Friday, March 31, 2017


About the middle of December, the night before I was leaving to visit my son's family in California, I received a phone call from out of the past with an urgent need for my help. The party on the other end was Evy as we call her, and her son Jeffery. Evy's husband, Bob, worked at one time with me at the largest mail order house in the US until his death in the late 90's.

Bob was a good man, one with high morals and a decent mind who looked at life logically with had the attitude of a Jewish mamma. Being Jewish himself, he had this funny fatalistic attitude about life that would find me on the floor laughing at what his thoughts were.

Bob and Evy have a son, Jeffery, who has a permanent disability and lives his life in a wheelchair. Don't pity him, he doesn't need it, a graduate of college, he gets by without help. In fact, he is the center of this story as you'll see.

Jeff as I call him was volunteering his time for the YJCC, I believe that is the Young Jewish Community Center and was in a fix. A play was planned for March 18th, 2017 back in September and he needed a poster. They explained what they needed and sent me the file of his attempt at a poster for the play, DEATH OF A SALESMAN. Could I possibly do better and make it look good? I asked for whatever files they could send me and I went to work.

I created the poster and sent it to them. They were happy with it and so I thought that was the end of it. Then that night in mid-December that call came in with a panic request. Could I create new files from the poster for T-shirts for the event and could they have them yesterday? I explained I was going away the next morning for Burbank, California and the worried sounds and sadness on Evy's voice told me this was not good. All I could think of was the Jewish Mamma!

Once Bob had a sickness that required him not being able to drive to work, so every day I picked him up and drove him to the office and then drove him home. It was one of the best times in my life, with the conversations and topics we covered. How could I let Evy and Jeff down? So I decided that if I worked all night I would get it done, and I did!

I hope Bob knows this somehow because he would be proud of his son for the work he is doing for the YJCC.

Thursday, March 30, 2017


Since I had the carotid artery operation in January, two full months ago, I haven’t felt the same. It seems my body has found new areas to trouble me with as I go through the day, with spells of panic and a sense of an explosive sensation that rushes to my head.

At night, around 12:00 or so, a pain starts to appear behind my left shoulder and moves down to my left arm. I get a sense of jaw discomfort and the arm feels like the blood flow was cut off! I described these symptoms to my GP and he says it is arthritis, I spoke about it to my cardiologists and he says he doesn’t deal with that, that something else besides the heart is the problem. This is starting to anger me. I have become lethargic and almost depressed from it all.

My hope is that everything is temporary, that the advent of Spring will lift me out of the doldrums of Winter and a lighter attitude will take over.

I made a promise to the readers of this blog long ago that if I was dying, I would write about it, why? Because I feel that if I reveal my life here, and tell about its beginnings, then I am obligated to tell about the demise, too. Death is only a chapter of life itself. It is a final chapter, but none the less a real chapter, part of my experiences.

Funny how when I was young, I thought of things like career, family and current events as I looked forward to the next chapters in my life. Now That I am retired, and living the final chapter, I feel the need to report that too.

I’m not afraid to die, I know that death itself is painless, you are free from all earthly obligations and freed up from pain both physical and emotional, including the pain of dying. Is that not what we all want, that freedom?

When that day does come, and I am sure it will, someone in this world might mourn and someone will be happy about it, but no one will be as relieved! I am not being morbid, that would mean I dwell, I still laugh, sing to myself, have outlandish thoughts and still love, they take priority.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017


I know I spoke about this last week, but I am impressed after so many years of poor TV programming.

I'm beginning to change my mind about the offerings of TV. It seems it is the neo golden-age of TV broadcasting. I remember when there was nothing on but reality shows and unfortunately one reality show turned into a nightmare! (Can you hum: Hail to The Chief?)

Outside of The Big Bang Theory, there are no other comedy shows I feel funny enough, nothing to tickle my funny bone, just an endless continuation of flippant jokes, and over acting or should I say under acting? There seems to be a void after Jim Parsons as far as comedic characters go, and of the other characters:  they seem to be tailored for Dr. Sheldon Cooper. Leonard, Howie, and Raj along with the gorgeous Penny play off of each other. The development of new characters is very high in my book on that show when they introduce the likes of Stewart, Kripke, Amy and Bernadette. Leonard's mom and dad, Sheldon's mom and of course Penny's family. Bernadette's father is a fine actor who now appears in another show I enjoy: This Is Us!

But there is an emergence of quality starting in 2014 when I became acquainted with Downton Abbey. That soon followed with Breaking Bad, Madam Secretary, and Turn, about the American Revolution. I was teased with Better Call Saul, and now: Victoria and This Is Us.

This Is Us has me on a marathon of TV watching Free On Demand to catch up with all the episodes, it is that good!

The costuming for the period shows like Downton Abby and Victoria are incredible as is the art direction. Dialogue and acting just so superb that I have to admire the schools for teaching the talent how to channel it all! It has been an amazing experience.

So move over world, I got me a beer and a slice of pizza, now turn on that set!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017


by Cara Giaimo

In 1973, a Michigan entrepreneur buried 30,000 mushroom pizzas—all for nothing.
On March 5, 1973, a couple dozen people headed out to a farm in Ossineke, Michigan, to witness an unusual event: the burial of an estimated 30,000 frozen, family-size mushroom pizzas. The mood was somber, and a little cheesy. The Governor of Michigan, William G. Milliken, gave a brief homily “on courage in the face of tragedy,” before bulldozers began shoving pizzas into an 18-foot hole.
“I guess by next fall there won’t be anything but the cellophane,” the farm’s owner, Gary Johnson, was quoted as saying as he peered into the mass grave. Pile after pile of pies slid out of a line of pickup trucks and into their final resting place. When it was all over, the victims’ creatorthe frozen pizza magnate Mario Fabbrini, laid a two-colored flower garland on the grave: red gladioli for sauce, white carnations for cheese. He then offered slices to all of his guests.

The story of the Great Michigan Pizza Funeral is one of loss, terrible maladies, and spilled marinara. But it’s also a classic tale of the strange obstacles immigrants can often face in new countries. In this specific case, it was bad mushrooms that interrupted Fabbrini’s American dream.
In January of 1973, employees at United Canning in Ohio were checking their inventory when they noticed some of their tins of mushrooms had swelled up. Swelled cans are bad news, and sure enough, tests revealed that the cans were harboring Clostridium botulinum, the bacterium that causes botulism, which can lead to body-wide muscle weakness, low blood pressure, and, sometimes, death.
The FDA removed the affected products from store shelves, but to ensure a comprehensive recall, they had to make some calls up the supply chain. Various prepared food businesses used United Canning’s mushrooms, including Mario Fabbrini, owner of Papa Fabbrini’s Frozen Pizzas.

When Fabbrini got the call, “everything [went] dark,” he later told the Detroit Free Press. Fabbrini was an immigrant, and the architect of his very own all-American success story. He had a visceral understanding of what he stood to lose, and a palpable fear of losing it. He had come to Michigan from Fiume, Italy, after World War II, having grown up under the Fascist regime—“They put the black shirt on me when I was six years old,” he told United Press International. After he got to the U.S., he and his wife, Olga, adapted his family pizza recipe for American palates (“the pizza from my country no one here would eat,” he told one reporter), and went from rolling dough to raking it in.

When he got the news about the mushrooms, Fabbrini stopped his shipments and submitted his mushroom pizzas to a crude contamination test: slices were fed to a couple of FDA lab mice, who promptly died. So Fabbrini recalled his ‘shroom-topped pies, rounding them up from local restaurants and grocery stores. In order to get rid of them, he decided to throw a funeral—partly for the grand optics, but, one suspects, partly as a display of accountability, too.
By the time of the botulism scare, Fabbrini was a decade into his pizza-making career. He was churning out tens of thousands of pies per week, with the help of 22 full-time employees and a state-of-the-art factory. The scandal threatened to undo all he had worked for. “All I could think was, ‘Oh my God. Not me,’” he told UPI.

Some people—at least 17, UPI reported—tried to make Fabbrini’s nightmare come true, claiming they had taken ill from tainted toppings. His neighbors, though, rallied in support. One local fan, anticipating Fabbrini’s bankruptcy fears, offered to put some stock up for collateral if it became necessary to save his business. A bank teller told Fabbrini that a nearby priest was leading prayers for him.

Besides the governor, dozens of community leaders attended the funeral, including Chamber of Commerce members and bank presidents. “It sorta makes you goose pimples about America,” Fabbrini said to the UPI reporter. Governor Milliken later called Fabbrini “an example for all of us.” The article’s subhead, mincing no words, was “Immigrant Offered Help.”
In the end though, Fabbrini’s dramatic action was all for naught. In the two weeks between the recall and the funeral, the pizzas were let off the hook: Their mushrooms were untainted after all. The mice that died after eating them had apparently succumbed not to botulism, but to some other mouse malady. (“I think it was indigestion,” Fabbrini told the Associated Press. “Maybe they didn’t like my pizza.”)

Fabbrini’s sales took a bit of a dive—the pies buried at the funeral cost him about $30,000. According to legal documents, he lost even more money bringing new flavors to market, because his customers lost trust in mushrooms. But his business survived, and the tale of the Great Michigan Pizza Funeral harbors one final twist. Those legal documents only exist because, a few days before the burial, Fabbrini sued the canning company for a million dollars, and won a good chunk of it—an all-American ending to an all-American story.

Monday, March 27, 2017


Greetings on this joyous day of days, La Principessa turned three-years-old today!

What could possibly be more exciting than seeing the joy of my life on her special day? Actually, it is my special day, she made me the grandfather of the most beautiful child ever!

Funny what a grandchild can do to you, make you fall in love like no other you experienced since your last child or the day you met your mate, beautiful moments to be cherished.
There are of course so many types of love in this world. There is the love that drives you and makes you whole, like marriage, there is a love of life, music, art and food. You don't want to miss the love of your children and even the love of ideas.

But the most special love when all are accounted for comes from somewhere else, it is the love of a grandchild. Three years ago, I had no idea what that was like, to love this tiny creature that has suddenly arrived one day to the joy of everyone. You get excited and go see the new person, the enigma locked in the box of imagination that is finally revealed. You see the parents, who suddenly seem more as one as of any time you noticed before. They share the look of joy and the respect for what they conceived, a child, their own. How sacred that look is.
But then, you peek into the blankets that surround that new-born child and cradled in its mother's arms, by the hovering father and you know: this is your first time you will meet! This is the moment that clears away the mystery and gathers a joy that is overwhelming and magical, THIS is your grandchild!

The magic begins with the first utterance of sound that escapes from the delicate lips with the tiny fingers nearby, the eyes that search and suddenly it hits home. From 9-months of a sacrifice of comforts and the agony of childbirth for a mother, here is a totally new human being, one conceived out of love and bearing the fruit of that love, your grandchild!

And as the child grows: your grandchild, you scheme the many ways you will give this beautiful child your love and devotion. You will become aware suddenly that life has come full cycle for you, and you are feeling privileged, and awed.

And then one day you hear the sweetest sound you ever heard before: "Grandpa" and when you match the words with the innocent face from where the word came from, your world is changed forever!

Sunday, March 26, 2017


Behind me are the real stars in his life, his friends.
Sometimes accessing your child's contribution to life can be in part measured by what you can see on paper. What kind of student he was, what college he went to and what he does for a living, who he marries and what kind of moral fiber he has. All I have mentioned is just scratching the surface, there are more subtle attributes that go unnoticed by the public or parental scrutiny.

They are the salt and pepper of our family history!
Being a father is not always easy, Mamma comes first, Dad is a part-time resident, and even Dad defers to Mom. I feel that this is the natural order of things, and rightfully so. Even the most hardened criminals remember and love their mothers.

From out of the past, and back to the future!
Today is #1 Son's birthday! Anthony has been around a long time now, that makes me old, but I am glad to leave the world in his capable hands. He has never disappointed his parents, shame has never reared its ugly head and the world at large accepts him. I think that a pretty good set of credentials to have. People say TLW (The Little Woman) and myself did a pretty good job of raising him, and I thank them for such a compliment, but he did it himself.

She had a lot to do with it all, thankfully.
Compassion rides beneath the surface, if incurs knowing and believing what you feel, feel it passionately and act on it when needed, #1 Son does that and more. Don't need to look hard as his father, he has done that all his life.

Beauty begets beautiful
When #1 Son was born, I feared for him. The Viet Nam war was on my mind, just as WWII was on my father's mind when I was born. What would be his ambition, what would be his goals and most importantly, what would he contribute to the world? Would he grow up to be a man? I guess every father has those things in the back and front of his mind.

His namesake!
But as I look back at #1 Son's life after all these years, I realize he set about his life in an orderly fashion, looked for help when he needed it and thought through all his final solutions to his quest and issues of the day. All he did he did with other's in mind, his parents and his siblings and then himself. Today he reaps the benefits of a wonderful life, his beautiful wife and child make him whole, make him someone special when he seeks to be ordinary. He can't help himself, he just gets involved with the right kind of people and things happen that are good for him.

Still gorgeous!
So, today is his birthday, and like that rainy stormy morning so long ago, he has weathered his own life, the disappointments and the truths he faced with class, the triumphs and victories require him no laurels or victory laps. Just inner satisfaction governs his life and maybe teaches us all what we need to be in life.

Happy Birthday, Anthony, we love you.

Saturday, March 25, 2017


"Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds"

Yup, go to any post office in the good old U.S. of A. and ask what their motto is. One in a blue uniform and stripes along the side of the legs will stand at attention and state the words: "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds" At least that is what I imagine. I also imagine they will raise the cost of stamps once again to pay these "swift couriers" for increases in salary.

Now normally I have no beef with mail carriers, They, deserve raises and they work hard, no question about it, but the organization needs to own up.

This is the second time I have had no mail on an ordinary business day. The other time, like it was on March 14 of this year was a snowstorm. At least I could say the first time was a bad day, but this time, the snow accumulations couldn't prevent an ant from moving. The streets are mushy with slush but very passable, there is the wind and it is heavy at times, but this courier has a nice truck.

TLW (The Little Woman) went to work in this weather at its height, defying the elements to serve the public. Yes, like the Post Office, TLW is a public servant in a way, dealing with the public, the same public who used the same roads as TLW, and when the roads are nice and sunny, the couriers! Shame on someone!

Friday, March 24, 2017


It was coming down on March 14th, disappointingly slow. The winds shifted from one direction to another, and the snowfall was minimal. The skylight blacked out the dawn from the heavy coating of ice that rested on the frame and glass, there would be no sunlight today.

The TV was on, reporting the news of the Nor'easter as it barreled into town and dominated the newscast! It promised a long, cold, and dreary day.

As I sipped my coffee I was informed The Wanna-Be-Bank & Truss Company would open its' doors later in the morning than usual, and with all the hype of the so-called Governor of NYS, the media, and our experience pointed to more disappointment. At 5:40 AM, the phone rang and it was The Wanna-Be-Bank & Truss Company, telling us that they would delay their opening.

"Well, I think I'll wear jeans today, I know it's not dress-down day, but I'll show them"

Looking over the rim of my morning coffee, a smile came to my face, her open defiance was at least gratifying, if not somewhat unexpected! TLW (The Little Woman) was angry that The Wanna-Be-Bank & Truss Company was even considering opening.

"WOW! You take it to them, girl!" I volunteered. She was almost raising her fist in open defiance to the Man! SHE IS WOMAN! She is also pissed off.
A rebel without a cause!

I go out to survey the situation and look at the roads, the plows had been by more than once but the ice was like a newly paved road, with tire ruts that ran like tracks, dangerous, sloppy and uncomfortable giving vent with the chill of the wind, the sleet ice that pinched my face as I scanned the situation.

Returning to the warmth of the confines of my abode, the phone rang. TLW reached for it and I watched for the latest announcement that maybe the day was being called off. A smile crossed her lips as she hung up.

"Did they call off the day?" I asked.

"No, they just called to say I could wear jeans today!"

There went her only claim to defiance, even that can now be regulated!

Thursday, March 23, 2017


Yes, the world is coming to an end, the sky is falling and a storm is barreling down upon us!

Last March 13, that was the news on the TV. The dire predictions made for some very happy weather reporters as they announced how terrible it would be, how they had even more dire predictions at 11:00 pm and make sure to tune it.

It's not always glamorous reporting the weather. Sometimes there is not much to say and yet, they pay you to say it as a weather reporter.

Is China on the rise? Is Putin interfering with our electoral process? Is Isis plotting another 9/11? NOT IMPORTANT, THE SNOW IS COMING, RUN OUT TO THE SUPERMARKET AND PURCHASE $4,000 WORTH OF SNACKS, MILK, BREAD AND COLD CUTS, AND DON'T FORGET TO FILL THAT TANK OF GAS!

It is so stupid.

Once the storm hits the plows come.

You are left with $4,000 worth of groceries, you have a lot of snacking to do! If you have Mallowmars, please invite me.

Expect up to… 1,000 inches of snow with winds up to 500 mph! Run, hide, pray, the sky is falling.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017


I loath to give out recommendations on TV or entertainment. I think we all have our own taste and will eventually find what we like. When people recommend to me that I watch something on the TV, I don't want to hear it. I become suspect if they even think I could enjoy what they like. But if my wife, The Little Woman (TLW) recommends it, then I have to seriously sit down and watch, because she more than anyone knows what I like.

We have enjoyed some really good TV, Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul, Turn and currently Victoria. All are worthwhile shows, all well-written and acted, all leaving me wanting more. But there is one show I will go out on a limb and recommend, besides The Big Bang Theory, and that is: This Is Us.

The show has many qualities such as great writing, excellent acting by EVERY member of the cast, humor, and tear-jerking drama that compels one to come back for more.

The development of characters is so great that you can't help but take each character separately and try to understand the depth that is there. Story development is so good that it truly mirrors life, with flashbacks that fill the story line continuously, helping you understand the events as they unfold. This is the best thing on TV right now, aside from The Big Bang Theory. The humor hits you like a pie in the face, yet it is subtle and well timed. But one thing you must to, and it helps with fighting dementia for old people, is to listen to it carefully, the jokes come before you realize what happened, a complete work of art!

TLW recommended this show and she has great taste, just look at her choice of roommate.

So, as a present to you Dear Readers, I recommend this show on Tuesday nights on NBC-TV, or you can do what I do, go to your cable company and look for Free on Demand, go to NBC and then look up the show itself. There are after-show conversations that you want to pass until you get to the show itself, about three or four pages later. Then start to catch up, it will make you laugh and cry!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017


Horses fall asleep while standing up.

I’m delighted that both political parties are actively engaged in national health care. What I’m upset about is that both political parties are actively engaged in national health care. I don’t know whether to cross the street with my eyes closed or cross the street backward, that is up to the two political parties to decide.

The POTUS has issued orders to fire all the US attorneys so he can hire US attorneys. This is a move to foster the governing parties muscle and make Democrats extinct. Those Democrats who did not lose in the last election will be eliminated by fear of prosecution or I guess if any Democrat is left in Congress, they will be shot. This is just a guess on my part, besides it keeps the dogs from the door of the Republican party, after all, it does take a lot of time defending oneself from prosecution. The shame is that Preet Bharara is gone too. He was put in place by Obama and immediately went to work, giving medicine to both NYS Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver the Democrat and the then Republican State Majority Leader Dean Skelos, while looking down the throat of Mayor de Blasio! He was my kind of guy.

 Sean Spicer has had better days, at his last select news conference, he was asked why the American pin on his lapel was upside down by a reporter. I guess he was trying to tell us something. But let’s not be critical of the present administration, not so fast bucko! They did a very nice thing, giving out green baseball caps for St. Patrick’s Day. My guess is no Irishman worth his beer and potatoes will wear one since it had a 4-leaf clover instead of a shamrock. I think the 4-leaf clover is a way of saying: “GOOD LUCK” after all, we will need it.

 And the past ‘phony’ national job reports recently show, marked improvement, or as Sean Spicer reported the President saying: “They may have been phony in the past, but they are very real now!

My next bitch post will be scheduled for rainy or snowy days, look for one in your neighborhood.

Monday, March 20, 2017


Or, Put Up Your Dukes!

Raising children is a tough business. You not only have to protect and teach them, you must feed and keep them clean and entertained. Raising a handicapped child is adding a whole set of problems.
When Ellen was a little baby, about 2 or 3 years of age, I would hold her in my arms as we went through a store. We decided to leave this big department store, with Ellen on my shoulder, facing behind me. When I got outside to the parking lot, Ellen was holding a doll, brand new, and off the shelf. NOT PAID FOR!

My daughter Ellen is a fun kind of person! That in spite of her problems is who she is! She likes to be amused, entertained and God helps you if you don't!

Once before I renovated my present home, I had a Hallway, kitchen and dining room that all met at one point. You could literally run into the dining room that led to the kitchen that led to the hall that took you back to the dining room. It was the spot where Ellen and I played and had the most fun. She would chase me around the area, and as I got out of sight, I would be on her heels; she would see me and I would chase her. This would go on forever. Ellen would be laughing the whole time. I would be making exaggerated noises to her amusement. When I was on the precipice of a heart attack, I would let her catch me. Then she would push me to get going again.

Of course, it wasn't always fun and games. Once we decided to take Ellen one Sunday afternoon to the library where they were having a musical show. Ellen loves music, and we thought this would entertain her. Ellen decided she didn't like music anymore. In fact, she decided TLW (The Little Woman) and I didn't either! This came as a shock to me. As we waited in line in the library theater line, she decided to let strangers know what she thought of them. If someone came too close to her, she would smack him or her. We would apologize, and the victim would look at Ellen and understand. Ellen decided to take on the whole line, in fact, she was ready to wipe out the whole library! As we tried to coax her back to the car, she decided to pull a Mahatma Gandhi on us. She ‘peacefully' sat down in the parking lot, refusing to get up. We tried everything we could until some stranger came by and helped me lift her up and put her in the car! She was a teenager at that point.

Then there was a trip down to Virginia Beach one year. We decided to go to dinner and went to this local seafood place. It was a large restaurant, and it was popular and packed. We went through the whole restaurant to this waiting area. Ellen decided her time was too valuable to wait, and besides, she was hungry. She started to look menacingly at other people's plates. That was our cue to move on out of there, ASAP! TLW grabbed her by the arm and started to rush her out, as I followed. As we passed one poor soul, who was minding his business while eating his dinner, Ellen reached out and smacked him in the back of the head as she passed the table. The poor bastard went face forward, almost into his plate! When he looked up, Ellen was long gone, and I thought I was heading for a fistfight! The poor man literally had no idea what hit him. I hope he blamed it on the hot sauce.

As aggressive as she was in strange situations, she was well loved in familiar surroundings. Once we took a ride out to Six Flags in New Jersey. It was a rainy damp morning, and the park was nearly empty. There was no waiting, so it was perfect. Suddenly, there was a yell: "Hi Ellen!" Standing across the lot at another ride was a gentleman who knew Ellen from her day program. Ellen gave this guy a big hug. It took a lot for us to get her to stop hugging people, strangers and all, the rest of the day!

In the weeks to come, I hope to write about a lot of the things that have occurred to TLW and me and the fact that life was not all bad with Ellen.
The waiting room at the Nuclear Medicine section of Stony Brook Medical Center was busy one Monday morning when I arrived. My daughter Ellen was to be checked out for possible abnormality in her digestive system. This requires her fasting. She is given an egg that is made with a small amount of radiation, which she eats, and every hour they take a picture. She must be perfectly still for 60 seconds as the camera does its work. This is repeated an hour later, then another hour later, then finally one more time an hour later. The whole process takes about four hours.

If you know anything about people with mental disabilities, and my daughter, in particular, you know they will not follow orders. You might fool them into doing something, but then you have a fight on your hands. Ellen does things her way, no matter what the protocol is: you better follow her instructions.

Ellen is 114.6 pounds, about 5 feet tall, with spindly arms and legs. Dynamite IS smaller but doesn't carry the explosive power of Ellen. You can at least control dynamite if you are careful. Not Ellen! Mr. Highhopes enters the waiting room, a man about mid-forties, in a white smock with mandatory serious face and pens in his pocket. He relates the procedure he will employ to get the picture.

Mr. Highhopes: "We will feed her an egg with a little radioactive material in it. This is so we can trace the path of the food to see where it goes, and how she is digesting it. We need her to lie perfectly still on a table for one minute as we shoot the picture."

I start to laugh out loud. Mr. Highhopes is staring at me, quizzically.

Me: "You will not get any pictures from her. She will not cooperate."

Mr. Highhopes: "Well, we could shoot her standing up." (That thought occurred to me many times when she refused to cooperate!)

Starting to feel this uncontrollable urge to laugh, I check myself.

Me; "OK, we can TRY, but I don't think it will work!"

Off we go to the camera room. Ellen is in a wheelchair, being pushed by a woman caretaker, a male caretaker, Mr. Highhopes and myself.

The room is cramped and now, very crowded. Someone brings Ellen an egg sandwich with the radioactive material, and we ask her to eat. She hasn't eaten breakfast, so this should be ‘easy'.

Me; "Here Ellen, eat. Emmm looks good Ellen!"

She shakes her head no. "Aw, come on Ellen, eat." Again, her head goes sideways, very vigorously.

"For Daddy?"

Now she is really shaking it "NO"!

"How about for Mommy?"

She opens her mouth and starts to eat.

Now we decide to liberate her from the wheelchair. The reason she is in the wheelchair is because that is the only way to control her through the hospital parking lot, in the elevators, and through the hospital, protecting the visitors: staff and patients from physical destruction if they get in her way.

I coax her to stand up and we manage to somehow worm her into the two sections of the camera. Now, all we need to do is get her to face toward her right.

There is suddenly a look, which comes from my little girl. That sweet little girl we all love so much. With her big browns that look up so innocently at me, she suddenly starts looking like Iron Mike Tyson! The look seems to say: "OK, who wants it first? Which one of you turkeys' wants to go down in a blaze of glory first? Or do you want to all die at once? Either way, I don't have a preference."

I make the first move. (I am stupid) Sweet little Ellen, 114.6 pounds of her, pushes her 200-pound father across the room! The two caretakers are holding on to each other, leaving a large yellow puddle under them and Mr. Highhopes is hastily packing up and heading toward the door. He didn't wet his pants, but I did notice a large bulge sticking out of his behind as he ran or should I say flew past me.

Ellen knows how to say two words. The word for Mommy is: "Mumma", and her word for happy is: "Appy."

As we left the hospital, she looked at me, patted herself on her head and said: "Appy?"

One Sunday night I took my daughter home to her residence in Shoreham/Wading River. It is a 92-bed facility for men and women with special needs. Depending on how happy she is, she will either be coaxed out of the car by me or happily and giggly climb out of the back seat.

As we walked toward the entrance from the parked car, I spotted a couple who were leaving the facility after visiting their daughter for the day. His name is Jack and is a former board member, and so he knew where he was. My daughter Ellen would remind him anyway.

As we walked Jack acknowledged me and we started to chat a little when my Ellen went up to him and gave him probably the biggest hug he ever got, maybe bigger than anything his wife ever gave him. Jack stood his ground as he said hello to Ellen and Ellen just continued to hug. She then turned her attention to his wife who was standing behind her opened the car door on the passenger's side. Although Ellen doesn't speak, she started to make a fuss over this woman too.

Being in an environment that accepts Ellen for who she is, it was easy for these nice people to accept Ellen's enthusiasm for their being there. As they drove away, I continued to walk Ellen to the front door and as we entered the building, she looked around with just a shift of her big eyes, kind of saying: "Is there anyone here to greet me?" Then she entered her section of the building and ran forward toward the main room where all her friends are, and started a screeching happy noise as she saw everyone, running up to the houseparent hugging her too.

Suddenly, her daddy who had her attention all afternoon, was no longer important, forgotten and as she distanced herself from him, never looking back! I guess after all those years where she never wanted me to leave her, she is now comfortable with where she is and more importantly, who she is. It turns out, no matter where I am in the agency, the main office, the school or workshop, or even residences, they all know her and all love her. She is a character!

Being the parent of a child with a disability, I often wonder when we as parents of those children, reach a breaking point. Being a co-chair of the Guardianship Committee, I see parents that need to surrender their roles as caretakers, because they are too old to care for their adult children. They keep their faith and I wonder how? Many of these children with disabilities do not toilet themselves, nor do they speak or communicate in any way or form, except to cry! The despair is overwhelming, as is the resentment that follows. The aged parents come to the agency, many are too old to even travel, and yet they dream. Some travel all the way to Albany to conventions and meetings about their children, stooped over, in pain with walkers, canes and still dream of a better life for their adult child. They place their faith in God, then: get to work!

Many people start to question if there is a God if they should continue to believe in Him and if it would matter. After all, their child or sibling did nothing wrong, and here more than one is suffering, both the disabled person and the caretakers, and family.

We see our daughter Ellen about twice a month. We pick her up from her home, where she has an air-conditioned bedroom, decorated to the hilt, with reminders of her family all about her. She lives with seven other people, all in similar degrees of suffering, all with the same loving care. Still, when we look into her eyes, we sometimes become very angry with God. We start resenting even the spiritual moments we do spend. We see Ellen, and we see innocence, love, and affection. We witness her happiness and her giggles when I do stupid things to make her laugh. Then again, we wonder: why?

When we were growing as a young family, it was difficult to accept the fact that the dream was over, that new plans were needed to be put in place, and in a hurry. We witnessed siblings with children, discussing normal growth patterns, and we harbored sadness, were left out of the conversations and became aware that our lives were to be different and difficult. We saw the awkwardness of our parents and siblings in trying to communicate with Ellen, and Ellen trying back. It seemed like people were saying: "Come get this child, please, I'm very uncomfortable with her." We understood as her parents, but we still felt the hurt, the second-class citizens we as a young family felt.

But if God took care of all of the life's inequities, what would be our purpose here on earth? How would we demonstrate humanity? How would we be relevant to this world? I know that all those people in the past, in spite of their discomfort with Ellen, were merely human, suffering in their own small way with the disability that Ellen has. No harm or hurt could come to Ellen, and today we see that clearly. But I think I see clearly what God is doing, what he is saying, and what he has done. Ellen is a teacher. She drives home a lesson every day, that there is indeed a God. He is in all of us, and by our actions, what we say and do, makes us relevant to this world.

I truly believe: that God only observes. I think he wants us to do his work. We must reach down and wipe the tear of a child. We must reach down to help the poor and help heal the sick. We must reach down and aid the elderly because then we can reach up and become part of humanity, and a child of God.

Many years ago, when my son Joseph was dying in North Shore University Hospital, my wife and I had spent round the clock time with him. We had slept the night in a waiting room, and from exhaustion, we went home to shower and get a bit of rest. As I lay on the couch, the phone rang, and the doctor on the other end told us to hurry, the time had come. We went to the hospital that cold January night, and as we entered the building and were climbing the stairs, a robed figure, sped past us and raced up the stairs. That robed figure was a priest, racing to my son's deathbed to give us spiritual comfort. It helped. He helped us get a perspective during a cold horrible time.

Is there a God? I think so.

For thirty-eight years, I've been working on getting my daughter Ellen to say just one word, Dad, or daddy, or even dada. For all these past thirty-eight years' she says: "momma" and will say it often. When she sees me, she calls me: "Momma" and I understand it. She can't form words in her mouth and can only say: happy and momma, and manages to survive with the help and love of some truly wonderful people who support her every day!

These past few years I would meet up with her for her various doctor's appointments and when she sees me she calls out: "Momma!" and comes running to hug me. When that happens, a funny thing happens to me, I lose my reserve, my sense of being in public, and hug her back. She smiles and I realize, she loves me for being who I am, no pretense needed, no conditions need to be met.

Once, while at a visit to the hospital, I sat with two caretakers who assist Ellen, and waited for a doctor to come out to talk to me. One asked me if she said any other words other than those I described. I said I wish she would say daddy, and if she ever did, I would give a million dollars to hear her call me that. Almost immediately, the word spread that I was awarding a million bucks for anyone who could get Ellen to say, daddy.

At every doctor's appointment, they were working feverishly to get Ellen to say it. But knowing Ellen, you don't make her do anything she doesn't want to do (Like her mother). So I would lean back amused and confident, thinking my money was safe.

Then comes Father's Day. TLW (The Little Woman) comes out to the den with my daughter, holding a present for me, and instructs Ellen to "give it to Daddy." My daughter flings the present at me and laughs; this is how she is. I open the present and make a big deal, but she really doesn't understand it all, herself.

Mom goes back to making dinner and Ellen is standing over me. She works hard to get my attention and is ‘talking' to me in her own way. Then suddenly, out of nowhere, with prompting, on Father's Day, she says: "DADA DADA!"

Perhaps my best Father's Day ever.

Sunday, March 19, 2017


Growing up in the Italian-American tradition, St. Joseph's Day ranked right up there with Easter and Christmas for me. If your name was Joseph, you got your cheek pinched and cream puffs.

(From Wikipedia) "Joseph (Hebrew: ‏יוֹסֵף‎, transit. Yosef‎; Greek: Ἰωσήφ, translate. Ioséph) is a figure in the Gospels, the husband of Mary, mother of Jesus, and is venerated as Saint Joseph in the Catholic Church, Orthodox Church, Oriental Orthodox Church, Anglican Communion, Lutheranism[2][3] and Methodism.[4] Christian tradition places Joseph as Jesus' foster father. Some historians state that Joseph was Jesus' father.[5] Some differing views are due to theological interpretations versus historical views.[6]"

Fortunately, my pinched cheeks were surrounding my nose and not the other pair which made for good color and more convenience since I wasn't dropping my pants all day long. Usually, the day ended in pasta and noble and truly great tradition!

Grandma was the ‘pincher' and I was the ‘pinchee' resulting in remarks about the glowing cheeks I had and how my health must be so good. Granted there were surrogate pinchers in place for Grandma until she could get home, but you weren't Joseph until grandma pinched you into one! "Mannagia, JoJo (pinch), he-he" withdrawing her forefinger and thumb from the target area.

My nightmare was if she ever decided to pinch both cheeks at once, and maybe forgetting to let go, and so I closed my eyes and squeezed them tightly, hunched my shoulders and waited for the ordeal to be over, knowing that pasta and cream puffs were waiting because of my sacrifice.

According to the New Testament, Joseph was the father of James, Joses, Judas (Jude), Simon, and at least two daughters also. No wonder they called him the ‘worker', with all those kids!

Giorno del Santo Giuseppe felice!

Saturday, March 18, 2017


You know when you are getting old. Suddenly the most popular people in the media are totally unknown to you. You watch shows like Ellen, and she has guests that get a big applause and you wonder why you never heard of them before.

There seem to be inside jokes that you don't get then you realize that the jokes are apparent, you are not. I guess the world is passing me by!

You go to a crossword puzzle and the clues don't seem to make sense, you are out of the loop. So, to keep in the loop, you go on to Facebook and soon realize the people you befriended are also out of the loop, they are like you, old.

Too bad I don't remember those that were so popular when I was young. But back in the day I did, and I was very current, very hip and very aware of what was popular. Today, somehow, I forgot to read the newspapers or keep up with the news and social media. I am a relic!

But don't fault me, TLW (The Little Woman) has the same issue and has even mentioned it to me. I guess I should be glad I'm not the only one who feels that way!

But there are phrases I never heard of, new trends that no one told me about, and the music has so passed me by.

I think I will take a room in the old age home and just wait it out!

Friday, March 17, 2017


More than 100+ millions of Irishmen across the Earth are celebrating the most famous Patrick in the world. According to many versions of his life story, it is said that he was born in Britain, around 385AD.  His parents Calpurnius and Conchessa were Roman citizens living in either Scotland or Wales.

Saint Patrick is the patron saint and national apostle of Ireland. St Patrick is credited with bringing Christianity to the land of Ireland. Most of what is known about him come from his two works; the Confessio: a spiritual autobiography, and his Epistola: a denunciation of British mistreatment of Irish Catholics.

And why is the Shamrock the National Flower of Ireland?' 
Explaining the Holy Trinity to the pagan population, St. Patrick used the shamrock as a visual tool. Yoga and meditation are now more popular in Ireland than going to Mass. I wonder what St Patrick would think about all that?!

For so many years, as a non-Irishman, being curious about things Irish, married one, and found out they weren't telling us everything we needed to know.
For instance, you'd think that the Irish held their first parade in Dublin on St. Patrick's Day, but they didn't! No, they got their parade tradition from the American Irish, yes, those who emigrated: to America where in 1762 held their first St. Patrick Day Parade in New York City!

Now don't go all out of joint bejesus, this is fact, and the fact it is that that is not all. No, the Irish have been hiding the facts about the old sod from us non-Irish. Please be seated for the next paragraph on this fascinating expose' on the Irish culture in America.

Wait, it gets even more interesting, the hero of this all, the central figure so to speak, St. Patrick, who was not Irish (Oh the Saints save us!) but a Scotsman whose parents were of Roman Ancestry is scandalous in its own right! It seems that St. Patty was kidnapped by pirates and sold into slavery, in Ireland and for about 6 years then managed to escape and became a Christian who devoted his life to ridding Ireland of pageantry. That thing about snakes and Ireland, well he never did that either. There were no snakes in Ireland at that time, and snakes are not native to the old sod. The snakes are a metaphor for pagans.  His driving out the snakes was really driving out the pagans.

When before the turn of the last century, the Irish were coming to America in large numbers, I would say ‘droves' but they sailed here instead. Yes, and to cap off injury with insult, were forced to live in large areas with other undesirables, namely Italians and Jews. It is here where we examine another myth far worse than St. Patrick being Irish. It seems that pork was the preferred meat in Ireland and coming to America, pork was prohibitive. The Irish being poor, would on occasion go to Jewish delis for sandwiches of corned beef. The beef was inexpensive here in America and the Irish figured it out that corned beef was an excellent substitute for pork. The Jews taught them that adding cabbage to the boiling of the corned beef flavored the vegetable and along with a potato or two and some carrots, you could feast rather cheaply my friend!
Well don't be downhearted, the reason they Irish are known as drinkers is because they knew all the facts, and liquor made them happy again.

Here's a little levity to go with that pint!

A sobbing Mrs. Murphy approaches Fr O'Grady after mass, and he asks:
"So, what's bothering you?"
She replies: "Oh, Father, I've terrible news. Me husband passed away last evening."
The priest says: "Oh, Mary, that be terrible, bejesus! Did he have any last requests?"
"Certainly father," she replied. "He said: "Please Mary, put down that damn gun."

And yet still…

One night, Mrs. McMillen answers the door to see her husband's best friend, Paddy, standing on the doorstep.
"Hello Paddy, but where is my husband? He went with you to the beer factory"
Paddy shook his head. "Ah Mrs. McMillen, there was a terrible accident at the beer factory, your husband fell into a vat of Guinness stout and drowned"
Mrs. McMillen starts crying. "Oh, don't tell me that, did he at least go quickly?"
Paddy shakes his head. "Not really - he got out 3 times to pee!"

Thursday, March 16, 2017


OK, I have seen it all! The Town of Brookhaven is just plain dumb! They are plowing my street, it doesn't have any snow, slush or ice on it, but that plow has now made two passes already. The driver is a woman on the cell phone and she is carrying in her truck a whole lot of sand. The plow is down but not the sand!

Being a cranky old man with time on my hands, I need to bitch, and after I got my tax bill this week, I have plenty to bitch about now. Recently we had a snow storm that did not cause a lot of traffic problems. It snowed and stuck on the grass but not on the pavement due to high temperatures the day before!

As I'm pushing the heavy snow to the sides of the driveway, I hear what I think is a plow! A plow!!! Where is this coming from? I look down the street and here comes a town truck, plow down on the pavement, probably ripping it up and it is not plowing anything!

I called the Highway Department and inquired why they plow empty streets, so they connect me to another person as I wait and listen to a bouncy tune. Another person answers and says: "The streets are icy and full of slush!" NO, NO! I replied and again stated the issue. She can't explain but she'll look into it.

The bouncy tune is to get you to dance and forget why you are calling.

Remind me to unquestioningly pay my taxes again this year!

As I write this she is going by one more time!