Saturday, December 31, 2011


It seems like yesterday that I wrote about the end of 2010! The year 2011 has been very eventful, and in many ways rewarding.

First of all, #1 Son made a great choice and decided to marry a great gal, Courtney is her name, if you hadn’t heard from me. She is the culmination of a great year for my little family and me.

#1 Son, (Anthony) is writing for the Big Bang Theory on TV, and is currently looking for a house to buy. How great is that?

My #2 Son (Mike) as he likes to be called, but we at home call him Michael, is soon to be finishing up college and heading out to make his own life. That is what life is all about.

My beautiful daughter Ellen is doing very well physically and for that I am grateful, happy and blessed.

Then there is TLW (The Little Woman), Ellen, my wonderful wife for over 40 years! She has remained beautiful, caring, loving and makes me very happy and I am proud of her. I don’t know how I managed to marry such a great gal! Thank you sweetie.

So life has been good for 2011, Mom is doing well, and my beautiful sisters manage to live their
lives with me as their brother, but they do it gracefully. I have about a million nephews and nieces, and new addition in Aubrey Schneider, who joined the world this year and is gorgeous, just like her great uncle, only prettier!

My wife’s family continues do well, and we see them from time to time, and I hope they all remain healthy, and prosper.

And then I have a great gift in your friendship, your readership and am finding new friends all over the world! Over 700 read this blog, in the USA, Canada, England, Germany, Russia, South Africa, The Netherlands, India and Australia! WOW!

My hope for 2012 is that all the countries in this world will be at peace. That the children of this world will not suffer, that no one goes to bed hungry, and that the politicians and leaders of this world understand it is not about them, but about the people who inhabit this world. Children should be our priority and focus, making this world a place of peace and prosperity. If no one is in need, then no one needs to fight. Let’s share this earth.

2012 promises to be interesting, since I have no idea what will happen, and what will I say about that? Please remember that what I write is for the most part amusement and fun. I like to poke fun at myself first and everybody else. Why? Because we live in a world where we are too quick to judge others and not ourselves, both individually and collectively.

I hope you will continue to read this space. My biggest wish is for you to comment, and put it on the table, and take a few shots at me.

Friendship is the most important element one can have in this world of coldness and sometimes brutality. Emotions get in the way and we say things we really don’t mean. I have tried to value every friendship I ever owned, including family, neighbors, old acquaintances and new ones too. Maybe the casual ones can grow into lasting ones.

To all of you: Have a healthy, happy and prosperous new year. May it be filled with only peace and happiness, and may your house be blessed with friends to visit you, care about you, and do for you, and it be filled with love.

I love you all.

Friday, December 30, 2011


It was a week and a half before Christmas Day, and my first of two nights to play Santa. My trip this evening was to a home for residents with developmental disabilities, about 8 to 10 people, all adults and in all types of physical crises.

I stand outside the door and ring a strap of little bells and someone opens the door and lets me enter.


“Santa is here! EVERYBODY, SANTA IS HERE!”

I enter and the house parent greets me with a camera flash, I’m blinded!

“SANTA, you know that last week you didn’t take a picture of Debbie on your lap! You must have been very busy and forgot! Debbie felt very bad.”

Feeling like a heel, I sheepishly enter seeking out Debbie. Debbie is a short white haired lady, one of the multitudes of forgotten people in our large world.

I realize that I am Santa Clause, so I am paying for some other Santa’s mistake. I just hope he didn’t rob a bank, too.

I take Debbie by the hand and escort her to the room where I will be distributing presents to the residents. Some of the residents are already giving me a rundown as to what they want, and some will not leave me, a look of hero worship in their eyes.

Debbie has a large smile on her face, being escorted by Santa, she feels special.

You know you don’t get opportunities to help people feel good often. Sometimes opportunity knocks but you don’t answer. Sometimes you knock and people slam the door in your face. Working for people with disabilities is the greatest of opportunities, because there is no reward for you except what Debbie felt those few moments with Santa. It is a great feeling!

Thursday, December 29, 2011


Right before Christmas, TLW (The Little Woman) and I go to the cemetery and visit the graves of our son Joseph, my dad and TLW’s parents. We buy blankets made from pine or firs, and they are decorated minimally.

This year we went as usual and after visiting the grave of my son we went over to my in-laws and since we are the only ones who live in the area, we are the only ones who visit. This year we found a small Christmas tree on the double grave! This surprised us and we wondered who could have done this?

At my father’s grave there was a greater shock. As we arrived to place a blanket on his grave, there on the ground were not one, but two blankets. I immediately thought of my older sister Tess (much older) and her daughter Laurie Ann, or maybe my other sisters. But one sister has a husband buried near-by and there was nothing on his grave yet, the other sister was in China at the time. No one seems to know anything about the blankets! Not Tess, not her daughter, no one!

Although it feels eerie to be greeted like we were, I am glad that someone remembered my Dad.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


I haven’t been myself lately! No, I’m just not me, I’m a shell of my former self!

Many years ago, when TLW (The Little Woman) still loved me, I used to get foods that I love, dishes like French Onion Soup, where we were both introduced to it in Paris, and one of my all time favorites: baked macaroni. Then one day she introduced the three cheese baked macaroni, I went crazy for it and from that day onward, I never saw it again!

The years have been cruel to me. No French Onion Soup and no three cheese baked macaroni.Whatever she likes, I make, but some stinker had to mention that cheese is not good for you, so she doesn’t make baked macaroni anymore.
 But then you must ask: “What about pizza, brother Joe, that’s got cheese!”

Yes, it does, and I have to eat it every Friday night, but NO, and I mean NO baked macaroni, no French Onion Soup, NO NOTHING!

You stand in front of a camera, and what do you say? You say ‘Cheese’. Not ‘low-fat cheese’ no, you don’t. I bet if #1 or #2 Son said: “Mom, I love baked macaroni, with three cheeses!” the kid would get it three times a day for seven days.

I bet her second husband will like cheese and gets it.

Now you might ask: “How come you don’t make it yourself?”

“Oh, I could make it myself, but it wouldn’t be made by the woman who used to love me so many years ago! It’s just not the same.

Often at night I take walks around supper-time, and can hear the happy voices of husbands as they thank their wives for baked macaroni or French Onion Soup, and I think back to those golden olden days, when life was good.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


Bellport at the height of Rush Hour
On Friday nights, while in High School, Ernie ‘Butch’ Mancuso and I would meet at his house, all slicked up and ready to go. Where to was always the question. We would play the latest 45’s and talk about classmates and then off to Patchogue we would head. We usually caught a ride from someone, or else we hitched it into the big town. Coming from a small town like Bellport, the only thing going on was stoplight on the 4 corners. It did change into two different colors, so we would bet on what the next color was going to be. Sometimes we won and sometimes we lost.

Holiday traffic during rush hour
But going to Bellport High School was an experience. There was the Boy’s Room Choir, Miss. Auchtolooney, the Biology teacher from Hell and Scotland, Miss Wagar the school nurse, Mrs. Keiller the librarian and our favorite: Mr. Gabrellian, the social studies teacher.

Miss Auchtoloonie was an exchange teacher from Scotland, and when she was finished with us as students, fled back to Scotland where she must have joined an Anti-American cabal. She had a high rate of student punishment. It seems whenever one of us was caught talking or not doing what she wished, she sent us off to the library for punishment! Soon you could find the 3rd period Biology class gathered in the library, happily chatting away, with Mrs. Keiller trying to maintain quiet and discipline. There was a song out then called ‘Tequila.’ Whenever the old girl went by, under our breath we would exaggerate: “Tequila!”

Miss Wagar was an elderly woman, slight and grey, and it seems we as students made her greyer yet. If anything, she probably loved kids but was very strict about the rules. One day my buddy Rich Scaretta was in a gym mishap, and flew off the ropes we were swinging on. He went flying off the rope at its height and slammed into the concrete block wall. We all watched in amazement as he literally slid down the wall with a lump on his forehead. The coach immediately took concern and told me to take him down to the nurse. Miss Wagar asks him how he felt and what happened. Rich says he was tired and let loose of the ropes by accident. She looks at Rich and says: “Did you have breakfast this morning?” He replies: “No.” She says: “What would happen if I didn’t put gas in my car, how would I get to school?” she inquired. Rich looked up at her, in all sincerity and said: “You’d take a bus?”

In the course of all this was an emotional gentleman who loved to teach. He was a teacher’s teacher, but he had one flaw. He cried easily, and with that had a rather large proboscis. This was the famous Mr. Gabrelian or Gabe or God forgive us all: “The Beak”. Once during a PTA meeting at the high school, a set of parents came up to a few students who were standing in the hall and asked; “Can you direct us to Mr. Beaks classroom?” Without forethought they did, and hung around for the intro’s.

But the boys’ population started with your name and led the charge to insanity or should I say your mother’s name? What I mean is you were called by your mother’s name, if you were one of the guys. Picture a 6’5” bruiser named Mary! Now picture him responding to your calling him that, civil like, followed up by his calling you by YOUR mother’s name, if you are a guy.

For four years they tried to get out of me my mother’s real name, but couldn’t. It is such an odd name that I had to hide it. Someone went into the phone book and found my Aunt’s name, which was Tessie. They called me Tessie, but it was a lot better than what they could have called me.

P.S. Selma Saloway was an inside joke between me and Ernie Mancuso!

Monday, December 26, 2011


He’s the youngest of 4 brothers. Never really knew his Mom, but was raised by his father. From what I hear, his dad was a hard working immigrant from Poland. His Dad set the table for his children to know the value of hard work, a clean and wholesome life, and having only met three of the brothers, they were gentleman.

John, married my sister. If I were to select a husband for my sister, he would be the man. He is kind, loving, worked hard and has brains. He is in his early 70’s now, but when I met him some 48 years ago, he moved into all our hearts and minds, we all love him. He has been living in our hearts and minds ever since, rent free.

Sometimes he has his days, when he is crotchety, cantankerous and darn right ornery, and then he has bad days too!

Last year I wrote about John: Sunday, December 26, 2010. I did a lot of teasing him, and of course, the gentleman his is, I am still alive.


I never had a big brother growing up, but I do have one now.


But my big brother is in trouble, he is battling an insidious disease, and he could use your prayers, he doesn’t deserve the pain, or the agony. Cancer affects more than just the victim suffering from it: it affects the whole family. There are various kinds of cancer, and some can be beaten, but we never know. He will fight, and he will be gracious and accept what he has to accept. THE LINGERING QUESTION IS CAN I?


I worry about my sister, and her children and grandchildren, their dad and granddad is under siege, and so are they.


His life has been good, but has also experienced tragedy. In the good times he is gracious, in the bad times he was always concerned about the comfort levels of others. He is a good man. He has many friends, and most go back many years. If you needed help, he came running, never asked for anything but maybe a scotch. 


Today is his birthday. Usually he goes out and buys everyone in his family a present. He’s been doing this since he was married with children. This is the kind of guy I am asking you to pray for.


Thank you.

Sunday, December 25, 2011


Today is a day of peace and love, joy and giving. It is a day that is filled with such wonderful memories of Christmases long ago and recent.

Many years ago, as a child I looked at Christmas with trepidation since Santa was always watching me my mother told me. I would pray to the Baby Jesus to intercede for me with Santa, until one day my teacher; Miss Goodsight (yes, an old maid) told me that Christmas was Jesus’ birthday, that Santa was only a tag-a-long. This took me by surprise since I was worried about the wrong guy all along!

Mom kept harping on Santa watching and knowing what I did when I did it, and he was keeping a list. Mom was lying! My mother was lying to me; her only son was being fed untruths!

“Mom, Miss Goodsight (The old maid) told me that Christmas is really about Jesus, not Santa! I thought you said that Santa watched to see who was bad?”

“Yes, Santa makes the list and keeps track, and tells Jesus. Actually, Christmas is NOT about presents, it is about giving, and GOING TO CHURCH!”

I ended the conversation real quick, I was NOT going to go to church ALL DAY!

Of course, I still use Christmas as the real name of the holiday; I don’t think I need to be politically correct. In fact, no one is asking to rename Chanukah because it is insensitive to Christians. (ACLU where are you?)

Still Beautiful
To TLW (The Little Woman), thank you for all you are to me. I know there is no one that could make me happier than you can. I wish I could make you as happy. Thank you for your love, your help, and the wonderful times we’ve had. Thank you for being there when we needed each other, never once have you called me anything but by my name, and most of all, thank you for all our children, they are ours, and we can love them forever-together.

To all you wonderful readers-MERRY CHRISTMAS, enjoy your family; enjoy the day for what it really is, both a religious day of love and joy, and peace and goodwill to all of us. My present is the need to write to you each day, and to read your occasional comments. For me that is a one-way street. Thank you all, I love you.

If there is one thing I would wish for, that would be that Christian or Jew, Islamic or whatever is floating your boat, that we can enjoy everyday in peace and harmony, that the children of the world be safe from all and any harm in the world.


Saturday, December 24, 2011


For over 40 years now, TLW (The Little Woman) and I have been sharing things with each other. The other morning went something like this:

“Morning Toots, I think I got your cold!”

“I don’t HAVE a cold!

“I know, I’m going to give you this one.”

Sometimes these things can’t be helped. It was two weeks after that she did get the cold, and she was quick to acknowledge it to me.

“I feel lousy!”

Me: “Oh, what’s wrong?” (Like I didn’t know.)

“I got YOUR cold!” she said coldly.

“Now what makes you say you got MY cold, you may have gotten it from one of your co-workers! Didn’t you mention that Morticia was hacking all weekend? And what about Mortidella, she was running after her nose from what I hear.”

“Noooooo – I got YOUR cold.”

I recall years ago with two young children in schools, getting everything they caught from their little friends. My daughter particularly would share her illnesses with me. I was always playing with her, trying to amuse her or squeezing and kissing her to try to get her to be responsive. Then there was #1 Son. He and I were always handling a ball, a smurf basketball or football so we could play in the living room, and so, his cold was my cold.

Then at the holidays, the dreaded stomach virus appeared, right after Santa at the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade. The kids got sick, then I did! Such sharing you wouldn’t believe! Usually two days before Christmas Day, I couldn’t move, eat or doing anything but feel the sick stomach as I watched TLW and the blessed little tykes frollicking around the house, filled with energy, Christmas cookies and the holiday spirit.

Actually, the sharing started when one day not long after our honeymoon she said:

“I think we’re pregnant!”

Many is the time when we go to dinner or even at home, and she can’t finish what’s in her plate, she cuts off what she can’t eat and places it in my plate.

“I can’t finish this Joe, here, you have it.”

Being a good husband, I try not to argue, because you can lose points that way.

But then, after I finish it I start to wonder:
1)   Why am I gaining weight while she doesn’t, we eat the same things
B)  Would she be willing to share my calories?

I just thought I’d share this with you

Friday, December 23, 2011


I was finishing up my telephone call with Mom, who said: "And everyone is OK at home?"

"Yes Ma..." when suddenly the lights started to flicker in the late afternoon gloom. The phone line was static and the TV was gone. I was alone in this world, life would be different for however long it would take to see the light of day(?)

I thought to myself that maybe someone had hit a phone or power pole. Since it was already getting dark, I gathered two candles and placed them in the den, and found a newspaper to read by the candlelight. With 2 candles burning, it was becoming a religious experience. Fortunately, no one was around to deliver a sermon. I knew that if that had happened, I'd want breakfast too. It would really screw up my day.

Grabbing my cell phone, I called the Little Woman (TLW) to advise her about the phone situation (She planned to call me later). I call the Wanna-Be Bank & Truss Co.

“Wanna-Be Bank & Truss Company, Morticia speaking, how may I help you?”

“Uh, Hi Morticia, this is Joe Del Bloggolo may I speak with TLW?”

“ I’m sorry, she’s away from her desk! I’ll try to find her.”

“No Morticia, could I just leave a message? Just tell her we have no electricity or phone.”

There is a long pause, then Morticia comes alive.

“Are you on your cell phone?”

It makes me proud to know that the Wanna-Be Bank and Truss Company has someone like Morticia in the wings waiting to take over for the CEO!

Thursday, December 22, 2011


I make jokes about Mom being 93 and having a “Boy toy”, but in reality, it is a wonderful thing called friendship they share. To me friendship is the essence of life. True friendship means that someone is connected to you, will protect you and expects you to protect them.

I have had the best friend (Phil), a guy could have outside of his wife and mother, so I am blessed, we don’t think about what we did for each other, because we are too busy doing for one another.

Henry, Mom’s friend, is just that, a good person who cares for others, not himself so much. He has quietly become part of our family and as such we all love him. He has taken my mother to countless doctor appointments, helped her get around, and protects her privacy. He always worries about how she is feeling and tries to think along the lines of her self-pride, what she will tolerate and what she will not.

Since he is so kind and we are so appreciative, I decided to go to the local Italian market and with money some of my sisters have chipped in get him a gift. We are buying Henry for Christmas $200 worth of meals that they can share. The meals will be individually wrapped and all they have to do is unfreeze them and microwave. They can then just cut them in half and eat. This comes in handy when they are tired from a visit to a doctor’s office at the end of the day.

In this stinking world, we need to take care of each other. We need to know when someone is alone that they may need help, which we can’t always think about ourselves. Henry lives alone, he has no family, so when he goes to the hospital, we go and visit. He comes to all our family get-togethers, and is expected. We do this for all those we call our friends, all those we trust and come to love.

There are people in this world that can’t accept that kind of friendship. Maybe they think there is some underlying motive, or some kind of obligation, or maybe they just can’t appreciate that love from friendship should hold no bounds or requirements other than to accept. For them, they usually die alone, abandoned by all, children, parents and friends. They see only for themselves, too bad.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


It has been brought to my attention that Regis Philbin has left the show! An iconic figure, not to mention a case in ineptitude will no longer grace our TV screens.

So the quest to replace this giant of daytime TV is in the works.

It will be hard to replace Regis; first of all he has no talents, listens too much to women and is always defending himself. Where can you find someone like that?

I Know!


Yes I am a no-talent, inept, listener of women, who is always defending himself. I even have a niece who looks like Kelly Ripa! Kelly is sick one day, doesn’t want to come in, my niece covers for her, and no one knows!

Of course when it comes to stories, I have a bunch, can relate to all kinds of things that may go wrong. Taking Regis place my wife will have something additional for me to do during the day.

Kelly or Katie?
My ineptitude is legendary. I even have a Christmas story I can tell about an apartment I shouldn’t have been in. Then there was the time I skidded across Lake Weeki Wachee in Florida, and came face-to-face with a crocodile or alligator. I was too scared to tell the difference, it just looked like a hungry pair of expensive shoes! Of course if the world needs more, there is the time at the Delaware water gap and my ride to oblivion in a rubber tube. Once I got mixed up with an old neighbor and the church organist in Home Depot, and suddenly TLW (The Little Woman) kept her distance from me as we exited the store! The list goes on, but who’s counting?

I know I can drink coffee and listen: I am very ambidextrous that way, and I can definitely cut articles out of newspapers to make a point. I can give a good accounting of my weekend, and have plenty of children stories the blog hasn’t even heard of yet. There are my adventures on vacations that start in Paris and the room service, and continue right up to my last vacation.

A lot of the tight spots my Dad used to get himself into before he passed on, I have inherited, and hope when I’m gone to pass them on to #’s 1 and 2 sons. Well, the show MUST go on.

I will try to remember all the words to the Polish ditty: 'Buy me a pork chop'! Katie is Tom's daughter!

Try my new aports blog:

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Recently, I sat down to write my Christmas cards, and ‘Holiday Greetings’ to my non-Christian friends, it is a big job now!

Writing cards used to be easy, TLW (The Little Woman) did them. Now this chore has been trusted upon me, and takes out a half of a day. I can be forgetful, distracted and hungry, and when that happens things occur. I can send the wrong card in the wrong envelope, or I misspell a name that I am known to do. (Right Michele? Or is that Michelle?) I wish she’d make up her mind. I know Carol, or is that Carole has an issue too. Fortunately Elen doesn’t have that problem.

This year as in the last few, we had our cards printed with our names, and added our return address on the envelopes. (Well pardon me!) So what I do is buy labels and put on the addresses that I am sending to. Then I get the cards, address labels and write something clever like Happy New Year too! I of course put the Dear Whoever in my hand, and hope to not put the card in the wrong envelope.

I’ve decided that the whole process, by the time I’m done spitting on the flap to be too long. I need help. What you can do Dear Reader is send me an insulting email that will force me to exclude you from my list. I can even give you a sample email on what to write. This will help you also, since I won’t be sending you a card, no need to send me one.

Oh course you can just not end a card, and that would save me the trouble of telling you what to write. If this is too late, just try to keep it in mind for next year.

One other issue on my plate.

Recently I got an email from my buddy Ken Geiger (Mr. Geiger I presume) about something of interest that we can all be part of.

Subject: Fwd: Christmas Cards (Reminder) A GREAT IDEA!


What a clever idea! Yes, Christmas cards. This is coming early so that you can get ready to include an important address to your list.

Want to have some fun this CHRISTMAS?

Send the ACLU a CHRISTMAS CARD this year.

As they are working so very hard to get rid of the CHRISTMAS part of this holiday, we should all send them a nice, card to brighten up their dark, sad, little world. Make sure it says "Merry Christmas" on it.

Here's the address, just don't be rude or crude: 

125 Broad Street, 18th Floor 
New York, NY 10004

Two tons of Christmas cards would freeze their operations because they wouldn't know if any were regular mail containing contributions. So spend 44 cents and tell the ACLU to leave Christmas alone. Also tell them that there is no such thing as a " Holiday Tree". It's always been called a CHRISTMAS TREE!

And pass this on to your email lists. We really want to communicate with the ACLU! They really DESERVE us!!

For those of you who aren't aware of them, the ACLU, (the American Civil Liberties Union) is the one suing the U.S. Government to take God, Christmas or anything religious away from us. They represent the atheists and others in this war. Help put Christ back in Christmas!

** Suggestion: Pass this on to your church, co-workers, family, and friends. What do you have to lose but 44 cents, what do you have to gain --- more than you may ever know possible.

Thanks Ken!

Monday, December 19, 2011


Every three months I go to the doctor to renew my prescriptions. This is a simple task, three 30-day supplies where I phone in the last two renewals. Simple, no?


I’m dealing with people from another planet when it comes to my pharmacy.

As I pack my weekly supply in my pill container, I notice that the pharmacy didn’t give me enough pills for the 30 days needed. I’m supposed to take 3 pills a day so that means 90 pills. I look in the bottle and it seems like very little, so I check the label. 45 pills! I pick up the phone.

“Thank you for calling Friendly Drugs. If you are a physician calling in a prescription, press 1. If you wish to speak with a pharmacist, press 2. If you wish to fill a prescription, press 3. If you are lonely and just wish to talk press 4.”

I press 3 and get this gentleman on the phone.

“Give me your phone number please.” I do that and he says: “How may I help you?”

“My prescription for Metoprolol is short by half!”

“That’s what the prescription says.”

“Well, I should have had twice as many, not half.”

“Hang on while I check it out, please.”

A young lady comes to the phone.

“Give me your phone number please.” I do that and she says: “How may I help you?”

“My prescription for Metoprolol is short by half!”

“That’s what the prescription says.”

“Well, I should have had twice as many, not half.”

“Hang on while I check it out, please.” Returning she says:
“You still there?”


“Yes, I see that we should have given you 90 and we shorted you.”

“Do I get the pills?”

“Do you want them?”

“It WOULD be nice.”

“OK, I’ll have them ready for you, just take your time getting here, and when you do, they will be ready.”

Two different people tell me something that was not true!

Sunday, December 18, 2011


The other day, TLW (The Little Woman) was home from work, her occasional Monday she gets. On the counter were some cans and packages for the ingredients for Tacos.

“Oh! We having tacos tonight?”

“Joe, don’t touch that stuff, and don’t touch this stuff’, gesturing as she opened the refrigerator door, and then pointed to the vegetable drawer and said: “and the stuff in the drawer here. All that stuff is for my Christmas luncheon at the Wanna-Be Bank and Truss Co.!”

Being how I was tired of being bossed around, I put my foot down and said: “OK”. (Good thing she didn’t pursue it further or I would have REALLY told her off!)

As I walked away, I noticed a box, about 4” x 6” with lollypops in it, and on the kitchen table were bags and packages for her little heathens for Christmas as she teaches every Wednesday night about God. More stuff.

TLW was busily shuffling enough papers to make the FBI nervous and, more files to make the IRS jealous, again for her little heathens! More stuff.

Stuff is good, it comes in all forms, big, small, important and sometimes called; “Mine”. Everyone should have ‘stuff’; it means we have carved out a niche in the world. I don’t have stuff. I am stuffless, I own no stuff. Oh, I have things, but no stuff.

Just as well, since I’m looking for the “Right stuff” anyway.

Saturday, December 17, 2011


I got in touch with my sibs recently to discuss getting a Christmas gift for my mother, and her boy toy. All joking aside, Henry has been just a wonderful find, keeps a 93 year old company, they share meals at night, and he takes excellent care of Mom. When she doesn’t feel well, Henry cooks for her.

We came up with the idea that we would buy my Mom’s cell phone service for one more year, and for Henry, we thought we’d get him a special gift too. We decided to purchase $200 worth of separate meals from an Italian marketplace where we live. Each meal will be individually wrapped and frozen, and each meal is enough for the two of them to share. They don’t feel like cooking one night? Easy, just pull out a meal and pop it in the microwave and they are done!

So off I go to Mom and sit down with her and ask what Henry’s favorite foods are, and what to avoid.

I ring the doorbell and after a few minutes, she answers, wearing a patch on her right eye. She had mentioned to me days before about it, so I knew what to expect when I saw her.

“Come in, come in!”

“Hi Ma, is Henry here?”

“No, we can talk. Go sit down.”

“OK Ma, here is the menu, let’s go over things and see what we can order him.”

“Now what’s this for, his birthday?”

“Ma, when is his birthday?”


“Ma, this is for Christmas, me and some of the girls thought it would be a good idea to give Henry something nice and thoughtful for all he does for you.”

“That’s nice! You notice anything different?”

Pretending not to notice, I say “New curtains?”

“You know Joseph (my official name) you’re just like your father. Henry will eat anything, except beef, we are not big beef eaters!”

“I don’t want to say anything Mom, but if he does like beef, we should get him some, no? It IS his gift! New rug?”
Getting a little piqued, she says OK, but won’t promise me he will eat it. So we don’t mention beef anymore, even though she is out of range of a wooden spoon!

I get up, kiss Mom goodbye and say:

“By the way Mom, don’t go joining any pirate ships until after the New Year.”

Friday, December 16, 2011


It was a great game for college. Ohio State and Michigan, a seesaw battle at halftime. TLW (The Little Woman) entered the house with #2 Son and proclaimed…
“Joe, I’m going to the mall, I need you to come.”

Climbing into the car, I inquire why I’m needed.

“Because your son needs clothes and he won’t shop with me. Says it embarrasses him to shop with his mother!”

“Yes, I see how that…”


“Yes, I can see how that tree is shedding all its leaves!”

Into the mall we head, the place is jammed with shoppers and little brats, all running into me as I look like Tony Dorsett, eluding tackles.

I don’t shop, especially for my son’s clothes that has always been TLW’s job. So I am seeing what they are buying for the first time. It shocks me to see that what they are buying they also wear!

A T-shirt that says: “I Don’t Care.”

I go a little further and see jackets that look like the Viet Cong wore them after hiding underground from a B-52 bombing! They look worn and faded and tired!

I finally come to a shirt that has some old lettering on it, looking like the type of signage one would see on an old ad painted on a turn of the last century building. Some of the letters are fading away, and some are only slightly discernable.

“Toots!” I yell, “I found something that will save us a lot of trouble!”


“This shirt, it looks very old, it might make sense to buy it, you buy, bring it home and throw it out, you don’t have to wear it, it looks over-worn already! Boy, what will they think of next?”

Of course, we can’t just buy clothes for #2 Son. No, every purchase or consideration comes with: “Do you think he will like this, Joe?”

I see a nice shirt, with a few polo players on the chest, comes with a matching hat, TLW laughs at me.

I start to finger a coat.

“He won’t wear that, he says it will make him look fat, besides, it's leather, he won't wear leather. Has to be Faux leather!”

I wonder to myself if he uses real cream in his coffee or Creamola?

“And what is wrong with fat? It’s in now.”

I see another shirt.

“Here’s something nice, Toots!”

“NO! Too big, he wants small!”


“Yes, nothing that makes him look fat.”

One more try and I find what I think is pay dirt; a grey double pocket shirt, small and dull looking rag.

“He’ll love this Toots!”


“Because it makes him look like one of the unwashed masses, needing a union, and living in a refrigerator box under an overpass on the LIE!”

“Yes, he will!”

It’s hard for me to understand why but I notice all the smalls are taken up already. They have XLRG, LRG, MED, and very little SM. All the mothers got there early and grabbed them all. SM stands for; Smart Mother.

I remember when style made you look good. You went into the store, and the item called you, spoke to you, seduced you. Now, I see the stuff they are selling and it looks like it came from Goodwill, and needs to be ironed, desperately!

Thursday, December 15, 2011


All my life, meatballs were a big part of it. Mom would make them on a Sunday morning, and I learned at an early age you need to dip into the pot and get one! We had a weekly Sunday visitor named Mike who came to the house and paid a visit. Mom would have the pot of meatballs permeating in the sauce and Mike would get a folk and help himself. I would watch this ritual every week and wished I were tall enough to dig into the pot myself and get a meatball.

When I was tall enough to help myself, Mom started to place the wooden spoon on the handle of the big pot as a deterrent to proliferation of the meatball population. This was intimidating since the spoon had been stirring the hot sauce.

Finally I got married and realized that with a plan and an inexperienced meatball maker, I could possibly pull it off, or in the case of meatballs, pull one out! TLW (The Little Woman) had faithfully replicated Mom’s recipe and was leaving the pot unprotected! The possibilities were unlimited! After a few times, I started to get sloppy and leave telltale signs of meatball theft. (I think I wanted to be caught) Although TLW never said “No” to my taking the meaty wonders, she would remark when there were signs. Often she went out to the store or church, opening up my chances. Sometimes she would say: “Joe, would stir the gravy while I’m gone?” It was like asking a horse thief to lock the stable door.

Recently, she interrupted my Jets game with an odd request.

“Joe, will you do me a favor and taste my meatballs?”

“I’m sorry, would you repeat that?”

“Yes, I tried a new recipe and I’m afraid it is too spicy. Go ahead, try one, you can even try a sausage if you want!”

It wasn’t April 1st, I didn’t see any readable traps, and I know she never made explosive meatballs before, and so I took one. It was no fun. Having permission to take a meatball without the art of stealing it, is not the same.

Putting on her coat, she leaves me to the whole exposed rack of meatballs. Feeling somewhat disappointed, I wondered if it was the recipe or the lack of routine. I take one more, taste it and think: “Better, much better!”

Funny thing is I left the sausages alone; there is no tradition in it.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Because I love you, and the fact that someone sent me this… 

Did you know the saying "God willing and the Creek don't rise" was in reference to the Creek Indians and not a body of water? 

Benjamin Hawkins wrote in the late 18th century.  He was a politician and Indian diplomat.  While in the south, Hawkins was requested by the President of the U.S. to return to Washington. In his response, he was said to write, "God willing and the Creek don't rise."  Because he capitalized the word "Creek" it is deduced that he was referring to the Creek Indian tribe and not a body of water.

 In George Washington's days, there were no cameras. One's image was either sculpted or painted.  Some paintings of George Washington showed him standing behind a desk with one arm behind his back while others showed both legs and both arms.  Prices charged by painters were not based on how many people were to be painted, but by how many limbs were to be painted.  Arms and legs are 'limbs,' therefore painting them would cost the buyer more.  Hence the expression, 'Okay, but it'll cost you an arm and a leg.'   (Artists know hands and arms are more difficult to paint)

 As incredible as it sounds, men and women took baths only twice a year (May and October) Women kept their hair covered, while men shaved their heads (because of lice and bugs) and wore wigs.   Wealthy men could afford good wigs made from wool. They couldn't wash the wigs, so to clean them they would carve out a loaf of bread, put the wig in the shell, and bake it for 30 minutes.   The heat would make the wig big and fluffy, hence the term 'big wig... ' Today we often use the term 'here comes the Big Wig' because someone appears to be or is powerful and wealthy.

In the late 1700's, many houses consisted of a large room with only one chair. Commonly, a long wide board folded down from the wall, and was used for dining. The 'head of the household' always sat in the chair while everyone else ate sitting on the floor.   Occasionally a guest, who was usually a man, would be invited to sit in this chair during a meal.. To sit in the chair meant you were important and in charge.  They called the one sitting in the chair the 'chair man.' Today in business, we use the expression or title 'Chairman' or 'Chairman of the Board.'

Personal hygiene left much room for improvement.. As a result, many women and men had developed acne scars by adulthood. The women would spread bee's wax over their facial skin to smooth out their complexions.  When they were speaking to each other, if a woman began to stare at another woman's face she was told, 'mind your own bee's wax.'  Should the woman smile, the wax would crack, hence the term 'crack a smile'.  In addition, when they sat too close to the fire, the wax would melt . .. . Therefore, the expression 'losing face.'

Ladies wore corsets, which would lace up in the front. A proper and dignified woman, as in 'straight laced' wore a tightly tied lace..

 Common entertainment included playing cards. However, there was a tax levied when purchasing playing cards but only applicable to the 'Ace of Spades...'  To avoid paying the tax, people would purchase 51 cards instead.  Yet, since most games require 52 cards, these people were thought to be stupid or dumb because they weren't 'playing with a full deck..'

 Early politicians required feedback from the public to determine what the people considered important. Since there were no telephones, TV's or radios, the politicians sent their assistants to local taverns, pubs, and bars.  They were told to 'go sip some Ale and listen to people's conversations and political concerns. Many assistants were dispatched at different times.  'You go sip here' and 'You go sip there.' The two words 'go sip' were eventually combined when referring to the local opinion and, thus we have the term 'gossip.'

 At local taverns, pubs, and bars, people drank from pint and quart-sized containers. A bar maid's job was to keep an eye on the customers and keep the drinks coming.  She had to pay close attention and remember who was drinking in 'pints' and who was drinking in 'quarts,' hence the phrase 'minding your 'P's and Q's'.
One more: bet you didn't know this!

In the heyday of sailing ships, all war ships and many freighters carried iron cannons. Those cannons fired round iron cannon balls.  It was necessary to keep a good supply near the cannon. However, how to prevent them from rolling about the deck?   The best storage method devised was a square-based pyramid with one ball on top, resting on four resting on nine, which rested on sixteen.  Thus, a supply of 30 cannon balls could be stacked in a small area right next to the cannon.  There was only one problem.... how to prevent the bottom layer from sliding or rolling from under the others. The solution was a metal plate called a 'Monkey' with 16 round indentations. However, if this plate were made of iron, the iron balls would quickly rust to it. The solution to the rusting problem was to make 'Brass Monkeys.' Few  landlubbers realize that brass contracts much more and much faster than iron when chilled.. Consequently, when the temperature dropped too far, the brass indentations would shrink so much that the iron cannonballs would come right off the monkey; Thus, it was quite literally, 'Cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey.' (All this time, you thought that was an improper expression, didn't you.)