appear if I wished them! My Grandmother’s house in particular held a strange fascination in the mysterious world I conjured up in my young mind, because of some of things in her house. She owned a two-story apartment building in Brooklyn on Fulton Street, and it had a storefront with her apartment in the back of it. Because of this store, there were two hallways, one short and dark, then a right, left quick turn around the corner to a longer lit hallway that ran the length of her apartment and took one to her kitchen.

When Grandpa Ralph died, my Grandmother closed the store and laid him out in the store front, Grandma wanting to lay him out there because the store had made him happy when he was alive, and she was too cheap for a funeral parlor. Prior to it being a usable store, it was vacant for a good many years, and had a spooky quality to it, although it was originally a workshop for a carpenter.

Another thing about my Grandmother’s house was her back bedroom; it was never used, except when someone slept over. It too was dark, with no windows and a door, which led to the store. On the dresser in this room was a picture of a dead person in his coffin that someone sent from Italy, and next to the picture was a lit red votive candle.

Every once in a while, I would go to Grandmas by myself since we only lived two blocks away. I would enter a small alcove, ring her doorbell, she or someone would ring me in and I would hurry through the short dark passageway and think of the picture of the dead person, my hair standing up in the back of my neck.

Every once in a while when Grandma had a lot of company, especially the old world types who spoke only Italian, the conversations would drone on, and I would go out into the hall to play with my toys by myself. At the end of the hall facing toward the front, right before the turn into the dark side, was a cellar door, a long, dark and filled with strange doors that surrounded a boiler and all kinds of things type of basement. As I gazed upon the cellar door, I could imagine a devilish weird animal like face that could suddenly appear from the grain of the wood, or the paintbrush pattern. There was only one light bulb, probably about 25 to 75 watts to light the whole windowless hallway. This face had horns and was something between a devil and a wolf!

I guess I realized that it was all in my imagination, because time after time I went out into that hallway alone and played, imagining the same thing over and over.

That hallway was a constant source of amusement to me, as I often would sit and watch the traffic of people that came by to visit and pay their respects to “Zia Francesa” as she was called. They would have to physically step over me and sometimes my sisters or cousins, as we played in the hallway, and as these poor people stepped over us, we would insult them if they couldn’t understand English, and would do it with a big smile, hoping to solicit a smile in response from some very nice unsuspecting, non-English speaking people.

I guess we were just rotten little bastards.

P.S. I wasn't hallucinating.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

INDESPENSIBLE: THAT’S WHAT I AM

I can also add the word unforgettable to the list of things I am. TLW (The Little Woman) and #2 Son have a growing dependency on me.

Most conversations are started by #2 Son with the intro: “Hey Dad?” This is a lead to a “Want” question, one that either costs me money or time, or both. For instance: “Hey Dad, can you print up my paper for English Class?” Me: “Sure, when do you need it?” Him: “Tuesday”, me: “No problem” Him: “No, last Tuesday” Me: “Of course.”

With TLW the conversation is somewhat one-sided. Still starting out with a question: “Joe, will you run to the store for me today when you have some time?” (Thinking: “he has all the time in the world, he’s retired.) “I need milk, bread, lettuce cheese and dog treats, bananas and four new tires. I’ll leave the money on the table.” ($3.00)

Of course, even the dog can get into the act. Happy is an excellent watchdog. She watches for me sit down to eat, watch TV, read or even nap before she hits the little bell she rings by the back door when she needs to go out to do her business. While I’m on the subject, both TLW and #2 Son will be going for hearing and eye tests that I am demanding, since they both don’t seem to see or hear Happy ring the bell.

Of course #2 Son can work at all hours of the night, the last minute in putting together a paper on a laptop computer, so that I have to get up before the roosters crow to print it out for his 7:30 AM class. Now I know you are asking why doesn’t HE print it? Well, the reason being that the laptop is not connected to the computer.

Missing your English Literature book for class, no problem, just ask Dad. (While I’m printing out his English Literature report for his 7:30 AM class.) Hungry and have some pots left over after making yourself some dinner? No problem, the butler is available 24/7 and at your immediate disposal.

If it sounds like complaining, it is, but then again, I guess it’s my turn now that I’m home and she’s working.

One thing I know perfectly well, when I finally go to the old age home, they WILL follow me there. I just hope they accept dogs at the home. Why? Because they need me.

Let's face it, I love it!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

WHAT DOES A WAR HERO LOOK LIKE?

I have a strict policy about this blog not to give political opinions of mine, or allow politics to play in my writing. This is not about political thought but about simple courage and common decency of a man I truly admire.

If you are like me, you sometimes need literal definitions of terms that are thrown about in ordinary conversations. One of the terms I often hear is the word courage. It is a common word that expresses the overcoming of one’s fear, and the determination to do something about it. The drive to act is motivated by the complete belief that what you do is the right thing in your heart and mind regardless of the odds against you. Once in a while it includes the word valor.

How lucky enough I was to meet someone with a profile that fits my description of courage. If you met the man, you might think, here is a man of good moral character, who is talking to you about you, and not making any judgments in what you are saying. He is not macho, just a decent man, he is not overbearing, just listening to you talk. His name is Frank, and if he were alive today, he would be considered a hero to a lot of people who may or may not have agreed with him 40 years ago when his courage came into play. I met Frank by marrying TLW (The Little Woman); Frank is her older brother’s wife’s brother.

Frank was a man that did not believe in killing another human being. A man who had the courage and conviction to go to the mat and defend that concept of love and peace, a man who was right on time in realizing that war not only kills other men, but women and children, cultures and institutions, sensibilities and decency and ways of life. He was brave enough to face any consequence that a court of law would throw at him. He didn’t cut and run to Canada, but stayed and fought the wrongness of war. Was he afraid to defend his country? I doubt it, I think he was afraid that his country was wrong to fight in Vietnam, I think he was afraid that his country would destroy all that he was taught to love about it, and in the end, it betrayed him. But so he did defend his country.

Personally I feel that Frank did not serve time as a criminal, but as a war hero, a man, a human being trying to reach out to his fellow countrymen in his courageous way and saying: “Have we all gone mad? When will we ever learn?”

He didn’t take a popular view, and the amazing thing is his whole family as far as I knew, supported him, taking on that very same mantle of courage and conviction that he harbored, no matter what they may have felt themselves about the war. I am talking about a truly good family, with truly good and happy parents who taught their children humanity and responsibility to it. A large family that had a wedding in Pennsylvania a few years ago, and one of the sons living in Alaska bicycling down the whole way to attend!

Either you do or you don’t agree with the Vietnam War, and like today, the opinions are varied and wide, but you must recognize the insanity of war, recognize the devastation to other beings and cultures, and think: “thank God for guys like Frank, he tried to bring dignity and courage back to the human race.” He did restore respectability by his presence and protests.

A lot of good men died during that conflict, they gave their lives; Frank a good man gave his freedom so those men shouldn’t have given their lives.

Frank was a hero. Someday society may well recognize that fact.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

OH WHAT A RIDE (PART THREE)

While recuperating in the hospital, there was a male nurse or orderly or physical therapist (I forget which) that came into my room and announced that he was to take me out to remove my cast.
This was about the second day of my stay. I thought that it seemed kind of soon and wondered if he was mistakened.

Me: Are you sure it’s me?”
He: Hey man, I know what I’m doing, don’t you question me.”
Me: OKAY

Off we go to this little room and he pulls out this small circular saw and begins to cut along the top part of the cast, all along I’m trying to get my skin as far away as I can from the spinning blade. All of a sudden a doctor pops his head into the room and says: “Hey, you got the wrong man!”

All the way back to my room, I looked up at his angry face and laughed out loud, as the gurney wobbled and sounded like a small tornado a few inches off the ground. I looked up into his arrogant face and laughed at him, and said: “Let me ask you one more time, are you sure it’s me?”

Monday, April 16, 2007

FRIDAY, APRIL 14, 1967 (PART 2)

After the ambulance delivered me to the emergency room, I was put into a 20-foot by 20-foot room that was lined with beds and a lot of people screaming in agony, including a little baby. Doctors and ER people were running about and the atmosphere felt like a M.A.S.H. unit in crisis.

The baby was not going to stop crying any time soon. Someone said: “Who’s next?” My friend Tom said right here, but looking at the Baby I said: “the baby is next. ”I was assured that the baby was being cared for, when all of a sudden about 4 men came in, walked right up to me, never saying a word and held me down while someone grabbed my foot and reset the ankle.

I know women talk about child birth, and the pain it can cause, and believe me I am not only sympathetic to them, but think we should all be grateful for what they go through, but this pain from the resetting and cleaning of the fracture was indeed excruciating to say the least. My eyes focused on a white sheet of pain that turned to red, a deep, deep red that blocked my vision, took away my ability to even scream and left me with all my life energy spent, a gnawing ache at the base of my leg, that stayed with me for a few days.

I was put in a full leg and foot cast, and wheeled into this large circular room filled with about six beds all facing toward the center of the room.

The next morning my best friend Phil came up to visit me. Like he does every time I see him my spirits go way up. Every crisis I ever faced, Phil would show up, like a brother that he is to me. Being how I was still a country bumpkin, I hadn’t gone to the toilet since I was admitted the night before. I knew I couldn’t get out of the bed, so I asked Phil what I should do. He said “Don’t you have a bed pan?” “No!” “Why not??” “I don’t know”

I thought about this and decided that I didn’t want to embarrass myself by asking for one with four or five other patients and their guests sitting there. But Phil had the answer. Very loudly, so the nurse at the far end of the large room yells: “Hey nurse, my friend needs a bed pan.” It was at that point that I realized why I had blankets on my bed, it was to hide under.

Tomorrow, Part 3 (OH WHAT A RIDE.)

Sunday, April 15, 2007

FRIDAY, APRIL 14, 1967

Today is an anniversary I wish I didn’t have to recall. On this date I attended my drawing class at the New York Institute of Technology as we sat on the rolling green lawn of the Art Center, an old chateau that was converted by the college for all the art majors.

As I was living in Hicksville at the time, in a rented house with three other students paying the rent to one of my art instructors. I needed a ride back to the house from class, and my friend Tom was the day’s driver. Being it was a Friday, with a very pleasant weekend in store, we hurried off the campus very happily.

As we drove, I placed my drawing pad on my lap, and had a charcoal pencil in my hand as I leisurely doodled on the cover of the pad. We started to head along Old Country Road, which is a very busy road and I kind of relaxed and just lay back for the duration of the ride.

Small talk was the order of the day, both of us tired from the class and we joked and kidded as we went along the road to our rented house. Coming up ahead was a steak house that was just starting to stir at 5:00 PM, as we approached, and a side street right after that. Suddenly as we are about to pass the steak house, a green pickup truck jumps out in front of us from the side street! It hesitates, and then passes perpendicular to our car and into the opposite going lane. If we stayed going straight we hit him square, we swerve to our right and run smack into a parked car at the curb by the steak house, causing me to pitch forward into the windshield, crashing through it and back into my seat. I sat there a moment, and asked Tom if he was all right. I think I feel ok; maybe nothing happened to me. Suddenly I think I must be sweating, as feel my forehead, I wipe it, and the sweat is red! I look beside me to see Tom’s 57 Chevy engine nestled between us. I try to move and a stabbing pain shoots through my right foot and up my leg! I look down and see my bone sticking out from my sock from a compounded fracture! Tom is fine, since he is saved by the steering wheel. Suddenly a stranger comes, opens the door, and takes out his handkerchief and wipes the blood from my head. The ambulance arrives and I am deposited on a gurney and put in the ambulance. I see the red truck from the fire department and Tom climbs into the ambulance with me. I do something I will do years later in an ambulance; I start to joke around to relieve the pain and tension as poor Tom looks on.

Tomorrow, My stay at the hospital emergency room.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

I CAN’T BELIEVE I BROKE THE WHOLE THING!

Given as how hard I’ve been working to lose weight, today was a great day!

I started with my morning exercise, as I do these aerobic exercises for two miles. The torture of the exercise comes with the use of a rubber belt, that goes into making the exercise more intense and builds up a sweat, You kick and push, swap and raise from side to side, you back kick and walk, all toward the goal of better health.

Well today I broke the belt from constant use. I wore it out! Me, who hates exercise, who has to lay in bed and dread getting up because I have to exercise, broke the belt. If I don’t exercise, in spite of myself, I get nuts and disturbed that I didn’t get up and do it. Wearing out exercise equipment speaks volumes to my dedication.

Then to top things off, I went to a meeting on Guardianship of which I co-chair a committee, and the chairperson says to me: “You lost some weight! Oh, those were the words I have been waiting for 11 weeks! Those words gave me a new shot of adrenalin and motivation.

Hey, I better go out and get a new belt!

Friday, April 13, 2007

THE HIGH COST OF TELEVISION

A specter is haunting my home, the specter of the shopping network! It reared its ugly head one morning while I came downstairs for breakfast, and has been poking around ever since.

It seems it started with TLW (The Little Woman) who was sitting in her chair, minding her business when this station beamed their hideous programming right into the den! The poor woman was probably blind-sided and never saw it coming.

Fortunately I arrived in the nick of time to spare her the trauma of buying something that would only make us poorer, or worst still I would have to put together.

In spite of my monitoring and vigilance, every once in a while the station will pop up while TLW is changing the channels, and it will linger there longer than the rest of the channels! There is nothing worst than a longer linger than I need.

Suddenly we are getting fan mail from QVS, and little presents they are sending TLW! Must be presents, I don’t think she ordered anything. Right?

Pray for us. We need all your prayers if we as a family, the Del Bloggolo family can overcome this insidious and horrific attack against my wallet! It is something like identity theft, but it’s called “cash theft.”

Thursday, April 12, 2007

PACKING ALL MY CARES AND WOES

I was six years old and had had it. Life was becoming too much for me, Mom and Dad were on my case and big Sis was pushing all the wrong buttons, mainly mine.

I packed a small valise with all that was important to me, mainly my toy soldiers. I headed down the two flights of stairs from the third floor and landed on the street heading toward Rockaway Avenue. I would become a man of the world, my own man, boss of me and great decision maker.

As I looked up Hull Street, I could see my parents and sister looking from the bedroom window of our apartment, watching as I made good my promise. My Dad was waving goodbye to me. As I looked water suddenly flooded my eyes, and I couldn’t see.

I hate when water floods my eyes, and became very upset, upset to the point that I had to postpone my plans and return to the living hell of homework, chores and eating stew. let alone 1st grade and old Miss Langin.

There were smirks everywhere, on my Mother and Father’s faces, as I sat down to eat the cold stew that now sat in my plate, the green peas nauseatingly sliding down my throat and resting in the pit of my empty stomach. I would show them, first thing after school tomorrow, I would find a nickel (I know, I’ll go to my Grandmothers and borrow a nickel) hop a bus and go out to
Patchogue, and never ever return. They would find me dead under a big tree near the bus station, and when they find me feel bad for making me eat that stew and ruining my life.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

IMUS IN THE MOURNING

By now not everyone yet has an opinion on what Imus has said about the young women on the Rutgers basketball team. Some of us out of loyalty to what he has accomplished in humanitarian terms such as CIDS and his ranch out in New Mexico are reluctant to jump on any bandwagons.

Let us be honest with ourselves and admit that what he said was grossly unfair, inappropriate and racists, which in my view is wrong. No surprise there, just stating a fact.

The problem that seems to loom in my eyes is that some those who are asking for his hide are the very ones that should have been skinned a long time ago, for far worst. I speak of the so-called Reverend Al Sharpton and the Tawana Brawley case, that caught both he and Ms. Brawley in the biggest, fattest lie told in public since Bill Clinton’s “I did not have sex with that woman.”

I think the Black community has a legitimate gripe with Imus. However the devil himself is arguing the case and making a lot of noise about it. Sharpton should go away. He has not ever helped the Black man’s cause, and is nothing but a publicity seeker looking to make it either on the news or in the entertainment field. He must make Blacks cringe whenever he opens his mouth.

Should Imus go away? Yes. He is an old tired act that needs to rest. But there are other acts that need a rest too, acts that should have been taken to task, for instance the so-called Reverend Jessie Jackson and the famous Hymietown remarks, not to mention illegitimate children.

Where are the credible spokespeople for the Black Community? Let’s hear form Obama and Powell or Rice. Let them step up on the issues and maybe we will get more understanding for the plight of the Black man and his community, with some useful dialogue and maybe we can then all bury racism once and for all. We need credible activist of all colors, throw out the politicians and lawyers and deal with human feelings and compassion for once.

I see a child be it black or yellow or white, and I know that there is good in that child. What makes a child bad is the bad that is in us all! I want to see a cure for cancer, the common cold, Parkinson’s disease, and all the insidious diseases of mankind, both physically and emotionally that are all borne out of ignorance.

Bury the pride and the prejudice.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

GOD GIVETH AND TAKETH AWAY

A lot of people are mad right now. The last week has been exceptionally beautiful weather wise, and today we got hit with some real nasty weather. The trouble is we expect it to last a few days.

I’m not a fan of snow, except that eventually it melts. What I really hate are the leaves when they fall and pile up. My man Bill next door has a running joke with me whenever it snows: “Hey Joe, how do you like this snow?” My response is: “at least it melts, leaves don’t go away on their own.”

Today’s storm is kind of nasty, mixing in with sleet and cold damp shrouding of everything breathing, and even those who don’t breath, me for instance.

After a week of great temperatures, everyone had spring fever, fever with a fervor so to speak as spring arrives next week.

Once we are into spring it all becomes agonizing as we wait for the weather to get warmer, having what we think spring should feel like but never comes. No, instead of the spring-like weather we will go from cold days to humidity and ask: “What happened to spring?” It happens it seems every year.

Why would anyone pray for snow? You see on bumper stickers all the time, Crazy

Monday, April 09, 2007

WHY DID I RETIRE?

On July 28th, 2006 I stepped aside from the business of designing and creating advertising, as I knew I would. Stepping aside was easy for me, and I am glad I did.

When I talk to people today, and they ask why I retired, or are surprised that I did, I know there are thoughts in their heads that are only suppositions, and not really based on facts as they really are.

Physically I feel OK, mentally I like-wise feel OK, but to put it mildly emotionally and creatively I feel like I gave my all. Maybe it is burnout, maybe it is disgust, and maybe I don’t care anymore for the grind of daily creative pressures and responsibilities coupled with the diminishing ability to hear well, even with the assists from two hearing aids. Since my heart operation I feel more taxed physically than ever before, and for the last three years I have really noticed a drop off in my stamina. I exercise everyday to try to build up more stamina; I have been eating right this past 3 months to lose weight, and doing what I can to stay healthy.

Being creative is all I ever wanted to do, be it painting, drawing, woodcarving, music, cooking or even writing, and I still love it all. When I started out in the advertising business, I was filled with creative energy and enthusiasm that got me a very good paying job in a great company and I am very grateful for that. But advertising design has an adversarial aspect to it that encroaches on enthusiasm, the constant competition with myself to do better and be different, the clients aims, the changing technology that can wear you down when you grew from something that was personal to something that becomes mechanical, the need to be a technician and an artist makes it less than art, and no fun at all.

I take great pride in being responsible for bringing computer art to my old company, when I requested that they get computers they realized it was time to come into the end of the 20th century and so they acquiesced to my needs. The sadness of it all is the new designers of today do not know how to think on paper, and are constricted to thinking with a computer. I made it mandatory that all the young designers working under me think on paper first then commit to a computer after I approved their thinking. One day I walked in on one of my young designers, and she was using a computer print of what she was going to run by me for approval as a sketch. She was actually tracing off of her computer printout!

Creating prior to computers was hands on design. One designed and when one did, it had a style, a trademark look of the designer. You could view the work and say; “That’s Joe’s work”, but with computers, you may as well be looking at a spreadsheet. In fact one of the last things I did was to create a data base spreadsheet of artwork I had created so the company I was working with could keep track of the volume of work I was turning out with a computer! And the more I created, the more they wanted, and the more I needed to expand the database. I won’t go into the number of meetings I had to deal with, or the different silly little worries of the other departments, the inane needs of department heads that were terrified by the thought that they needed to adjust to my way of doing things. And worst of all, I became an administrator, a baby-sitter, and that is not creativity.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

HAPPY EASTER/PASSOVER



Without a doubt, this is a special time of the year. A time when we get ready for the flowers to bloom and the sun to shine after the nasty cold weather.

I’m looking forward to a summer of leisure and entertainment, a summer that will be highlighted by the wedding of my Godchild Katie Dzicek, see photo and her handsome Beau Alex, a nice kid in the Coast Guard hailing all the way from San Diego! Then there will be a visit to Cape May New Jersey for a few days through the generosity of my beautiful Sister-in-law Sara and my Brother-in-law Kevin’s summer home.

Naturally I also look forward to May when TLW (The Little Woman) will go off with her sister, (another beautiful sister-in-law) Maureen, to Chicago, leaving me with a near bachelor life for 5 days! I wonder if she would be willing to take #2 Son with her?

I would like to thank again my loyal readers, wishing them a Happy Easter and Passover, with peace and prosperity throughout this season and to the next. To LLL (Lovely Laura Laurent) one of my favorite readers, and to Steve Philip (http://sphilp.blogspot.com/) try it you’ll love it, my family, friends and neighbors, (Carole Fama and my man Bill) all my neighbors, my Sister- laws, brother-in-laws and Manning family, To my brother and his wife and kids, Phil and Linda, to four of the most beautiful gals who walked the planet (my sisters) I have to see them today, and my nieces and nephews; and John, Tom and Don, thanks for you support and readership.

To TLW and #1 and #2 Sons and my beautiful Daughter Ellen, I’m proud of you all and glad that you guys are my life.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

MECHANICAL MONSTERS

Today I decided to get some cheese for my lunch, since I come from a long line of cheesy people. Besides, what could be better with salami than a provolone cheese?

I make my selection from the low fat cheeses and went to pay for it when I notice this express checkout that you do yourself. There is a lady standing by that will slap you silly if you screw it up, or try to cheat somehow.

Approaching the machine with some intimidation, I hit the first button on the screen that said; “Start here”, and so I did. The machine now starts to talk to me, and figured this might be fun if the language is clean.

“Scan you purchase then place in the bag.”

Fumbling, I look for the scanner then the bar code, finally finding the bar code and now worried that I took too long to find it.

“Insert money into receptacle and take your change and record of transaction.”

I try a ten-dollar bill but the machine refuses to take my money! Is this for free I wonder.

I try a five I have and the machine sucks it up so fast that I was worried I would not get my hand away in time.

I search high and low for the record of transaction, looking desperately before the lady comes over to help. I want to be able to look modern technology in the automated eyes and say; “I can lick you.” Finally I find the darn thing and take it away.
Proud of myself I leave the store and as I leave I’m thinking: “No one to shoot the breeze with, nothing about the nice day we are having, or that I should have a nice day, with just cold indifference to end my transaction with the friendly folks at Waldbaums.

Wonderful, I hate small talk.

Friday, April 06, 2007

JOSEPH MICHAEL, 1979-1981

One of the proudest moments in my life is when I have a child. Growing up with 4 sisters, although I love them all, I always wanted to have some sons to make up for the lack of brothers I never had.

My wishes came through, though I have to say life can be unfair.
Today, April 6th is my second son’s and my third child’s birthday. He would be 28 years old today, being born at 4:30 AM. Instead of celebrating his birthday, I will visit his grave and reflect on what might have been.

His name is Joseph, and he and I live every day together, at least in my mind. He never lived to see his second birthday, and why he died is not as important as that he lived. In his short life he never talked, never really walked, just barely stood up, but left a legacy of love and remembrance that will last my life time and span beyond my life. He and my daughter Ellen are part of the reason I give as much time as I can to help others, and try to leave people laughing and remembering that life is short, so why not enjoy it.

I wasn’t going to write about him, but I realize he as well as my other children are all alive in my mind, so why not? He lived and he gave my wife and I great joy while he was alive, as do my other children today. To deny his existence is to deny he lived, but he did, he smiled and laughed with us, and he played and he cried. He did all the things children do.

A few years ago I took a section of my property and built with my own two hands a garden, I put stone walls that retain sections of plants and flowers and a little entryway to the back yard with a archway that invites you to walk under and come on inside. I built ii in Joseph’s memory, it took me all day to do and whenever I see it, I can’t help but think of him. Someday I will put a few more plants there to remember two other children named Brendan and Thomas O’Hara, who were taken away at a very tender age from my Niece and Nephew Laurie Ann and Gerard. I hope to put a piece of art there to remember all the children that never saw their childhood.

So today I will treat myself to something I enjoy in his memory, and be glad I know him.

You know he was born on the sixth, I was born on the sixth, and my grandfather was born on the sixth, all different months, but all the same name.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

THE ART OF GIVING THE FINGER

In the new world of digital communication, it is still a preference of some to still communicate by hand and yet still be digital!

TLW (The Little Woman) and I were driving along Nichols Road one day as she was behind the wheel and I was in the front seat hiding under the dashboard when we came to an entry ramp on our right. As we did a young lady was doing about 90 mph trying to cut us off and go ahead of us at this blinding speed from the entry ramp! TLW became somewhat cautious but decided to maintain her speed since she couldn’t slam on her breaks at 60 mph and pass the young lady.

Peeking my head up to observe and see who the driver was, the sweetheart of a little girl gave me the finger. Maybe she recognized me and was saying: “You’re no.1!” Somehow I doubt this scenario and think that she was suggesting some kind of nocturnal activity for which we creatures are noted. Maybe she just had one nail done and was just drying it off, or felt that her middle finger was a thing of beauty for all the world to see, and we were getting a premier showing?

Little Miss Supercool was appalled that TLW would make her have to wait to get on the road as we passed her by. What were we thinking? This little gem had somewhere to go, and we were keeping her from it.

I replied in a similar mode, expressing agreement by aping her behavior, but I gave her a big smile as we passed her by. Mine of course was two barreled. I know this is all childish, but hey, don’t give TLW the finger. She looked annoyed by my return hand signal and looked away. Gee, I’m sorry, I didn’t know she was that important.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

THIRTYSEVEN YEARS OF SAVING

Today as the weather was snowy and cold, and being it is a Saturday, I decided to clean my studio and get a leaner look. After 41 years in the advertising business, there was a lot to purge.

The first thing I took was a deep breath, and secondly was to ask myself if I really wanted to do this. Being how I wasn’t talking to myself, I decided to ignore me and do it anyway.

TLW (The Little Woman) sat somewhere in the back of my mind saying things like: “It’s about time” or “What took him so long?” or worst still: “Better him than me.”

I felt that if I was to complain about the mess in #2 Son’s room, I had better walk the walk. But where do I start to clean up the accumulated clutter? The scanning area was calling out: “Me, me first”, my desk was saying: “Don’t listen to him, do me first” and my storage area was yelling: “No way Jose, over here.” Even the bookcases were in chorus begging my attention. The fax closet just glared at me as if to say “GET OVER HERE YOU.”

The Chinese have an old saying that goes: “The longest journey starts with the first step.” How true, as I began over the scanner, pulling down CDs and disks, blowing dusts off and thinking: “Won’t all this dust kill me?” I sat in my chair and a gentle sob came over me as I ask God to take me before next year when this project would be completed. But no, God wants to see how this all plays out, too.

Folks, we are talking about three computers and a printer, scanner not to mention modems, routers, servers and monitors, hundreds of floppy discs, DVDs, CDs and a couple of other storage devices that number in the dozens, all with information on them that I am reluctant to throw out, but I just know I will never need again. Then the e-mail came, requesting my services for a couple of related logo designs that they needed for April. Suddenly the inspiration came to me like a revelation, a glorious boost, a sign from God. I did it, I closed the door to the studio and thought: “I’ll need all my strength to design” so I got a donut and coffee instead.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

DON’T LET THE SUN CATCH YOU CRYING

It’s a Sunday morning, dark and rainy. TLW (The Little Woman) has gone off to church and I decide to finish watching my Dracula CD I borrowed from the library. Hopefully the Librarian still likes me, but I’m a little worried about Jesus.

Sitting with my cup of coffee, all excited and daring the characters to scare me to death, I get involved in the plot. (Actually there are several plots being dug up for victims.)

Toward the end of this Spanish version with English subtitles, old Dracula is in trouble once again. This time however it is in Spanish, as he tries to suck some blood from the lovely senorita he has in his grasp. Alas, the first rays of sun are peeking through the bared window of his dungeon, and as it does, it starts to peek from behind the clouds and into my skylight in my den, right into my eyes! Yes, the Count and I, fighting the sun, him in Spanish and me in English.

Well you know what happens to him in any language, he gets a stake without potatoes and salad, while resting in his bedding for the day, while I recover from my steak and salad from the night before, while resting in my day bed, the recliner.

I hate when the sun shines and I’m watching Dracula, there ought to be a law!

Monday, April 02, 2007

MONDAY, MONDAY!

Oh how I hate to get up on a Monday morning.

Yet I have no real place to go, just a routine that I employ and enjoy, but old habits refuse to go away in some cases.

When I was a young guy, I used to get up very early in the morning, eager to do things, excited about my days off when I would meet my girlfriend and spend the day with her. Even before I retired I was up at 4:45 am to get to work and beat the traffic on the LIE.

Now, every morning that I awaken, I am actually semi-conscious and laying there thinking about the time. I tell myself that I have to get up to do my exercises, and the thought of it makes me want to stay in bed longer. Then I think: “In 20 minutes, I’ll be doing them and I probably won’t be so unhappy as I get closer to finishing them.”

The other motivator is to get up before TLW (The Little Woman) leaves for work, because I don’t want her leaving me without first saying “goodbye.” Of course this opens me up to “instructions” that I conversationally call “Requests” by TLW.

In May TLW goes off to Chicago with her sister Maureen, and while she is away, the TV will be all mine, the menu will be take-out, and I will sleep to 9:00 am at the least!

Life will be good!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

I AM WHAT I READ

I, like everyone else in this world am a little self-conscious to say the least. In fact the least I have to say, the better.

Visiting the library the other day I wanted to take out some movies to view, being how it was going to be rainy and gloomy for a few days coming up. I like setting the mood for such days so decided on a Dracula CD, and I was going to select some additional like movies. But as I was reaching for them, I noticed the Librarian, and the fact that I was going to have to go through her to borrow these movies.

Thinking that I needed some variety in my selection, I seriously thought of taking out Mary Poppins or The Sound of Music so the Librarian would think I was well rounded. I even tried to find some educational film on physics and the laws of gravity, but nothing exist. I went over to the computer section and took out a program on creative writing that I knew would not work on my Mac computer because it was PC based, but it would sure look good.

Slowly and carefully I returned the Dracula movies to their assigned places and started to select other types of movies.

What was my problem you ask? Why must you always ask? Huh?

Well, to be honest, I didn’t want the Librarian to think that I was some kind of psycho taking out these morbid movies. That coupled with the fact that I hadn’t shaved that day made me all the more self-conscious. I did comb my hair.

I should be ashamed of myself, but I can’t help it sometimes, it kind of resembles what you felt when your Mom would tell you to make sure you have clean underwear on in case you get hit by a car. First impressions are always important, and in case I ever see the old battleaxe behind the counter again, I don’t want her cringing in fear or maybe suspicion.

Now I know I wasn’t nice just then, but she did ruin my viewing pleasure. Then I thought maybe I could get a John Wayne movie in honor of Uncle Eddie, a John Wayne buff, the Duke was his man. Maybe a war movie, but no, that was too violent, and I’m not that big a fan of war movies. Murder mysteries, yes, that’s the ticket with a Hercules Poirot or some other Agatha Christie novel approach to my viewing enjoyment. The Librarian shouldn’t object to that literary queen of mayhem, Ms. Marpole being the star, could she?

You know the next time I get like this, I’m taking out all the old family video’s I took, that should scare the hell out of me when I see how young I looked in them compared to today.

Weight loss: 1 pound for 2 weeks!