DelBloggolo

Sunday, January 31, 2016

HOW MUCH OF OUR RELIGION DICTATES WHO WE ARE?


Recently on Facebook, an old friend of mine from High school posted a prayer; Hail Mary. This is a good guy and always has been. In spite of that, he can be a bit bigoted toward immigrants, blacks and Muslins. I see the prayer and I wonder what he is thinking.

We are all bigoted to some extent, and if you deny it, go to the next blog because you are not being honest with yourself. I know from years of indoctrination I have had to overcome some prejudices myself of which I am ashamed of.

One of the reasons I left the church is because in the larger picture of religious bigotry, from the past and even today, and the hypocritical sense I have in attending the services. Praying to a Catholic God, when the protestants have their own, as do Jews and Muslims and many other members of the world.

One of my issues is that we need Jesus to find God. Why? Isn’t God who we should pray to? Is salvation coming from Catholics or Christians only. Are there no Jews in the here after?

When I sit through a Mass, it is beautiful to some and to some it is just a ritual, filled with the same rite and I call it rite by rote. A mindless exercise in mouthing off words and really not speaking to God so much as speaking to Jesus, who is the intermediary, side tracking my connection to God. You go through the steps of genuflecting, kneeling, and sitting, with pre-ordained responses to get through the exercise.

Some people say their religion gets them through their day or special ordeal. I applaud them for their faith, it is good to believe in something or someone, but there is much more than just that. Who do we help along the way? Who has a bind of some kind, a sickness or pain that we are ignoring right now? Have we shared a word of encouragement, a cup of water, a piece of bread? Can we hide from those things that we as humans need to do? And I talk about myself as well as everyone else. There really isn’t any reason why a child has to starve.

There are people in this world who give up their life of comfort and perform herculean tasks as Human Beings for their brothers and sisters across the globe, foregoing their own safety and comfort to minister to those who desperately need it.

Theirs is a ministry to attend, theirs is where the true acts of loving God are evident.

I wish people would keep their religion to themselves, not build up their sense of holiness by publishing prayers and ignoring or screwing people when they feel like it.

Truth is hard to find, and like death, hard to accept.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

DODGING HIGH AND LOW


Life can be strange sometimes. We hide from the truth and pretend that all that is bad will go away, that the immediate is temporary and not cause for real alarm. Recently I’ve had a string of bad times that won’t immediately go away! As you may know: my daughter Ellen with DD is currently in the hospital waiting for an operation that will occur on this coming Monday morning to insert a rod in her right lower leg. Meanwhile she sits in her rehab bed waiting for the time to pass.

Yesterday I went to St. Catherine Sienna Hospital and Medical Center to test my carotid arteries, got home and received a call from my cardiologist that there is an abnormality in them both and I have an immediate appointment on Tuesday afternoon! He will tell me he is planning his vacation schedule for early spring and will need the money, so he will operate on them. (He’s taking two weeks so both carotid arteries need surgery. Nice man, happy to help.)

Meanwhile my best friend who I love like a brother called me to tell me his new born granddaughter is having trouble breathing and is hooked up to a respirator. I can’t wait for tomorrow it gets to be more fun with each passing day!

I’ve been eating my way back to my old self, so today at 6:30AM it was off to the gym for a brief workout on the tread mill down by the old Burger King where they have morning specials for breakfast and tempting walk over opportunities to do bad things to my cholesterol, which for some insane reason I don’t want to do. It is a dark period in my life, I love those breakfast sandwiches with the greasy fries that if placed on a napkin will cause you to get a fresh one.

The name of the rehab center is Lakeview Rehab Center, promising a great view of the lake as one gazes out of their rehab room.


Our 'Lake' view. I think they meant 'Lack' view

Coming to the rehab center everyday, I have been bringing my drab lunch, which includes grain bread, mustard and cheese, (I want the cardiologist and the corona to work extra hard) and discovered that there is a deli right across the street!

So, what next? I don’t know and as my wife has been saying lately: “I don’t care!” So there.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

JUMPING CABLES FOR MAKING THE BED

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Since we now have switched my daughter Ellen to a nursing home, it means a new set of rules and new routes to take but the same hours spent. These are long hard hours when you sit in a room all day to comfort someone who does not understand what is happening. In a week’s time she has switched from one bed to another to still another, and Monday, another yet. Then she goes for pre-op and they will insert a rod in her leg so she can walk again.

On top of all this is the board of directors, which I preside over, and need to stay in touch with. Reading, going to meetings and being aggressive in doing the right things so the board’s trust in me is validated. I work as hard as I can for the board because they are the foundation of my daughter’s happiness, as are the staff that work there.

Then there is the issue of testing at another hospital for myself, with my carotid arteries, both, that are clogging up and if I don’t do something for them I will have a stroke and hopefully die.

So last evening, after spending the day with Ellen, I came home to 6 messages, all about Ellen and the needs of the various homes and institutions wanting to talk to me. One top of that I had to switch locations for the carotid scans and deal with the insurance company in arranging that, along with my cardiologist and the new hospital medical center where this will all come down. It is getting to be the one of the many dark periods I can recall all my life, but this time affecting me directly.

So what do I want? Just a little normalcy, something to settle my crazy world and give me a sense of comfort. I keep thinking of my little La Principessa and really wanting to see her again, but right now that won’t happen, so instead I’m doing little things to try to do that. For instance: making the bed in the morning, I take meticulous care to make it look perfect, perfect alignment, folds symmetrical to the bed and things like folding my gym clothes and getting back to that routine, which I miss.

I haven’t really done any cooking or drawing, because I have no time. All this because my child was born with three strikes against her and couldn’t handle her last walk. But you know, I will continue to do for her as much as I can, screw everything else.


Sunday, January 24, 2016

HOLDING ON


It has been 6 days since I last posted. The reason is a good one, I had to take care of my daughter, who suffers from developmental disabilities and lives in a group home of sorts up in Shoreham/Wading River.

Last Wednesday, while I waited for the TV appliance store to deliver a new TV, and the Water Authority deliver a new meter (I is wireless and sends out aa signal that is read by a meter man from his car), and after they had come and gone, I decided to settle down for a bit and enjoy a cup of coffee while heading to the sports pages of my newspaper. Peace and tranquility was present: I was a happy camper. Then the phone rang and it was the ICF (Intermediate Care Facility) nurse Wanda. Wanda is a pleasant little lady who loves my daughter a.k.a. Miss Ellie.
We exchanged pleasantries and good tidings (Left over from the holiday) and then she told me why she was calling; “Miss Ellie is going into the hospital!”

This is an equivalent of the old sucker punch, verbalizing.

It seems Ellen, (Ms. Ellie) was walking to her room, turned the corner and when they found her seconds later, she was on the floor trying to get up but couldn’t! The staff does not know how it happened but it did.

I rush to Mather Memorial Hospital in Port Jefferson and arrive before she does. Soon after she arrives and we go into the E.R. and they do some scans and x-rays and come back with the results, she has fractures her Tibia and Fibula in her lower leg. On top of all that there is blisters growing by the minute, oozing blood and getting larger. The doctors decided that they can’t operate until the blisters are under control, and that they will do two courses of action. One: They will place an external rod along her leg and screw it into under her knee and slightly over her ankle to get the bones aligned and then once that is done, in a few weeks they will operate on her leg and place a rod in her leg. The original plan was for that evening at 6:30, but because the hospital staff fed her at mid afternoon, they would have to post phone it.

All this time there were two people from the ICF who stayed with Miss Ellie until their shifts ended at 2:00 PM, when suddenly a new person appears to take their place.

AMANDA
Amanda was an interesting gal, a red head with a beautiful smile who lit up a dreary afternoon so far. We introduced ourselves and I immediately called my wife to inform her of all the news that had happened. (She was at The Wanna-Be Bank and Truss Company working,) I didn’t want to upset her until she got all the news finalized.

Asking the usual questions, she asked if she should come down, which I immediately advised her not to since I was OK, plus Amanda was here, A lovely young lady the agency sent to keep me company!” I told her. She suggested that before I hang up on my cell phone she would be there. She kept her word.

Monday, January 18, 2016

DRESSING UP ON SUNDAY

With the invention of ‘Casual Fridays’ the world has finally turned 180 degrees and is heading backward! Gone are the days of respect for the things that mattered most, our churches, schools, friends and families. We seem to be on a course where we will soon be going out in public in our pajamas if we wear them to bed, and if not, you will start to see a lot of ugly sights.

Back in the 30’s and 40’s, people dressed up to visit or go to church. You got on a plane in the 50’s and you wore a suit or dress depending on your inclination. All that was; is no more. I can remember my mom painstakingly putting on makeup to go shopping, being dressed and meticulously combing her hair before she went out. Dad wore a suit to work, topped off with a grey fedora and overcoat that made him look successful. 

I often see people in pajama pants in supermarkets and convenience stores, and wonder how they don’t feel naked somehow, or at least freakish in public. You go to a funeral parlor to pay your respects, and what do you see, people in jeans and sloppy clothing, while the family of the bereaved look at you like you stepped out of the closet in a hurry. Where is the respect for the dead and bereaved? Dressing nice will not bring the dead back, but it will reflect on how you felt about them when they were alive.


I know I’m crotchety, but my sense for respect is the issue here, and what we are not seeing is the presence of such in today’s society. When I went to church as a youngster, I had to wear a suit and tie, as much as I hated it that is what I did. If I visited my grandmother on a Sunday, a suit and tie was the uniform of the day. It simply meant that I respected my grandparents or at the least my parents respected them and showed that through their kids. It was also a clear indication that I went to church that morning.

I’m no saint in this matter, I too have succumbed to the temptation that comfort is better than respect, and have committed some of the major faux pas’ I’m complaining about. I recall once going to a funeral and being called out by TLW (The Little Woman) for wearing jeans! So I’m no saint. I started to wear casual clothing when I used to go to church, yet I was appalled by seeing people wearing clogs, beach sandals, slippers and muscle shirts with their shorts. 

Going on an airplane was an exciting big deal once. To do so meant you were going away, and doing so in another world, the world of travel. You dressed up, you looked decent, after all, you were a stranger in a new place. I’m sure you noticed how people dress today for a flight, the same way they go to church! 

In the workplace, more and more the trend is toward casualness, and maybe it is a good thing, I don’t think so but maybe. If you worked in an office like I did, often you might pay a visit to another office on business. I know I did, often to a clients place. They dressed for business and looked successful and I did likewise. This only helped make new business and kept the mutual lines of both respect and communication opened for all the concerned parties. Today you go to an office and you see the guy in the sneakers, opened plaid shirt, with exposed blue t-shirt and jeans standing around with a coffee mug in his hands and find out: he’s the CEO!

I liked the old days, I liked to see people look nice and I felt better dressed like that too. Granted it is a lot more easy to be casual in dress, and if you re dealing with a crisis, dealing with it casually is  helping you to relax through the hard times.

There is this dream I have with a recurring theme, I’m in an office working or a large company. I’m sitting at my des and go off to a meeting, and as I walk along the hallway passing all these offices on my way to the conference room, I look down and realize I’m in my underwear! I then feel the self-consciousness that is so overwhelming I wake up!


Sunday, January 17, 2016

WHAT TO BRING???


Being Italian/American has its social mores that must be followed. It is not enough that you know someone, but that you honor him or her with some kind of respectful gesture. What does this mean?  It means that if you visit someone, especially unexpected, that you bring cake. THAT’S RIGHT BRING SOME DESSERT SO THAT THEY OFFER YOU SOME COFFEE!

I don’t mean to shout, but this is important, it is what you must do if you are Italian/American. You don’t show up empty handed, you bring cake, you are saying: “I’m sorry for this visit so lets eat cake, a gift from me to you.”

It reminds me of the young Italian/American who calls his mother to tell her he is coming to visit her so she can meet his new girlfriend.

“Hello Ma? I coming over tonight, I want you to meet Gina.”

“Wonderful sweetheart! When you come, remember to push the front door open with your arms, when you get into the vestibule, use your elbows to ring the door bell, and don’t forget, when you climb the stairs to my door, you rest your elbow into the door and bang hard with your elbows.”

“Ma, why do I need to use my arms and elbows???”

“What, you’re coming empty-handed???”

Yes, cake is social etiquette: cheesecake is a must. Cheesecake is the norm, the thing to bring back in the 50’s. You went to the local bakery, got a plain ordinary cheesecake and had it put in a off white square box with red and white string that wrapped around the box and when you presented it to the hostess, she wondered if you (Il Cheapo) bought Italian pastries. No, it is only morguey cheesecake, plain, ordinary cheesecake. As a visitor, this fulfilled your social obligation, no one could talk about you, and you brought cake, what the Hell else did you want? Of course the cheesecake was the cheapest item in the bakery.

The hostess who receives the cake says out of protocol: “No, no, you shouldn’t have!” You of course think: “Sure, then my name is mud all over town, take the damned cheesecake!”

On the other hand, the hostess had some conventions to follow if she didn’t want her name in the mud. You better get that pot of coffee perking, and make sure you open that box of cheesecake. If you didn’t you were mud; the next day!

“You’d think that Rosie would at least offer us a cup of coffee!”

Wedding had their rules, make sure the food, band and people you sit with at the reception are all good, if not, I take a trip to the men’s room and subtract $$$ for each transgression!

Funerals had their norms too. After the burial you headed to the bereaved home for a nice dinner or late lunch. It didn’t matter how the widow was feeling, what was she serving? If things were lacking: “Sure, such a good man and all she serves is cold cuts.” I come all the way from Hoboken and all I get is cold cuts.”



Saturday, January 16, 2016

NAME CALLING

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One thing about Italian/Americans was that they treasured their names, throughout the generations. Like all nationalities, it was tradition and respect. You were named after an uncle or aunt, grandparent or great grandparent. Your first name had meaning behind it, as did your middle name that was a compromise and prevented your parents from fighting.

Now in such families were the first names themselves, and like the last name would identify you as Italian/American, or as Mom used to say: “of Italian extraction.” Such monikers as: Joseph, Anthony, Dominic, Rose, Rosemary and Philomena were dead giveaways. Who wasn’t named after their dead relatives? If you weren’t, you were named after a goldfish or trained monkey from way back, or so it seemed. There were other names like Victor, Vicenza etc., but you get the drift. My favorite was Italia; a cousin on my dad’s side was named Italia. She was slightly bigger than her name sake!

Somewhere between the small towns and villages of Italy and the portals of immigration in New York, Philadelphia and maybe Boston, a naming convention must have been held, in which it was decided that if you are Italian, you also needed a descriptive name that said something about your physical appearance. For instance…

Dad had a very close friend: his name was ‘Joe the Finn’! Joe the Finn was not Italian, thus the name. Joe the Finn was of Finnish extraction (Thank you Mom for this use) and he was mysterious, inventive and a cross between Kramer on Seinfeld and Norton from the Honeymooners! What a character, once using copper pennies to get back on line when Con Ed cut off his electricity. You could find him under a car in the street fixing it, where he would save you the cost of a mechanic! Everyone loved him in those days of low pay and hardships. He was Family.




I had an aunt who had part of her index finger missing. Aunt Mary (What else could we name her?) was born on “The other side”, you know, Italy, not across the pond, not Italy but ‘the other side’. She was raised by Grandma and spoke broken English very well. Broken English is best spoken with your hands, as it blends Italian/English into a coherence not immediate at first, but as you pick up the rhythm and cadence, can start to mimic it in front of them and have your face slapped by your embarrassed parent.

Anyway, Aunt Mary would talk with her hands, and one day after having been exposed to a fractions class, I decided to dub her Nine point five (9.5). That was not disrespectful, but just good math! This of course would later come to bite me in the ass as I married a wonderful gal with nine and a half fingers! (9.5), there is that fraction again! This name caught on in the immediate family and so she was always remembered as ‘9.5’.

The strangest naming came from my grandmother, who when she spoke to me in her broken English, (it really wasn’t broken, just unattached so to speak). She would call me “Grandma”! Yes, I know but that was the way it was. First of all I had no bosoms at 5 years of age, secondly I didn’t have any rings, let alone one for each finger, and I never looked at her toes and thirdly, I didn’t own rosaries or prayer books written in Italian!

“Grandma, eat!” “Grandma, tie my shoes” And so I pretended to be Grandma and did those things.

If you last name was say Pantelone, we called you “Jimmy Pants”. This one I am particularly proud of because it came from my son, so the culture to some extent still lives.

If your features were pointed, you could be called ‘Rat’ or if your name was ‘Charles’ you might be called ‘Chuckles’, it all depended on convention and the willingness to accept the name for a good plate of pasta in the end.


Friday, January 15, 2016

ONCE I WAS TOO SKINNY!

That is NOT me in the communion dress!
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Yes, it is true! Once as a teen I was 120 lbs, soaking wet. My metabolism was intense and I could eat anything I wanted and plenty of it. Then one day it all changed, I moved from Brooklyn to the sterility of the burbs.

Grandma Frances was of the opinion that I was too skinny, maybe the whole world was in her eyes. You had to eat to live, and you lived to eat. That she owned no recipe books, but did have every one of her recipes on file in her head was amazing. SHE WOULD ASK ME EVERY TIME SHE SAW ME: “AJOJO, A WHYA HUE SO SKINNY, ITZA NOGOOD!”

She was not one of those fancy cooks, she didn’t dice, she slaughtered. She didn’t cut, she butchered, all this to perfection: she placed nothing in a pot or pan; she threw it in. With the precision of Joe Namath she could hit the pan or pot from deep in her large kitchen, with grandchildren and children talking to her and in the way of her view with the stove, she was that good.

Her mantra was simple: “Mangia!” She repeatedly reminded me I was too skinny, I needed to eat: I had to sit down and eat. Once she put out a pepperoni and steak, with a chunk of cheese and a salad, to be washed down with Grandpa’s home made wine. As I bit into the steak she asked: “Eh, whatza matter, you no likea the pepperoni?” I guess I needed to eat everything at once!

If you arrived at her kitchen on a Sunday or anytime around noon or suppertime, she immediately went into cooking mode, and the doors automatically locked, you could only unlock the door after eating enough. Enough meant not what you could hold, but what Grandma thought you should hold, this was of course more than you could hold.

When Grandma visited she carried at least two shopping bags, filled with meat and cheeses of all kinds. There were salami and cut of meat fresh from her butcher, a gallon of grandpa’s homemade wine and a decree from the matriarch, “Mangi tutto!”

Her arrivals were met with reverence, since she had homemade wine, and maybe even homemade vinegar, the best I ever tasted.

On Thanksgiving Day, she made a turkey for her family, a small capon for herself (she hated turkey) homemade Italian sausage stuffing and of course the pasta and meat platter that preceded the turkey. To prepare for the meal you had to start a starvation on Monday, with soup only until Thursday afternoon, because boy, she could cook, and no one wanted to miss any of it. If the women in the family tried to put on an appearance of dignity, once they dug into the food, that dignity was shattered by the happy sounds of chomping and contentment.

Grandma would police the table, keeping mental track of who was eating and eating what. She insisted we all eat all of everything, because if you didn’t, you weren’t too old or tough to get a beating from her.

This month is her birthday, and she died at the age of 97 and had she taken better care of herself she would have been 122 years old today!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY GRANDMA FRANCES!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

HOLY MACKERAL!


With some olive oil capers and lemon juice of course.

Grandma Frances was a very devote woman. Grandma was like a general in the army, Jesus’ army that is. She belonged to the oldest Italian Parish in Brooklyn, maybe the USA, and often organized trips to upstate shrines by bus and to her hometown outside Naples Italy by plane. What made her look like a general was all the religious medals pinned on her bosom, the rosary somewhere always on her person and her barking orders at Grandpa.

She held a position of prominence at her church and a seat up front where she could keep an eye on the priest. She was not afraid, nor intimidated by any cranky priest, nun or lay teacher who dared to take her on, she was after all: Zia Francesca! There was magic in her veins in how she could get things done, yet she had no use for the Mafioso or stupid people!

Grandma had a shrine/house where she lived when she wasn’t on a bus or plane, or in church for that matter. Her friend’s list was the phone book of East New York, Bushwick, Brownsville and Bedford/Styvesant or in other words: half of Brooklyn.

If you watched her pray which was often, at the drop of a hat, in a car with Dad driving (I did too) or in her church, there was the silent lip movement closed eyes and constant kissing of the cross on her rosary. Candles lit the place and were so many that once I thought I’d close some lights by flipping switches and realized it was all the candles. Each room had a statue of a saint, with a candle and at the foot of the candle stood a holy picture usually obtained by her attendance at a funeral.

Once I went down into the cellar and among the wine and bottled peppers were holy pictures that were waiting their turn on the walls of Zia Francesca’s shrine.

She was a fun woman, her children were afraid of her, her nieces and nephews likewise took a cautionary stance when it came to her; one aunt smoked, and was afraid to tell her!

Often she held conferences in another room with one or two of her daughters, often to a whisper and these conferences occurred with her house, particularly this enormous kitchen she had full with relatives and guests.

If you visited her on a Sunday morning, while her gravy was percolating her doorbell would ring. In would traipse countless people paying respects to Zia Francesca, consuming demitasse cups of coffee, biscotti and shots of liquors. They would bring a payment of a certain amount for the next pilgrimage, as she raised money for the orphans in Naples.

Her praying amazed me, it was constant but so was her devotion and duty to what she thought was right, all of God’s children.

In between these excursions she would see me, squeeze my cheeks and smooth to the point that I needed a towel to dry off! She loved to slip me a few bucks, stick her index finger on her lips to tell me to keep it quiet, so Mom and Dad wouldn’t know.

I wish I could see her one more time. Just one more time to tell her how much I love and miss her, and how thankful I am that she had the guts and courage to come to this strange land and start the beginning of a wonderful opportunity for all her grandchildren. She was a true and remarkable hero, a saint and the best damned cook that ever lived!

Grazie nonna ed il dio lo benedice dovunque siate.


Saturday, January 09, 2016

THE ITALIAN WEDDING


There are few nationalities that are noted for wedding days, in fact the only one that I know of, and have heard tales of time after time is the olden Italian wedding days.

The traditions of the families who attended these events were filled with characters in their own rights.

The father of the bride usually spent the week before on his job, working hard and thanking God that she was finally off his hands, although she should have done better. He scrubbed the night before to rid the telltale signs of his labor. The mamma was all-abuzz: with the preparations and planning, including the cooking and cleaning, in case someone dropped by after the reception. Running shotgun over the wedding dress, that it was full, neat and in perfect alignment with her daughter’s movements, nagging and interrupting the flows of conversation, annoying the bride.

Her other children basked in the glory of the day by either being in the wedding party or getting their cheeks pinched by errant relatives who all said: “Momma Mia, how you’ve grown!” Of course there were 20 bridesmaids, all cousins: God forbid you left one out!

Getting aunt Rosa up to dance!
If you were the groom, chances were your friends gave you unsolicited advice about what to expect in that first marital bedroom hour and rode you right up to the altar, as hard as you might try to stay steady, avoid their getting you drunk and teasing you about your lost liberty. “Eh, Gino, if it don’t work out, send her to me!” This was not necessarily Italian in custom, but slick back hair with pointy shoes and cigarettes rolled up in the t-shirt sleeve. (Basic white, of course)

Back in the 50’s and 60’s the ceremony was usually held in a big old church, with white columns and vaulted ceiling that swallowed the mass of people who attended. As the bridal party made its way down the aisle, the little flower boy distracted and not really wanting to be part because no one bothered to take him to the bathroom before, the flower girl with her forced curly hairdo, tossing flower petals too many too soon, to the oohs and ahhs of her side of the family.

There was of course the father of the bride who would escort his daughter down the aisle one last time to give her away. His mindset was one of “Let’s get down to the altar and get this over with before I cry in front of everyone!” Clumsily he lifts the veil and kisses her one more time as his daughter and awkwardly retreats to the safety of his wife, who is running more water from her eyes that an open spigot on a hot day!

Of course there is the grandmother, usually without her husband who passed 20 years ago because he wanted to, dressed: in mourning black of course. Rings on her fingers, hair cemented in place and bosom propped over the bench in front of her, along with (His) grandmother on the other side of the aisle, same attire, same position and same stern look of the matriarch.

The crowd turns as the bride marches down the aisle with her veil, an important sign to the gossipers!

Now what Italian wedding would be complete with a 5 piece band to provide the Tarantella, and cause most of the guest to not only raise their voices, by their hands as they spoke to be heard over the music? We talk of course of the Italian ‘Football’ wedding, where there are three or four distinct platters of piled high hero or submarine sandwiches, separated by choice of cold cuts, wrapped in white paper and ready to toss across the room.

“Eh, Nunzio, uh cappacola?” Looking ceiling ward you would see the sandwiches on their way to their destinations. You better provide a bottle at each table and make sure it was filled for a certain uncle or grandfather (if he was still living), that the band played and played what the crowd wanted. Such songs as: Mala Femina, The Tarantella (played twice), Funiculi Funicula, and of course: Volare!

The most important thing in the wedding plan, the thought that went into the food, band, catering hall and booze was of course the verdict. They came with a certain amount of money in their envelope, and depending on the critique they gave, the men retreated to the Men’s Room and subtracted money for such demerits as bad food, being ignored lousy music or who they sat with that they weren’t talking to.

Of all the relatives, usually an aunt would interview each of the cousins of marital age and ask: “But when are YOU getting married?”

Friday, January 08, 2016

THOSE THAT PASS

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It was the winter of 1956, Perry Como had a hit song: CATCH A FALLING STAR, Ike was running again for a second term and I was enjoying the fact that the Brooklyn Dodgers were finally champions of the world!

But back in Brooklyn something terrible was about to happen, my grandpa was dying. In his 60’s he had lived a hard life raising 4 children after World War I, serving in America’s infantry doing his patriotic duty in France. Raffaello was a very handsome man; features clear cut and sharp, tall and well-built, always the strong figure, never spoke loudly and always had a calm about himself, which contrasted with red-headed Grandma Frances’ explosive temper and quickness that would leave a cat behind.
Grandpa getting some sun

Living on Long Island now, having moved recently in December of the previous year, we received the news that he had past. Suddenly it seemed like the world had stopped and the only thing on my mind was Grandpa. I could picture him, as he would sit, his fedora cocked over his eyes, his legs and arms crossed and he asleep, catching naps where he could. Grandma was constantly giving him orders when she was around, but when she wasn’t: he napped.

He had a reputation from his two sons, my father and my uncle that he was a loving man but stern. He expected his children to listen to him and not waste time or money during the 20’s and 30’s, the hard years for Italian immigrants trying to establish themselves into American culture.

As I am writing this, I have suddenly realized it was on this date in 1956 that he passed, and frankly it gives me the chills.

When he died, I remember my Dad standing in the back of the wake, a dark and somber place and taking envelopes that people had left in memory of Grandpa, and I remember the look on his face that matched the atmosphere of the room. I remember the little Old Italian ladies with their rosaries, praying and then kissing the cross as they left the casket. I remember the lulling to sleepy murmur that encased the room and my grandmother, calling his name, asking him why he left so suddenly, all in Italian.

He was Primo!
There is a certain kinship that used to resided in all Italians, if you needed help or money or just conversation, because you were Italian someone would always help you, whether they knew you or not.

There was the romance of Rudolph Valentino and my grandmother, not real of course, just a young Italian mother and an Italian movie star, there was the pride of being Italian when Primo Carnera fought, or Rocky Marciano, the joy of Joltin Joe DeMaggio and Carl Furillo, no matter if you were a Dodger or Yankee fan, he was Italian, you rooted for your own kind.

You never turned in your own kind either, because for a struggling race, we were all brothers and sisters.

Grandpa was the core of that thinking in the family, leaving me to wonder how I could ever be able to be Italian again without him. He was a smart man, ran a couple of apartment houses, giving breaks when the rent wasn’t paid, bringing food from the fruit and vegetable stand he ran for those who were losing the battle with creditors and yes, even money was left without a utterance that he did so.

I guess in a way he still lives in my heart and soul, still is taking his naps and still is remembered for his being a simple man, strong in heart and soul, simple in outlook and tough, as he had to be. I hope God blesses him daily.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

KEEPING ON TRACK


Yes, I am your man, if you want to have someone run and go nowhere, I’m good at it.

Recently I went to the cardiologist as you already know and did the stress test. Now normally, the test requires you to take on the treadmill and walk your ass off and do it under a lot of strain, so they (the teckies) can get your heart rate. The idea is to give you a heart attack and therefore collect for the cost of the test. There is no place for sissies in this testing, and if you die well, too bad!

Last and subsequent years I have been doing the nuclear stress test, with the needle lying down while my heart races where no man has gone before, but it is a sick awful feeling, just to avoid the treadmill

Being a thinker outside the box, I decided to ask if there was another way to die and they said no. We inject you with a needle, and your heart races and you die. The injection of an isotope of some kind that is used to see how you are situated with clogged arteries. Once they get your information, they inject you once again if you are still alive and the feeling of hot molten lead in your veins then goes away. Amazing.

I actually did pretty good for an old guy, they even said for my age, wow, I did good! Walking then climbing then running and climbing, they look for signs that you are about to keel over, so they gather around you with their arms out, ready to catch you on your way down. But I fooled them: I kept going, like the bunny that keeps on going and going.

Tomorrow I call them and ask how I did, and if I did good enough that there is no blockage, then I will be very disappointed because I have to do it all over again next year!

.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

THE HEART OF THE MATTER

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It is funny how things can consume one. Take for instance a simple set of tests, that include isotopes and other magical fluids that are injected into your body and then you wait in agonizing discomfort, all designed to make you crazy and as unhappy as possible.  Yes, all this IS very simple.

My cardiologist every year sends me to a stress test. Usually you don’t eat anything for 4 hours before the test, can’t drink coffee for twelve hours before the test, and when they are through injecting you and making you walk/run on the tread mill after 3 to 4 hours, they scan you and make you lie as motionless as possible while for twenty minutes this scanner goes over your body. All-in all: a fun day.

You can eat after the stress test on the treadmill. You can have 2 slices of bread with jelly, NO peanut butter, a salad with no dressing (Small) and a small piece of fruit. You may also bring water.

Since my carotid arteries are about 50% blocked or more, and some day I will have a stroke if something isn’t done, we are waiting for a test result that will show more blockage so they can operate. I have been trying to help the doctor to come to a conclusion, eating butter, fatty meat and cheeses, God do I love cheese. Unfortunately I’ve been also going to the gym and that is not helping, making me feel good and alive, with a lot of energy, so this whole situation is a treadmill of sorts.

Once the test is planned, one dreads it coming, the morning of the test you wake up hungry, thirsty and filled with self-pity, during the test everyone in the waiting room annoys me and upon leaving, you are as happy as can be, appreciating the idea that tomorrow you are free from it. In 48 hours I will call them and see what is the results. Hopefully, fattened carotid arteries and they will open my neck on both sides, scoop out the fat and close it up and I don’t worry anymore. This will be a stroke of luck. Maybe I can convince them to open my stomach and do some scooping too.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

PRESCRIPTION FOR DISASTER

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I have a drug problem. Yes, a common drug problem! My dumbass pharmacist can’t seem to get my prescriptions done on time, or even enough.

I take 6 different drugs that although not addicted to I have to take if I wish to annoy my wife and family for as long as I live. So off I go to my primary physician, to get loaded up with drugs every three months. The doctor is the pusher and I am the druggy. Nice!

So I call my pharmacy using a touchtone system to allow me to get the drugs when I renew the prescription. Each Rx number is entered with my keypad, with the fear that I am halfway through when I hit a wrong button and have to start again.

Once I am done with the order a message tells me when to pick them up AND asks for my phone number in case my dumb ass pharmacist needs to get in touch with me, maybe a question about not being able to fully fill my request, maybe?

“Your prescription order will be ready at 12:00 pm!”

A couple of hours, not bad!
 
So off I go a few hours after 12:00 and tell the peon behind the counter: “Del Bloggolo, Joseph?” Then I cross my fingers and toes and even my arms waiting as he goes through the bin marked DA to DZ.

“That was Del Bloggolo?”

“Yes” (You friggin moron)

“Joseph?”

“Yes” (You you’re still a friggin moron)

“WE didn’t get to finish it, can you come back in a few hours?”

Being a sweetheart of a guy I say: “Sure” (the friggin morons have started to get me mad.)

“WHY DIDN’T YOU CALL ME TO TELL ME THAT THE ORDER IS NOT READY???”

HE LOOKS AT ME AS IF I’M SPEAKING MANDARIN.

OK, maybe I’m being unreasonable, although it has happened all too often, I will come back.

I’m back!

Yes and they the friggin morons don’t look too happy! WHY?
Because now they tell me one of my prescriptions was not approved by the new health insurance company on the original order.

“WHY DIDN’T YOU CALL ME TO TELL ME THAT THE ORDER IS NOT READY???”

HE LOOKS AT ME AS IF I’M SPEAKING MANDARIN.

It turns out I now have to call a number and find out why. So I go home and take the prescriptions the morons filled and discover they owe me 22 pills on one prescription!

I go down, and tell the friggin morons they shorted me 22 pills.

“Do you know the name of them?”

“I have six prescriptions, honestly I don’t recall, but you must have a record of what you owe a customer?

“No.”

My dream is to wrap my hands around this moron, press my thumbs on his Adam’s Apple and see just how far back it will go before hitting his spine.



Monday, January 04, 2016

I FOLDED!

There are a lot of things I do during the course of my day. In my retirement I discovered that life is a little different than it ever was. The Little Woman (TLW) will come home and mention some issue and I’ll relate to it from my days in the work world, and I’ll offer advice or suggestions, empathy being a big part of it.

There is the occasional shopping I’ll do when I get inspired to cook something new or different, the gym takes up time and even housework when I am so motivated, Little things that need to be attended to are taken care of and so it goes. However, what is happening to me is starting to scare me!

The other day TLW left a basket of clean clothes right out of the dryer in the garage, I guess planning to fold them at some point when she had a chance, and seeing them I thought: why not fold them and put them away? This was done without thinking any further.

Years ago when I did work, I would design something and give it to a ‘mechanical artist’ to put together for me with actual type and picture position and all the things I indicated it would need to be printed. The mechanical artists would often comment how much they loved to sit down and put together a good mechanical, it was productive and a professional thing to do. Well, I’ve gotten like that mechanical artist when it comes to a basket of clean unfolded clothes. I enjoy sitting down with it in my den, a TV show of some kind and slowing folding perfectly all the clothes in the basket, including pairing socks.

Not only that, but I am starting to look forward to going to the super market to buy olives. Pray for me.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

ITS HANDICAPPED!


Don’t get me wrong: once I’m in it, I love it. That is the gym. I awaken each morning and decide when I will go to the gym to get a workout. It is an intense 40 minutes on the treadmill with occasional wandering off to do resistance and cardio exercises. I love it once I am there, a certain comfort and when I wake up, I look for excuses not to go.

If this sounds confusing, let me explain: I HATE TO EXERCISE, BUT DO IT ANYWAY! Pretty dumb, the reasons not to go stem from; I didn’t get enough sleep to I have a long day and will not be at my best at the end of it. But I get this guilt feeling that compels me at some point to get in my gym gear and go. Once I check into the building I get comfort from the workout and a high when I pull away from the building when I go home.

Feeling extra high the other day, as I walked to my car, I noticed that the parking lot now has 4 new handicapped parking spaces in front of the gym! To enter the building, open the front doors (2 sets) and go to either the equipment or bikes etc, one must either climb down 27 steps or work across this large room. Neither the; step up from the parking lot or the doors are handicapped accessible, and all the equipment is not handicapped friendly.

I know there must be some insane law put out by NY State that warrants or should I say mandates putting in handicapped spaces to park cars in front of gyms, but I can’t for the life of me understand it. I know two things: 1) It must be State mandated because it doesn’t make sense and 2) It doesn’t make sense so it must be State mandated. I don’t like to pick on the State, but when you deal with them you just know the results will not make sense.

Then it dawned on me: The handicapped parking spaces are there for a reason! The first day of the New Year all the New Year resolutions begin for the overweight, who work out vigorously to the point of crippling themselves and then qualify fr the handicapped parking. Boy! The State sure is thinking ahead!

Saturday, January 02, 2016

FORWARDLY LOOKING BACKWARDS!


This is the time of the year when you start to look forward at what will lie in store for yourself. For me I look at the upcoming Presidential election in November with great dread, knowing full well I will be subjected to the media coverage and the primary campaigning that occurs. I will hear hype, promises, accusations and downright lies, all of which constitute the electoral process moving forward. The trouble is the process is the same as it always was, so I look forward to seeing behind me once again what the future holds!

The nice thing is at some point in the future I will read one of or all of the politician’s lawyers telling us his client will be fully exonerated in a court of law. I love it.

The shame is we have no real presidential candidates. What we have are polarizes, who are uncompromising and unwilling to consider the other sides opinion, need or want. So we have a congress of meatheads who take a party position and don’t let go, giving us stalemated governance with no leadership and certainly no direction! This alone wrecks our economy, shortchanges the poor people and in turn we all suffer from towing the party line. Sad.

I could run for Congress!
ISIS is still out there, and the world now is getting smarter and dealing with this mess also. No longer is the US the policeman it once was, and the American people are all the better for it. France has stepped up in a big way and locally in the Middle East: countries are starting to realize they need to step up also.

At home, I see a trend among my generation questioning the need for religion, and the fact that many are not practicing it. I don’t think those that stay away from religion are staying away from God, just resisting the restrictions put upon them by people who are no more moral than they are. I think God is blind to how and with whom you pray, and more seeing what you do on your own.

Mom would constantly govern that I went to church, that I obeyed all the holy days with my attendance and participation in a religious ritual. I could never get comfortable with the concept and constantly rebelled against it subconsciously, until one day I just stopped the charade.  Religion is a personal relationship between man or woman and God, should not be interfered with, forced on and leave a believer in a state of confusion dogmatic currency.

This year I look forward to seeing my old friends again, looking backwards. I also look forward to not seeing people who were and still are jerks, insincere phonies who are the Pharisees in their own right. Let them have first place in the temples of God, that doesn’t guarantee them Heaven.

So I got out my gripes for the New Year, sorry I had to tell you all this, but this is my blogue, so I will. I will try to get you to laugh soon, I promise.


Friday, January 01, 2016

HAPPY NEW YEAR!


HAPPY NEW YEAR!

It is a fresh and newer year, one at this point filled with only hope, and nothing else to contaminate it. But hold on, we DO have a presidential election coming in November, which should be contamination enough.

The older I get the more convinced I am that opinions mean nothing unless they come with experience. For years I believed in things with no basis other than others opinions, and what sounded logical to me, I seemed to buy into things based on upbringing and being told what to believe, OR after sometimes selective reading. Then a funny thing happened, I discovered if I put something under the microscope enough times, I started to see that thing differently. Things got so different that I heard the echoes of those that once didn’t agree with me. Then I admitted to myself that I was the fool for not listening to what others were saying.  Be it personalities, religious beliefs or politics, everything is undergoing change for me.

One of the things that happened was in my retirement, I started reading more and in more debt. I have my son Michael to thank for that, I felt that if he felt something, as my son I wanted to know about it, and I think it is a life changer. He left behind books that he read that shaped his opinion and for the better part, honestly. I’m proud of that. He even has me leaning toward a vegetarian diet! I hope it doesn’t go that far!

It occurred to me also that voting a straight ticket was not to the best of my interest. My views on birth control, the death penalty and capitalism all conflicted with the prescribed following. If I voted for a straight Democratic or Republican ticket, either a Liberal or Conservative one, I was also voting against my beliefs, and how can that make any sense. It gets like a Chinese menu of one from column A and one from column B! So I sought out the important issues and vote for the woman or man that most represents my opinions. This is a wonderful feeling, I’m not anyone’s lackey and I am in control, not the zealots of the world of politics.

Although my belief in God is strong, I don’t believe in organized religion anymore. Too many times religion has been the cause of the world’s ills, wars and distrust, misunderstanding and even hatred come from that. I see people who pretend they are holy and righteous, yet break many of the commandments they so preach. Religion is a breeder of hypocrisy, easy to preach and hard if at all existent to practice, in reality. Just ask the bishops who hide the pedophiles and the pedophiles:  preaching to us what we should be doing. It sickens me that I followed for so long. I do what I can, I pray everyday, I try to be helpful and kind, I work with all kinds, to make the world better and safer, and to give to the world what I can. I don’t need a preacher to tell me how to live my life, what I should say when I pray and who to pray to other than God. I believe in women being just as capable as men to lead, either in politics and religion, although women would probably lead the world in a more peaceful way. Maybe not with the corruption of power.

I feel good about myself for these changes, because I came upon them based on a long and hard road of blind acceptance and the need to examine my beliefs periodically, without influences.

If I could influence anything, it would be for you all to have a wonderful 2016, healthy and happy, that is all we will ever need.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!