Wednesday, November 30, 2016



Every Sunday morning like clockwork, the Little Woman (TLW) and I go to breakfast at a local diner. It is a favorite time of the week and I enjoy the solitude at 7:00 AM that there is because people are still sleeping off their hangovers in my neighborhood.

Usually, the diners are empty except for maybe one or two people, and every time I show up, I open with one or two of my favorite lines.
Waitress: "Good morning!"
"Good morning, can you squeeze us in?"

"Good morning, we have reservations but we came anyway!"

This is good because it does a number of things needed, it sets a friendly tone, and it keeps TLW's eye exercised from the eye rolling she does.

We get a look from the owner with a little bit of a grin and we get escorted to a booth. There is nothing better than Sunday morning breakfast at a diner, fresh coffee, juice, and eggs with sausage make for a dandy me, if you have bakery rye bread or sourdough bread, better yet still!

Last Sunday when I was paying the cashier for the meal, there was a couple who entered and the husband asked in a practically empty diner: "How long a wait?"

As we left the diner, TLW started to wave her hands and said: "I guess it must be a husband thing. YOU start with your jokes, and now this guy carries it on! MUST be a husband thing!

Yes, it must be. So, is dying before your wife. Why? Because we want to, that's why.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016


Saturday morning as I was leaving a convenience store carrying some breakfast sandwiches I ordered on line, I noticed a jogger running down the road. I usually don’t pay attention to joggers except to avoid hitting them with my car. But this guy was something different that caused me to notice him. On his right hip was a red flashing light. A blinker that warned drivers that he was there on the side of the road, it gave off a strong red flashing light.

Seeing this gentleman running I wondered if it was indeed a sign that he was there, or was it that he was about to make a right-hand turn, or at the least, changing lanes? I never saw such a thing before!

Then there was an incident I witnessed through the miracle of Facebook, and the only thing I could possible call this was a mannequin moment. Someone had a camera and was going through a couple of rooms in a house, and everyone in the rooms were caught in a moment of time, frozen into a position. One was talking on a banana phone, one taking a selfie, one about to pour soda into a glass held by someone else, etc. It seems kind of dumb, especially after you see it for the first-time a while ago.

Everything in life has a life-cycle, from woolen powdered wigs to mannequin poses, overuse of cellphones for instances. Once upon a time on the subways of NYC, people were warned not to look at anyone else riding in the car with you. Strangers in NYC subways are a fickle breed, so don’t look them in the eyes, avoid eye contact. Now the problem is solved! No one looks at anyone anymore, that are buried in their cellphones, on subway cars, restaurants and planes falling from the sky! We just don’t know what the people we are with look like anymore. For instance: Lagossi Funeral Home, the dearly departed is laid out in his personalized pine box with brass handles and opened lid.
Visitor #1: “Poor Jack, he left us so soon!”
Visitor #2: Looking up from his cellphone, “Is that what he looked like!”
Father: “Excuse me Madam, can you tell me where my wife and kids are?”
Wife: “We’re your wife and kids!”
Yes, we stare into those little cellphones for so long are children grow behind our cellphones, not before our very eyes, like they used to.

I hope that the cellphone craze disappears soon, since there is not anything on it that requires my attention 24/7, unless we are slowly becoming mindless.

Monday, November 28, 2016


Catchy, isn't it?

Life is filled with clichés, mindless, thoughtless, void of originality. It bothers me, why, because none of it is truly felt. "OHMYGOD!" usually uttered by some mindless little girl who hasn't called on God all week other than to say: "OHMYGOD!" Dialect-wise: "OHMYGAWD!" is another form of mindlessness. There is, of course, the more-sincerer minded mindless utterance such as:
"OH…   MY…   GOD!" uttered while holding one's hand flat across the chest. This is followed by a contrived laugh.

You say: "NOOOO WAAAAY!" Yes, way! This term I have found to be used when one is not experiencing brain functionality, a void of coherent thought and afterthought followed up by a cogent response. This is usually heard from mannequins and other assorted dummies. My little 3-year old granddaughter has more vocabulary following circumstances of disbelief.

Someday, someone will see me (Probably not after this blog) and say: "How ya doin?" Notice I used the word: "Say" not ‘ask'. Why? Because no one gives a rat's ass how I am really doing. What would they do if I said: "Please sit down so I can tell you how I'm doing."? They would probably half look at their watch or wrist and say: "Gee, I gotta run!"

Surprise can be expressed with other words as well; ‘Holy S#!+' I assume that someone using this phrase was once a plumber at some religious institution, and has it on authority that poop can be holy!

Another beauty is always coming from some young lady earning her way through college and working a shift as a waitress. You give her your order:

Me: "I'll have a zebra steak medium rear with two-week old potatoes and rotten broccoli, butter on the side." Her response? "NOOOO PROOOOBLEM!" or "I deliberately set the table on fire because it is too dark in here." "NOOOO PROOOOBLEM!"

"NOOOO PROOOOBLEM!" is viewed as an "I'm flexible, tip me well, I love you," When I hear "NOOOO PROOOOBLEM!", I immediately wait for the problem to come up, and the fact that because she disappointed me, that tip might not be as grand as she thinks she's going to get.

Finally, there is one cliché I abhor more than any other, and its constant overuse and misuse of a word that shouldn't be used that often, because of its meaning: "Awesome." Going to the moon was ‘awesome', Mets winning the '69 World Series or the Chicago Cubs finally winning are ‘awesome'. Finding your keys, not that great a deal.

So I will drift off to nap a little and ponder why I am so grumpy. Sounds like a cool idea.

Sunday, November 27, 2016


Years ago, one of my favorite comedians, Bob Newhart had a routine where he would without props have a conversation on the phone, one of which turned ugly for one reason or another. The end of these conversations usually ended in him speaking into his hand shaped telephone and saying: "The same to you, fella!"

A few days ago, while sitting in my chair waiting to die, it being a slow afternoon with the perusing of the Internet I received a call on my cell-phone. Not being a number I recognized I answered it, thinking it might be a Board member needing to speak with me.

It turned out it was some stranger with a heavy and impossible East Asian accent, maybe Pakistani or Indian, who launched into a tirade about me, my honesty and how crooked my company was. On the verge of profanity, he seemed to be upset. He mentioned the fact that someone had given him my number and that he was tired of this game I was playing.

Then he got a little nasty, and at that point, I realized: here is an opportunity to make matters worse! I decided to tell him the truth.

Me: "I have NO idea what you are talking about!"

Punjab: "Don't give me that $#!+, I am going to sue you, you mother …"

Me: "Well then, go _ _ _ _ yourself, and I dare you to sue me!" With that, I ended the call. (You can't really say "hung up" anymore with a cell phone.)

He immediately called back and I didn't answer, but he left a message, one filled with rage and dirty talk and so I hope he does call back now that I have him hotter than a Jalapeno or Asian pepper!

Nothing like a little rage over the holidays!

Saturday, November 26, 2016


Every now and then I go into my childhood days and recall many warm memories. Memories mostly from mom and dad and my grandparents. But I didn't stop living when I married and had kids. The memories that I hold now since I married have been extra-special and deeply important to me. That may be why I don't mention them too often.

One of the best and most dear memories I've had since marriage was our first Christmas. Ellen my wife was 6-months pregnant with my daughter Ellen and we were struggling as a young married couple.

Gifts were not a whole lot, in fact, we were so poor I had a wrist watch and it had stopped about a month before and I wasn't going to fix it. I know I got Ellen something because I can't imagine I didn't. It was a first-time gift from me to her as her husband.

Funny thing is after 46 years ago I still remember what she gave me. It touched me deeply and I always associated what Ellen meant to me because the gift was the epitome of who she really is. Who she is, is a thoughtful loving person who always touched my heart to the core. She is not demonstrative, it's not in her nature, but she is loving, in what she does, feels and says.

As a mom, she has great courage, meeting so many hardships as a mother, never coming apart, always getting off the floor after a punch in the stomach, she is brave and inspirational to me in that regard. Her acts of love are always done quietly, without fanfare. All too many times I realize this fact after it happens, she has no telegraph service for her actions of love.

So, what was this gift so valuable to me that I can remember it so many years after? Well, in a stocking was a little object, that I looked into and found, yes, you guessed it, my watch, working.

Friday, November 25, 2016



Many years ago, I had a full head of hair! It was thick and curly, and it covered all of my head. Life was grand!

There once was a time when I could eat three pork chops or two steaks, with ease and vegetables with salad and potatoes. Life was super.

Once I could bound up three flights of stairs without getting winded, chasing a train or bus, life was an adventure.

In the old days, I stayed up until past midnight, Life was complete.

I used to date a few ladies at a time before settling on the gal of my dreams, Life was beautiful!

I don’t need to comb or brush time as much as I used to, by a whole lot. Life is going quicker.

I can barely eat one pork chop, and hold the vegetables.

Climbing the stairs, I now estimate time of arrival, stopping after 10 steps to take a breather.

I get tired at 8:00 PM and it is a struggle to stay up past 8:30 PM!

Today having a date is usually with my cardiologist or at least my PCP.

She is as filled with complaints as I am, we trade them off each morning, almost proud of who has more to complain about. Life is painful.

So, Dear Readers, what can I say, but: at least I can still type this blog.

Thursday, November 24, 2016



On Tuesday of this week, my Sicilian Sister-in-law Angela, a refugee from Utica, New York, posted 20 things that she is thankful for. I think we should all be thankful for our blessing, some of which carry more weight than others.

What better way to say Happy Thanksgiving and I love you than to post mine, as I did Tuesday under her post. To all you faithful readers …
I’m thankful for the following 20:

1.     I haven’t fallen since last night.
2.     I haven’t tripped since this morning.
3.     I got the garbage can out before the garbage truck came.
4.     I didn’t have to go into Home Depot today!
5.     My wife is still talking to me.
6.     My kids stopped asking who I am.
7.     Numerous times I was asked: Please leave” I love to leave early.
8.     My sinus problems usually quit after 11:00 AM
9.     Whenever I see a toilet, either private or public, I make sure to use it.
10.  Thankful that I can still use the toilet without assistance.
11.  I haven’t seen any complaints that Trump won in the last twenty minutes on Facebook.
12.  The election is over.
13.  No more political ads that are approved by thieves and low life.
14.  Hillary is at least gone! (She really is!)
15.  I don’t have to worry about Bernie Sanders surviving the next four years.
16.  I don’t have to look into mirrors with my glasses on if I don’t want to.
17.  As long as I stay in one place, I don’t get lost.
18.  Aspirin
19.  I still have my memory.
20.  I still have my memory.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016


It is cold and windy outside today, 37 degrees worth of chill, shiver and glad I'm inside retirement. It is really the perfect day for as TLW (The Little Woman) says: "comfort foods" and I will go a little better and say comfort days.

Many years ago, when I lived in Brooklyn, that place where I grew up, days like today were memorable. Coming home from school, walking the 4 blocks and climbing the stairs, a glow on the end of my nose, I would enter the house and smell chicken soup. I can still see the large onion slices and carrots as Mom poured them into the pot along with the chicken. After a while, the whole place seemed alive as we smelled the soup come together.

By 5 o'clock, Mom would send me out to the grocery store to purchase some Italian bread, hard and crusty, not like the crap they seem to be selling today. The kitchen lights would come on, and the world was getting better as the time ticked away!

Mom: Joseph, set the table." Was Mom's dictate and so I happily did it, almost dancing around the mesa. Suddenly the doorbell from two flights down rang, Dad was home, let him in. He would climb the two flights, take off his fedora and long coat and place them on the dining room end chair where they would stay until morning when he would return to work.

Life was always conducted around the kitchen table. We ate there, did our homework there, Dad paid the bills there and any business including serious conversations was conducted at the kitchen table. Guests arrived and were placed in the seat of honor at the end of the table, Dad's spot, where we entertained our guests.

But on days like today, after Dad was settled in from work, the bread sliced and the plates filled, Dad would pour the wine and we would begin conversations that had to do with each of us. Each person from Dad on down to me would contribute, and it was during these periods that I learned that if I was to survive, I needed to be good or quick.

Ah, the soup! Pastina sometimes and sometimes D'Italini, always good and hearty, the chunks of chicken falling away in the yellow and orange broth, floating and smelling so good!

Funny how the weather can bring back such memories, such joy and gladness, and so much love.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016


It is Christmas or as they now say politically corrected: "The Holidays!"

Time to start reading the catalogs and planning on buying a present or two for TLW (The Little Woman). Couple this dilemma with a small "stocking gift" that has taken root in my family since TLW instituted it over 45 years ago.

Before I married, there were no stocking gifts, and if there were, that is what you got, new socks to wear. We didn't have a fireplace, so we put them on the cast-iron stove we had in the kitchen to dry! Today we say: "Merry Christmas!" or "Happy Holidays!" then someone hands you a fancily wrapped present, maybe a fancy bag with tissue paper and bows to make it sophisticated. Growing up, someone gave you a present, they handed it to you in a paper bag or if it came in box and said: "Here!" No: "Merry Christmas!" or "Happy Holidays!" You got over it quickly.

Tradition had it that you decorated the tree, and in the midst of doing so, you knocked it over at least once, Dad would swear and we got over that too!

There was always a traditional Christmas Day dinner. In those days' we were still celebrating Christmas and not the Holidays. Mom would deck out in her fancy kitchen apron, the same one she washed the floors in, cooked and cleaned in, and began the massive process of feeding us. Today there are fancy ‘Holiday' plates, weird napkin holders to hold linen napkins, Irish stem wear from Waterford and even pitchers of water and fancy label wine bottles from fancy wineries. In the old days' we had the same plates we always ate on, chipped and all, the glasses were Welch Jelly glasses with your favorite cartoon characters to liven the drinking process. On the center of the table stood the pitcher of home-made wine with orange slices sitting in the midst of the blue-black lagoon.

Today you take out your pre-lit and pre-decorated tree if you are an old fogey and put it on a small table and take a nap.

In the old days' there was the church. You had to go to church before you could settle into play with your new toys. Today, you go out and when you do, make sure to avoid the traffic on the street where the church is.

Going down my street at night during the season, one need not put on their headlights, since just about every house will be lit up with Holiday Lights! Back in the day, there were no lights, just the warm glow of the street lamp that lit the sidewalks and made mysterious shadows in the entryways of each apartment.
He knew his cheap trees!

If you entered a store in August today, you will be greeted by the display of Holiday ornaments, greeting cards and suggestions for Holiday shopping. Holiday cards come to your house in the mail the day after Thanksgiving in time for the Holidays. Trees can be seen standing in front windows as everyone attempt to create a Holiday display that looks like it was done in Better Homes and Gardens or a Macy Store display! When Dad was in charge, he got a live tree on Christmas Eve, (One on life support) that he carried up a few flights of stairs and dropped in the living room and we all prayed it would last until the day after Christmas and said: "Here! Get busy, this cost me 25 cents!" You could follow the falling pine needles all the way to Pitkin Avenue where he purchased it.

The night before Christmas, Mom would go to midnight Mass, and we would wake up while she was gone and find all our toys under the tree! Suddenly there would be a noise at the door, shaking us out of our skins as Mom would explode through the door asking: "WHAT ARE YOU DOING UP!?" The next morning, we would realize there were empty boxes laying around the apartment. Being inquisitive I would ask Dad why there were empty toy boxes all over the place. Me: Dad, why are there these empty toy boxes, I thought Santa carried the toys in a bag?" Dad: "Yes, I asked him to bring some boxes over in case you ever wanted to put them away. Me: Oh!?

Also, when we went to bed, there were no sissy visions of sugar plumbs dancing in my head, just ravioli or lasagna smiling back at me with a great looking meatball.

But in the new tradition of the ‘Holidays', I have a reoccurring nightmare every year for the last 45 years, I forgot to get TLW a present. In the dream, I am sitting in the old living room in our past apartment, and she hands me a present, with a card and thoughtfully wrapped gift when I realize I forgot to get her anything. This immediately diminishes my self-worth, self-respect, and thankfully it is all disrupted by the fact that I need to go to the bathroom, rescuing me from a bad dream and planning a target date to shop for her, before it is too late and the nightmare comes true!

Monday, November 21, 2016


One of life's worst nightmares is the realization that we are not who we thought we were. The idea that we can run up a staircase as well as run down one is not a real or good one. All too often we look out into the world as we always do, and even it is not as exact as it used to be. Our eyes falter our joints protests and our memories like our hearing slowly fade away.

It is difficult to look at the media in any form, from TV to the Internet, without seeing someone you know who once was famous and now we do not recognize. Recently there was much ado about Dr. Phil McGraw's show where he centered on Shelley Duvall, an actress who made her fame in the late 70's and early 80's in movies such as The Shining, and Popeye. The poor woman has fallen into hard times, but it was only yesterday she did all these movies. My sympathy lies with her. I hope she can somehow make it. But it only adds to the mental fire of aging and mortality that visits upon one. I choose not to go into how despicable using her for the show's content is to me.

There are hints that we don't get immediately, such as the really nice kid who held the door open for me, the fact that we never pass a toilet without first using it, that we don't care anymore what we look like in public, as we wander down a supermarket aisle, taking out time and trying to find the shortest line possible so we don't die on our feet, but home in bed where it is comfortable.

Driving is starting to bother me. It seems that every young person is in a hurry to kill themselves and you too if you get in there way! Speeding while texting, recklessly cutting into long lines waiting to exit, there seems to be a need to control them so they don't kill someone else in their thoughtlessness and inconsiderate driving techniques.

Eating is becoming a chore. These days I eat only half or less than I used to. One piece of meat once was a starter, today it is to be shared. Any day under 72 degrees Fahrenheit is too cold to go out after dark, and by 7:30 PM you consider going to bed.

Getting out of bed used to be easy, swing your feet over the side and sit up! Today, you swing one leg, call it back with difficulty and rest from the experience, summing up the energy and courage to try again so you can get to the bathroom before it is too late, and since you are now vertical, wish to remain that way until at least 7:30 PM.

Remember when you went to the doctor once a year? I do too. Now I go 4 times a year and that does not count sickness. Once all I had was a primary care physician, now: Cardiologist, Surgeon, Optometrist, Radiologist and primary care physician who has retired and now you are breaking in his grandson!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

2016, WHAT A YEAR!

I can’t wait for this year to go away and take all the bad news with it.

In late January, my daughter Ellen broke two bones in her right lower leg, and because of it, we spent a lot of time in hospitals and rehab centers, sometimes in contentious situations. Her recovery was a long hard road because she is developmentally disabled. The doctor set a caste that he feared she would not be comfortable with and would lose her leg. If there is a God, and I think there is, he kept her leg together, and it is a major miracle since it was an external fixator that was used until they could insert a metal rod in her leg. It wasn’t until June that she went home.

Then in September, under the sun of Cape May, as we sat with friends sipping drinks I received a call from my daughter-in-law, Courtney. She said that my son Anthony would need emergency surgery for his heart, a triple by-pass, just like his old man did!

Within 2 days I was off to California and spent a while with Courtney and my beautiful granddaughter who made a lot of boo-boo’s all better.

Then out of the blue, my cardiologist sent me to get a c-scan without contrast of my coratoid artery, and sure enough, it is 80% to 90% blocked on my right side and 50% to 60% blocked on my left side.

What this means is I am overdue for a stroke, my brain is losing blood, and this probably explains a lot about me recently.

So with the holidays approaching, the visit to Burbank, California in December, it looks like I’ll be spending it recuperating from this operation.  I hope I make it to the new year and that it is quiet for a change.

Saturday, November 19, 2016


As a member and co-chair of the Guardianship Committee, I have to at times get involved when someone is dying who has a disability that the agency is a guardian for. Often, when one dies, I feel it is important to go to the funeral if there is one. Recently was one such case.

I drove out to Wading River on Long Island and after a gloomy rain soaked day the day before, this Autumn day seemed like a spring morning, with the color and tints of the warm colors of Fall to dress the road as I traveled to say goodbye to an old and loveable friend.

Reaching the funeral home, I entered and there in his coffin lay David, a man who I have known for over 25 years. Funky, funny, a character of sincere and simple opinion, the dread of entry turned into an immediate leap of joy. In his death, the staff had captured David and what he was. On a side table were seven different hats he always wore at one time or another, and in his open casket was another, placed by his head. Overlooking him from the closed portion of the casket, like a real dog would look, was his stuffed doggie, the one he took to my house so many years ago when he entered, placed it on the floor next to his chair and said: It $#i+ all over the bus! He was salty, and that was a reminder that he was very much a human.

David was a teacher. I grew up with David as a board member. When I entered the agency's Intermediate Care Facility with my daughter Ellen for the first time to live other than our home, I met David, his eyes closed from blindness, but his ears attuned like sonar, he knew what was going around him at all times. This man taught me that my agenda had to change, that I was a board member not for Ellen but for everyone, a lesson I have taken to heart for over 25-years.

But in the funeral parlor where I went to say my last goodbye, he was visited by about 20 people. If you die and wonder how many attended, ask not about the number, ask instead about how many loved you. David had a full house of those who loved him.

Someone asked me to share some David stories, and of course, I couldn't wait to, he was a source of constant joy in all he did and said. He had remarkable sensory abilities, belying his blindness, amazing people with his uncanny ability to tell one what color they were wearing, just by the touch of his fingers.

Somewhere in Heaven, they prepared a place for David, one without wheelchairs, helmets to protect his head from head trauma if he should fall, where food is the life of eternity and joy will be his name.

Goodbye David, we all loved you then as we do now.

Friday, November 18, 2016


I've been reading in the news with great anger, the protest to the election results. I don't believe that protest should be banned, however these protests seem stupid to me, and the press has done nothing but give it currency when there is none.

The day we went to the polls, what we did in a way is say: OK, the rules are these, this is how we will conduct our election, may the best candidate win. We accepted that the Electoral College would be the final say in the outcome depending on how many electoral votes each state had. Had Hillary won based on Electoral votes and not popular votes, we would all be calm right now and moving on with our lives. There would NOT be any mobs protesting, there would be no crying and wringing of the hands, The East and West Coasts would have had their say as they usually do.

I must ask this question of the left: did you not agree to accept the results when you stepped into the voting booth and pulled the levers of your choice? Did you not watch the TV for the results as the states reported their totals under one column or the other? I'm sure many of you stayed up all night to wait for the final count. No one cared what the popular vote was since it had no real bearing on the results.

The Electoral College was designed to allow smaller states with smaller populations to be able to have an equal voice in the election process of a President of the United States. This concept is used so that the East and West Coast Liberal establishments do not run over the smaller states. These ARE the rules of law.

I ask you? What are you protesting, Trump? Maybe you should re-examine your concerns and realize for far too long, you have taken an elitist attitude toward the working farmers and laborers of the middle of America. You laughed at some many things in the past, that I feel you lost touch with the real problems. The hard facts are that the past 8 years have been ho-hum, the stock market rose but the confidence of the World in respect to our nation fell. We still have the poor and disenfranchised, homeless veterans, the same old political machinery in place which would change nothing in your favor as an ordinary citizen. We put in place the Affordable Care Act, aka ‘Obama Care', and it seems to be getting less affordable, we kept in place all the lobbyist, and many politicians who serve for personal gain and glory, just as Hillary did when she was ‘First Lady of Arkansas, then New York State Senator. Did she like New Yorkers better than Arkansians? Or was New York a strategic stepping stone to the Presidency?

I remember the campaign slogan President Obama used: "Change" and the thing that never happened if anything it revives the same old slogan: "Same old same old."

I liken you to that analogy that Judge Judy uses on her show: "You went to a restaurant, ordered steak, ate it, decided you didn't like it and refused to pay for it." IF YOU VOTED YOU HAVE TO ACCEPT THE RESULTS!

You are responsible for Trump's election. YOU put up a candidate that was just as bad as Trump. If you can't wrap you mind around that point, then realize this, the American voters were numerically equal in their rejection of both, plus you did play by the rules.

Thursday, November 17, 2016


Sunday, TLW (The Little Woman) and I decided to cease our normal Sunday activities of reading the newspapers, watching talking heads and staring at our electronic babysitters and go for the gold, that is: get the Hell out of the house for a change. We obviously enjoy each other’s company since there hasn’t been a death threat to either one of us from the other since we are married, in over 45 years!

If you are a fan of TURN, the TV story of General George Washington’s spy ring on Long Island, you know how convoluted the process of spying on the British was during the Revolutionary War.
Although Washington never won a battle on Long Island, it could be because he slept all over the island, so irate husbands probably had him on the run and he never got a chance to formulate a decent battle plan. But we put this all aside and decided to visit Raynham Hall Museum in Oyster Bay, a place that was part of the story here on the Island that anchored part of the spy ring for America and was the headquarters of the British who quartered troops in the house itself.

“Home of George Washington’s intelligence operative Robert Townsend, Raynham Hall is a time capsule of Long Island life in the 18th and 19th centuries. Purchased by Robert’s father Samuel around 1740 and expanded from a two-over-two farm house into a four-over-four townhouse whose land extended down to the bay and for acres all around, the Townsend family homestead was named Raynham Hall by Samuel’s grandson, Samuel, when he renovated it according to the Victorian taste of his own time, in the mid-19th century. Having shed most of its surrounding property around the turn of the twentieth century, the house’s final transformation came in the 1940s with the removal of the Victorian elements from the front part of the house, which was then restored back to its original Colonial appearance, but retaining the Victorian rear addition.”

And so, you have it, the guts of this blog in a quote!

After two hours of standing and listening to a great docent tells us so much fascinating history, we got hungry. Yes, that happens and so we drove towards our home and decided to stop along the way and find a place to eat. TLW remembered an Italian restaurant we visited years ago with the kids, not fancy and the food wasn’t bad.

As we were escorted to our table, this little girl jumped out from the shadows of the room with menus in hand and announced: “Hi! My name is Kathy and I will be taking care of you today. Care for a beverage to start?”

Now in anything Italian you want to be careful about. The words: “taking care of you” in such places could have many meanings. There is service, then there is contracts, like the one they put out on the St. Valentine’s Day massacre. One sure way to know if the place is run by the mob would be an item on the menu: Broken Leg of Lamb.

TLW gave her order of a Merlot, and I countered with a John Adams since I was still living in the era of the Revolution.

“NOOOO PRRROBLEMMMM!” said our little caretaker and off she went.

About twenty minutes later I started to wonder where she went for these drinks. I mentioned this to TLW who agreed it seemed to be taking a long time. Suddenly, like an apparition she appeared and seemed flustered.

“I have to apologize, but we don’t have any more of your request,” she said to TLW who promptly gave her another choice.

“NOOOO PRRROBLEMMMM!” she said once again.

We settled in to wait for our drinks when ten minutes later who returns flustered again? Why of course, little miss caretaker.

Looking at me she begins once again: “I am so SORRY, but we don’t have anymore Sam Adams! Would you like to try a pumpkin brew instead?” Why not, because we all knew it was:


Wednesday, November 16, 2016


When Mom passed away back in 2014 at the age of 96, outlasting Dad by many years, it marked the end of my childhood officially. That part of my life was over as someone's child and a new phase began, the sadness of all those I know as contemporaries leaving this Earth.

Now as I travel through life, acceptance is all I have left. Over the past few years many cousins, aunts and uncles and friends have all gone to their rewards, and so I wait my turn.

Being a father of a child with multiple disabilities, I have had to pleasure to meet many of her peers, people with disabilities of varying degrees, who have touched me in many ways. One of these amazing people was a fellow named David, or ‘D' as I referred to him recently in this blog. He was the man who lit up the room with his humbleness and sweet demeanor for the most part. He has been to my house for parties and holidays and has always made me laugh by his innocence and simplicity. He was indeed like a cigar-chomping uncle who could swear like a sailor and say outrageous things for everyone to hear and blush about, but that was only one reason to love him.

I told about the stuffed animal he took one Christmas day to my house to have dinner and there was the time he came for a 4th of July party, sitting in his chair he told me how he took the subway with a house manager to Manhattan to have cocktails, an event that never happened, that night I'm sure he was in his pajamas in his group home in West Hampton and ready for bed long before the cocktail hour in Manhattan.

Just this past Saturday he lay in his hospital bed, oblivious to the world since he had lost consciousness and was hooked up to life support, dying, as he fought laboriously to breathe and perhaps create a miracle and live.

The day after y
esterday morning about 9:00 A.M., I received a call from a Medicaid Service Coordinator that he had passed, another beautiful friend I had for so many years.

When you weight all the poor man has lived through, abuse and abandonment by his family, trapped in a body that tried to defeat him every day of his life for so many years, he was always ready to convince you that he was ready for today and tomorrow, you just needed to know that he would take you on the journey if you were brave enough.

I often wonder what purpose lives like David's and my daughter Ellen's serve, what does it all mean, then I interact with my fellow human, realizing he is indeed my equal, that his struggles are mine, and I know this he taught me: Though we go our separate ways, are stories are all different, not better or worse, but different. That I have things I can teach him, it is because he has things to teach me, we are learning together, we are human.

You can ask God why these things called disabilities happen, or why a good person suffered and why he/she was allowed to suffer, and you would be asking the wrong questions, you should be asking yourself those questions, and what you did to try to ease a person's life. God does not react to our wailing and tears, our breast pounding and begging, instead, He will judge us all on how we responded to the work He has given us, for we are His hands and feet, His eyes and ears.

Rest in Peace my friend.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016


Well, we all lived through the election of the century, our lives and the lives to come. We must go on to more important things, primarily my Uncle Felix. ‘Zio’ as he was affectionately called was Grandma’s older brother. When Grandpa died, Zio Felice became the patriarch of all who spoke broken English.

For presentation sake, Zio Felice
Physically he has been described as 2’x4’, the ‘Little half a Cigar’ and my own descriptions, a Joe Stalin wanna-be, long handle-bar mustache and a pair of feet with a hat. He wasn’t very tall yet in his immediate family he towered over everyone at 4’7”. The family got to calling him stretch until he heard it one day and that stopped.

Zio always wore a suit and tie, he was the gang foreman in a construction company and the father of 19 children! Not only was his family large, but he was starting his own Italian neighborhood! Grey fedora, brown suit and tie, black shoes, he made a fashion statement, mainly: “Where are my brown shoes?”

Every night his kids would stand behind their chairs until the little dictator arrived. Once Mr. Stalin sat down, all 19 would then assume their positions around the table and wait for Papa to stick the first few ziti in his mouth. If you are wondering what his hobby was, I just told you.

A story goes that when he came to this country on the boat from Italy, someone told him there was NO macaroni in America, in which he then headed toward the railing to jump overboard and swim back to Italia. What stopped him? He couldn’t find his brown shoes to take with him.

He was a complex man if someone wanted to further their education, say go onto 8th grade, you needed the approval of Zio. Like El Excelente’ in the 70’s coffee commercial, he would give his nod, and the joyous population, all 19 would stand up and cheer, sometimes on a chair to be seen.

He lived on a short fuse, ready to ignite over the littlest of issues such as: “Where’sa my browner shoes?”, and “You gotta bigger plate for this ziti?”

Zio was also a teacher. My Uncle Joe while waiting for an acceptance letter from Harvard or Yale, went to work on Zio’s gang. He was assigned the job of hauling bricks up on a gang plank to the next story being built, the bricks in a wheel barrel. As the first day wore on, around lunch time Uncle Joe went to Zio and showed him his hands, cut and bleeding from blisters.

Zio: “Avete mani molli!”
Uncle Joe: “Whatta I do?”
Zio: “Va l'orina su loro, quella li indurirà.”

So, behind the building, Uncle Joe went to piss on his hands to make them hardened, just as Zio said he should.

It was World War II, and being he was a tyrant, he had a son who wished to become a priest, and Zio wouldn’t hear it. His son decided to join the army to get away from his father, and landed on Anzio beach, not far from his father’s birthplace, where he died fighting for his country. Had his father relented, he would have lived.

Many years later on a Saturday morning when I was about 12 years old, my Dad said to me: “I have to take your Mother somewhere. I expect Zio Felice to come with Grandma and your Aunt to see our house for the first time. If he comes while I’m away, show him around.” Sure enough, the entourage arrives with a flourish, as the little Stretch steps from the car and I greet him. I immediately escort him and those that follow to the house, through all the rooms, and finally, take him back outside to the front of the house at his request. “Tella me, awhata you doer over here?” “What do you mean?” say I. He points to a spot off center of the lawn, about halfway toward the street, and says to me: Wella over here a you puta the bricks ina a nicea big circle an in the middle a here you puta the flaga pole.” “Ona the bottom ofa the flaga pole you puta the flowersa, a nicer colors." “Then I put a nicea picture ova Garibaldi” I whispered under my breath.

He died in the early 1970’s, at the tender age of 93, it might have been the DiNapoli Cigars that did it!

Sunday, November 13, 2016


It was yesterday morning about 9:00 AM as I tooled around on my computer writing my November President's report for the Board of Directors when the phone rang.

Saturday morning phone calls get my attention for some reason, with all the weekday sales calls I get, so I answered this one. It was a call about a gentleman I know for over twenty years, who is lying in an ICU in a hospital, slowly dying. The reason I got the call is because I co-chair a guardianship committee in which this gentleman is one of our guardianees. His name is not important to you since you don't know him, but for this purpose, we will call him: ‘D'.

As I got to the hospital I found him like I never hoped to see him, unconscious, tubes down his throat and nose and all kinds of electronic monitors surrounding him, screens beeping out pulses and counts of all kinds, most of which I could not understand.

After the shock of seeing ‘D', I went to the nurse's station where his nurse sat chatting with some personnel like ‘D' was not there as a patient but a visitor. Carefree and non-challan she rested partly on a stool, her radiant blue eyes accentuating her dark hair, I wondered: How can you be so happy with ‘D' laying in a bed fighting a losing battle for his life. It seemed to me to be almost a criminal act, I wanted to shake her and tell her to get her ass in there where ‘D' is and do something to make it better!

We chatted and she answered all my questions, confirming where she could and being non-committal where she could. All the news was bad I thought, so I retreated back into the room and sat with ‘D'.

‘D' is a man with developmental disabilities about 75-years of age, his I.Q. is unknown and although he is verbal, he has a limited capacity and needs supervision since he is also blind. But with all that afflicts him, he is my hero, my kind of guy.  When you enter his presence, you get the sense of a man who could be someone's Jewish uncle, sarcastic, funny and yet loving.

I first met ‘D' when my daughter Ellen entered her first group home and he was a resident in it. He was a funny sweet man with a need to be busy. The story goes by the staff of the house that he could feel his shirt and know what color it was. His language that like that of an old stevedore was salty and hilarious at the same time.

One year we invited the home to my house for Christmas dinner, and when ‘D' arrived, he was carrying a huge stuffed dog, which he immediately placed on the floor next to the chair he was sitting in and said: "He was a bad dog, $#i+ all over the bus!" This, of course, mortified the staff who came but left me rolling on the floor.

When I visited him in his home, he would sit at a typewriter and type on used sheets of paper, rolling one in, typing on it and rolling it out to insert the next page. There was no ribbon on the typewriter but he was happy until one day the State inspectors came on their annual audit and made the staff remove the typewriter because it was an inappropriate use of the typewriter. If you ever read a State memo, you could tell they knew an inappropriate use of typewriters better than anyone.

And so ‘D' lays on his deathbed, struggling to stay alive, no family, a product of the "Willowbrook class" as they are designated, soon to be forgotten just as he was left at the door of Willowbrook.

In my mind I spoke to him in a way, asking where the years had gone to, remembering the first times I met him, around a dining room table singing Happy Birthday, giving him and his housemates cake and ice cream to celebrate. He knew my wife and I and hated my daughter because she was a little unhappy at first. "I hate that woman!" he would say. We laughed and loved him anyway, he was just a harmless man in a punitive body and mind.

There are many like ‘D' who have to fight disabilities, pain, and suffering all their lives, who have no real rewards except death in the end, because it is in the end that we will all be equal, without judgment, without discrimination, and without pain. But in my heart they will always be loved, they are innocent, tortured by what Mother Nature has done to them.

Saturday, November 12, 2016



The election is over: it is Saturday and I am still coming to grips with the results. Not liking either candidate I knew I would feel this way. I had two nightmares running to ruin this country and no hope that we as a nation would wind up on top, bring back a coalition of George W. Bush and Barrack Obama, or the good old days.

So, where do we go from here? Is there anywhere to go? I don't know if I can survive under my bed for the next four years, I mean with eating, toileting etc., it is not the best plan. The Canadians would never let American's into their country anymore, after all, look what we picked to run for the highest office in the land? Would you trust us?

I'm not happy about the outcome of the election, but I knew I wouldn't be going into it. I feel like I have not done my homework and the teacher is asking me to turn it in, what can I do? Maybe some prognosticator can give me advice and I'll know what not to do.

Still, what can any of us do? There are some very happy people today looking forward to January 20, 2017, and there are some who will dread it. My plan is to buy a large bottle of Jack Daniels and try to numb myself through the process from under my bed. It's really not a bad plan. I was planning this since August, as the plan to deal with inauguration day.

My wife already took away my belt and shoe laces way back in July, but she is leaving the sheets on the bed where I will be collecting my mail. I will not open my mail, emails or read any rocks thrown through my window, I will not watch TV, the Internet or the radio for four years!

Somehow I just know someone will blame me for all this.

Friday, November 11, 2016


As an Independent, I choose not to be affiliated to one party or ideology, because there are parts of both parties I like and dislike. I try to find the best guy for the job based on what I think is important to the nation as a whole.

I fully understand the disappointment of the majority not getting their way in the popular vote, you don’t need to be a genius to understand that, and it is an old saw. I’m seeing the demonstrations against a man who many disliked, including myself, however, our system is what it is because the founding fathers look extra close to the idea of small states having a say in the process of governing as a group of equals, so one state does not get control. In our system of checks and balances, we achieved a wonderful compromise.

I’m asking all of us to compromise our disgust and hatred and put aside the division, knowing we need to work for ourselves as a whole, united America in today’s world.

I wasn’t sure when President Obama was elected President in his two terms, but we weren’t necessarily offered a good choice in either of his elections, however as I assess what he has done, it really isn’t bad, except for the infamous ‘Obama Care’. The stock market is way up from when he took office, jobs are growing, and people, in general, are buying and building new homes, I see a lot of construction etc., telling me we are prospering. On the other hand, I see our image in the world diminished by weak foreign policy, and wonder will Hillary do better, and at what cost? The idea that she could flaunt the rules while Secretary of State disturbed me, the First Lady from Arkansas becoming a U.S. Senator from New York makes me wonder what her ambition really is: to serve her country or to serve her appetite for power?

No administration was perfect.

John Kennedy was in trouble with the electorate before he died, there were many issues with Ike, LBJ, Nixon, all of them. The only President we could give high marks to was FDR. Lincoln was great, but he started a civil war by being elected.

If you lost the election in your mind, maybe we need to listen closely to what the winners want. Maybe we rode the wave of how to run this country based on the ‘Old Boys Club’, the entrenched politicians and what they did do to the system. If Mr. Trump did anything in spite of his foul and undignified past, it is to bare the facts as we seemed to ignore them. The adage of: “Everyone complains about the weather, but no one does anything about it” can no longer be true! Maybe we all need to bite the bullet and face the facts that his IS right about corruption. Maybe it is time since the election puts us in this light, to see what Trump CAN do. Is all his rhetoric real or just empty promises? Maybe there is some truth to checking the backgrounds of Muslims BEFORE THEY ENTER THIS COUNTRY, maybe not. I don't like painting a broad stroke about Muslims who are already part of the fabric of this country under suspicion. Let’s see. Let’s not forget the man is a pig and by his very own words. So was JFK, just read his history and start with Judith Exner.

I guess what I wish to convey is that we need each other to deal with the truth, deal with our sense of compromise and unity for our own sake. I don’t want war, hungry children, neglected vets, riots, and families pull apart by divisiveness, it’s not good for our country or ourselves as American citizens.

I remember the past, Bush winning and the crowd doing the same thing: “He’s NOT my president!” What will protesting do? It will divide us, make Trump look like a sympathetic figure because those who dislike him will hinder any progress we make as a nation, which is dangerous to all of us.

I don’t mean to be preachy, just honest in this forum.

Give the new President –elect at least a chance to prove himself.