DelBloggolo

Sunday, July 31, 2016

THE WALL OF FRAME

Every house should have one, a place that helps summarize a family’s existence and depot of memories of days long gone by. In my home we have one such place: The Wall of Frame, it is the story of love and remembrance and the reminder of space still open for pictures, that life goes on.
As I gaze upon the wall, it takes me back to both good times and bad, and the aftermath of both, it is reliving all that is dear to me and my wife. It chronicles graphically the lives of our children and the moments of achievement in their lives.



There were days when I was working, places and events when I directed photo shoots for my companies, days of ancient history, my wife and I having our baby pictures and of course all the good things that happened to our children: milestones and markers of joy.

On the Wall of Frame is a picture of one of my sons, and it is taken during the Christmas season, and during that time my next oldest son lay sick in a hospital, and within a month would pass away. To liven my son’s joy for the season, I was playing old Italian-American songs by Lou Monte: “Its Christmas At Our House”, where we substituted words that related to our family, and it made the kid very happy, taking off his mind the awful realities of life as he was facing them. There is a picture, months afterward, when we were still a little shocked over the death of a child, that with family members we decided to go to Disney World in Florida to wash away some of the tear stains.

There are pictures of my youngest in a tuxedo for his High School Graduation and his First Holy Communion clothes, making for a very handsome young man in both cases. And there is a picture of my daughter, sitting with great expression and looking out into the world with a sophistication of a young adult. There is a new wall devoted to our oldest son's family, one that features my gorgeous daughter-in-law and her equally gorgeous daughter, my granddaughter, Courtney and Darby Shea!

We even have a photo of my two sons with the New York Mets General Manager, Sandy Alderson, on a side street in Chicago outside of Wrigley Field. And we even have celebrities on the wall, but the biggest celebrities are our kids and the beautiful memories of days gone by.
posted by Joseph Del Broccolo

Saturday, July 30, 2016

GOOD GOD ALMIGHTY


Let’s face it, we are all in awe of God, even if we don’t admit it. It comes in any form our minds can conjure up. A divine spirit, entity or being, we think reverently and respectfully of Him.

Somehow in my world, I decided God must have had a sense of humor, something to while the time away as he created and watched his creation at work and play, and somehow left me in charge of making him laugh. I know this sounds arrogant and maybe disrespectful, but there is a time for everything under Heaven. For instance:

Imagine you are in church and I am next to you, it is a solemn moment of sorts, maybe a funeral of someone not close and I whisper in your ear:

Pasqual went to the dentist's office to have a tooth pulled. The dentist pulls out a freezing needle to give him a shot.”

You start to think: “WHAT???” Then you realize I’m sitting next to you and you want to beg off but can’t get away. I continue.

"No way! No needles! Managgia, I hater needles", said Pasqual.”


You are starting to get uncomfortable and try to at least concentrate on what is going on. I continue once more…
“The dentist starts to hook up the laughing gas and Pasqual immediately objected.
"I no can do the gaser thing either; mamma mia, the thought of a having a the gaser mask on is a suffocating me!"
Now you are picturing Pasqual and his sitting in the dentist’s chair, and you are smiling a little. So now I know I got cha, and continue on…
“The dentist then asks Pasqual if he has any objection to taking a pill.” 
                                                                                                
You start to say to yourself: “Please God, don’t let this nut make me laugh here and now!” A swell of laughter is starting to build in the core of your chest! I lean in a little closer, it is coming soon, as your mouth begins the shadow of a smile… and say:
"No objection", Pasqual said. "I'ma fine with pills".
The dentist then returns and says, "Here's a Viagra tablet".
“Oh GOD! You think, here it comes… I CAN’T STOP THIS LAUGH FROM COMING ON, NO ONE WILL UNDERSTAND, I WILL BE THROWN OUT OF HERE FOR SURE, PLEASE GOD… DON’T LET ME LAUGH, I HAVEN’T BEEN TO THE TOILET IN 4 HOURS!!!!”
I sense your discomfort and go in for the kill…
“Pasqual, totally at a loss for words, said in amazement, "WOW, I no know Viagra worker as a pain killer!"
Inches from total breakdown, holding it in, you grit your teeth, it is coming like a tidal wave, and you will be wiped away from your moorings, anticipation without salvation is at hand! I pause for a moment to allow you to get all your fears in order, like ducks in a row and I whisper…
"It doesn't", said the dentist, "but it will give you something to hold on to when I pull your tooth."
You will squeeze your gums together to avoid making noises, noise that would bring relief, your stomach squeezing your muscles and trying to concentrate on the proceedings, all you can see is the indignation of the worshippers as they will turn to seek out the source of your discomfort and I will be looking at you as you try to compose yourself.

Monday, July 25, 2016

LIFE GOES ON


Recently I did a ‘walk through’, that is: I visited a home for people with disabilities to make sure that the residents were being treated well in their residence. I have done many of these for the Board of Directors that I am a part of. My daughter lives in a home with a similar concept, except that she is non-verbal and so there are accommodations made for her. As board members, we are aware that the ultimate responsibility is on our shoulders that those we advocate for are given the best possible.

In this one home, I visited I interviewed a gentleman who I immediately took a liking to. He is a middle-aged gentleman with a shy and self-conscious disposition. When he speaks to you, he looks down and when he speaks, he thinks about what he says before speaking, so he is teaching me something important.

I interviewed him about life in his home and his daily program, and he expressed himself in short sentences, followed by my name. I’ll call him Oscar.

“Oscar, what are some of the things you like to do?”
“I like trains, Joe.”
“What is your favorite train?”
“The Long Island Railroad, Joe!”
“Ever been on a train?”
“No Joe, I don’t have much money.”

Well, my next project is to find a way to get Oscar on a train ride, maybe experience a bunch of trains in one place. I’m also looking into finding a museum that allows one to board a car or two, and maybe a model railroad tour somehow.

I know I have an old set of trains, maybe if I get some of it to work again, I will give it to him, and perhaps find a book on trains. Of course, I need to clear it with the agency to know what his limitations are with me from a legal and physical sense.

When my friend died in the rehab home, I realized that people are alone in this world, no matter who surrounds them, and to be part of a group of people and not have involvement can be a very sad thing, so I found Oscar, and he and I will walk a path of his choice.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

LA FESTA

--> San Genaro was the time every year when Brooklyn came alive. It was the proof that the Church was the cornerstone of most Italian and Italian/American’s lives. It took everyone out of their apartments and brought them on into the streets. Like a church bazaar, one would with children in hand, traverse the closed off streets and visit each tent, stand and group, searching out things to eat and buy for the kids. There was always the puppet, a sword carrying string controlled old knight of ancient Italy, that was traditionally sold and got the attention of little boys, as did the toy sword and scabbard.

I particularly loved the atmosphere, as twilight graduated into darkness, bringing a greater illumination to the feast, the colors highlighting the joy and pleasure of something different. The smells of the peppers and sausage, the zeppole and even the hot dogs filled your need to go insane if you didn’t partake, even after a pasta dinner an hour before! Pizza, pizza, pizza, and the storefront pizzeria or the portable ovens, selling by the slice with coke in hand! After all, this was a party, and Dad took his mind off of his day at the factory while Mom closed her kitchen for the night to bask in the idea that someone was going to wait on her for a change.

The local parish priest, walking along in his long black cloak, getting requests to have cannoli, or slice of pizza, on the house, after all, he was next to God! Grandmas, given the right of way, as they stepped along the crowds, who deferred to them in space and time, giving them an arm or sweet word or two about how great they were.

There was the Neapolitan dance, the Tarantella that exploded throughout the festivities, the music captivating and enticing, as young and old ladies danced, often together. There was the  warm glow of happy hearts and smiling faces, faces that always welcomed and pleaded with you to eat, enjoy life. The fuel for the fire of love was often held in a wine glass, red and made from pride and love of heritage, it said: La dolce e vita!

There was a particular side of the feast that made me forget Sister Hairy Mary my third-grade teacher: the rides. Not just rides, but rides that came out of a truck, one you would see from time to time for 5 cents as it traveled through the neighborhood in the summer.

Then when things got dark, there were the fireworks, lighting up the night sky, a wondrous explosion of color, formation and noise, all wrapped into one, sending awe and shudders through my body. And when it finally ended, there was the parade, a religious procession, reminding us all of who we are and where we come from.

These are some of the memories I have still implanted in my brain, or memory channel in my old age, an age filled with many stages of recollection of a time long gone and loved.


Friday, July 15, 2016

THE NEW NORM


There seems to be a wide acceptance to rudeness and flaunting of good deportment, the law, and good manners. Now I have good manners, for the most part, they were implanted with a wooden spoon between stirrings of the pasta pot, Mom called it ‘Gentle Persuasion’, and she persuaded well. 



As I drive, it seems it is getting scarier and more dangerous to drive, with people just pushing themselves in front of you at the last minute, as they make a move, then put on a blinker, which not how it works.

Most of these issues have to do with cell phones and their use, or misuse.

The other day I went to the barber shop for my customary reaping of what hair I have left, and got a middle-aged woman as a barber, as she motioned me to her seat with a smile. I used to go to a barbershop that advertised “Topless Barbers” but the hairy chests turned me off!

Anyway, in the midst of the haircut, this lady’s cell phone rings, and she got a text message. She put down her tools of the trade and picked up the cell phone and started texting back! Am I just old fashioned or is this not the right thing to do? I sat there as she texted and fumed, and was ready to explode when she returned to the job at hand. She met my eyes and I gave her the meanest, dirtiest look I could conjure to express my anger.

Someone should put out a book like Emily Posts’ on etiquette. It seems that the cell phone has invaded our good senses and destroyed our manners, and if a cellphone was built with a screen that was hot, we would all be walking around with blisters on our noses!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

WHAT MATTERS?

-->
Recently, we have been all reading about; ‘Black Lives Matter’ Blue Lives Matter’ and of course, ‘All Lives Matter.’ These phases are fueled by the hate that transpired with the attacks on policemen, a sad commentary on American Society.

As I have said before, I visit a woman who permanently resides in a rehab facility in Southampton. A frail sickly woman, who is very sensitive and sweet, she sits in her wheelchair and waits from one meal to the next, no one to talk to, no family and friends. Her life was over years ago when she was involved in a terrible auto accent that killed her husband and left her without her legs! The trauma of the accident left her with memory loss and difficulty bridging her thoughts in verbal form. One arm  sits at her side, a mere appendage with no function left, and the other arm her only source of control of her body and the punitive world around her.

I wrote on my birthday how sad I was because that day I visited her to give her a prayer book she said she wished she had, A Russian Orthodox English version of the prayer book. I asked her if she read at all and she assured me she could. I couldn’t find her anywhere that day when I came to visit and was directed to her bedroom, where I found her asleep in her bed, so I left the prayer book on her serving tray and as I was leaving a nurse came in and woke her, so I returned to her bedside. She was pale, hardly able to open her eyes and her voice was weak and very low. It pained her to see me and so I said I had her prayer book and would leave it for her, as the nurse inserted some kind of reader contraption onto the point of her index finger.
I left very apprehensive and felt that maybe the end was near. I decided to return today, thinking I would call first to get a heads up on her condition. I called the rehab facility and after repeated attempts by the operator, and receptionist I could not get through. So I decided to just go and see for myself how she is.

I got off the elevator and said hello to one nurse I knew, and then turned the corner and started toward her room, down a long corridor, which houses the nurses station at the end of it. As I approached, I notice the nurses who knew me were watching me as I came toward them, conferring like something was going on. As I passed my friends room, her name was no longer there and though maybe they moved her. But the nurses gathered together and came up to me, it was then I knew my friend had passed, just as I feared.

Although I feel sad about her passing, I also feel glad that she did, for her sake. It seems she just gave up her spirit and passed. No fanfare or drama, no sobbing or fear, just her will,
to pass as the nurses explained it to me.

I truly hope that she got a chance to read her prayer book, that it gave her some solace in her final hours, maybe it was what she needed and this was God’s way to give someone who has suffered greatly in her past, without friends or family a chance to find comfort. Maybe my daughter’s broken leg was for a reason, without my daughter in that rehab to recover, my friend would not have met me, and I would not have gotten her a prayer book she wished she had, something she requested prior to her last days and my last reading.

Somewhere up in Heaven she sits, not without legs or use of her arms, but with a spirit that rests from the turmoil and tragedy of her past. She is now an equal to all who have past. Small in stature: never diminutive in heart, but with her soul and spirit now who she is, like all of us will someday be!

But we do not take the time to think about people like my friend, they are shut up somewhere in a nursing home or hospital, never to be counted again as part of the world, just a statistic in this cold world.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

YOU BETTER NOT!


If you lived in an Italian/American household, there were certain things that could not be changed or reinvented to your liking. Be it food, prayer or just everyday living, some things never changed.

If you are a man, and you sit at the table, you better have a shirt on. This rule was the first rule you learn since it is the first thing you remember about life in the household. Why? Because food was involved. You showed respect to Mamma, under the eye of Papa.

Pizza was the bread of life for Italian/Americans, and to this day it still is. Originating in the late 18th century, the poor of Naples added tomato to their yeast-based flat bread, and so the pizza began. Until about 1830’s, pizza was sold from stands and out of pizza bakeries, pizzerias keep this old tradition to this day in America too. Antica Pizzeria Port'Alba in Naples is widely regarded as the city's first pizzeria. Today in America, as the tradition was carried over to NYC, NY I believe, the tomato and cheese combination is sacred. Pepperoni and sausage was added later on when it gained popularity by Americans, but not in Italy. Today it is bastardized with all kinds of crap, that the Italians in Italy (Neapolitans) consider a No-No to put anything other than tomato and cheese on it! My opinion is that they should find the SOB who put pineapple on it, and hang him from the nearest tree or street light. Never, ever buy a commercial brand pizza, it is considered cardboard and crap.

Speaking of the bread of life, when you sat down to eat, bread was present on the table. There were no oils, vinegar or butter to add to the bread, it was a supplement and should be enjoyed plain with your meal. Grandma would toss a loaf on the table and you broke it with your hands!

When Grandma was the master cook of the family, and later Mom, pasta was presented first. Then she put out the meat: meatballs, sausage, and Involtini or braciola. You NEVER ate the meat with the pasta, it was just a bad thing to do if you were Italian. Then you finished off the meal with a salad, which NEVER came first.

If you ever go into an Italian restaurant in America, never expect to eat a full course meal with wine that includes: an appetizer, a pasta dish, a meat dish, a salad and dessert with an after dinner drink in the allotted time the restaurants prefer. Better you eat at home, at your leisure, so you can fully emote, with both hands and voice, both in English and Italian!

In the old days, if you were dating a signorina from Roma or Brooklyn, make sure you introduce yourself to Papa. Papa usually had un grande bastone to equalize you attitude with his about what should happen on the date with his daughter.

All potential new members need to clear customs or grandma. Are you marrying someone? Get that important interview asap. This is important to show respect and honor your grandparents. It is also a good idea to get them on your side before you bring home to Mamma and Papa your new love interest, in case they don't like him or her.

Finally, one of the biggest No-No’s is putting cheese on fish! GOOD GOD! Do that in front of an old timer and he would get up and walk away from the table, never to look or speak to you again! You would be dead to him or her.

 



Monday, July 11, 2016

IF YOU SEE ME, GO AWAY!


I’m not being unfriendly, just giving you a friendly warning. It seems that whatever I do, or wherever I go, something happens to make me nuts.

Recently I was on a particularly busy highway, cars coming from all directions and you slow down and creep sometimes and sometimes you pick up speed. This road after a while reduces from two lanes to a single lane but always crowded. This one particular morning as I was traversing the concrete path, it was wide open when I got on! I couldn’t believe my luck! No one on the road and I was going to make great time! Just as I thought that; right in front of me was an entrance ramp to the road, and what do I see but a landscape truck with a trailer put in front of me, slowing me down to 20 mph!

Then there was the time in Boston as I was about to park in front of a hotel to register, some moron from Parcel Post cuts in front of me and parks his stupid brown delivery truck so I can’t get by!

OK, you are in the supermarket, you see me on a line, what do you do? Avoid getting behind me at all costs! Why? Because some lady has 2,000,000 items and no one was on the 12 item or less checkout, so what the Hell! She should be hung, shot and shamed, and they should charge her three times as much.

The other day I was out buying my wife a birthday card, and after a while of reading the different cards, finally picked one out, so I go to the registry in the card store, and a little old man has the young lady behind the counter in a deep trance as he is talking to her about his past, I think he was at age 4 when I got behind him. Being he was old, I didn’t want to rush him, and I wanted to be respectful, so said nothing. That didn’t stop me from wondering when his funeral would be.

Walk on a crowded street and as you look for an opening to pass, there walking ahead of you is a lady with a stroller and 50,000 of her children, all lined shoulder to shoulder, makes you want to support population control.

My wife and I go to a restaurant and get a nice quiet spot, when comes a mamma with another 50,000 brats, all loud and annoyingly restive, making me want to tie her tubes around her neck.

I know, I sound impatient, but try to remember, this all happens usually in one day’s time.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

HOW MUCH BEFORE WE LEARN?


I don't like to play politics on this blogue, but I will make exceptions. We are entering a very important time in our history where the Constitution of the United States will be tested and strained to its full capacity. In our electoral process, we have been handed two very questionable candidates for the highest office in the land, the Presidency of the nation. Our selection must be made beyond the political arena and be viewed with the discerning eye of our forefathers when they laid the footprint of the governance of the union.

Both our assumed candidates have flaws as we all know, one, Donald Trump is considered too divisive, inexperienced and flip-flops on his stances, while Hilary Clinton is considered untrustworthy all through her political career. What worries me most about Clinton is the fact that there is always smoke when she is around. Scandal seems to be her partner, and there is no time in her political history when there wasn't a scandal associated with her. Here is a list:

Hillary scandals have always had email issues. That had to do with "privacy." As Secretary of State, she sent emails via a private server working from her New York residence. Doing so, her aides were able to discern which emails to turn over to the State Department, when requested, and which emails not to. Because of the secretive, sensitive nature of some of the emails, this has become one of the many Hillary Clinton scandals.

The next scandal is somewhat tainted, but it does raise questions. Paula Jones worked for Arkansas government when Bill Clinton was governor. Jones alleged Bill Clinton sexually harassed Paula Jones when he was a governor. Filing a suit in 1994 for slightly under a million dollars in damages, the case was settled out of court. In 2015, Paula Jones interviewed with reporters that she believed that Hillary Clinton knew all about the sexual harassment yet did nothing. This she alleges, but you can't take it to the bank.

The Clinton administration was found to have over 700 FBI background reports on their Republicans rivals, and so all sorts of questions were raised. One question was that of the director of the Office of Personnel Security, Craig Livingstone, and how he came to have that high-profile job. As the story goes it was Hillary who pushed for him to get the job as she was close buddies with his mother.


Norman Hsu was a big contributor and fundraiser for the Democrat party during Hillary Clinton's Presidential campaign of 2008, being the man collecting contributions to the Democratic Party, from a variety of "sources" both foreign and domestic who went a long way to promoting Hillary's candidacy. It turned out that HSU was a criminal, and more than that a fugitive, who had been scamming people and businesses for many long years.

Vincent Foster, a well-known Arkansas lawyer, was a childhood friend of Bill Clinton and worked closely with Hillary at The Rose Law Firm during the 1970s. Under President Clinton, Foster joined the administration as the deputy White House counsel. Foster suffered from depression and in the July of 1993, he committed suicide in his Virginia Park home with a single gunshot. Most said it was suicide, but many claimed it had to do with Hillary and Bill and some "foul play."

Jorge Cabrera supporter of the Democrat Party in the mid-90s wrote the Clintons a personal check of $20,000. Just a short time later, Cabrera was arrested in a drug bust in Miami and was given 19 years behind bars.

As First Lady, Hillary went on an official visit to Bosnia and met with American troops stationed there. Returning home, she told the press that she had come under sniper fire and could have been killed at the airport when she arrived. Just one week later and Hillary took back those comments claiming she had "made a mistake" in the recounting of what actually happened.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also used a personal email address to conduct official business. It is alleged that she used her personal email to conduct all her official business. She claimed she never sent or received "classified" information but there is no way to verify her statement about this scandal.

In the Spring after Bill Clinton entered the White House, the Travelgate scandal was born, when seven White House employees were fired for questionable accounting practices. It is alleged that Hillary knew all about the seven firings before they actually happened and may have had a part in them.

The Bill and Monica Scandal. Monica Lewinsky worked closely with Bill Clinton at the White House. She was an intern and had an adulterous sexual relationship with Bill. Hillary totally denied that her husband did and said on the record that the whole thing had been a "vast right-wing conspiracy."

When the Clintons left the White House and the incoming Bush administration came in, allegations of "damage, theft, vandalism and pranks" became public. The Clinton's moved from the White House to their New York home allegedly took items from the White House which they shouldn't have, totaling $190,000! The couple ultimately returned the items, but the scandal lives on.

A series of scandals attributed to the Clintons known as Whitewater materialized. They purchased hundreds of acres of land with their personal friends Jim and Susan McDougal along the White River in the Ozarks. The deal failed and many business dealings of some suspicion broke out. Along with the Lewinsky scandal "the first domino" that haunted the Clintons for years to come began.

The Clinton Foundation, set up by Bill after he left the White House was meant to be a nonprofit operation and to deal with issues like global warming and climate change. Allegations at the time of the startup stated that the Clintons used the foundation to forward their own personal agendas. Once again it was alleged that shady dealings and dishonesty prevail, that last to this day.

Back in 2012, four Americans were killed during attacks on a US diplomatic compound in Benghazi, including the then-Ambassador Christopher Stevens. Hillary Clinton's conduct as Secretary of State was brought into question due to her various email accounts and the way she used them. Did the accounts expose important information that helped the enemy?

Hillary Clinton made a tidy profit of $100,000 trading on the cattle futures market back in the 1970's, along with a personal friend at the time who worked for Tyson Foods Inc. According to a 1994 New York Times article, Tyson Foods received $9 million in government loans, deeming the whole sage very unsavory and questionable.

Bill who made a profit for giving 45-minute speeches at various institutions, along with daughter Chelsea, and Hillary Clinton. Chelsea's standard fee in 2014 was around the $65,000 mark, Hillary reported a personal income of $11 million for a total of 51 speeches she gave in just a year!

Saturday, July 09, 2016

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO TLW!


--> Today is the lovely TLW’s (The Little Woman’s) birthday.

Q: What's the easiest way to remember your wife's birthday?
A: Forget it once!

Q: What do George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Christopher Columbus all have in common?
A: They were all born on holidays!

Anyway, the mother of my children, guardian of the realm, and keeper of the keys is a year older. Can I say a year wiser? No, she ages in that regard a lot quicker.

Over the years we have celebrated her birthday for the most part rather quietly, and reserved. No big fanfare, no noise or clatter, just a simple card, and kiss and she is on her way. As we aged together, our birthdays being just days apart, we have a dinner out and call it a celebration for the two of us.

Having a wife like TLW is kind of special. She loves me, and that should make me happy enough, but I still, after 45 years can’t figure out why? Facing life’s challenges after all these years has kept us together, and where many families would have ended in divorce, I’m proud to say it has strengthened the bond. I guess the idea of her hurting would hurt me even more. When I see my children, I see her, and so I love my kids. When I see my granddaughter I know that in part, without her there would be no Darby Shea, no Anthony, Courtney to marry him and no Michael, and of course, no Ellen my daughter.

Looking back at the wedding pictures and of our early days of marriage, I remember all the good times and the sweet memories that occupy my heart and soul. I recall the sad times, there were no bad times and like the Billy Joel song about being home whenever she is with me.

YOU’RE MY HOME
If I traveled all my life
And I never get to stop and settle down
Long as I have you by my side
There’s a roof above and good walls all around

You’re my castle, you’re my cabin and my instant pleasure dome
I need you in my house ’cause you’re my home

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SWEETHEART, I LOVE YOU!

Friday, July 08, 2016

SOMETIMES WE ARE INSTRUMENTS IN GOD’S HANDS


Today, as I write this, I should be feeling happy since it is my birthday. (July 6th) But instead I am feeling the pinch and sting of living life in all its totality. As you know I go to The Hamptons Rehab Center to read to a woman with no legs, and worst still, no family. She is a living entombment and what life can hand you. Over the past weeks as we have talked, I started to help her piece her life back together again, one that had void after void, caused by a horrible auto accident one Sunday on her way to church with her husband.



Today I went to the Center and looked for her. She wasn’t in her usual spot in her wheel chair on the floor, so I checked the dining room and she wasn’t there either. I found out from one of the residents that she was sent to the hospital on Friday last with problems breathing. Inquiring at the nurse’s station about her where about, I was told I could find her in her room. When I entered the room, she was fast asleep, hardly breathing and white as a sheet. I decided not to awaken her and leave, and as I did, a nurse came into her room and asked out loud how ‘Stephie’, my friend was feeling, so I immediately went back in. Beside the Hemingway Short Stories, I was carrying, I had a Russian Orthodox Prayer Book, which she had requested in a previous reading.

This fragile woman now looks like she may not last the week. There is no hookups or tubes anywhere to her body, no monitors that I could see, but the nurse was taking either her pulse or oxygen reading in her blood. She looked almost upset when she saw me and I told her if it was OK I would leave her alone today and visit next week. Then I showed her the prayer book and reminded her that she had asked for one, which he remembered and I left it on the tray table.

I am hoping that if it is the end, that the prayer book, is a timely gift to her, to ease her suffering and pain, maybe God needed someone to find a way around these circumstances and give her solace and peace in her hour of eternal peace.



Thursday, July 07, 2016

SOMETIMES I WONDER…


Life is beautiful, we just need to understand that it is cyclic, there are moments that challenge and disappoint us, but that is OK since it is life. It is what we do with the moments that are free for us to express ourselves, and how we perceive life as an entity. Many of us need to laugh, some of us need to cry, what must happen is the laughter should cease for a short while as others cry. There is nothing wrong with this, it is compassion.

Many of us live in fear of what others think about us, we shouldn’t become prisoners of our perceptions or those of others. We should allow ourselves self-criticism without penalization, just strive to be better. There is no need to proclaim oneself as morally on higher grounds, strictly based on self-proclamations that no one wishes to hear, this is self-love.

Some of us need to talk to God, to convey our sense of love, outrage or joy and sadness, this is a very private moment, this is called religion. To spread the word or proclaim God’s word is a very difficult task, it requires knowing God not from reading scripture, or making proclamations on social media, but reaching down to lift a child, feeding a starving being, visiting the sick in their most severe circumstances. If you love God or not, I really don’t care. If you act like a true surrogate of God, I want to care, just show me, don’t tell me.

Someday we will all come under the eye of God’s judgement. I fear if we think we are safe because we make ourselves holier than others, or we are hypocritical in our lives, using God’s name in the process to tell the world we love Him, we then should be surely damned.

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

SUMMERTIME AND THE LIVING AIN’T EASY!

I love winter. Give me those cold days of freedom from all the outdoor chores and I am a happy man. The Fall is work, the Spring is work, and the Summer is the most work, and you perspire!

Every summer is filled with having to open the pool, committing it to chemical addiction, wiping down the walls, and defoliating the walls and floor. It is something to destroying a rainforest! There is dragging out the robot and switching the long pole from brush to net to brush to net and then the Pool guys come. They open the pool, then come to the door with the bill, and inform you that once again, the pool is working fine. But the look in their eyes says: Maybe next year we WILL get you for some costly repairs.

There is the grill, which needs to be cleaned of dust and any debris that may have accumulated since the fall, and of course the lawn, dealing with the landscapers and watering of the lawn. The grill, when in use in the Summer, is cause for great discomfort and I battle the heat and smoke from the cooking, that supplements the heat and humidity from the day. Smoke gets in my eyes and little bugs alight upon my being, causing me to recall Dear Old Dad once again, as I swear in Italian. These bugs attack just as the crucial moments of my culinary expertise are in their most tested mode. Unfortunately, I take great pride in my lawn, it is beautiful and a mark of distinction as I drive through the neighborhood. It is often heard as I drive: “There goes a man with a perfect lawn!”

Now the winter is like viewing a storm from a big ship. You can view the turmoil from the safety of the pilot house. On those dark and dreary afternoons, I settle into my easy chair with a cup of tea, sometimes a cordial. I turn on the movie channel and find a black and white film, preferably from the 1930’s or 40’s, and enjoy the blended atmospheres. I eat much better and like to get creative in cooking and writing and drawing things. I read books and view movies I promised myself long ago to view someday. Someday is here.

Give me a puzzle and I am amused until I finish it, be it a crossword or Sudoku or any mind challenging game or puzzle, as I look out of my den window, as the snow gently and peacefully but urgently flutters like butterflies to the ground outside. Of course, when it rains, I just lay back in my recliner and listen to the raindrops as they play a beat for me that lures me into a comatose state and think of the long gone days of my past. And in the winter, as I drive through the neighborhood, I hear the neighbors say: “See that guy, under all that snow on his lawn is a well-tailored masterpiece, it’s a shame the snow is hiding it!” Yes, I know, I’m one self-serving bastard!

Now if I were to try to do all the things I do in Winter that I do in the Summer, I would have to forego sleep, that wonderful occupation that requires one’s full attention. Like my Dad, I have mastered the art of sleep, I am as Dad said all the time, (In fact every day, maybe a few times a day): “Resting my eyes.” Truly a great man! However, I do find fault with my Summer sleeping, fighting off the heat and humidity that guarantees my misery at night.

As an old-timer, I now face arthritis as my constant partner, and every move I make is a reminder that my pal is there. My wife, the lovely TLW (The Little Woman) echoes the same sentiments as she moves about also. Getting up from a chair is a major event, best enjoyed in privacy in winter. In summer, not only do you get up, you now have to do something to aggravate the task at hand, requiring frequent stops to rest, cool off, quench a thirst and of course, to go and pee.

And the most annoying thing about summer is the little girls in the neighborhood, who go into the pool all day, and SCREAM! I want to find these little witches and give them something to scream about! OK, I SAID I was old.



Tuesday, July 05, 2016

WHAT DID WE EAT?


“If you want peace in the world, take the warring parties and lock them in a room with an Italian mamma and her wooden spoon.”
-Joe Del Broccolo

Grandma and Mom were both great cooks. Grandma had a restaurant she owned and cooked in during the depression. Mom learned from her mother-in-law and refined the recipes to her liking. I could care which master fed me, as long as one or the other did! Mom and Dad ran a kitchen for a hotel during the WWII, where off-Broadway actors went in summer stock at the Gateway theater in Bellport, NY. Actors such as Robert Alda would come expressly for Mom’s food.

Some of the recipes that we grew up with were depression dishes, made from pennies and spices, today you would pay big time for those dishes, and they will make you yearn for the old days.

For cents you could purchase a loaf of crusty Italian bread, a potato or pepper, you had a grand lunch, as it dripped through the brown paper bag. Embarrassing as it might be, when you whipped out that beauty, everyone paused and drooled.

When we were young and poor Mom would mix bread crumbs with a scrambled egg or two, add Parmesan cheese and parsley and salt and pepper and fry up cutlet like shapes, which went on slices of bread, meatless for Fridays and easy on the family budget. Peppers and eggs, potatoes and eggs, pig’s knuckles and pigskin made with cabbage or escarole.

The mainstay was, of course, macaroni: no one called it pasta until it became popular in the 60’s and 70’s. Then some Americano thinking he was giving sophistication to the dish called it ‘Pasta’. Of course, like everything else in life there were contradictions:

When Mom heard the word pasta being used too often for her liking, she went off on a tantrum about its use.

“Pasta! What pasta, you eat macaroni.” Then she would mimic the ‘AmerIcanos’ “PASTA, WE’RE HAVING PASTA!”

“Mom, what’s for dinner?”
“Macaroni.”
“What about that delicious dish you make with macaroni and white beans?”
“OOOOOH! Pasta fagiola.”

?

“Ma, I thought you said you didn’t like the word ‘pasta?"
“Don’t get so smart you, you’re not too big to get it over the head with a wooden spoon.” I was her way of saying: “Open your stupid mouth one more time and I’ll show tough love!”

Monday, July 04, 2016

GIVE ME LIBERTY OR GIVE ME DEATH…

These words will never die. And with the zeal of our forbearers, we take up that torch and believe in it. They came here with no understanding of the language, no concept of life as it would be, with a hope, dream and want to be American. “They thought the streets were paved with gold: mom told me! 

I’m proud of my ancestors. They didn’t realize how brave they were: they just did it. You are here because of guts, courage and visionary dreams of freedom, all from these simple wonderful people. Brave and daring they took on the idea that they wanted to leave in their wake a positive legacy for their children and generation to come.

The 4th of July is indeed a celebration of our freedom from tyranny, oppression and subjugation. Our forbearers did the same thing, freeing themselves from those very issues as they arrived from Italy. Ireland and Poland, China and Russia and Germany. What does it say about America, when people of all kinds of faith, political bent and nationalities come here, embrace the uncertainty and adopt without question?

As a child of Italian descent, I respect Republic Day, also known as Festa della Repubblica in Italian (Festival of the Republic), a national holiday in Italy on June 2 each year. It celebrates the day when Italians voted to abolish the monarchy in 1946 so their country could become a republic. Republic Day is a day off work for many people in Italy. Like our 4th of July, events include Official ceremonies, Military parades and laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, inside the Altare della Patria in Rome. Outside Italy, many Italian diplomats in embassies celebrate this day worldwide. Organizations and businesses that are closed include Government offices, Post offices. Banks. And Schools and other educational institutions.
On June 2, 1946, many Italians voted in a referendum to rid the monarchy and for the country to become a republic. The public was hostile to the monarchy, which had supported Benito Mussolini’s rule. Around that time, the Italian royal family was also exiled from Italy.
 
Each year, a wreath is laid at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on Republic Day. The tomb, which also has an eternal flame, was added to the one of Italy’s largest national monuments, Altare della Patria (Altar of the Fatherland), on November 4, 1921. However, the tomb, which was designed by sculptor Alberto Sparapani, was not completed until 1924.
But it mirrors our Independence Day, and the same respect afforded to our history, and proves that all over the world, we all want the same thing: Peace!

As much pride as I take in Festival of the Republic, it can’t replace the grand old flag, every time I see the stars and stripes paraded by me, my heart skips a beat, I remember the sacrifice and the bravery of so many Americans, who when duty called, were duty bound and performed so, gallantly. But it doesn’t stop there, in the pride swells the fact that it is built by immigrants, no matter their names, race or nationality, in which my blood is too, part of that flag!

The most important thing I think I have gotten from this life is that “The streets ARE paved with gold” that is the hard work of our immigrant forbearers and their fellow immigrants, given their hard work, and sacrifice, including many of their children during World War II. Italy is a wonderful place, I’ve visited it a few times, but when I arrive home and land on American soil, the pride rushes through me.

We are all fortunate that we live here, no matter your past family history, but under the stars and stripes; we are all brothers and sisters.


Sunday, July 03, 2016

TIMING IS EVERYTHING!


There is an old joke that goes: A man approaches a taxi cab driver on day in New York City and asks: “How do I get to Carnegie Hall?” The cabbie responds: “Practice, practice, practice!”

Being of sound mind, I try to plan my day accordingly. Lately, I have been having a problem with my pool, it seems that it has so much algae, it is being declared a national forest. With that much algae, the jets get clogged and slow down to a trickle, not circulating the water flow through the skimmers. The walls are green and there is a soot at the bottom that the robot vacuum tries to pick up.

Then the vacuum died, and I needed to replace it and then the algae built up even more in the mean-time. So it was back to square one and the need to call the “POOL GUYS” to check out the jets. I was promised that the best they could do would be Friday, this being Wednesday it meant more problems. Friday was turning nasty as rain storms with violent thunder and threats of tornadoes were present. We were waiting all day for the “POOL GUYS” to come. It was now supper time.

The “POOL GUYS”, hadn’t come and it was getting late. TLW (The Little Woman) and myself were both getting hungry and decided the “POOL GUYS” are not showing up, because of the weather. We order the pizza and it arrives around 5:30 pm, we pay the delivery guy and go to sit down and eat, having set up two places in front of the TV, when I look and there entering my backyard is who else? The “POOL GUYS”


Saturday, July 02, 2016

TURNING IN HER GRAVE



Grandma Frances has been gone now for 25 years, and if she knew what is happening to her world of fashion and cooking, she is surely turning over in her grave!

For instance:

Pineapple on pizza! A crime against even God, let alone her sensibilities. This would have made her angry as all get out, questioning the sanity of it all!

Pasta sauce from a can!!!! My God, you might as well eat frankfurters and call it Pasta Fagiola! Totally unacceptable for any Italian to “Eat that crap”, let alone to serve it to your dog.

Store bought Mozzarella cheese, you know: the cardboard kind?

Buying anything but anchovies in a can, you might as well as hang up your Italian heritage and become Japanese!

Go into an Italian restaurant and order; meatballs and spaghetti!

Going into an Italian restaurant when you can make it better at home! (Some truism)

Buying bottled wine in a store, not home-made! If you didn’t make it, you find someone who does, unless of course, it is bottled in Italy.

Nothing but Italian olive oil, no Spanish, French or Greek is acceptable.

You must have at least one crucifix and at least one or two sacred heart pictures hanging, and a votive candle going at all times. Statues of saints although nice and can give you extra points, is not a hard and fast rule.

If you don’t have leftovers after dinner for lunch the next day, you are a lazy cook.

Italian bread, not French or God forbid, that white Merican sliced white bread!

A black dress for all occasions, even if grandpa is still alive.

Medals of Italian saints, pinned anywhere there is a place, including certain bra straps.

Rings, big rings, some for each finger and thumb, and don’t look down at her toes.

If you don’t speak with your hands, you are a mute!

If you don’t wave back, you are either deaf or not listening!

Where were you on Sunday? After all, she cooked all morning!

You only visited 6 times this week, is something wrong?

And so you have some of the things grandmas would find offensive in one way or another.