DelBloggolo

Monday, February 28, 2011

THE 'ALTER' BOY!


When I was an altar boy many years ago at St. Joseph the Worker parish in Hagerman, NY, I was coaxed into joining by my best friend Jerry Murray. Jerry lived a few doors from me and lived in a Irish Catholic family, while I was an Italian, and we had many types of small rivalries, including: his Giants and my Dodgers, Irish vs. Italians, who had a more witchy sister, and those kinds of things. But above all, we were best friends and did a lot together, including joining Little League and joining the altar boys.

Jerry was a year older than me, and so had a leg up on life. When he went away to Pius X to junior high to begin a journey to the priesthood, he came home for Thanksgiving and immediately introduced me to cigarettes! Off into the woods we went with a stolen pack of his mom’s Winston cigarettes, where I had a few puffs and ran home to puke my guts up. This was after a rather large Thanksgiving dinner, and my folks became suspicious that a few hours later I was very hungry again.

Many mornings we would get on our bikes when we were in elementary school and serve 7:00 a.m. mass. If the priest were not yet in the sacristy, we would take a sip of the wine, just a sip, but the Mass seemed a little livelier than usual at 7:00 a.m.! Many were the night we would do a novena and on the way home get shall we say: “Distracted” from the best and most direct route to our home.

One night we decided to cut across a landfill that had piles of dirt, stone and pebbles that covered a direct path to our street. It was fenced off and so we decided we would climb the chain-link fence, cross through the property and scale the fence once more to get to the other side. As we dropped down on the ground, suddenly a spotlight started to scan the property, slowly moving across the hills and piles of dirt, sand and pebbles. The flat light would crawl across the ground, climbing the piles, in search of two intruders. This became adventurous and thrilling to Jerry and me. It was pitting us as a team against some unknown, and we were bound to get away or face the horrors of a wooden spoon and a belt!

Following the pattern of the light, and the systematic way it was moving, we figured out we could get around it and scale the fence before we were caught. I nudged Jerry toward another hill to hide behind, he moved and so we moved that way until we reached the fence, where with one quick movement, we began to climb the fence, just as we could feel the presence of something moving in our direction. A sense of urgency overcame us both, as we moved up and over the fence. As we landed on the outside of the fence, did we hear the deep growl and barking of a massive German Shepherd, which took my breath away!

Some altar boy! Today they are called servers, because in my church, they are mostly girls!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S

Well, maybe not, but having breakfast with me is an adventure. After church, TLW (The Little Woman) and I go to breakfast at this great little diner that I love. It makes the best French Fries, and has great rye bread from a bakery, or so we think.

Sitting in a booth facing each other we got comfortable before ordering and I noticed how long the table is. We are sitting at the end of the table near the aisle, and not the wall. On the table against the wall are the salt and peppershakers, and the ketchup. Being a man with plans, I decided to take the items mentioned and move them down toward us so when the food does come, I won’t be leaning over the food reaching for the items.

Carefully I take the ketchup bottle, and situate it at the midpoint of the table and put the shakers in front of it, very neatly, side by side. I feel the eyes of the world on me, as I look up and notice TLW is watching. A smirk is beginning to curl on her lips.

Me: “Shut up.”

She continues to smile and doesn’t say anything. Finally breakfast is over, we get the check and she says: “The reason I was smiling is not that you moved things closer, but how precise and orderly you reset them”.

My first inclination was to knock over something, then; I decided instead, to make her pay the tip.

I have to say that I do get somewhat nuts about order. Things should be as convenient as possible for me, since usually things aren’t, and I have to struggle. The one time I can control things, and I’m getting laughed at!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

HOW DID I GET HERE SO FAST?


The other day I was talking to someone at my daughter’s agency about how we seem to go from year to year very quickly. It is bad enough when the years go by so fast that 10 years ago seems like yesterday, and you are not so sure it wasn’t yesterday, and then you couple the fact that your oldest child has gray hairs, and so that means you have gray heirs!

My trouble is that my dog, Happy is aging along with me, and is feeling about as good as I feel. Yesterday, or was it ten year ago, she didn’t eat, or drink her water. She slept all day and seemed worn out from must have been a very hard day.

The hardest day that dog ever had was when we had an extra something to eat one day, and she had to put in some extra time begging. This cut into her day of sleeping and you could see the toll it took.

As for me, as it must be for you, aging is becoming aware that you are not who you think you are. It suddenly becomes harder to read a newspaper because you need help with the lighting, the magnification, and the arthritis that pervades your comfort! You soon discover that you can’t eat the things you used to enjoy, they come back to haunt you.

Of course, all your pleasures in life become abbreviated to the point that some of them you give up on all together, and soon part with them. Why? Usually it is because of the physical restraint that you must employ to try to enjoy them.

As a young man, I can recall how disappointed I would be if Dad or Mom said they couldn’t do this or that, while I could, wondering what the big deal was, it is so easy. Now, not only do I know what the big deal is, I’m starting to fold my cards!

My grandmother lived to a very old age, and my mom seems to be doing the same, I look at her and marvel that she can still do for herself, even though she needs to take better care of herself. The other day I was visiting her and as she got up to walk to the door with me so she could lock it, I noticed how hard it was for her to walk.

“Ma, where’s your walker?”

Looking at me crossed eyed, she says: “I DON’T OWN A WALKER.”

“Oh, so where is your cane?”

“In the closet.” (Of course, where else would it be you big dummy!)

“So when you walk in the closet, you use it?”

“LOOK, DON’T START WITH ME, THAT THING MAKES ME FEEL OLD AND DECREPID!”

Maybe, just maybe I should learn to shut my big mouth and not remind not only her, but myself that we are getting old.

Friday, February 25, 2011

249 DAYS!

Recently there was a report about Belgium, a tiny little country in Western Europe, celebrating 249 days without a government!

Lucky Belgium!

It seems that the 6 million Dutch speaking and 4.5 French speaking nation can’t seem to compromise and come to any agreement about forming a government.

Lucky Belgium!



In this country, the good old US of A, we have too much government for my own good. The hamlet or village has a government, the town, the county, the state and the Feds, all have a government, all have their hand out, and all seem to find ways to squander my money. If that is not enough for me, there is TLW (The Little Woman), a business partner, my dog and my daughter, and God! I am so far down the pecking order: I have to look up to look down!

What would happen to the pomposity scale if we had no government? Would the jails be emptier? Would April’s spring cleanup only be our back yards, and not our pockets too?



What would happen at 6:00 pm with the nightly news, good stories and maybe no news? Discussions at the dinner table might take a turn for the better, we would clear out city hall, fire all the slackers and save a nice bundle of cash for an extravagant vacation?

If we could then convince the rest of the world to rid themselves of their governments too, we would then have true peace. We could scrap the military budget and apply it to cancer research, cures for heart disease, Parkinson’s and other horrific diseases, including developmental disabilities.

I like Belgium a whole lot more as I write this!

Of course, we would not have as many services available, for instance; the plows that plow my street to get me on the road, would not be plowing me in so I can’t access the road. We wouldn’t be paying over $400 for a toilet seat or hammer for government use, and who knows, we would all miss the inanity of government logic!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Helloooooooooooooooooooo!


A great loss has been foisted upon us! We wuz robbed of a great uncle, our Uncle Leo!

My baby sister MaryAnn, who does a lot of flying around, with or without a plane, asked the question: “Who’s Uncle Leo?”

Who’s Uncle Leo?! Indeed!

If I may quote Uncle Leo: “Helloooooooooooooooooooo!”

Yes, that is who Uncle Leo, dear sweet Uncle Leo was. He was seedy, disgusting, and a crook, I loved him! His presence even reminded me to wash behind the ears, and then shave them. Can anyone else’s Uncle Leo do that?

When Uncle Leo showed up, he was everyone’s favorite curmudgeon; everyone sat up and waited to laugh. No one would ever want to eat with him, sleep with him, or try to reason with him, but we all loved him.

And so the world has lost an icon, another symbol of what good acting and comedy really is, Uncle Leo, we hardly knew you, we miss you, and we will look for you in reruns.

Len Lesser was a fine comedic actor, and #1 son once met him out in Hollywood, and told him I was a big fan of his.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

TURNING UP/DOWN THE HEAT


Recently I wrote a blogue about having trouble in bed. I even called it: “Trouble in Bed”, and I am proud of myself that I did. I mean I had the title and the story right. Anyway, someone wrote a comment: “JOE, GET THAT ELECTRIC BLANKET THAT HAS DUAL CONTROLS. JUST MAKE SURE YOU DON'T MIX THE CONTROLS UP.” It was signed – Anonymous

That comment takes me back many years ago when TLW (The Little Woman) and I went to Connecticut to visit my sister Fran. Fran graciously gave us her bedroom to sleep in that night, so we would have room for our two little children at the time, in a couple of portable cribs.

That night when we decided to retire we choose sides as to which side of the bed would be occupied by whom. TLW decided to take the left side, and because she did, I decided to think about it, and take the left side. It was a nice bed, comfortable, and had dual controls for a heating blanket, a his/hers potential for bedtime bliss.

Or so I thought!

That night, since I like the room cool, I lowered my side of the blanket with the control switch I had. TLW, who likes blankets even in August, likes things hot, (You think she married me because I’m hot?) As the night progressed, I felt like yesterday’s dinner tonight, just popped into the microwave. TLW on the other hand was looking like an ice cube tray, frozen in about 12 parts! I took the control and lowered it some more while TLW raised her some more. The more I lowered the more I heated up, the more she raised it, and the colder she stayed.

Finally after much complaining about the cold and equal complaining about the heat, a truce was established, she gave me her control, and I gave her mine! A whole night of freezing and sweating in bed, and not once thinking that we had each other’s control to make things better!

There is a lesson in all this boys and girls: stay home.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

WHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT

In my travels through the course of the week, Sometimes: meeting some wonderful people rewards me. The people I want to be close with are the ones I love and respect for various reasons.

TLW (The Little Woman) years ago asked me to photograph all the second grade students for her Religious Education program, and to create a poster to acknowledge the accomplishments of these little kids for receiving their first communion.

Every year, with very little time, and usually a crammed schedule, I go about the task of photographing about 20 to 26 classes of children and their teachers for the poster. I enjoy doing it; I just wish I had more time to do it. Then once in a while, there is a hitch, a child will be absent from the class and either I have to Photoshop them in, or leave them out. If I can get them in I will.

This year I went to a particular class to shoot, and the teacher a lovely woman, said she was missing one child, a little boy who would not be in the picture. Apparently he was a special needs child. I could read the disappointment, and said I would come back next week. Her eyes lit up and she thanked me.

Next week came and I felt like Douglas MacArthur, returning to the Philippines! I enter the teacher’s workroom and her eyes lit up once again. Rico was in class, and we immediately went to work.

Meeting Rico made a long day better with a sweet ending. Rico and I will be lifetime pals, and as they say in the movies, “What Rico wants, Rico gets!”

I have lost a week, but I have gained a friend and I’ll live! Let’s hope Rico lives a long time, with better days ahead. But actually, this is not about Rico, it is about his teacher. If you want to see love and compassion, look at this wonderful woman, and you will suddenly feel it. It makes me feel good that this woman is working with little children, and that she has the love in her heart to car that much.

The headline or theme of the poster is: “Let the children come unto me.”

Monday, February 21, 2011

THAT TIME OF THE YEAR



It seems wherever I go these days; some poor soul is suffering from cold or flu symptoms. I notice it to be mostly older folks, and it always seems to take forever for them to shake it off!

I yearn for the good old days, when if you caught a cold, your youth and vitality helped you fend it off, nowadays, to fight a cold off, youth is a new bottle of Jack Daniels, and it is vital to take more than one shot of it.

Of course, before I was married, my Mom was the one who would watch where I went, with whom, and what I was wearing.

“Where are you going?”

Me: “Outside, to play with my friends.”

“Dressed like that?”

Me: “What’s wrong?”

“I’ll give you what’s wrong, it’s freezing out there, and you’ll catch a cold! That’s what’s wrong.”

Me: “But Ma, I have a coat on.”

“BUTTON THAT COAT, AND WHERE ARE YOUR BOOTS AND HAT. LOOK AT YOU, ARE YOU CRAZY???”

Me: “OH MA, I’m fine.” (I didn’t want my friends to see a dork, with a hat with earflaps, gloves, boots and scarf, even if it would make me very comfortable.)

Sure as heck and we all know how sure that is, except me, I would always catch a cold!

“Nice! You went out without a buttoned coat, no hat, no gloves, and what did you get?”

Me: “A cold?”

‘YES A COLD!”

Actually, it has been scientifically proven that cold weather, even with wet feet or clothing will NOT cause a cold!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

IF I KNEW YOU WERE COMING I’D A BAKED A CAKE

As a partner in a new found venture (See January 26, 2011 blogue), my partner and I go to great lengths to find quality vendors to service our company. That means visiting expos and shows, and even tasting foods and testing products as they become available.
Yesterday we were in Southampton visiting an establishment that caters to event planners. It is a lovely old mansion like building, very chic and on the cutting edge of high end. As we moved about viewing the different displays and speaking with the owner, he invited us to view his upper level, and so we did.

Entering this large room, spread out before us were tables covered in various styles of china, stemware and cutlery. Each table had some kind of place setting, as so we moved about, we could see napkins, displayed, and Pam even picked up a fondant covered cake (not real cake), and display orange, and picked it up, impressed by the realism of these items.

Finally, we both approached a table near an office that was occupied, and noticed that there was a place setting for 4 people. It seemed strange that they were all at the end of the table, all next to each other, except one that was at the head of the table. Then I noticed that the table had other exhibits, so it showed a beautiful place setting complete with stemware, china and cutlery. Also displayed were napkins and flowers and all that goes with fancy dining.

Pam, (Calamity Jane), decided to one more time to closely check the display. Laughing to myself, I though: “Well Pam, you are a hard lady to convince about the craft of fake food! She pokes it and moves on, a strange look on her face, and is hurriedly moving away! Curios, I move in and look at the place setting, thinking: “What did she see?”

Well folks, let me tell you, if you ever go somewhere, and it’s lunch time, and maybe there is food laid out, and it is not for you, don’t poke it. As I looked at the place setting with the food, I poked it, and it was soft, wet, and real, and worse of all, it was fish! Our fingers smelled like the Fulton fish market.

As convulsions set in, the two of us decided we should get the hell out of there, descending the elegant stairway, trying to hold in the laughing and her giggling, and trying to desperately to leave the building before we ran into the owner once again.

But of course our plans were not to be, as he stopped us, conversed and looked into our eyes, we were about to burst out laughing, knowing what we did.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

MY GOOD FRIENDS!


Yes, I am indeed blessed! I have such wonderful friends, that recently I went to a lunch get-together, and was given a picture of one of my favorite people and me. The lady you see is Sister Tanj-Gerina, a former classmate from high school, now from the Sisters of Mano a Mano from the upper east side of Palermo. (See October 28, 2010 blogue)

Indeed, Sister Tanj-Gerina, is like all my high school buddies that I have resurrected a friendship with in the past year and a half, the kind you can trust, always behind you if you need a friend, and although she talks with her hands a lot, I shun a helmet.

But just by looking at the photo, you can see how mature all my friends are. Indeed, we never do anything behind each other’s back, no sireee, not a thing. It gives me a “warm fuzzy feeling” (a direct quote from one of my trustworthy friends), knowing they are all behind me.

OK, don’t think for a moment I don’t know what’s going on behind me, I’m just grateful she is holding up two fingers instead of that one!

Friday, February 18, 2011

END OF AN ERA



The phone rang on Saturday afternoon, and who was it but my older sister Tessie. (Much older)

“You ready for this?”

Me: “ What?”

“Mom is retiring from the hospital!”

Me: “What?”

“Yes, she called her friend and told her not to pick her up anymore she was finished.”

Me: “What?”




So the end of an era comes to me once again. Mom, who loved to work, who took pride in the fact that she was still active, still mobile was taking herself out of the game. Why? Because the hospital felt probably that she was becoming a liability to them, a danger to herself at 93 to traipse all over the hospital.

The hospital decided to reassign her duties that made her sit all day long, rather than be up and about. Mom didn’t volunteer to sit, but to help people, and so she thought: No, sitting is not for me.



I wonder if she will look for a job in construction, or maybe a road crew somewhere?

She has a boy toy Henry, who wisely wanted her to stop with the hospital, and she does have so many hobbies. She can sew, knit, crochette and cook, she can read enough with help of magnification, and I’m sure, like any woman worth her salt, can still yak it up.


Oh course, she can always call and correct me.

But the world will not be the same for Mom, no, without her little friends who she meets when she goes there, the luncheons for the volunteers, the pride in her pins awarded for her service, the inside conversations with the doctors and nurses, all that will end.

When we met as a family, she could proudly point to her days of ‘work’ as she called it. She loved every moment of it, and I think it helped to keep her alive. I guess there is a lesson in this for all of us: you can work to live, better than you can live to work, but no matter what you do, love what it is you do.

So now, when we do get together, I will be careful about what I say, to remind myself that she still is a valuable member of society, that there is still things she needs to give to the world, and the world needs from her. After all, she still carries that wooden spoon, which I named: “Gentle Persuasion”!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

LEFT VS. RIGHT

The she/he factor.

Most people are right handed, and most people marry right-handed people! Not me, no way do I do things the easy way. No, TLW (The Little Woman) is a lefty. This has caused some minor complications in her life, as well as mine.



On the political level, she is more left, and I am more right. We do not argue politics, except for when she says: “Your man Reagan”, which is designed to question my choice of politics, and my saying: “That @&^$ Carter” which makes us even.

When it comes to eating, she has to eat on my left, so our arms do not interfere with each other. When we go to weddings or formal dinners, and are seated, she always takes the chair on my left.



School desk with armrests were not made for her, nor were some hand tools. Life is like playing baseball with a right-handed glove on your left hand if you are TLW!

Recently we purchased a new faucet, which has the lever on the side, my right side if I use it. This morning on her way out the door, TLW stood before me and announced:
“That sink is right handed!”
“What?”
“I have to reach over behind me to use the lever! It’s on the wrong side!”
“No it’s not, it is fine the way it is!
I am of the opinion that left-handed people can tend to figure things out if not better, than quicker than right-handed people.

Actually, TLW has me all figured out!

I actually feel like I married a lefty, always trying to think ahead of me. The only saving grace for me is I came from a home with four sisters, so I always needed to have my wits about me!

One thing about TLW, though is that she always leads with her left, so I think I’ll duck out and feign to my right!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

THE DOCTOR IS IN


I went for my 3-month checkup with my primary care physician. As he sticks the needle in my arm he starts in.

“Something is very wrong!”

“WHAT? What’s wrong?????”

Slowly drawing the blood, he changes vials and stares at me and says:

“The last great American Institution is being sold to a foreign power.”

Me: “I hope it’s the White House.”

“No, the stock market. THE GERMANS ARE BUYING IT!”

Me: “This can’t be, they lost the war, how come they are taking over everything?”

As we march to his office for my drug prescription, he continues his tirade.

“I don’t know if you are a Democrat or Republican, but this nation is NOT going in the right direction, I’m afraid.”

Me: “Hmmm…”

“Yup, I think he’s a socialist! Obama!”

Me: Oh! What was my blood pressure?”

As he starts to print out the prescriptions, the computer is slow to respond.

“MILLIE! THIS THING IS NOT RESPONDING! Now this country has no heroes. Who are the heroes?”

Me: “Well I…”

“You have a bunch of sports figures making obscene amounts of money (without a M.D. practice no less), they are felons, druggies, rapists and bad people. Is that what the kids should look up to?”

Somehow, Madoff came to mind, but I dismissed it and decided I needed to get him back to earth.

Suddenly, his wife appears at the door, and says: “YOU PROMISED TO GET OUT OF HERE ON TIME TODAY! AND STOP TALKING POLITICS.”

Sheepishly he looks down and says “Ok.”

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

DELIVERANCE!



After the holdup, (The plumber came) I started to notice something strange: I was on edge and couldn’t figure out why! Then it occurred to me, the sink faucet no longer leaks! The constant moving the level to a point where it would not leak: had ended. For some reason, when the old faucet leaked, you had to move this ball mounted lever to a certain point, on the cold water side to stop the leaking, and then that point would be somewhere else the next time!

I discovered that there are many little issues just like the leaky faucet, which make me nuts. For instance, my dopey dog, who always waits for me to get comfortable in my recliner before deciding that she needs to go out. She has now taken me to a new level, one where I need to watch her, and now leash her and go with her. She has decided to climb up on the snow, and look around, sniffing and not watching, so what is wrong with that? She does this on the very edge of the pool, and started to slide the other day into the pool, causing me to shoot out and rescue her before she fell all the way in.





Then there is my car, and locking it. I park in a public area, lock my car, then wonder: did I lock it or did I just hit the open button, so I hit the lock again. Now I wonder if anyone was watching me. So I figure someone will think I just opened it not knowing I locked it, and will try to break in and cause damage, so I lock it one more time, just in case!


They say: Cleanliness is next to Godliness. Don’t believe it, it is next to more cleanliness, only dryer! After a shower, I like to wipe down the windowsill, because I am afraid the window will warp since it is wood. I get out of the shower, start getting dressed and think, did I wipe down the window? Back into the shower to look, and forget later and go check once more.

Many years ago, I discovered that my kitchen ceiling light in my old house was a problem. It seems that the halo florescent bulb would not go on automatically, that you needed to motivate it! You would turn up the switch on the wall, and the bulb would flicker. We would take a broom handle and run it around the inside of the bulb, and suddenly the bulb would go on. As we were moving, we decided to replace the fixture for the new owners, and when we undid the wiring, discovered that it was wired incorrectly to begin with. Fixing it, the oddness of it working right after 7 years, felt good but strange. As I stood in the then empty kitchen, switching on and off the kitchen light, I decided I didn’t want to move anymore!

Monday, February 14, 2011

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!


The fact that Valentine was a religious man and a priest should not deter you from a romantic evening.

Today is Valentines Day: the day we spend money on our other half. Here’s how it happened. It all started during the heyday of the Roman Empire, which held a festival every February. Lupercian Festival was in honor of the God of Fertility (What did you expect?) and young men would get to choose their mate.

When Claudius became Emperor he changed all of that. Afraid men would refuse to fight in the army because they would not be allowed by their wives to leave the house after 6:00 pm, he outlawed all marriages. Love struck young men, in spite of Claudius’ good intentions still fell in love. Still wishing to marry they took their case to the Catholic Bishop Valentine who, still mad about the celibacy rules, and for revenge, began to secretly marry couples. Claudius found out, and had Valentine arrested and executed. While in jail, Valentine began exchanging letters with the jailer's daughter and soon had fallen in love with her. The day he was to be beheaded, (But not the first man to lose his head over a woman) he wrote to her one last note and signed it: "From Your Valentine”. (You'd think he would sign it: Love, Val?)

In 496 A.D. Christianity had taken over Rome and Pope Gelasius outlawed the pagan Lupercian Festival. Trying to win points with the local Roman beauties, because he made everybody go to church all the time, he replaced it with something more girlie and set aside a day in February to honor the martyr St. Valentine. Even though in 1969 the church removed St. Valentines Day from it's calendar of "official” holidays, because all the statues had no heads, it is still widely celebrated today.

HAPPY VALENTINE”S DAY TO TLW (The Little Woman), MY BEAUTIFUL DAUGHTER and DAUGHTER-IN-LAW TO BE: COURTNEY (MAKE SURE HE MAKES A FUSS) AND MOM and ALL FOUR SISTERS, MY NEW BUSINESS PARTNER and ALL YOU LADIES OUT THERE!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

STICK ‘EM UP, IT’S THE PLUMBER!


We have been living with a leaky faucet for a little while, and I have been too busy to fix it. The other day, TLW (The Little Woman) called from the Wanna-be Bank and Truss Company to tell me to call the plumber already!

I decided to call asap, since the order came down from even higher than God! I dial the number, and I get a recorded message, telling me that the plumber will get back to me. I figure he’s out on the highway, holding someone up with his mask and revolver.

Suddenly, the phone comes alive, and who is it but the plumber himself.

“What’s wrong?”

“Leaky faucet.”

“Can I come tomorrow?”

“Can you make it in the afternoon, I have a doctor’s appointment in the morning. (Another prima donna).

“I’m going skiing tomorrow, can I come now?”

Getting up off the ground, I steady myself and say: “Yes!”

Robin Hood pulls up and enters, and even my dog “Happy” (Remind me to rename her) starts to bark. Looking over the faucet, he tries to unscrew the neck of the faucet, and after numerous tries, decides I need a new faucet.

“ I can’t unscrew it, you need a new faucet!”

“Why did I know that before you even came?”

“Can I use your toilet?”

“Be my guest”, as I become suspicious he will screw something up for me to have to call him to fix it in the future.

‘Cynical’ is my middle name.

What should have been a simple fix, a charge of $2, became $450 worth of repairs, between the new faucet, a Moen no less, and his time and labor. He also used a whole roll of paper towels and asked if I had more! In spite of this, I didn’t charge him.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

TROUBLE IN BED




TLW (The Little Woman) and I are having problems in bed! Yes, that’s right: problems in bed!

It seems that she claims I hog all the blankets, complaining that when she gets up in the morning, the blankets are all on my side. I know for a fact that the opposite is indeed true. Every morning I wake up with a frozen tush, ice forming around my toes, and enough shaking to dance to Jerry E. Lewis.

But accusations can come fast and cheap, you sometimes need to witness the truths you claim. My day has come!

Soundly asleep, I was suddenly awakened in the dark of night, by what I thought at first was an earthquake! Feeling the wave of tremors, I held on, thinking we have to get out of the house, and quick. By my calculations, we only had mere minutes to get downstairs and away from the shaking building!

As I turned toward TLW, I noticed she was on her stomach. I figured she was probably knocked out from the shaking, so I would carry her down the stairs and out the building. I looked to the door to be sure the path was clear, but noticed I couldn’t see the door! Then I noticed the obstruction was right in front of my Italian nose, TLW’s legs were up in the air, and she was raising them up and down in unison, at an amazing rate!

With all the power in me, I jumped on both legs to hold them down and stop the movement. ALL the blankets were on her side!

The next morning, as I groggily awoke, I came downstairs to find her sitting, well rested and reading the morning paper. Dragging my tired self into the den, I asked her if she remembered what happened that night.

Me: “Do you remember anything from last night?” (See, I told you I asked her)

TLW: Looking quizzically; “No!”

Me: “Well you were exercising in bed! You were bending your legs up and down while on your stomach!”

TLW: “I did, he-he.”

Yes, and the he-he was me-me!

UNCLE JOE AND THE ‘F’ WORD!


I stood before the gathering of the second graders in the church basement, all hyper and non attentive, as the moderator: Isabella; of the group of about 60 children and their instructors listened to her give her opening remarks to the children.

“Now before we begin class, can anyone tell me about the big “F’ word? Anybody?

My ears were not deceiving me, as I sat there incredulous, mouth gaping, not believing.

One little tyke raised his hand and said: and I thought, here it comes!!

“Forgiveness.”

“Yes” said Isabella as she explained the Gospel for the day to the kids.

“Thank God for forgiveness I thought!

As I moved about the different classes, I came to TLW, (The Little Woman), who asked me to come to her class that night to shoot a picture of the children for a poster I am making for the church. I think a camera would not do as well as a gun might, since I ran out of the place after I was done, these kids are not human, they are climbing, screeching, uncontrollable monkeys. I guess Capuchin monkeys.

Suddenly, a little girl came over to me, and started to wave this picture in front of me.

“Hi!”

“Hello!”

“You see this picture? What do you think these are in it?”

There in the picture was two little girls, her and her sister and two furry little black and white creatures.

Me; “A pussy cat?”

“You’d think. No, they are rabbits! One of them is pregnant! I’m going to be a mommy, and MY mommy is going to be a grandmother, and my grandmother is going to be a great grandmother! We are all so excited!”

Me: “Wow! Good for you, and I’m sure your grandmother is great already. Can I be the uncle?”

“SURRRE”

Friday, February 11, 2011

WHAT’S THE PROBLEM?

“Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”, three great words that have in so many ways changed the course of human events. Yet these very words, each a credo in itself, is all but forgotten by Americans these days. Sometimes I wonder if we have lost the meaning of our political culture, the idea of men and women being free.

Often I see people tied to their jobs, bills and their unfortunate luck, and the ones that have tied them is themselves. As Pogo once said: “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” resonates more and more, every day!

A dear friend of mine has run into a string of bad luck, and has made it a part of all of her day, rather than embracing the peace that comes between the bad things that do happen. We can face hard times, be we need to have peace within ourselves, so as to be able and better reinforced to face hard times. We need to laugh at the hard times, we need to smile through the good times, and we need to laugh when it all passes, both the good and bad.

I know I sound like a Pollyanna, but the truth is, what have I gained if I cry? What good does it do a man if the wind and rain strikes his face, and he does not turn his back on it? What we need to know is that life is temporary: there are no guarantees, that everything has a time and place, and there IS a time to laugh and a time to cry, so long as we have seasons to follow.

So my dear friends, treat yourselves well, take time out from your worries and cares, just enjoy the moments that you do have at peace, and don’t let the bad times roll into your complete day. God gave us tears to wash away the sad, and smiles to broaden the day.
And don’t forget to say I love you to someone, even if it is in your mind.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

THE PRICE I PAY

Most of my life has been spent watching football on Sundays in the fall and early winter. Before I was married, I watched: as I liked, sometimes all day on a Sundays. Then I got married and found that TLW (The Little Woman), didn’t appreciate football.

In the early years I used to tell her I was watching the National Federation Of Lawyers (NFL), and that she should take the kids and go to her mother’s house, since it would be boring for her. Every Sunday in the fall and early winter, that is what she did. She thought I was some kind of brain dead man, and that it was better to visit her mother or shop than watch some boring legal show.

Then one night, while company visited, I had a tad too much to drink, and made the mistake of stating out loud, what the National Federation Of Lawyers really was! I have to the day I die, to pay for it. I will pay every day for the rest of my life.

Fast forward to this evening, while we watched a tape of Glee, that followed the Super Bowl, and because of the post game shows, it was eating into the Glee taping.

“If we don’t see the end of Glee, because of your dumb football, you are in trouble!” so she warned me. Of course we didn’t see the whole show because the Super Bowl ran over the time slot, and now I will pay even more. Thank you NFL, I didn’t even watch the darn game, and now I need a lawyer probably!

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

MEATBALLS!


Every Sunday morning in Brooklyn, as I grew up, Mom would create her masterpiece of culinary delights. Mom, created the meatball from scratch like Italian American families all over Brooklyn, and that was a Sunday.

Mom would pack us off to church, a Sunday Mass for children, in our Sunday finery, and we would starve to the edge of distraction until after Mass, where as we walked home, we could smell the meatballs and sauce being made. House or apartment building after apartment building let out the aroma of the promise of a spaghetti or macaroni dinner by 1:00 pm! There was no such thing as saying “pasta” when we really meant macaroni.

Then I got married one day, and found that the tradition was slightly altered. Mom wasn’t making the meatballs, TLW (The Little Woman) was! Keeping in step with Mom, TLW made a great sauce and meatballs, and with small modifications life continued the same. Where once they were fried, the meatballs were now baked, and along the way, I lost my bracciola, both the pork and beef kinds. Mom would tie them up, like prisoners, and I would free them for a worse fate than that!

This morning being a Sunday, I find TLW, busily rolling her meatballs, getting ready for the arrival of her best customer when it comes to food, everybody’s best customer, my beautiful daughter Ellen. It seems to me that sauce is the unifier: 'the bring me home dish' of both my and my children’s generation. If they have one thing from my past, it is what I got from my Dad’s past, the wonderful smell and anticipation of Mom’s sauce.

Life is good!

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

THE JOYS OF GETTING OLD


If I can just remember what I wanted to write about.

When I was a child, and forgot something, I was distracted. When I became an adult and forgot something, I had too much on my mind. Today when I forget something, I am getting old.

I can sit in one room, think of something to do or get in another room, get up, walk half way there, and forget why I got up! I can read an article in a newspaper, put the paper down, go back and have to read it all over again!

I look at old pictures of myself, and then look into the mirror, and wonder: How the hell did this happen!?”

TLW (The Little Woman) often yells: “THAT’S BECAUSE YOU DON’T LISTEN TO ME!”

Maybe, but I think I just forgot, I am getting old, after all.

Driving has now become a fun event for me, I find like I’m living on the edge, with all the nuts on the road these days, with their SUV’s and big trucks, pulling up behind me, their lights in my mirror of my Prius, and my deliberately slowing down to frustrate them and make them go around me. Then I let loose with a verbal suggestion that Mom would use the wooden spoon on my head for.

Speaking of driving: I never go anywhere without my GPS, cell phone, and two aspirin. The aspirin is for when I get lost. I now ask for directions when leaving the house, you never know.

When it is my turn to cook, I am getting old, trying to not fuss, not make a mess, and very little pots and pans, let alone eating on paper plates as a plan of action.

Getting under the sink, or down on my hands and knees, TLW is helping me up, or I am helping her up. Shoveling snow this past storm, my back hurt, and then I went to a birthday party for My Cousin Vinnie, and was so sore, I couldn’t even dance!

In my office, I put things away for safekeeping and immediate retrieval, only to forget where I put things when I next need them!

Funny how I can remember details of things long gone by!

Monday, February 07, 2011

DINNER NEWS


Each evening starts off with a simple question emanating from either TLW (The Little Woman) or me: “How’s your day?” as she sits down for dinner.

After I say; “Quiet” TLW then begins to tell me about hers. Often as I listen it brings me back to my marriage vows. Those vows include my promising to: Love, honor and listen. The last one is pretty regular in occurrence.

Recently she attended what she calls a town meeting, held by the Wanna-Be-Bank and Truss Company, and conducted by the big Daddy of the wanna-be bank. The idea of these meetings is to update the employees of the grand plans of the wanna-be bank, and what lies in store for the employees.

One of the things discussed is the new building that was recently purchased, and the departure of the existing building. Going into great detail, she begins to describe to me in detail all that I do not want to know, including footage, furniture and who was late for work that morning.

Being a good and dutiful husband, I endure this bombardment of info, because I know it will help me to sleep well, and fall asleep quicker. But the question keeps coming up for both of us: Do I really care?

As she raises the question: “Do you really care?” and as I wonder: “Do I really care” a certain feeling of guilt overcomes me, and as a good and dutiful husband, I do what I should do…

I reach for a piece of chocolate and go up to my office to cry.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

IN THE VALLEY OF TEARS

Or, the Jets didn’t make it to the Super Bowl.

I spent every Sunday watching them, every play, every mis-play, and every word they stated. I rooted with the Macaroni Man, #1 Son, and alone, and I even attended a game due to the wonderful gift from #1 Son for Christmas.




On the last Sunday two weeks ago, I even wore my Jets shirt, which I had won at a raffle, along with my autographed Joe Namath football only to witness the final blows of the price they paid for sloppy, uninspired motivation for a first half of the game. I don’t usually wear jerseys, with some jock’s name on the back, never have, never will, but this was something else. (I do love baseball hats, though)

I have been a Jet fan ever since they had day one, and were called the New York Titians, and did a strange thing, like playing in New York.



When they moved out of Shea Stadium for New Jersey, I vowed I would become a Buffalo Bills fan; after all, they played in New York State, they didn’t leave me for New Jersey! But it wasn’t the same, and so it didn’t work out, since the heart was still connected to the Jets.

And so, like my Brooklyn Dodgers, and my New York Islanders, and like my New York Mets, not to mention the New York Knicks, I will accept defeat once again. I will bow my head down in deep sorrow, cry, wring my hands and swear off sports, because my team loses all the time.


In all the years I have rooted, and for all the teams, my teams have won only eight or nine championships! That is very little over 65 years for that many teams, and So, no more sports watching for me. My Sundays will be spent in deep reflection and prayer, and I will dedicate myself to listening to TLW (The Little Woman), as she remakes me into a new man, by watching “Complete Makeover, and Flip This House.

There will be no more sports pages, or sports shows, or sports period. (Is that redundant, using the word with the symbol?)

This time I mean it.

Spring training begins in about 9 days.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

AN EYE ON THE STORM


It was a cold and snowy day, the wind was biting and the roads were icy, so naturally everyone cut off each other, raced to occupy spots in the traffic that looked like there was room for one more car. I call this: What else is new?

Arriving at the eye doctors office, the parking lot, snow covered and empty was easy to negotiate, and entering the building the office was empty.

A receptionist was the only one in the building as I signed in, so I sat and waited, being 15 minutes early.

“You aren’t here!?”

“I’m not? Where am I?”

“I don’t know, but you canceled!”

“Are you sure? I don’t remember cancelling!”

“No, I have a phone message from you, YOU canceled.”

“Well, I did call, but I called to hear if you were opened, I didn’t say anything on the phone. I just listened.”

“Well, maybe I am having trouble hearing the message, it is garbled, but a Joe did cancel.”

I watch as the rest of the crew arrives, and some patients, and soon I’m called in.

After a while, THE DOCTOR comes in, his highness filled with his self importance, he nods a good morning.

“You came in this weather!”

“Sure, why not, you just take it easy and you can make it.”

“I got a lot of cancellations today, the big babies.”

“I guess the elderly get nervous in this weather”

“Bunch of nanby-panbies, a little wet weather or a cloudy day and they stay home! Big babies. Well, we are done here, stay out of trouble, and please be very careful, it is very dangerous out there.”

!

Friday, February 04, 2011

“COME GROW OLD WITH ME, THE BEST IS YET TO BE”


How I wish I could believe that!

Today I sat in the eye doctor’s office waiting for him to appear. His assistant had just placed some drops in my eyes and told me the eyes had to dilate before the doctor could look at them.

As I sat waiting, I could look out the door into the rest of the office, and watched a very old couple go into a room together, he holding her by her hand, leading, and she was dragging behind a single post walker.

It made me sad to see this, since all I could think of was how they must have met, flirted maybe and then married. He was always leading, and she was always following. Then maybe they took turns at leadership, until one day they discovered they were old, their family gone and perhaps a child or two even ignoring them, disliking them, as well as those that love.

What was even sadder was the fact that she now was relying on him just to move from one place to another. This once vital couple, who had the whole world in front of them, ready to conquer it as a team of lovers, parents and partners in life, sharing their own demise, slowly, but lovingly.

Then I thought some more, and stopped feeling so sorry for them, after all, they still had each other, still lived, however so poorly, or even grandly. I think of how so many couples part ways, either through death, or divorce and never live a full chapter of the life they planned.

So I have to wonder what the best will be, since I know I have to face all those days myself some day, and so do my family and friends. But if we live a long time, we will all have one thing we own, which is unique and singular, yet invisible to anyone else but those we share with, and that is our memories.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

MEET THE GEEK

Today was ‘Meet The Geek Day’ a day that is dedicated to purchasing a laptop so I can conduct my business a little more efficiently. To do that I needed to go to the Apple store in the Smithhaven Mall, in where else but Lakeville, NY.

Entering the store at about 9:30 am, not too many people are in there. That is to say that they could all stand with certainty, and no one was in the need to marry anyone else because it is so crowded as is usually the case!

I walk up to a machine that caught my eye and start my search. I look up and jump out of my skin. There standing next to me, without introduction or warning stood Thomas, your friendly Apple geek, a smile on his face and a question for me.

“Hi! I’m Thomas, can I help you with something?”

“Well Thomas, now that you are here, yes you can. I need to purchase a laptop.”

“Good, very good, do you have anything in mind?”

“Yes, your cheapest one available, I understand they start at $999, from what I’ve read.


In my mind I want to say, “Well Mr.Thomas, I’m spending a thousand bucks, so I need it to play games and to push buttons, it must have buttons.”
But no I say: “I am a designer by trade, and need to show clients pdf’s of work I do for them. Can you show me anything?”

“Well sir, (holding out his hand to shake that as well as the shake down he will perform later, and you are…?)

“Joe”



“OK, you will probably need a much larger machine for the web.”

“No I won’t, because I don’t do web anymore.”

“Oh! You don’t do web anymore! Are you an educator?”

“No, I just design advertising in print, will you still talk to me?”

Rubbing his hands together, he begins to deliver a sales pitch on why I need a bigger machine.



Thomas may have to die, if I am to get out of this store, unless of course he gives me what I want and doesn’t make me feel bad about not buying what he recommends.

I finally convince him he needs to give me what I want, unless he plans to pay for it and he seems somehow to see my logic clearly. But hold on, I did get the lifetime guarantee, but I’m afraid I got it for my lifetime, and not the laptop’s!

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

OUR COUSIN VINNIE IS 75!

How time flies, when I first met my cousin Vinnie (MCV) last May, he was only 74, and recently, I attended his 75th birthday bash! MCV is everybody’s cousin, a guy who lives on the edge of life, a biker. To complicate matters, he is married, but in this case to a great gal Pat, his lovely wife who threw him a party to celebrate.



MCV has a very large family: it is so big they have their own zip code and telephone area code! Vinnie has more grandchildren than Queen Victoria had royal relatives in every kingdom in Europe.


MCV and Pat met when Pat was in High school, and it is love ever since. That was evident on the night of the party, as they seem to be a perfect match, and along with his grandchildren and great grandchildren, they are a lucky couple.

Along for the party was the Class of ’64 Reunion Committee from Bellport High School, so we had our own family table, seated at The Mediterranean Manor in Patchogue. We all drew straws to see who would sit next to Sista Tanj Gerina, and I lost! I sat next to her, and when she insisted on saying grace before each appetizer that was passed around, she would raise her hands in prayer, and would knock me out!



The Little Woman (TLW) and the ladies of the committee did their usual thing: the ‘Stroll’ and I tried to figure our what the hell the steps are. Of course they had to remove their shoes on the dance floor. I refuse to remove mine for the dance floor: in fact I only do it for pre-flight and bed. Now TLW is a problem at the airport, when she does remove her shoes, she immediately starts to do the stroll through the metal detector! Embarrassing!

MCV still has the moves on the dance floor, sliding and gliding and doing his thing, that he is putting pressure on all us younger guys to still be standing at the end of the night.



So Vinnie, glad you had a wonderful life with a wonderful wife and family, HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Like I said on your birthday card, you are now older than God!

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

IT’S BEGINING TO LOOK A LOT LIKE CHRISTMAS!


Or so it seems, as I look out on my street, buried deep in snow, and all the Christmas decorations still on the homes because no one can get at them.

When you realize how crazy that is, over a month after the holiday, they remain up! That is how much snow we have had, enough to paralyze us to the point that we need to make contingency plans just to live our lives.

As a result of our new weather program of a storm a week, the snow is piled high, we can’t see around a corner in our cars, and we can’t be certain what is under our feet. All the romantics out there, the ones who wanted a white Christmas, now have it, a LONG white Christmas, which looks like it will stay another two weeks!

It is so bad, I feel like baking cookies and walnut bread, doing a little shopping, and looking forward to a nice Christmas Eve dinner.

My neighborhood is a great place to be in a snowfall, because we all come out and help each other dig out. When you are my age, which is really appreciated, as much as the pains from shoveling aren’t.

The other morning while we were getting an overdose of the white stuff, (The weathermen promised us 6 to 8 inches, and we got 12 to 14) I woke up at 4:30 am to discover TLW (The Little Woman) out in the driveway shoveling, instead of waking me up! Getting out of my warm and comfortable bed, I got quickly dressed and went out into the cold, and dreary grayness of the morning and with the snow powder caressing my face, took the shovel from her and began to dig out.

From this experience I have discovered that I can predict with certainty when I need to get up. If I wake up in bed warm and comfortable, I need to get up to shovel snow, or if I am really relaxed and comfortable in my easy chair, the dog needs to go out, I must get up!