Thursday, January 31, 2013


Recently there was advertised in my e-mail a design group discussion and lecture on creativity, and the myths of creativity, in which I was invited. Being how I am retired, I really don’t give a damned Scarlett, but I though it is food for thought.

There are many aspects to being a creative person, one of which is to be spontaneous somehow when it is demanded. Being considered a creative type, there have been many instances when being spontaneous was essential to my survival. For instance:

It starts early in life
Mom: “WHO did this?”
Me: “I dunno.”

Now that exchange was NOT very creative for a five year old, although the answer was to the point yet unbelievable.

But creativity comes from experience and managed thought.

Mom: “Who did this?”
Me: “What?”
Mom: “You KNOW what!”
Me: “I don’t know?”

Guilty as sin but looking very innocent and confused and buying time to distance myself from the wooden spoon that is about to be unleashed. This would occur about 7 years of age.An excellent case of: 'managed thought'.

To atone for my transgressions, my mother made me pay for it in artwork for my sister Mary Ann, who was her favorite because she has naturally curly hair and her name is Mary like my grandmother.

Mom: “Mary Ann needs a drawing of the Last Supper in color for Sister Mary Hardass.”
Me: “Wow! Good luck with that!” (Impressed)
Mom: “She’ll give you the crayons and paper you have to use to make it, she will need a new drawing of a masterpiece painting every week on Monday! Get busy.”
Me: “It's 9:00 PM on Sunday night!” (Depressed)
Mom: “You better get busy then.”
Mary Ann w/ Grandma

Of course when I got married, it started all over again.

TLW (The Little Woman): “Joe, I need you to make me a card for my great Aunt Morticia’s 25th Anniversary of being Sober.”
“Why don’t we just buy her card and give her a bottle of wine? What does she drink?”
“I need it by tomorrow, you are such a good husband!”

Of course this led to many more projects through the years. When asked to be creative, I was also asked to be ‘funny’, which is like saying to someone: “Say or do something funny.” Seems kind of impossible and it is, but then when you think of it, this urge to fulfill the request will take over, and sure enough, it turns funny.

When I was working, often the powers to be would come to me from Marketing and ask for the impossible.

“We need a new package design to test against the control, it has to be totally different, it has to be written designed and out the door this evening, with 6 to 8 components in it. We need to ok it first before it goes out! They are reserving press time for it so we can’t miss the run, it is very expensive!” This usually came about 4:30 in the afternoon!

Me in the middle with the 'Powers'
Once again, spontaneity was the main thing, no prep and no time.

One of the funniest things that would happen was when they needed it with no time, yet there was always time to change it! A week later they still hadn’t made up their minds until it finally came back to what I originally proposed.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


I stood near the door waiting in my mother’s house for the expected arrival of the visiting nurse, who would evaluate mom and get her moving back on the path of independence.

I have always respected nurses, I think they are more important than even doctors and should be paid much more than they get. They should get an additional 3% of any earned income the doctor earns for their hard work. The government should subsidize their income with a pension plan that allows them to retire at the age of 55, and they are long overdue the respect they deserve.

The nurse arrived, an attractive woman about in her mid to late forties, and seemed very business-like. I let her in and she gets herself settled and interviews my two sisters: Tessie my older sister (much older) and Nippy, one of my younger sisters from Connecticut and myself.

“Can I get your something, maybe coffee?”  I ask.

“Um, no thank you, not if it isn’t made.” She replies.

“How about tea, can I get you a cup of tea?” I follow-up.

“No tea, I don’t drink tea, I’m Irish!”

OK, she’s Irish, doesn’t drink tea, I have to discuss this one with TLW (The Little Woman) when I get home, I thought that when Irishmen were in hospitals under an IV, the men got whiskey and the woman tea, this is not the case after-all!

“No tea???” TLW an Irishman drinks tea all day long, She has tea with her lunch, with her afternoon naps and pizza, she is a tea drinker, will make tea and asks me to join her, which of course I will.

“Do you know WHY I don’t drink tea?” she asks.

“OK, I’ll bite, why?” (I’m just a great conversationalist! You should hear me in my sleep!)

“Well, growing up in an Irish home, if you got sick, had a minor ache or pain, or just looked cross-eyed, you got a cup of tea to drink!”

My niece Katie-a real nurse!
Isn’t life interesting? You learn some funny stuff from ordinary and extraordinary people, even heroes: like nurses!

A special “Hello” to my beautiful niece Katie Dzicek, who is a nurse out in San Diego somewhere, causing all that sunshine in southern California!

All you rich, unmarried men out there-send me a recent photo and financial statement of the last five years of proven income, and I'll forward it to my niece Katie for her consideration.Mind you she is beautiful, intelligent and related to me!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


We live on the top floor
This morning, as I looked out the window and saw the early morning sun, rising from behind the horizon, it all came back to me! Growing up in Brooklyn in the early to mid 1950’s, the winters were the worst. It seemed the coldest days occurred then in my life as a little kid and it affected every phrase of life.

We didn’t have central heating, what we had in our 5-room apartment was a cast iron stove at the end of the line of rooms that was suppose to heat the whole apartment! It didn’t.

The day started with us undressing from bedtime to dress for school. We wore clothes to bed to keep warm; Dad would put a hot brick at the foot of the bed from the stovetop to help warm our feet. Moving about as we walked to the kitchen in the morning was difficult, the urge to run back to the bed and bury our heads under the covers great.

Mom would make us Farina or oatmeal for breakfast because it was hot. Our clothes for school, including underwear sat on the caste iron stove waiting to be worn, my white starched shirt, blue tie and suit sat ready over the back of a kitchen chair. My shoes, newly polished from the night before were toasty warm on the feet and I can still feel the warmth as it rose around the ankles!

We would bundle up in a suit jacket, a sweater and an overcoat, scarf and gloves or mittens, plus the obligatory hat with ear muffs, making me feel dorky. Once we hit the street for school, we would pass the corner where the wind blew down from Eastern Parkway and bit your face, your eyes tearing and causing a burn on your cheek from rubbing against the coat that covered your face.

Our Lady of Lourdes elementary school
Our school, Our Lady of Lourdes was run like a penitentiary: that is there was an exercise yard where we were to wait for the bell to ring, go to our respective class line and march into the building one class at a time, waiting in the cold frigid air for our turn! There was no mercy!

Once you entered the building, the smell from the steam emanating from the old radiators filled your nostrils, making a smell that said: “Let’s get down to business, and keep quiet unless spoken to!”

Once in your classroom, you were for the only moments in the day, glad to be there.

Going home was not bad, since the day warmed up usually, but at night, the cold and dark took over, always an exacting experience! Mom would hand me the brown bag of garbage if there was too much of it and send me down two flights of stairs to the outside garbage can to dispose of it after dinner. Stepping outside, I would look down the street toward Rockaway Avenue, which was further away than the other end of the street, and feel the distant darkness and cold even more, making it feel like the Arctic air would make me feel even colder and lost in the darkness.

Dad would often take oranges and put them into the homemade wine my grandmother Frances made into a glass pitcher at dinner time, making them stand out against the glass. He would often take the skins and place them onto the top of the hot caste iron stove, creating this special smell, almost a perfume if you will, that permeated the whole apartment we lived in.

In the caste iron stove was fuel that came from an iron can that was stored in the hallway next to the steps. As fuel was needed, Mom or Dad would send me out of the warmth of light in the apartment to get it, the cold air and darkness of the hall would creep into my shirt or pants leg, sending a chill up and down my spine, an iciness crept onto my hands from the cold can, even with the wooden handle to hold on to.

Today, in the winter, every time I look up into the early morning sky, seeing the sun peeking out from behind the horizon, that cold feeling comes across once again reminding me how nice it is-finally, as it all comes back to me!

Monday, January 28, 2013


The other morning before my mother was released from the rehab center, I got there early to help her pack her stuff.

Next to Mom lies Helen, the poor woman suffering from a dislodged brain and bleeding in her skull from a fall down 7 steps, smacking her head on a brick floor! She is suffering from headaches and can’t sleep well.

In this early morning the nurse enters the room and addresses Helen.

A nightmare
“Good morning sunshine!”

“Good morning nurse.”

“Did you sleep well last night?”

“Nah I had a terrible dream!”

“Oh! That’s too bad!”

“Yes, it was awful!”

“What was the dream about?”

“I dreamt that my husband and Elvis Presley were fighting over me!”

“Oh! Sounds like a good dream to me! What was so terrible about it?”

“My husband was winning.”

True story!

Sunday, January 27, 2013


One thing I hate is when I am the last person to know something. When everyone else is ‘onto’ or ‘with it’ as they say, and I am unaware, it starts to bother me. But usually this happens when at the very beginning, whatever it is, I didn’t deem important enough to get interested in.

Recently, the press has made a big deal about two things that I never thought needed to be in the newspapers to warrant attention.

First off is the famous Manti Te’o. Who is Manti Te’o Uncle Joe Bob you ask? I guess if you follow Notre Dame football, you might know who he is, but if you have a lot of time on your hands, reading the classics to you is yesterday’s news, then, you definitely know who he is.

Now I’m not following this story closely, just an occasional peek at a headline and find he has an imaginary girl friend who died or something. Not only is this so-called girlfriend dead, she spoke to him all night at some point. But the voice was someone else’s, a guy using a falsetto voice. My next point is very important: WHO CARES?

The press has made this an important story, and the Notre Dame footballer is on every tabloid, and taking a lot of ink. Does this have an effect on the fiscal cliff, if so: can we push the story over the cliff? Will it get Assad out of Syria so the children stop dying? By the way, those stories can be found way in the back in Newsday, or behind the gossip columns of the New York Daily News!

Then there is Beyonce’, who had the audacity to lip-sync the music at the Presidential inauguration. At first I thought that maybe it was someone else’s voice she was lip-syncing to, but it was her voice. She made an appearance, lip-synced to her own voice and the world is now standing on its collective head! To repeat myself for clarity once again: WHO CARES?

I guess this just points out to how far we as a people are regressing. Rather than obsessing over the homeless and the hungry, the abused children of the world, the wars and starvation, and the lack of care about these issues or so it seems, we obsess over the stupid things in life that have no life of their own except in the rags that report it.

Saturday, January 26, 2013


The phone rang, waking me from a deep resting of my eyes. Having gotten up very early that morning for the trip up to Purchase NY to drop off my wife’s son, #2, I had a busy day and was waiting for the call that would send me off for more.

His plumbness had promised to call if he was able to get a part for mom’s bathroom bowl and we arranged the time. Calling Tessie my older sister (Much older), off I went to meet her at mom’s house and the eminent arrival of his eminence. 

I’ve met important people before, celebrities, and men and women from all callings of life and notoriety, but plumbers… that’s another ticket! His Plumbness knocks and enters with Rabbit Feet his trusty companion and they just march off to go to work, and the fun began!

Rabbit Feet, his trusty sidekick comes in with a blowtorch and tank, and goes into the basement where the action will take place once they undo the toilet, and so we are regulated to the sidelines to await our fate.

The pounding begins, the clanking and grinding of their labors, proving that they are on the job. Soon his Highness, Nick comes upstairs and shows me the copper piping he has just removed, indicating the holes from years of corrosion and use! I look and make some comment and off he goes. A half hour later Rabbit Foot comes up with another pipe and the same thing happens, the man is as honest as the day is long! He advised that some of the things I thought needed work weren’t necessary and that I should probably leave them alone!

Then he starts to use the torch, and the house, my mother’s house, the house where you can’t sit on the living room furniture without getting a wooden spoon across your head is filled with smoke! It is getting heavy, and smoky and hard to see and breath!

Suddenly the need to clear the air occurs as I rush into the bathroom and see where the toilet has been moved, there is flames leaping out of the hole where the toilet seat was. Tess, my older sister (much older) is busy waving a towel at the fire alarm that is now screaming “Fire… Fire…” the alarm blearing and then more “Fire… Fire…” as I reach for the bathroom window and open it to get some of the smoke out. His plumbness undoes the alarm and says: “sorry!” A simple “oops!” would have sufficed.

After a few hours of work, the ordeal is finally over, and the bathroom looks like no one was ever there! Spotless and clean and all is in working order. He is pointing to the inside of the tank of the toilet to a small impression of letters that says: “February 1st, 1960”. Nick the Plumber looks at me and says: “THAT is when this little beauty was made, they don’t make them like this anymore.” He then replaces the cover to the tank and lifts the toilet seat and flushes.

“Now THAT’s a flush!” he says.

All this for only $860.00!

Friday, January 25, 2013


Tessie my older sister (much older) and I needed a plumber to come to mom’s house for some repairs to a pipe in her basement. We got a recommendation and made the call, and Nick the plumber was coming to pay us a visit!

The big day arrived and Tessie my older sister (much older) and I awaited with much anticipation, after all Nick the plumber was coming. We are not talking a Harvard or Yale graduate, a member of the President’s staff or even the President himself, not even the Pope, but a plumber! I mean the other guys you can get any time, but a plumber, even more revered than an electrician!

As we waited in mom’s house, the snow was starting to fall and the gloom of a late afternoon was settling in. Like a ray of sun had burst out from the clouds, a white van suddenly appeared.

“MY GOD! He’s here, the plumber is here!” Tessie my older sister (much older) blessed herself and genuflected, and frankly I thought it a bit much, although I WAS prepared to kiss his ring or wrench.

His Plumbness entered through the front door, the neighbors peering from their curtained windows, but I could feel the eyes were all on us now. He had an entourage of assistance, a ‘go for’ with rabbit feet and a hood over his head.

Sticking a small business card in my face, I read the card and am informed it is indeed, Nick the Plumber! I could feel the joy of having a plumber even if it was Mom’s house. These events are highly unusual and should be savored as much as possible, who knows if I will ever see this in my life-time again?

I wondered how to address him. Do I say ‘Mr. Nick’ or ‘Your plumbness’ or would a simple ‘Sir’ suffice? I mulled over ‘Mr. Sir Your Plumbness’ but decided to speak only when spoken to, not look directly in the eyes and to answer the question as quickly and simply as possible.

“”What seems to be the problem?”

“Joseph, he has spoken! You talk to him”

“Leaky pipe in basement we think.” I didn’t want to offend him and make him think I was a know it all.

“Why don’t we have a look?”

He was including me in the look! You can’t imagine the honor or the feeling of gratitude and humility I felt, suddenly as if it were a feverish wave that overcame my humble body!

Down into the bowels of the house we went, me, Tessie my older sister (much older), the hooded stranger and his plumbness. He held a wand like lamp, a symbol of his high status in life, and a reminder of constant reverence and began pointing it into the hole in the ceiling where the leak was.

“Looks like you have a leaky pipe!” he intoned, the words echoing off the basement walls. I thought of Dad and how proud he would have been of me for getting a plumber not only in the house but deep into the bowels of the house. I made myself a mental note to mark the day on the calendar. I was going to mention to Mom but thought better of it, after all the shock on her 94-year old body would be too much.

He orders rabbit feet to go to the truck and get a utility knife and bucket and to remove the crumbling ceiling part.

Reaching up into the newly cut away ceiling, he looks around with his perpetual light, (may it shine on all your plumbing), his plumbness makes what I knew was coming next: “It’s an old part!”

Tessie my older sister (much older) says under her breath: “Joe, he speaks once more, maybe we should take notes or record it?”

I, gathering up all my senses and trying to act worthy of the conversation with a plumber says: “Oh?”

“Yes, I will have to see if I can get the part you need and I will call YOU, tomorrow if I do, stay near a phone.”

His plumbness left and Tessie my older sister (much older) and I sat for a moment or two in the chairs no one has ever sat in before, because Mom wouldn’t let us, and reflected on the day, the day the plumber cometh.


Thursday, January 24, 2013


I don’t feel like writing today so instead I will give you the following because some of these quotes are funny, and I feel lazy. Think of it as one of the many benefits of reading DelBloggolo daily. And remember, if you don’t feel well, read two of my blogues and call me in the morning! 

Here is a compilation of famous questions asked by liars, I mean lawyers in questioning people in court during trials from official records nationwide:
1. Was that the same nose you broke as a child?
2. Now, doctor, isn't it true that when a person dies in his sleep, in most cases he just passes quietly away and doesn't know anything about it until the next morning?
3. Q: What happened then?
A: He told me, he says, 'I have to kill you because you can identify me.'

Q: Did he kill you?

4. Was it you or your brother that was killed in the war?
5. The youngest son, the 20-year-old, how old is he?
6. Were you alone or by yourself?
7. How long have you been a French Canadian?
8. Do you have children or anything of that kind?
9. Q: I show you exhibit 3 and ask you if you recognize that picture?

A: That's me.

Q: Were you present when that picture was taken?

10. Were you present in court this morning when you were sworn in?
11. Q: Now, Mrs. Johnson, how was your first marriage terminated?

A: By death.

Q: And by whose death was it terminated?

12. Q: Do you know how far pregnant you are now?

A: I'll be three months on November 8.

Q: Apparently, then, the date of conception was August 8?

A: Yes

Q: What were you doing at the time?

13. Q: Mrs. Jones, do you believe you are emotionally stable?

A: I used to be.

Q: How many times have you committed suicide?

14. So you were gone until you returned?
15. Q: She had three children, right?
A: Yes.

Q: How many were boys?

A: None

Q: Were there girls?

16. You don't know what it was, and you don't know what it looked like, but can you describe it?
17. Q: You say that the stairs went down to the basement?

A: Yes

Q: And these stairs, did they go up also?

18. Q: Have you lived in this town all your life?

A: Not yet.

19. A Texas attorney, realizing he was on the verge of unleashing a stupid question, interrupted himself and said, "Your Honor, I'd like to strike the next question."
20. Q: Do you recall approximately the time that you examined the body of Mr. Edington at the Rose Chapel?

A: It was in the evening. The autopsy started about 8:30 p.m.

Q: And Mr. Edington was dead at the time, is that correct?

A: No, he was sitting on the table wondering why I was doing an autopsy.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


what she did before she had a I-phone!

“Finally! My phone arrived! Look at all these things you can do! Wait, I have to charge the battery. Look at this, a GPS, and I can get the weather, and wait, I have to charge the battery there’s a to-do list and wait, I have to charge the battery, a BUILT IN CAMERA! Wait, I have to charge the battery.”

And so it went with Tessie my older sister (much older) as we sat across from each other in my mother’s room at the rehab center. Old Tessie my older sister (much older) hated her old phone, the keyboard was too cumbersome to type on and too much trouble hitting the little button when a phone call came in,

While Tessie my older sister (much older) was going on about her wonderful new phone and all the apps including your key chain, (those little thin pieces if plastic with the scan bars from CVS or Shop and Stop or whatever they call themselves) a funny thought came to mind. What would Mom do with one of these new I-phones?
Someone new she won't phone.

My mother is very religious: she got that way after having me. I could picture the desk top photo, a picture of the Virgin Mary, all dressed up in powder blue, eyes raised to heaven, to match Mom’s shutters outside her house. Then there is the question of color of the phone, something “bright and cheerful, not so morguey” as she says, maybe a floral pattern to match her wall trim in the kitchen, and definitely yellow.

Apps would be an issue, since after Knitting Weekly, Crocheting Monthly and Wooden Spoon Daily Magazines, maybe a cooking magazine: there isn’t a whole lot Mom would go for.

Contacts she would have would consist of only one phone number: her boy toy. Since I married, Mom will rarely call her other offspring or me except maybe Tessie my older sister (much older), for a ride. Her regular phone with the touch-tone does not make connections to my house for some strange reason, and like she says when I ask how come she never calls me: “Since when does the mother do the calling?”

I once asked my mother if she would use a computer if I gave her one and taught her how to use it said: “What would I do with that thing? I have a TV and I don’t even use the darn thing!” “But Ma”, I said, “You can shop from home! You wouldn’t even have to leave the house!” And her answer was to tell me she didn’t have to, Henry her boy toy does all the shopping for her! “He even puts it away, and when we cook, he cleans up!”

You know what? I should leave my mother alone, she is well organized somehow, AND a perfectionist, just ask her boy toy. As for Tessie my older sister (much older), do you need any more Apps, before you go off and recharge?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


I thought it might get your attention!

The other morning, I went out to get the paper, and read the headlines on the front page: SEX IN THE RECTORY. Being this is a Saturday morning, I wondered what the flock would be thinking the next morning for their weekly get together. This rectory was nowhere near where I live, but you can’t help but imagine with what is familiar.

There are interesting people that go every Sunday, devoted true believers, and this has to assault their sense of piety when they read things like that headline. For me, someone who has questioned everything about the Church, how it got its authority over people’s lives and minds in the quest for their souls, it is disturbing because I need an opened mind, not one jaded by uncontrollable events in the news.

I recently had a long discussion with someone about Jesus, and all the prophets and I must say the other end of my argument had little to defend himself with but scriptures from the bible and beliefs. I play devil’s advocate a lot and it is fun. I enjoy the give and take of fact and figures, the spirit to either foster a belief or fine-tune it. I don’t believe the bible to be authentic and this particularly holds true for the New Testament, but that is my problem. Questions come to mind that I can’t find answers to and no one has answered in a convincing way.

It saddens me when I read stories that come out about things like sex in a rectory or a priest with a gambling problem and a sexual perversion, because at some point that person entered the religious life with a pure spirit. It seems to me we all do, them we are swallowed up by many things, including Hollywood and the mass media. Whether you believe in God or not, whether you think Jesus lived or not, the things being taught in the temples and churches are good things. Love of God and country, of mankind and the giving spirit.  As much as I question the content, I do love the spirit and hope it prospers, because it only teaches good… sometimes.

But that headline, it used something sacred, a person’s belief to sell papers, in a rather boisterous way, a laughingly mocking way, and I don’t like it.

If you wish to question me about what I think, I would be happy to discuss it with you privately, either in e-mail or in person or even on the phone. My belief in God is strong, and I yet have big questions for the bible, and the different sects.

Monday, January 21, 2013


I went to visit my mother at the nursing home, and there in the room was this fellow sitting in a corner by the other bed. The man caught me by surprise as I threw my jacket down on the chair since Mom wasn’t back from her rehab yet. I waved at him and he smiled back.

Remembering his last name on the doorway before I entered I introduced myself to him and asked him if he was from the Bellport area his name sounding familiar.  He came over to me with his hand held out to shake it and I did.

“No, I don’t know anyone from this area by that name” he said to me.

He was a short man, maybe 5’1” and about 82 or 83 years old. His hair was grey and he had on a maroon sweat. I asked him how his what I assumed to be wife was doing and he lit up.

“She’s doing great! I came in and she wasn’t here, I figured she was taken somewhere and I looked for her and she was in the rehab room! Her eyes were open and she was moving!” he said.

“Why is she here?” I asked.

A sad look came over the man’s face, and he looked down and then like someone had wound him up gave me both a physical and verbal explanation of what happened.

“She fell down 7 steps, her head hit the red brick floor and she injured her shoulder!” he said to me. “Her brain moved in her head, causing blood to accumulate on her brain and she has terrible headaches! She can’t keep her eyes opened. The doctor wanted to drill holes in her head, maybe cut it open and work on her brain. Then they wanted to give her morphine and I said no, that stuff is no good, NO good.”  Just then Mom returned from her rehab and I broke off the conversation as his wife returned from rehab also.

Out of the corner of my eye I watched as his daughter came to visit while I was talking to my mom. Dad seemed to take charge of everything, the lunch tray that arrived, her comfort even her position on the bed. He looked for more blankets as the nurse walked in to give his wife some medication.

Mamma was sitting in her bed with her eyes closed and a damp clothe over her eyes, as she complained about the light giving her the headaches that she was constantly suffering from. The nurse reached across the bed and administered the meds and Mamma made this face that could peel paint. As she was making the face, her husband started to laugh.

“What are you laughing about?” she intoned.

“You made this funny face when you tasted the medicine!” he replied.

‘WELL IT AIN’T FUNNY!” she snapped.

The poor man was visibly hurt, shrinking away from her, not knowing what to do or say. I could feel the hurt that he was trying to find some moment of relief for both his wife and himself. He obviously loved her very much and she was very angry with him. I guess I can’t blame the woman for being upset, even angry, but she was biting the only hand that held any sunshine for her.

Sunday, January 20, 2013


Chuckles the Clown R.I.P.

Chuckles the Clown
90 Is suppose to be the new 70, or so I’ve been told. People are living longer and advances in medicine are supposed to continue to help that trend. They also are working longer, but not necessarily because they want to! I got a jump on 90, for a change I’m way ahead of the curve and its not good!

According to my doctor’s it seems if I want to live long, I have to walk. Yes walking is going to keep me alive: to where? That is the problem, I could walk around the block and if I do I’m back to where I started, that’s not good! I could walk to somewhere, but then I need a ride back, and that doesn’t make sense. I once tried a treadmill, and that got me nowhere.

God only knows how many diets I have tried, and like everyone else, even when you lose weight, it creeps back on. Diets seem to be losing their punch and popularity. Like everything the media reports on, the new popular belief being blown out of proportion is: eat everything you like, just in moderation. I try that and Dr. Strangeglove, takes my blood and checks for cholesterol, and the last time found a whole banana cream pie in my arteries. I ate it a little at a time too!

Getting older is a losing battle. You naturally gain weight in my family, the ‘Genes and Jeans’ problem so to speak. Let’s face it, some of us are lucky and some of us a like me. ‘Fatigued At Trying’ or F.A.T. people like myself wage a continuous battle and are losing.

TLW (The Little Woman) eats like a bird, which is very little and complains very rarely. She gives it a doggedly attempt like a trooper. I think I eat like a bird too, but it turns out according to TLW to be Big Bird!
Chuckles has nothing on me!

Rather than make a resolution this year, I thought I’d just quietly try to eat less. I have been doing the half portions routine and saving the rest for lunch. Then I realized I was eating bigger lunches lately, and I wonder where the weight is coming from. My problem is I hate to waste food, growing up in a family that enjoys food and one that always by tradition cooked well. Mom is 94, and I checked her refrigerator, and she eats very well! There is food in her pantry I dream about! She doesn’t take medication and is very sharp as she always was! Maybe I should have listened to my mother more.

Interestingly enough, I am becoming less of a meat eater and love fresh vegetables. The problem is I have to eat with TLW. I hate Weight Watcher’s meals, its like eating fake food, almost synthetic, and if I can’t at least enjoy what I eat, why bother?

Then there is always tomorrow.

Saturday, January 19, 2013


And firing away!

Mom and her offspring
It was the night of Toots II’s (Lois) retirement/birthday party, and the crowd from the Wanna-Be-Bank & Truss Co. gathered at the local restaurant to say goodbye to the lady in a royal fashion.
Mr. Fix-It, Corinne, Bow Tie, Princess Pat and TLW
The big mockers were there, to pay tribute to years of devoted service and so too were the young people, all with their futures ahead of them, recognizing the power of what a good person can do and does. Along with this impressive array of people were the three lovely daughters and son with girl friend in tow (equally lovely I may add) to honor mom, their mom for who she is.

Retirement seems to be a bitter/sweet day when you experience it, and it was nice to have a chance to say goodbye. Parting is indeed sweet sorrow.

TLW, Princess Pat, Toots II and Mr. Fix-It
The food was good, the company great and the tributes from her bosses sincere and quite nice, telling me she was loved, and still is. But of course there was a fly in the ointment, for some reason, being it is a wanna-be-bank, it had to get some of it’s speakers for nothing, and that is where I come in.

One of things she was recognized for was her pole dancing, which she performs at the various retirement homes around the county, she is known as Sweetie La Rue (Yes, she can make change of a five.) her many titles and the many to the point names of members (Dumb, Dumber and Dummest) .
Mr. Fallon, one of her bosses giving a beautiful presentation from the bank
Yes, I got up and gave my two cents worth of retirement speech, the unsuspecting guests, subjected to my brand of humor, offering advice on how to spend her retirement and what to expect. As I made a fool of myself, I realized how strange it was for me to be there, doing this! Most of the people in the room were strangers to me, and many had met me for the first time. A cannon on the loose you might say! Fortunately no one threw anything at me while I was up there, and I hid until everyone went home before attempting to leave the building.

I opened up by stating I was totally unprepared for saying a few words, then pulled out my speech, which I suspect got a few sneers and a few pistols cocked, but luckily the guest were either too drunk or resigned to this becoming a long evening, and didn’t shoot!
Mickey, Teresa, Karenlee, Joanne, Mr. Fallon and Mr. Eberharth

There was actually laughter at my remarks, and I am proud to say I am still alive.

But the company was great. The lovely Corinne and her husband Mr. Fix-it (Doug) who works for the Wanna-Be-Bank, Bow Tie (Lenny) another Wanna-Be-Bank employee and of course Princess Pat gave her presence to our table making for some real fun and good times.

So, one more time: Good-bye Lois already! Jeez, I missed Bowling for Dollars reruns that night!

Friday, January 18, 2013


Prescription drugs.

Once, a very long time ago, I was a young man. I used to talk about 401k’s, my children, my career, my life was filled with plans. When I met with my peers, it was business or each other that we spoke of, the laughter pouring out of us over a lunch or drinks somewhere.

Then one day I got the idea that maybe I was getting old! You know, that condition that takes over and never leaves? It usually starts when the kids all leave high school and leave you the bills for college. Along with the bills comes creeping arthritis (Dad called it authorities).

As you can see she is quite a bit older!
The other day I was with my older sister (much older) Tess as we were visiting Mom at the rehab center. Mom was her usual happy self, (I was afraid I was going to have to get a band-aid for her chin it was sooo long with happiness about being there, it might scrap the ground).

“Hi Ma, how you feeling?”
“All right, I want to go home. I’m bored and tired of this place!”
“Now Ma, you know this is your ticket to independence, you need to finish up the program and then you go home.”

My older sister Tessie (much older) says: “They decided to keep her here a few extra days!”

“I’m sick of this place.”
“Now Ma, if you don’t get strong enough to leave, you can’t stay alone. As it is we are getting you help overnight, and Henry will be with you during the day!”
“But I’m bored, and I don’t like the food.”

And so it goes every day at every visit.

Looking to change the subject it hits me, I’ll talk about that old standby: prescription drugs. I open the conversation and Henry immediately jumps in, offering his take on what he takes. Tess, my older sister (much older) adds her two cents a pill in little brown bottles to the conversation, and suddenly, along with my collection, we have covered the whole realm of pharmaceutical snacks and treats! But something is wrong. Something is terribly wrong! I think about it and realize, Mom is 94, sitting in this wheel chair across the table from me, and mad because she has to do more rehab than she originally thought. SHE DOESN’T TAKE ANY DRUGS!

Well Ma, you just rehab yourself out of that old wheelchair, but leave the cushion because I’m going to need it!

Thursday, January 17, 2013


There’s a song that keeps playing in my head from way back in the 50’s. It started when I was driving through a place called Patchogue, NY, here on Long Island. I was on my way to visit my mother at the rehab home where she is staying after making her pre-paid funeral arrangements, and noticed how all the landmarks I once knew were no longer there.

They're not making the skies as blue this year
Wish you were here
As blue as they used to when you were near
Wish you were here

My first freelance job for Rollic Inc.
One landmark in particular, an icon really, had disappeared and a small lot is in its place. The building occupied the corner of Grove and Main Streets and stood there as a fortress with block windows and red brick walls, and Rollic Inc. employed a good deal of locals, manufacturing children’s clothes for Sears and Roebuck, now known as Sears, In my high school and college years, Rollic Inc., was a source of funds for my college education, as well as two sisters. Across the street on Grove stood a lumber yard, and when we came from Brooklyn to visit my cousins when I was young, I would look for the landmark combo of Rollic Inc. and the Lumber yard, and I knew we were seconds away from our destination. Now there is an empty lot as if the fortress was blown away, and instead of a lumberyard stands a bank, a small building with a big parking lot.

But that was true throughout the ride through Patchogue, the old LILCO building, the luncheonette where I had my coffee breaks, the barber shop on the corner where John the barber talked baseball with me, the stationary store where I bought the newspaper and cigarettes, all gone, under new names with different goods and services!

And the mornings don't seem as new
Brand-new as they did with you
Wish you were here
Wish you were here
Wish you were here

The old Lace Mill in West Patchogue on Main Street
Little vignettes appeared in my mind, flashbacks from childhood and high school and my college days, running like a highlight film from the past. Familiar faces suddenly appeared and people long gone came to life once again.

Someone's painting the leaves all wrong this year
Wish you were here
And why did the birds change their song this year
Wish you were here

I guess it all makes sense, as I drive to my destination, and the harsh reality that mom is no longer the same either! Yet even the back roads where once a duck farm stood, with a stench so bad you HAD to hold your nose to pass it, there stood an emptiness of remnants and weeds, a silent monument to what was once the pride of Long Island industry and my childhood.

They're not shining the stars as bright
They've stolen the joy from the night
Wish you were here
Wish you were here
Wish you were here

As I make my turn into the road that brings me to the rehab home, I see the hospital, the place where my sister was born, and I went through an ordeal back in the mid-seventies, and where Mom would volunteer her time, where dad fought his battle with cancer before they sent him home to die, once a simple one story building now multi-storied and expanded, with an additional building across from it and realize the world is changing.

Someone's painting the leaves all wrong this year
Wish you were here
Why did the birds change their song this year
Wish you were here

There is no way to recall the years past I guess except in our minds, and maybe I don’t really want to. Mom has lived a long time and for that we are grateful as a family. Now I find comfort in my wife and home, a little place on the earth where I go to retreat and enjoy her company.  The younger generation of family members have all branched out into the world and leave me feeling very proud of their accomplishments, and I think back to the little apartment on Hull Street in Brooklyn, where 4 of mom and dad’s 5 offspring came from, how humble that was and how poor we lived in terms of money, but rich in closeness and tradition and I know…

They're not shining the stars as bright
They've stolen the joy from the night
Wish you were here
Wish you were here
Wish you were here!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


You go through your whole life taking for granted the things that seem to occur everyday: your health, your family, maybe your job. Friends come and go and so do enemies. You go through the days one by one and say such things as: I can’t wait to be a teenager, or I can[t wait for Friday or the next vacation.

Then one day something happens and you realize it is getting late! You need more time, more time to live, to take in the experience of life more slowly. A friend dies, maybe a child moves away, or a parent falls and needs help.

Mom is 94 years old. I visit her everyday and see how she is progressing. We all are hoping for her to leave the nursing home and go home to her own world once again. But we realize her world is now shattered, not the same anymore. Since Mom fell, her children are taking over slowly a little at a time.  It is killing her that if she goes home, she will need some assistance at night, she is very fragile and needs help. Her mind is sharp and responds with the same expressions both physically and verbally.

The hard part of being her child now is telling her she can’t do what she would like to do, that because of her physical limitations, her children are creating rules for her for her own good. My sister Joanne took on the task of telling her she needed to pre-plan her own funeral, and why. I started the process days ago and she was upset with the thought, but said that when she got home she would consider it. It was her way of saying: get lost.

So I went to the funeral parlor and spoke to one of the directors. A very young man with many years ahead of him, who worked with what we wanted to do, my sister Joanne and I. I was a tough job but we did it. We had to go back to the nursing home and tell mom how much it costs and what we did.

Mom was sitting up in a wheel chair, eating lunch that Henry, her boy toy brought her, and as she was biting into his grilled cheese sandwich, I laid the price down on her. Her eyes squinted and a face I never saw before was made. To relive the tension, I mentioned the juggling act she was also providing along with a some clowns that will climb out of a very small car. She started to smile, and didn’t say anything. I found there are tow ways to break news to Mom: one is to tell her straight out and stand back, or with humor. Humor works best, standing back doesn’t always work best because she does have a good reach with a wooden spoon.

And so a very distasteful job is complete, she didn’t ask for the details and I won’t offer unless she does. I have ‘Power of Attorney’ but make her sign the check to the ‘Pre Plan’ as they now call it in the state of New York.

So soon Medicaid will rear its ugly head and we want to be above board, transparent and honest, we will do what we need to do for her sake, and her sake only. All her money will be spent on her, in her final years no matter how long that is.

My sisters all agree with that, so I am proud of them for doing so.