DelBloggolo

Monday, October 31, 2016

THE BOOK


Recently on an emergency trip to California, being how I got last minutes seats, I was assigned middle seats. On a 6 hour flight, this can be uncomfortable and irritating, to say the least. Depending on your seat mates, you either get to know someone or never look them in the eye.

On this particular flight, I worked my way to the back of the plane where all the unimportant people sit and squeezed myself between a guy who looked like he was very unhappy and this charming lady who turns out has a very interesting life.

I took out my laptop to write and as I did she interrupted me, saying she apologized for reading over my shoulder, but that she agreed with me wholeheartedly in my subject matter. We talked and said she was sorry to have interrupted but now was going back to her book. After a while, I put the laptop away and took out my book: Alexander Hamilton, by Ron Chernow. The work is a rather massive tome about this incredible man with vision and foresight, who set up the banking system in this country and was a guiding hand by his eloquence and vision. He wasn't always right but he was always there on the cutting edge of creative government. It is a great read and if you don't like history or find it boring, I'd recommend this book because he takes on the humble beginnings of Hamilton as an impoverished child from the Caribbean and as the young aide to General George Washington, bringing in all the names that we see that populate the State of New York, like Livingston, Clinton (Not her) etc.

On my return flight, I sat once again in the middle, this time next to a young woman who was almost dressed. (She must have been in a real hurry) She mostly slept the whole way with her cell phone in her hand and would on occasion check her phone and go back to sleep.

A young man in his 40's plops next to me and sees me with my book.
"Ah! You're reading THE BOOK!" he says.
"How long ago did you start reading THAT?"

When you think of it, here is this young man in his maybe middle forties and here I am in my seventies and I'm the one reading "THE BOOK"!

Tell me: who has more time to read this book, him or me?

Sunday, October 30, 2016

I'M DEAF, NOT STUPID.

All my life I've had to battle the affliction of deafness. If I take off my hearing aids, I can't hear you, but I will understand you. Deafness is like total osmosis in trying to reach an understanding of people as they speak. The trouble is people can view you as a total moron, without any real thinking behind it.

I began my problems when I was 5-years old when I suffered the most severe case of mumps anyone could have. It began the decline of my hearing and the constant psychological beating I have been taking every day of my life for these many years.

I tell you this so you understand other deaf people, people who have the same brain capacity as anyone else, yet they need to exercise it more than anyone else. When they are not understood, they feel like they are singled out as ‘special', a ‘special' they don't wish for.

As a young student, missing a homework assignment was only half the problem, hearing you had been given homework was the other half of the equation. Missing things said in a low voice in a classroom, maybe with the back of the teacher to you as she or he may erase a blackboard or someone coughs out or something drops, you will miss vital information.

The problem got greater as I went through high school, my hearing deteriorating to the point that I needed hearing aids, but I didn't dear get them, for fear of being ostracized in the classroom and in friendships. We are talking about teens, not adults, although I wasn't too trusting of adults either. But one day I decided to do something about that since it was dawning on me I needed to give myself a chance, screw any friendships that judged me for my difficulty. I learned to lip-read and moved on.

By college the classroom situation was the same as always, the lecture halls were another story as the distance was my most difficult situation to overcome, as professors would move about, turn away and talk, and people in a large high-ceilinged room distorts sounds. So at night, I read, studied and re-read the material to catch up on the lesson as best I could. I made the Dean's List every semester from my Junior year until I graduated.

By the time I went to a professional job, I was settling in with the hearing aids, lip-reading and learning body language and expressions, both physically and tonal, the way sounds come to me are clues, if I can hear them. Your mind figures out quickly and allows you to asses with all the clues what someone is saying.

All this is true for most deaf people, they don't consider their affliction a handicap, you can learn and get a job, marry and have children, without any hindrance from loss of hearing.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

IT WAS SO BIG!


Everything in our lives seems to be predicated on how we see things at different ages. For instance, if you return to your old neighborhood, there are things that seem to be different, even though they never changed! Going back to Brooklyn where I was born and played on the sidewalks and streets, the whole scene seems like it was in a time-warped stage production, everything is the same but so much smaller!

I think we remember things in scale, as a 10-year old, the place is big with enough space to entertain you and your friends. Why not, you were smaller then, and with imagination built your world to suit your needs and fantasies.

The school I went to over 60 years ago!
Looking back at some of the places I visited as a child, the school, Grandma's house, the old candy store on the corner that no longer exist, they seem to have taken on a patina of worn out weather beaten and dinginess that comes with age. When you see it again after many years, you ask yourself: "Did it really exist like this?" Surprises never cease to exist.

They say you can't go home again, and maybe that is true, but in the end, you do hold onto those special memories. Maybe if those that were there so many years ago were still alive, they would have helped me in my perspective of what I thought it should look like.

I once went back to my old high school, moving through the halls I discovered I had forgotten some things and realized the perspective was different. My youth was and had a more optimistic point of view, yet the very halls and classrooms I visited seemed strange after 64 years. It seemed darker now and foreign to me. I could still hear the echoes of days gone by and see the ghosts of the past, the teachers, and classmates that no longer existed. It gave me a feeling of an outsider looking in.

I think that what they say is true: "You can't go home again!" Maybe not go home again and still feel like it is home.

Friday, October 28, 2016

A CHILDHOOD PRAYER

As a youngster growing up in Brooklyn, many were a number of times the Church and my school tried to instill in me a passion for prayer. After a report card, in particular, I could recall the devotedness I had in prayer and the reality of facing Mom with the marks and the Holy Rod, a wooden spoon. I thought that maybe I would be martyred and part of the folklore of the Holy Roman Catholic Church.



My prayer left a lot to be desired and lacked some accuracy in the way I prayed.



“Hairy Mary,
 filled with grape”, was one prayer.
  
“Our father who art in Heaven

Harold be thy name.

thy kingdom come,

thy will be done,

on Earth,

as it is in Heaven.

Give us this steak and

Our daily bread,

And forgive us our trespasses

As we forgive those who trespass against us,

And lead us not into temptation

But deliver us from evil.”



That demonstration above was because Dad sat me down one day while Mom wasn’t in earshot and taught me the prayer his way. He felt that praying to both Jesus and his Mother was a good idea. For years I thought I was saying it right until one day, Miss Walsh, my third-grade teacher leaned into my kisser with her right hand, a blow to the right side of the face. I went home with a note and Mom read it.



“WHERE DID YOU LEARN TO SAY THAT?” (SMACK) Mom was a perfectionist.



I just couldn’t rat out Dad, he was trying to instill some religion in me.



Of course, there was a review of my prayer technique.



“Our father, who art in Heaven, Harold be thy name. Once again: “WHERE DID YOU LEARN TO SAY THAT?” (SMACK) Mom was still a perfectionist.

Perfection was difficult to master, especially when your face is smarting. It was the only thing smart about me!

My prayers were centered around summer vacations in my secret little world. Not that we went anywhere, but I didn’t have to go to school. No white shirt and blue tie, no egg salad sandwiches for lunch and no regimentation all week, and the absence of homework was just delightful.

For many years Mom did not know that my hearing was sub-par. My marks or grades reflected it and so I hated school. In those days the teacher could apply corporal punishment without the fear of a lawyer the next day. They were free to smack you around when you misspoke, gave up a wrong answer or misbehaved. These were the good old days!

 My deadness attributed to my sense of surprise most of the times.

“Class, hand in your homework!”

 Me: Homework, what homework???

Having an older sister didn’t help my case.  She did everything right and I didn’t. Not that I didn’t want to, but I didn’t know I had to. She would stay up under the covers with a flashlight doing homework while I tried to get some rest. She counted in numbers while I counted in days until Friday. Yes, I was in trouble.













Thursday, October 27, 2016

CHICAGO, CHICAGO...


Looks like a trip to Chicago is in the future.
As weddings occur more and more away from the local area, we venture out as a family to celebrate these special occasions.

Chicago, Chicago, that toddlin' town
Chicago, Chicago, I will show you around
I love it
Bet your bottom dollar you'll lose the blues


We made reservations at a great old hotel in the Windy City and mapped out our plans on how to get to the hotel from the airport and to the reception from the hotel.

In Chicago, Chicago
The town that Billy Sunday couldn't shut down
On State Street that great street, I just want to say
They do things they don't do on Broadway


There's a fly in the ointment.
A rather ugly fly at that.
The World Series will be playing at the time I'm at a pre-reception party and the wedding itself. In Chicago, it is a big deal. Chicago hasn't been to a World Series in 71 years!

They have a time, the time of their life
I saw a man, he danced with his wife
In Chicago, Chicago my hometown
Chicago, Chicago, that toddlin' town
Cubs fans


I need to get to the hotel while thousands of crazed Cubs fans travel about the city, the crazy, windy city on the lake.

Chicago, Chicago, I'll show you around
I love it
Bet your bottom dollar you'll lose the blues
In Chicago, Chicago
The town that Billy Sunday couldn't shut down


So what is going to happen? My first fear is somehow we will lose out hotel reservation and won't be able to find another one, secondly traveling around the ‘City in the Garden' will be impossible with all the people and press.

On State Street that great street, I just want to say
They do things that they don't do on Broadway
They have the time the time of their life
 

There is no way the Cubs can win or lose the World Series before I get there, so I'm in it for the long haul. Just my luck.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

THINGS I WISH WOULD GO AWAY!

 I've reached the time in my life when things start to irritate me, things that I am tired of reading about or experiencing and wish would go away.

Kardashian and family.

What exactly is their claim to fame? Did they do anything worthwhile to garner all the attention they get? Can they act or sing? Do they raise huge amounts of money for charities?

I see in the gossip columns their names, and wonder who cares? They seem to be involved in fashion but all the clothes seem torn like they were in a fight or bloody street brawl! Some of them seem like they need to pay for two seats on a flight. It all seems like unnecessary attention to me.

Mercedes Drivers and their road ownership.

It never fails, you want the start or indirect cause of an accident, look for the Mercedes drivers, especially if the road is open enough for them to speed and cross over lanes without signaling. Often there is no courtesy from these drivers, as they change lanes, run up your ass and cut you off like they are saying: Get out of my way! I know they own or rent a Mercedes, but you don't hold sway over my life with your bad driving and discourtesy. And when did you get title to the road, to begin with?

TV Commercials.

It never fails, I get a sandwich for lunch, maybe a beer and decide to take a break and eat it while watching TV. I turn on the TV and what do I get? THE BEGINNING OF A RUN OF ENDLESS COMMERCIALS AND PROMO! I hate when that happens and it always does, so you wait impatiently for some programming, meanwhile, you finish your lunch and get disgusted and turn the damned thing off.

That Moron who cuts in front of me from a side road.

You are traveling at 45/mph, on an open road with no one in front or behind you, when suddenly someone makes a turn in front of you causing you to brake, and then drives at half your speed, meanwhile there is no one behind you! Why does the SOB do that? Why can't the moron wait for me to pass so he can drive at a snail's pace without almost causing an accident or making me angry about his stupidity?

ISEVERYTHINGOK?

You enter a restaurant and someone seats you and now you wait for the waiter or waitress or shall we say for expediency, the server. After what seems an eternity, the server finally shows up, with menus in hand and hands them off. They announce their name and tell me they will be my server. Who cares? "Can I get you a drink while you are waiting or have you made up your mind from the menu? Kiddo, you just handed me the menu, not even a speed-reader would be able to order without first opening up the menu and looking at it. Off the server goes, stopping to chat and meandering on the way to placing your order. Days go by and they return with your drink and a feeling of accomplishment that they delivered on the drink. "Have you decided yet on what you would like, or should I come back again?" If you dare leave me now, you may NEVER return so you give her your order. Now the order might have changed from when you did open the menu and the time it took for the return of your server, probably due to seasonal changes in the menu.

Finally, your food comes out and is placed in front of you, while the server wishes you a good appetite in French and disappears, temporarily. Three minutes after and every three minutes after that the server returns: Is everything OK? This is designed to show her concern. You be polite and say: "Yes" sometimes "Yes, thank you." Then if you do need something your server will never be seen or heard from again, even if the server does pass you, the eyes are cast down as if looking for loose change.



Tuesday, October 25, 2016

JUST ONE MORE DAY

As we journey through our lives, writing new pages every day, we often forget that one important thing: tomorrow is not promised to us. We go places and later in life wish we could go back to them, and along the way we meet people who are strangers that turn into friends, some we keep and some we don’t. But the most important people in our lives should be our families, those we love. The beauty of life is when we choose someone for a mate, we have them for a lifetime, sometimes theirs, sometimes ours, they are suddenly family.

Being I am a senior citizen, I often think back about the times in my life, and the central characters who populated those times with me. It seems that lately I am doing it more so than ever, seeing often my mother talking to me and teaching me from the grave.

If there is one thing I would want in life is the chance to see Mom and Dad one more day, see my grandmother and hear her, just one more time. I took for granted too many times who they were and what they were like, and I took them for granted one time too many.

As I look back, I recall all the sayings Mom used for situations both good and bad, Dad’s swear words are not so hostile anymore, but a cadence of memories implanted in my mind, along with his kind-heartedness and humor.

Mom made the home, Dad made the house I used to think, Love and care in her home were matched by Dad’s pride in his house, he owned something he never had before. Mom too took on that attitude, I guess from renting for many years in Brooklyn, where even growing up they never owned anything, sometimes not even cares.

My children are everything to me. They are all unique and interesting, as I figure out who they are, and they figure out who I am. If something happens to them, I need to be there for them, and that is how I think. The worst pain, of course, is losing a child, but the next worst thing is seeing your child suffer, it is then when you wish it were you, instead. Did I tell my children I love them, I tried to, every day. I made sure that my job did not overtake my need to see them. I spent many hours on the train and in the car traveling for them and my wife. I look back now and realize how lucky I am to have these precious memories of all of them. They are my new home of nostalgia, wishing I could return them back to the younger years, maybe go to another soccer game, or baseball game. Walk along the make believe cemetery at Bethpage Restoration Village and read the tombstones out loud for the benefit of my son, just to hear him laugh.

I wish I could come home one more night, walk into the kitchen and softly kiss my wife, so good to me all these years, sitting down for dinner and hearing once again stories and complaints, laughter, and joy, and knowing I am where I want to be and even more so: need to be.

Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed, love your family now, by thoughts, words and more importantly, actions.

Monday, October 24, 2016

I'D PAY TO SEE THIS SHOW!


Every year at this time I venture off to Albany, New York for the NYSARC Board of Governor's convention, usually held at the Albany Hilton. Along with the other members of the Board of Governors, we meet twice a year, (once in the Spring) and vote after discussion on the issues at hand. It is a jammed pack information deluge and interesting.

But that Fall trip up through the State is a wonderful experience for me. Driving I take the most scenic route possible and enjoy the trees as they bend to Mother Nature's will and turn into the awesome pallet of warm colors, amazing you in their majesty and glory!

It is upstate New York where you get the real sense of beauty as designed by nature, the rolling hills, the free flight of a hawk, the sense of adventure as you peer up the Hudson River, a river so rich in history, so important a highway in the winning of the American Revolution and the development of the great empire state.

One can easily imagine the Native Americans as they traveled and hunted their great land, their bastion of survival, and the wildlife that populated with trees, brush, and woodlands, as well as the skies. It is all nature, no Photoshop, no staging, no prepping, just Mother Nature taking her position for all to see and appreciate.

I have traveled through the mountains of Colorado, the desert of Arizona, and the valleys of California, all beautiful in their own right, but when it comes to nature when it comes to the swan song of Summer when I look forward to a change in scenery: give me New York State.



Sunday, October 23, 2016

THE NANNY


I was packing for a trip to Albany the other day and while I was folding my clothes to pack, I turned on the TV, and there was a show on called: ‘The Nanny'.

If you are unfamiliar with it, it is about parents who lose control of their children and the techniques of reclaiming that control. There are such things as making charts or maps or even some kind of visual to help take the child off the tantrum and into line with reasonableness.

I found the show interesting because I was comparing my technique with the Nanny, and the techniques of Mom and Dad in raising children.

If I ever said, "I want that!" and Mom wasn't about to give it to me, she would say: "I'll give you something!" I suspected I wasn't getting it and suspected it was better to move on to the next thing I wasn't getting.

Mom was a religious woman, religious in the fact that she carried around her wooden spoon, there was no point in putting it away as she was either cooking or chasing me with it. Timeouts in TV land just didn't occur in real life, straight to the corner, I went, facing the corner and being very quiet until Mom decided I could leave it. I didn't dare cry or pout; she wouldn't have it. She made the rules and I broke them, then she took her second set of punitive rules and applied those, without an appeal from me.

Discipline was Mom's strong suit. Mom was Dad's strong suit. Dad had no technique to enforce family tranquility, he always said: "Go ask your mother." In essence, he was saying: "You are not getting it kid, how do I know? Because you will ask Mom, and Mom will say in English, Italian, and Spanish: *"No"

Corporal Punishment was right next to Capital Punishment and for good reason.  Mom felt that a little Corporal Punishment from her wooden spoon called ‘Gentle Persuasion' was to make me understand that Capital Punishment was not far behind! "Do that again and you're dead!" was an underlining message channeled through the wooden spoon and Corporal Punishment.

Mom did her charts and maps, sending them mentally and she did a very good job of it. "Here's where we are today, and next week is where you'll be when I knock you into it!" Yes, Mom was an excellent communicator. In the old days, there were few if any crybabies in the neighborhood. Why? Because the teachers had the authority to also provide, free of charge, their own form of Corporal Punishment. Such things as hair brush spanking, ruler numbness to the palms and ears that were lengthened were techniques Miss Langon would apply. Mom would announce to us as we stood ready before her to go off to school: "If I find out that the teacher had to discipline you when you get home you will get the rest!" God bless Mom, she had a way with words.

*No-translation: No.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Autunno Dalla Finestra Della Cucina.


Autumn is a very nostalgic time of the year for me. Looking back over 60 years ago, peering out of my grandmother's kitchen window, or mom's, there were certain clues to the time of year.

Growing up in an Italian-American neighborhood in Brooklyn, the fall was the most romantic time for nature and the rituals of life. If you looked out the three story walk-up and went to the kitchen window, which faced the back yard, you would see certain elements of life. One was the long pole that stood in the middle of the garden with three clotheslines strung across to hang the wash of the three families living in the building. I would watch the landlord mount and climb the pole to attach a fallen pulley or wheel to reconnect it, and think how could he climb that high and not fall?

If you looked out, you could see the tower of Our Lady of Lourdes, it's gray high bell tower slowly resonating throughout the neighborhood, wash hanging out all over the backyards announcing the Angelis. Christian, Muslim or Jew, you knew it was noon-time.

There was the last of the tomatoes as they grew imperfectly in looks but delicious in flavor, greenish and red, all destined to someone's windowsill and then jarred for a Sunday sauce.

In the Fall it was time to harvest the grapes, that time of year when wine and vinegar were magically created and the pride of a man's plot of land and devotion to his past. It was said that if you waited long enough until the first frost, the grapes would be at their sweetest. To present, someone with a gallon of the homemade vino was the greatest tribute one could give.

Grandpa would send over a gallon of homemade vinegar, where Mom would create the most delicious of salads, the taste stemming from the soured grapes!

But the most telling sign, the most defining tradition, and lasting icon were the fig tree! It occupied the most prominent spot in the garden, reigning over the tomatoes, zucchini, parsley and any other produce Grandpa grew. When the tree was barren in the Fall months, the cellar door would open and slowly large pieces of linoleum and cord would appear, slowing transforming the tree's natural shape into a mummy-like figure, as it was swaddled in the old carpet and then topped with a green bucket, with crisscrossed roping, awaiting the harsh winter. It was a sad reminder that the gloom of winter was about to descend upon the Brooklyn, and the casualness of summer would be transformed into the rigors of winter.

But in the end, it all began a cycle of old world traditions, mostly centered around the Church. There was All Souls Da, All Saints Day, that adopted holiday to Italian-Americans called Thanksgiving, and of course, the Christmas Eve feast of the seven fished.

It was a great time to be alive and the place was the best, Brooklyn, NY!



Friday, October 21, 2016

GOOD MORNING?


Not so fast, I’m going to the gym, and I don’t want to.
C’mon, who wants to jump out of bed in the morning and go somewhere where you have to sweat, and if you don’t, you feel guilty all day long? Who needs to be out of breath as if you are about to have a heart attack?

Being a creature of habit, things have to be aligned a certain way for me to apply myself to them. Be it food, business or even cleaning, I do things a certain way under certain conditions.


When it comes to the gym, I have a routine I follow. First thing in the morning I look for an excuse not to go, when I exhaust all those many options I reluctantly get dressed and go to the gym. It is here that things start as I park my car in a certain spot in a certain way, backed into the spot next to a curb. I pull out my cell phone and activate my gym app and head into the gym. I’m sure to greet the young lady behind the counter as I head downstairs to my play area and into the locker room and locker #33. It is positioned in a strategic place, lining up with the toilet, shower and TV mounted into the corner.

Once I put on my workout gloves and grab my water bottle, I lock the locker (That’s why we call it a locker) and head to the theater, where, as you step down into the bowels of the building there is a room with three giant treadmills, as Stairmaster or two and some other exercising equipment, overlooked by a giant movie screen.
Now the treadmill is designed to give you a near-death experience, taking you on a speedy walk to nowhere and quickly. As I speed along, the heart beats faster and faster, causing me to hang on and pray that this is not how it all ends for me, slumped over the hand rests with my toes scraping along at 3.6 MPH. I imagine the night watchman saying to the investigators: “We thought he was just showing off, and boy what stamina he has! Little did we know he had signed up for an eternal treadmill experience. The poor man and so old!”

Once I leave the treadmill, I head up to the crunch machine, the machine I worked out on every time, and it MUST come after the treadmill. Usually, the pound indicator is set at a much lower number than I do, and this makes me feel good about myself, thinking some young guy is doing less than me, then I realize it was probably an old lady who last used it. Damned old ladies are always showing me up! But this is a revolutionary piece of equipment, you SIT DOWN on this beauty and try to suffer at least an aneurysm of your tongue as it sticks way out, across the gym floor and into the trainer’s room! The idea is to lose weight by crunching your abs enough to explode from the inside out. If you have gas that morning it is advised not to use this equipment for it will send you into the stratosphere as you squeeze those muscle!

To round off events at the gym, I like to hang myself. Now understand going to the gym is reason enough to hang oneself afterward, but this goes a little further. It is a double-handled weight resistant apparatus that you must pull down on two handles and repeat the process at least 10 times, after each pull-down, you hang in the air by your arms.

Once I consider myself punished enough, missing precious hours of sleep and feeling out of breath, sweaty and can just about walk, I limp back to the locker room and locker #33, then home sweet home. As I drive back to my house, I wonder what is wrong with me, why in God’s name I would even get out of bed at 4:30am?
I walk into the house and there sits TLW (The Little Woman) eating her breakfast as she looks at me, well rested and not hurting, WHILE eating breakfast! Looking up she must wonder… “Poor dumbass”





Thursday, October 20, 2016

BE KIND TO YOUR WAITRESS

Uninvited guest!
And she will be the kind of waitress you want.

Every Sunday at the local diner, TLW (The Little Woman) and I have our breakfast. Nothing fancy at the local fancy diner. I know it is fancy since the ketchup bottles are all clean.

I am a creature of habit, there are some things I like and need to have at my table along with the correct order and pricing: water and extra crispy French Fries in place of hash browns. Never was a hash brown fan since under the crust of the top of the potato lies the limp mush of potatoes, not pleasant to my pallet.

This Sunday I ordered a cheese omelet, tomato juice (no, I didn't slap my head to say I could have had a V-8, I did) and French Fries, and when the waitress took the order remembered: "Extra Crispy" she said before I got the chance to. This, of course, impresses me, she remembered from week to week!  Remembering is all well and good, delivering is another story.

As we chit chatted about the more important things that day such as Facetime with my granddaughter, the order arrived. Eggs and mushy looking French fries. Dropping the plate in front of me, I tell her to take them back, too mushy! She acts surprised but she knew as well as I did that she forgot. After about 5 minutes she returns and I am eating, then one of us realized we didn't get the juice that came with the order! I try to get her attention to no avail. As she sauntered from one end of the diner to the other, her eyes were always looking down, (must have been looking for dropped tips) and so it was impossible to get her. If I didn't want her attention, she would have been by my table about 10 times asking if everything was all right. Finally, we manage to capture a glance, her eyes sparkling in the lights of the dinner, her hair swept back as she began her arduous journey to our table, our eyes met and I said: "If I promise to eat all my breakfast, will I get my juice?"

I could have waived off the miscue of the French fries, and could have even overlooked the juice, but the diner was empty at that hour, there were no other customers, so it is imperative that I make her do what she needed to do to rectify the situation and my disappointment. If I don't, next week I will be treated with equal sloppiness, and I train my waitresses well, so none of that happens on my watch.

Funny thing is she never came near me again until she offered the check, which I took and left her usual tip. Just to let her know, we all make mistakes, I know I do.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

WHY WRITE?


WHY WRITE INDEED?
 
I am not a writer, hardly even wrote before 10 years ago when I started this blogue. In my youth, I was busy making money for my family and doing what I could to further the lives of those with disabilities.

The more I sought to help the disadvantaged, the more an inner-self spoke up, creating a conscience that I never knew I had. I'm not complaining mind you, it all led to my writing and now I find a need or urge to express myself about the things that touch my life.

But there are days when there is nothing to write about, there is no emotion that pulls at my being, and so nothing to say. But this is good, like exercising your muscles, you do need a rest period, to recharge and reinvigorate the passions of life and writing.  More often than not, I will go back to what I wrote years ago and read it and wonder who wrote that? What was I feeling and wondering what motivated me to use certain words, and started to learn about myself and the chronicled opinions that I invested into? The more I read from the past the more I realized that writing is not just an everyday occurrence, it is something that is wishing to come forth like an overdue child.

And so some days I ask myself what I wish to write about, and some days I don't have that answer! So I don't write, instead, I close the laptop and get up and live a little bit more, no one wishes to hear or read from someone with nothing to say, even though some of the things I write about may be considered trivial by yours truly included.




Tuesday, October 18, 2016

WHAT'S TO SMILE ABOUT?


A LOT!

Just put down the newspapers, close Facebook and turn off the TV and Radio.

It seems to me I am a glutton for punishment, I can't wait to harm myself into mental anguish. I used to talk under my breath when Mom had something to say, she rid me of the habit using 8 inches of pine, one end scooped. She taught me to say it out loud and be brave for my words. I have learned to shut up and speak up, depending on what there is to say or not. But there is one other thing I learned.

Laughter is the best medicine, it shields the pain, it confiscates resentment, it borrows time to heal. Love is its helper, it tempers and eases the flow of anguish with understanding, when hate turns to anger, we need to reason with ourselves, who is our primary target to antagonize.

I love to laugh at myself, I'm probably an old coot who is blinded because he can't see himself as others do. To me, I'm in the prime of my life, to others: better get that door before the old coot dies to try to push it!

I know I've gotten old, all the young pretty girls pass me by and smile! YES! I'm that safe!

I enter a gym, in my gym shorts and sneakers, towel and drink, I'm going to push heavy weights, walk like a maniac on a treadmill, exercise, exercise, exercise, and what happens? All the young and middle-aged, along with a few oldies are holding the door open for me, giving me courtesies I never experienced before! THAT'S OLD!!!!

I now have a fear that if I go into a restaurant when my meal comes it will be cut up into little pieces so I don't choke!

I stopped going to funeral Masses, afraid that the undertaker might suggest to me: "While we're here…"

But I still have some teeth to smile with, the look at life and think to myself with my mental Turret's Syndrome every time I think something inappropriately funny to myself about someone's misfortune.

I find my best time to say something inappropriate is usually at a funeral or some solemn occasion that begs for respect and good deportment, of course, that will never happen out loud, but boy, I can't wait for the next one to come along.




Monday, October 17, 2016

DEAR READERS, (Both of you)

Many years ago, when I worked for a living, there was this one fellow worker who I loved to stop by and chat with. I would make it a point to stop at her office and engage in conversations with her. Monic was a writer, a good one who was an asset to the creative department. It was important to stop by to see her because not only was she beautiful inside, she balanced that with beautiful on the outside.

The purpose of my visits was to lift my spirits, making me feel better than I would otherwise. We would laugh at each other, the events that occurred in both the office and life. Recently on Facebook, she wrote a post that I would like to share with you.

“Now that the Jewish New Year and Atonement are over, I feel compelled to share this. Although the movie The Relief of Belsen is a dramatization of the British saving the agonized souls of
Bergen-Belsen, we were shocked to see real footage, after the saviors came in, of my beloved Grandmother. How did she survive?
The story talks about things my Grandmother told me.
How she witnessed a boy get shot and killed for trying to "steal" rotten food from a garbage can.
How she found a lice-ridden and ragged blanket to sit on instead of the hard dirt. She got up for a moment and a little girl sat on the blanket. Unlucky timing; a Nazi guard saw the child. Without warning or directive, he simply shot her and killed her and threw her small body in a pile of rotting dead. My Grandmother never ever got over that. She blamed herself for finding the blanket.
The lice so profuse that it looked like people's heads were vibrating.
The dead.. everywhere.
My Grandmother herself stole
Food from garbage pails. Thank the lord she never got caught.
She told me how after the British liberated the camp, many more died. The British, crying and horrified at what they saw, gave the starving people food. As a nurse, my Grandmother knew feeding long-starving people would lead to agony and death. They gave out cans of beans. And the starving died in their own shit, screaming in pain.
My Grandmother is the young woman standing to the right of the doctor who spoke out weeks after the liberation.
I am stunned. I am strong because of her.”


https://www.facebook.com/monica.santore?fref=ts


Sunday, October 16, 2016

BLUE COLLAR WONDERS

Dad
Growing up on Long Island in the late 1950's and 1960's, I found jobs on farms: weeding, supermarkets (3), loading chickens into crates and dumping them on flatbed trucks, and finally in a factory. In all that time I got a better education from those I worked with than from high school and college.

The people I met were part of the Earth, the very essence of hope while they struggled, despair while they laughed and suspicious of anyone who was educated and had any money.

Often a young college graduate would show up and take a position of authority, and the rumors would spread, he was firing everyone, where they would be all on the streets.

"No college young punk is going to tell me how to do my job!"

I used to laugh at them because I was going to college. They looked at me different because I was working with them, I was one of them. Although their suspicions ran wild, they were only repeating history, the history of the poor and socially abused. They didn't speak English well, accents and poor grammar were part of the whole package. They smoked, drank and swore, they cried and always complained. If you saw them in their homes, they would apologize, thinking their poorness was a shame to be had. Cigarettes were a luxury and their only real vice in their lives.

There were widowed mothers, young and old, fathers who had physical disabilities, yet worked through the pain daily to as they say: "to put food on the table and clothes on their backs" It seemed the more I knew them, worked with them, shared break time with them and listened to them the more I realized what wonderful people they really were. No one had the financial power or arrogance to leave a spouse or abandon a family, they worked for those privileges of family life.

Not being rich myself, but not living uncomfortable either; we worked and contributed to the household while paying for college, I felt the pain they had as a poor class. Many of their children would not only not go to college, but would not even finish high school, as a pattern was continued of not having the money to continue for a better life.

But there was something about them that was very special, two traits that made me love them even more. The loved their family and were very patriotic. They had their own special take of the government, the armed forces and the rich. They imagined and only could because they could only compare to their own poor lives.

There was this one guy named Ron. He was an ordinary clerk, had two children and gave it all for his kids. He wore clean, well-starched shirts with old pants and shoes, scuffed and dirty. My Dad was the foreman of the shipping department, and Dad made everyone family, whether they wanted to be adopted or not. But when someone was willing, they became very attached to Dad. Dad would help them fix their washing machine, or mending something in their home, or helping them to fix plumbing or electricity, just so they could save money, money they couldn't afford to spend.

Often Dad would recruit me to help with painting or installing electrical chandeliers in their ceilings for free, giving them tubes and fixing their TVs' and often buying them clothes for their children. Christmas was often a secret Santa in the form of Dad for a poor family with no money and children. Mom never stopped him and seemed to never object to his need to do these things. Dad was a good man, he made his mistakes but he atoned in so many ways.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

WHAT WE NEED

After watching the Presidential debate and reading the on-line comments on Facebook, it occurs to me we as a nation are missing something.

The amount of frustrated anger and disappointment in our political system which countless times has failed us brings me to the conclusion that we need to get a grip on reality. Who am I to think so, one with the rising sense of hatred and indifference I am seeing in this nation.

If there is one thing I would fear on my deathbed is to be abandoned, left all alone in this world, dying and no one holding my hand of helping me get through the process. I don’t know for sure if I fear death or not, but I do know that I feel like I don’t. I’m sure that will change to some degree once I have my exit interview.

On the other hand, I think about those of us who are alone, who do fear death and life as well. People who are shut off from socialization and the world at large in terms of human contact. I wish I could make an appointment with all of them and fulfill an obligation to visit and even comfort them, letting them know that they are not alone, that somehow God will provide for their fears and loneliness.

The world has become a loveless place. If you think that statement dramatic, just look at the state of affairs we have now. Obliterating whole states, killing off populations because of religious and political beliefs, discrimination due to color, gender, and even religious beliefs, and don’t forget our biggest crime: the abuse of children through starvation, abandonment, sexual abuse and wars that make them orphans, all children of God.

I remember once a few years ago, there was an old lady at a checkout counter of a local convenience store. She was old and frail, poorly dressed and all alone. On the counter was a lot of items that she was choosing to separate so that what little money she had she could pay for what was left. This was humiliating and distressful to her. The people directly behind her were impatient and cruel, expressing their disapproval as they held their coffee and rolls, cold cuts and snack foods. I thought to myself: this was someone’s child once, this was once a baby that parents loved and protected with hope for the future. What if they could look down now, what would they feel?

Love is a gift we give to each other, it is earned by our actions and it transcends all selfishness and enables our hearts and minds to comprehend a new day of life and joy. Why are we denying ourselves this wonderful gift? Why do we think that no one but us deserves happiness? I see many immigrants who are taking the place of what my grandparents did. They work as landscapers, street cleaners, and low-end jobs, their bodies weary and their minds clouded with fear of not being accepted. You meet one and they are polite, they are reasonable and smile. They do these things not because they feel inferior, they do it because it is in them to do it, it is natural. These immigrants just as they were a century ago, are proud to be Americans, yet their fellow Americans who feel entitled, work hard to keep them down. Someday their children will remember them not as immigrants but as Americans like those that came here a century ago, and they will shed a tear for the sacrifice and love and carry them in their hearts.

Friday, October 14, 2016

I REMEMBER MAMMA!


If you are as old as I am, you might remember a TV show titled: ‘I REMEMBER MAMMA’, about I believe a Norwegian family of immigrant parents and their American-born offspring. It had nice stories that spoke through the youngest daughter: Dagmar. Two of the actors were Peggy Woods as Mamma and Dick Van Patten as the oldest son Lars and the youngest child, Dagmar, was portrayed by Robin Morgan (who later became a radical feminist activist and poet).

Although the accents were different, they seemed to meld into a giant framework of life as I knew it, this TV life was a pretend life for mine.
Robin Morgan
 Mamma always wore an apron, and you always found her in the kitchen, where she reigned as queen of the household. There was always a warm glow that emanated from the room and gave off a warmth that held you by your heart and soul and told you: you were home.

Coming home from school, I would rush through the door and shout out: “Mom, I’m home!” It made me feel better from whatever day I had, from a good grade to a cuff on the ears by one of the Franciscan Brothers that patrolled the schoolyard and hallways of Our Lady of Lourdes. Throwing my coat down on a chair and dropping my book bag, I would scoot over to Ma and see how she was.

The warmth of the kitchen generated only good things, as the days grew shorter, the afternoon sun slowly giving way to the evening gloom, the smell of Mom’s menu grew stronger, and the anticipation of what this amazing woman could do would take over all my senses. As garlic would sizzle in a pan of olive oil, a large piece of fish sitting in the brown wrapper of the fishmonger’s doing, I would pepper her with questions. Important matters were discussed, what life was like for her as a child, or the inner workings of how this or that worked, causing her to pause gently and for a moment and assemble her answer. When she was done answering me, she would look at me and say: “Now go do your homework.”

When I was done with my homework, changed from my school clothes into my play clothes, I would go over to the kitchen table and watch her cook, looking at her hands and her gold wedding band that always held my curiosity as how it could do such wonders.
 
Mom & Dad
As I got older, many evening I would come home before I married and stepping off the train would head to my car in anticipation of a wonderful meal sitting in an oven waiting for me to come and claim it. That warm light would remind me that I was home, that she was there and how lucky I felt my dad was to have married such a great cook. He never complained about what she made of how it tasted.

There was one more thing that started to happen in later life. I discovered I could easily entertain Mom, make her laugh and that laugh became almost iconic in a way.

Yes, I remember Mamma!




Thursday, October 13, 2016

DID I MISS SOMETHING?


I watched the Presidential Debate the other night and came away with nothing. I am neither a Republican nor a Democrat, instead, a mixed bag of conservatism and liberalism, and I agree as much as I disagree with all politicians.

As I watched the debate, I was looking for specifics as to what we do about those of us who need help in our lives: the homeless, returning veterans and their health, mental health, education, aging, and housing, all important. What I witnessed was the regurgitation of sex crimes by candidates and former presidents and baseless policy statements that have been for decades leading us to nothing but the same old crap. There were no real new ideas presented that had any traction to them, and certainly not solutions to problems we need to address.

But the biggest disappointment was the question of our returning veterans and the respect we should as a nation afford them. Where were the questions, where was the outrage that we do nothing for the returning veterans? Where is the outrage that America has forgotten them, the outrage that they have no housing or jobs or good medical coverage, yet they were asked to sacrifice their limbs and body?

The moderators at the debate sat on their high-horses and looked down like they are free of sin, clear of mind and have indeed all the answers, as they hide behind the walls of popular opinion, asking questions of their choosing. Why didn’t they address the homeless, the orphaned, the hungry and the sick, those without medical assistance because they are too poor? Why? Because the wonderful veterans are invisible in the eyes of the press?

We have made a big deal about discrimination, we have seen to it that this country is addressing the issue, but where is the veterans that matter? The veterans who have no jobs, no health insurance or a place to live?

We have a thing called Veteran’s Day, a wonderful tribute to all veterans. How much money is spent in commemorating veterans? Is it possible to dispense with the commemorations and spend the money on these people for their needs and livelihood instead? Maybe put them in forefront of American public concern? Or are we hoping the plight of the American veterans will someday just disappear?

Sorry to burden all of us about this, but it bothers me.



Wednesday, October 12, 2016

A SHADY PAST?

I’m a nostalgic man, enjoy remembering the past while not living it. I find comfort in things and memories of long ago. If I see someone without family or even friends, I think of how lonely it would be to die with no one in my life. I am fortunate to have people that are important to me in my life and cherish the thought of my family and friends.

TLW (The Little Woman) is quite opposite in the nostalgia department when it comes to things. Like me, she appreciates family and friends and cherishes them too. However, things from the past don’t stand a chance, namely my past.

R.I.P.
If we have an appliance that has a broken handle but is still serviceable, I will keep it and work around the disability while she will throw it out. I have a shirt with a stain on it, I keep it to wear on an off day where I don’t care what I look like. She has a thread missing and it is gone! Remind me to NEVER have a thread loose or missing!

I suspect she has a shady past, one filled as an executioner in another life. Maybe she did Genghis Khan’s dirty work or was the executioner at the French Revolution.

One day she brought home a Basile plant in a pot.  Every day I watered it and cared for it like it was a baby.  Then when my son needed to have a by-pass, I flew out to Burbank and was gone for a week. When I returned there was the plant, sick and dying. The leaves were covered with black spots and the soil was like sandpaper!

With tears in my eyes, I tried to nurture the plant back to life, watering and doing what I could to have it live for at least one pesto sauce before we did lower the executioner’s ax.

There stood the plant next to the window where it was getting intense sunlight most of the day, water every day and an eye upon how much pesto I could make when TLW said: “I’m throwing the plant out. There is no sense in trying to save it.” Of course, these words came crashing down on me, tearing my soul and heart out into little pieces, and as for her, she was glad to get rid of it.