DelBloggolo

Sunday, April 30, 2017

READING, THE OTHER TV!


Years ago, there was a commercial selling pork, the other white meat. It was clever and I paid attention to it and now love pork chops, pork loin, and salami.

In my retirement, when I have free time I like to read. I have been reading three books on different topics and enjoy each book. One of the things I discovered is reading makes you understand better the complexities of subjects, just by expanding the field that interest you, that it opens up the windows and lets in the fresh air, chases the old notions that were instilled in me so long ago that I question everything and see a better understanding!

I never realized just how much all of us are ignorant of certain matters, just because we led busy lives and couldn't take the time to read as I do now. Being a student of perspectives by nature, the view is quite interesting and I realize more complex. My old beliefs are being thrown out the window, my allegiances to certain things are no more, everything is under question. I'm very proud to say both my sons are like that, too, maybe more so than me.

I love to read history, anything from the economic growth of pre-historic man to the current crises as they arise, give me pause to read a little deeper, find out what was told to me as truth and what was not, it is a great feeling of enlightenment and a deep satisfaction.

No longer are the history books of my youth, the cannon law of my faith and the daily doses of ‘truth' the Free Press presented to me accepted as fact, I want the whole story, and by digging into the whole truth, with all the ugliness it may uncover I get deep satisfaction and a sense of unloading the chains of blind acceptance.

But I could never do this if it weren't for this wonderful instrument we call the U.S. Constitution, for I can weigh divergent opinion and facts for myself, and not be prosecuted as I formulate or revise my beliefs.


Saturday, April 29, 2017

BEN WOULD HAVE BEEN CONFUSED!


Every now and then I go to the library that is right around the corner from me. I have been going to this library all the many years I have lived in my town, that is over 43 years! Going to the library is a special treat for me, seeing the sea of book-filled shelves on every topic under the sun. It is a great place to be. Capturing articles written to a specific topic in a magazine is like finding gold.

There is even a place to sit and have a coffee or something to munch on and read.

My need to read and write in my retirement have given me new life, writing makes me whole, whether or not anyone reads what I write, my blog sustains me and gives me a reason to get up every day and feel my blood flow.

Walking through the building I realize how much things have changed from what we had originally, what we have now is so much more inviting, and yet my community deemed it not enough, they made even more changes!

But as I walk the aisles and turn the corners I noticed what is the most important changes yet! The electronic age has indeed intruded, turning the art of bookmaking, the beauty of the life of a book into a non-entity.

One of the things I learned in college was just how much a book has value, the story is only the larger part of the total art. The art of bookmaking, an ancient art handed down for centuries is very much a part of the experience of reading and appreciating literature. I look at it as a beautiful woman, her beauty may be in her face, but it is her soul that brings home the total beauty of the woman. Without the art of the bookmaker, the story doesn't carry the reverence I feel for the writer and his/her story.

Sadly, due to convenience, we have created a faceless, soulless wonder called e-books that sit within an electronic conveyance, losing the beauty of the art of books. I fear Ben Franklin would be very disappointed.


Friday, April 28, 2017

SAUL

There are many people that I have met in my lifetime, some are ordinary men and women and some leave lasting impressions that are extraordinary. One such person was Saul. I will not use his last name to protect his privacy.

Saul was a very fine artist, a painter who could also draw with his eyes closed and one-handed. Working during the depression for the government painting murals for large public buildings like the one in Rockefeller Center. He received what is called a government commission. Having painted a mural or two I know how physically difficult that can be. Saul was the creative director for the advertising agency that I first worked for back in the early 70’s. Saul, married to the boss’s sister was very influential in the decision making on a creative level. Saul spoke in short and to the point sentences, always cheerful and well-spoken. He carried a patrician air about him, with white, starched shirts and tailor made suits. He had a full head of white hair and a well-trimmed mustache. Saul was a very handsome man.

Saul would arrive every morning at 10:30 a.m. punctually. By 11:00 a.m. Saul had a full cocktail glass of vodka on his desk, as he would scan through or read a magazine on art, both fine and commercial. By 12:30 Saul was out the door visiting his mistress who had a lovely apartment around the corner from the office that he paid for. She was a beautiful girl, and lived in a very expensive place, well-furnished and stocked with all kinds of booze, particularly vodka. They would lunch together, and Saul would return to the office about 3:30 p.m. He would sleep off the booze at his desk until 5:00 p.m. Some days, before he went off to lunch as early as 11:30 a.m., Saul would pull out some reference material in the art department, take an empty drawing table and would draw sketches for cowboy novels dust jackets. The sketches would later be published as the cover art for the book jackets. The amazing thing about Saul was he was one-handed. His other arm and hand were badly deformed from birth.

Saul was a guy who broke all conventional rules, wrote his own rules, and everyone loved him. I feel guilty because I should have been prissy and despised his lifestyle, especially his cheating on his wife, but I couldn’t help myself but like him. Maybe I felt that I didn’t live in his shoes, so what did I know, and what business was it to me.

Here was a man who could quote the best writers, discuss the movie industry from its inception and make a great recommendation for a restaurant.

When I left the agency for another job, I got a phone call from Saul, asking to meet me for lunch. We went to this little restaurant on one of the side streets along Second Avenue and he asked for a chance to do some artwork for me, which I gave him in a New York heartbeat. Pulling out a cigarette and holder, he had a European Dandy-like air that made me feel like I was in old Vienna or Paris as we discussed details and money. Here was a man who knew the likes of Picasso, Hemingway and other such luminaries, talking to me, a country boy from Bellport!

He is beyond a doubt, one of the most interesting characters I ever met. He made my life interesting, and I will always remember the great Saul.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

AND YOU ARE A WHAT?

The world I changing at an incredible rate of speed. People are changing their gender quicker than ever. Once you him as a little boy, now you know her as a big girl.

The other day TLW (The Little Woman) came home and started to discuss the people who come into the Wanna-Be-Bank and Truss Company who wish to change their personal account from Mr. to Ms.

The question raised was: How do you refer to them in their faces?  Nancy wants to be called Benjamin, and Benjamin wants to be referred to as Nancy! Oh, my, what to do???

This raised the dilemma of what to put on their account. I suggested that as long as they have the equipment that they were born with, is what you go by. This is until they do the change. You are born with a lady-part, you are a lady, you are born with a man part, you are a man.

But what about documents such as driver's licenses, how do we address that. Currently, there is a picture of you showing pretty much what you seem, my suggestion, although bazar, is instead of taking a picture of your face, you take a picture of: (you guessed it) your private parts. This will immediately clear up the confusion.

Please forgive me, it is a slow day.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

PAST MIDNIGHT, ALL ALONE WITH THE MEMORIES!


The other night I woke up with the usual arthritic pain in my left arm and decided to go into my office at the ungodly hour of 2:30 AM and sit for a while as the aspirin kicked in. I didn’t want to bother or wake up TLW (The Little Woman).

On my desk was a packet of papers that have to do with the past. In this manila envelope was some photos and letters, the letters addressed to me. The photos were of my mom, and the occasion was her 80th birthday party, held in an Italian restaurant called: Umberto’s.

As I perused the memory bank, I recall all the people I never met before who knew all about me, and by my looks, that I was Lena’s son. I made a speech in her honor, and realized it was a speech on her parenting techniques, the old-fashioned methods that included verbal sighs and well-armed disciplinary tools. (A wooden spoon)

Then further in the packet of papers was a letter my son sent me years ago and mementos from my work as a professional going way back to the beginning. What was happening was I was living my life again through those icons and symbols.

As I looked back, all the feelings I had about life came flooding back, the days on the trains and the days working, raising a family and loving it all. Funny how you can dismiss the pain and sorrow yet know it lies right under the surface. There is the pain of losing a child and the pain of mourning a daughter every day, a daughter who can’t communicate with me except to demonstrate her love.

I will take all those years, and I will embrace them, the simple life of the past and the wonderful future I realize as I look down the road, at the journey my children will take, and at some point, I will be left behind.

As I sit in my 70’s, I know it is coming to an end soon, my body is telling me that as is the conversations with my doctors. There is nothing I am worried about except that peace remain in this world of conflict, and that the safety and well-being of my children and grandchild be preserved and fashioned to grow better.

I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect life with the woman I married and the children she gave me. I am happy, I have already lived enough to be saying that I am happy.

In my collection of pictures there is one that stands out, taken at #1 Son’s wedding, after the reception in a bar, I say among all the young people that made friends at the place I once worked for and #1 Son came to first intern and then start his career. These are people I love to this day, and am grateful for their friendship with my son. All of that past led to my beautiful granddaughter; Darby Shea!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

PALPITATIONS

THE 'KID'

Visiting my heart doctor gives me palpitations! I don't suffer from palpitations, except when I see my heart doctor.

The doctor is a young, handsome young man, filled with energy and has a skinny body.

I hate him.

He is very up all the time and that annoys me too. He should be prescribing care, and not cheer.

I hate him.

Not really, he does do his job well, he has kept me alive.

Maybe you should hate him.

Going to his office is a chore, sit and wait, and this last visit was particularly upsetting. As I sat in the packed waiting room, I looked around me and realized: all the patients are old. I may not be the youngest lightbulb in the pack, either!

I hate that.

Have you ever watched a really old person make an appointment? They are offered dates that they can't make. Where the Hell is anyone going at 91-years of age??? After the appointment maker gives out a date, there is a long pause before they say they can't make it. Here I am behind them wondering if I'm going to make it if they don't hurry up.



Monday, April 24, 2017

ALOW, HEW PROBLEMS WITH YOUR COMPUUUTER!


Ready for the night shift to call about my Cpmpuuuter!
Those are the words heard most recently on my phone one evening. I get this kind of call by the same guy from probably Pakistan, telling me they detected a virus on my ‘Compuuuter”! I need to take care of this and they are the ones to help me do just that!

I am also told that it is a pc virus, so therefore lucky me, they can help me.

I own a Mac.

“Oh! How did a virus get into my computer?” I ask.

“Hew must have been to a website that is infected.” I am told.

I play along with the guy, pretending I am stupid and don’t know what I’m doing. (OK, I heard that!) Be nice!

I convince him and so he sends me along to his supervisor, I think the same guy.

He tells me to turn on computer and I say OK.

“Is it on, are you on your compuuuter?”

“Hang on, it takes a few moments to boot!” I am on the computer all along>

“OK, I’m on.”

“Good, now look at your keyboard on the lower left, do you see ‘Control’ and Windows Key?”

“Hmmm… Control and, Control and what?”

“Control and Windows Keys.”

“Uh, oh, yes I see them now!”

“Now, tap both keys and hold them down”

“OK, ummm… OK!”

“What do you see, what does the window say?”

“It says you are a lying son of a bitch who is trying to steal from me, and that you are a low-life and a good argument for abortion” and I hang up. I love it, can’t wait for the next call.


Sunday, April 23, 2017

HERE I AM LORD!

Years ago, when I commuted to the great metropolis, New York City, we as commuters tended to have certain things we did every day as part of our routine on the railroad, or is that ‘wailroad'?

You purchased your newspaper and waited on the same spot every morning for the train to arrive. Then you sat in the same seat, every day.

At night, if you regularly commuted home at the same time, the same routine was followed, thus making the commute more tolerable, less inhibiting and more familiar.

In the good old summertime on the Speonk and Montauk lines, all the city folk would attack the commuter trains, crowd, on and take up all the seats of the regular commuters. This caused a lot of resentment by the regulars.

Switch to Easter Sunday, or Palm Sunday or even Christmas Eve.

All year you have gone to Sunday Mass, sitting in the same pew and the same spot, arriving at the same time each week. Suddenly a major holiday like Easter comes, and your seat is gone, in fact, all the seats are gone, occupied by sunshine church goers. This makes you angry, or at least a little annoyed, I mean: "Where the Hell have you been all year long?"

Occupying the pews are mothers with little children who don't behave, husbands who are there reluctantly, probably who rather be home in bed or eating breakfast, and a mother who thought: We have to go to church today, it is Easter and this will ease my conscience until next Easter, and so they receive the most un-Christian look from the regular churchgoers. All in the name of religion. Amen.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

THE LAND OF THE FREE AND THE HOME OF THE BRAVE???


When I came into this world, the atomic bomb had not been dropped yet, the war was still being fought in the Pacific. As a 5-year old, I can remember the headlines that shook my parent’s heads, the Korean conflict, then the 1953 execution of the Ethel and Julius Rosenberg and then the detonation of a Russian Hydrogen bomb.

As I got older, the tensions in the Middle East began and so did the destabilization of Southeast Asia and the Vietnamese War. Civil rights protest and riots were common on the news and police and firemen were being shot at as they tried to restore civil order.

I lived through the assignation of a President, a civil-rights leader, and a presidential candidate, hijacking of planes both to Cuba and the Middle East, more middle-eastern wars and the withdrawal of troops from Vietnam. Women’s Lib movements and gay rights began the ascending of the American conscience, until the horrors of 9/11.

In all my years of reading and listening to the mass media, never have I witnessed the fear that runs rampant throughout our lives as I do now!

Recently there was a loud noise heard in Penn Station in NYC, causing panic and fear, people dropping their suitcases, attaché cases and whatever else they were holding and running out of the building, all in fear. Not a week later similar noises were heard in Lunar Park at Coney Island, causing more panic and widespread fear, once again people ran for their lives.

In both those instances no gunshots were fired, the just nervous edginess of American public sensibilities, we are living in fear! We no longer have the confidence of our forefathers, no longer live in peace, instead, we wait for the next gunshot.

Sandy Hook elementary school, Connecticut was a catalyst for the need to stop this madness, this shame on ourselves. Innocent children died, and the gun totters and lobbyist need to take responsibility as they should also do in Santa Barbara, (twice).

We seem to have covered everything lately, both international terrorism and home terrorism, both have equal prominence in our collective minds.

But there is one more factor to consider, this administration is now looking to repeal laws that make it mandatory to keep any weapons being carried in an unconcealed manner. This should help kill more of us, but make our so-called 2nd amendment rights stronger. God help us all!

Friday, April 21, 2017

GREETINGS, COMRADE CHRISTIAN!

It’s not like they say, the practice of Communism is nothing is distributed among the masses, without it first being picked clean by the leadership. Free speech is the freedom to say whatever you want about Communism being good, just don’t bad-mouth it or you will find yourself chopping ice in a gulag!

“To each according to his abilities to each according to his needs” the noble concept of Marx and Engels has been diluted by corruption, greed and the need for power, all anti-communistic attributes to those who practice Communism.

Communism is definitely on the wane, but an older, far more reaching theory is still strong as ever and causing more hardship, pain, and agony in this world: the world order of Christianity! The moral precepts and laws that govern western civilization are in fact not real in practice, and in need of an overhaul or maybe elimination.

We dress in morally good standing, we are above it all, we are Christians. No other faiths in the World are as valued as ours, yet we too, don’t practice what we preach. Instead, we think that if we do some work to help the local church, we are doing good, we are closer to God. I once had a relative decide for me I wasn’t Christian enough, that she had all the answers for what I needed. Her Christian outlook was colored by her self-righteousness and total lack of the concepts of Christianity.

You do know that Jews go to Heaven? Yes, they do, or that Hindu and Buddhists have equal rights in the eyes of God? Yup, sorry but they do. And you know how you fawn over blacks and gays, well they don’t need that, just your respect, fawning is not the keys to heaven, reaching out is.

I really don’t believe in religion, I think it is the cause of all the problems, wars and hurt in this world. Communism is just the tool of dictators hungry for power, it has nothing to do with “The people”.

I remember when I did do work for the church, heading a Fund-raising committee and a church newspaper, it seemed that all the members except for a few had very un-Christian attitudes. There was their standing in the eyes of the pastor, they needed to be patted on the head for being good Christians, given jobs and becoming their own dictatorship! Everything they did was guarded jealously, God forbid you intruded into their turf. If you joined the inner circle, you were made to feel unwanted, seems awfully un-Christian-like!

Comrade Father, pat my head, please.




Thursday, April 20, 2017

LOST SOUL

In my work as a board member and because I work on the Guardianship committee, I have the unfortunate duty of dealing with death. Many times, the people we deal with have developmental disabilities and also have no family. How sad is it in life not to have a family member around, someone you can call a mother or father or sister or brother? A distant cousin would be nice too.

All too often some of the gentle souls pass on due to their physical condition, allowing for no one except the incredible staff that comprises the Guardianship committee. Hospital visits, home visits, and even court visits need our staff, and they respond time and time again, all hours of the day or night.

When someone does die, it leaves a pall across the guardianship landscape, as we ponder what suffering or loneliness they may have experienced, along with their fears as they died. We try to visit, help them enjoy their lives until the final days, but as much as we do, it doesn't seem like enough to me. I wish I could hold their hands and tell them someone is with them, someone cares.

AS you enter the local cemetery, on your right off the main road, there stands a tall oak tree. It is important as trees go since it is a marker as to where Paul lies buried. Paul was a housemate to my daughter Ellen, and often when I visited Ellen's home, there sat Paul in the day room, feet and legs tucked under him on a couch.

If you saw this man, you would think he was hostile, shut off from the world and any interaction. Once day I decided to reach out to him, so I got close to his face and spoke. "Hi Paul, how are you?" Paul, without hesitation, kissed my cheek! This, of course, surprised me. Paul taught me something that day, that hostility is really ignorance and like they say: "Don't judge a book by its cover".

I went to his wake, sat with staff and we conversed. Paul had a brother who didn't want to acknowledge Paul, didn't even come to is a funeral. He left his poor brother and denied his existence.

But as you drive through the main gates and reach the old oak tree, under the shadow of the mausoleum that abuts the area of the tree, you realize that he is resting there, just as I left him that day in May as we buried him. I recalled my last time seeing him and how he always kissed me. I realized I was at least in some shape or form taking the place of a loved one for Paul.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

YOU MAY ALREADY BE A WINNER!


But probably not.

I should NEVER be left alone!
Years ago, when I worked for a major sweepstakes company, all our outer envelopes had the hopeful statement: “YOU MAY ALREADY BE A WINNER” and I would think: probably not!

But people entered the sweepstakes because they were free and even so, people thought that if you bought something, your chances of winning were better. This of course is not so, since we used the mail, we had to be very truthful.

Sometimes in the mailing there was a thing called: “FREE GIFT!” Did anyone ever pay for a gift? No, of course not, but combine the words ‘FREE’ and ‘GIFT’ and you got a response.

The world has changed since those days, and now I get telephone calls, all border on the deceiving and all offer nothing but some hidden gimmick to get money and information from me. For instance:

Phone rings…
Me: Hello
Punjab: Hallo, is dis Geoseff?
Me: Yup.
Punjab: Hallo, Geoseff, how are you today?
Me: Glad you asked! I’ve got this trick knee that keeps popping out of the joint, my cholesterol is sky high as is my blood pressure.
Punjab: (A long pause) OH! I’m sorry to hear dat Geoseff, but I’m not a medical person.
Me: Then why did you ask?
Punjab: OK, I was just being polite. Would you like a Free Offer?!
Me: No.
Punjab: You mean you don’t want a free offer?
Me: Nope!
Punjab: But why? It’s free.
Me: There NEVER was a Free Offer, only a fishing exposition to get my money and information, something you want me to offer free.
Punjab: OK, have a nice day.

I used to hate these calls, then one day I got so many I decided to just make their lives miserable too.

If I want, I sometimes use the above technique with an alternate ending, telling them I will get Geoseff, I put down the phone and as they wait for ‘Geoseff’, I wait until they hang up out of frustration!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

IT'S ALL ECHOES, NOW!


All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.
Then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon's mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slippered pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

So, said William Shakespeare, the Bard, who summed up life in a few short lines of memorable school day prose of long ago.

As I write this I hear the sound and endless drone of a power washer outside my den, as my wife and I begin the process of getting the house ready for sale. The days of raising children are over, as are the best days of my life in my third home. No more pool or bar-b-que, but no more maintaining the premises with lawn people and no more endless summer days weeding and repairing, all will soon be gone. I won't say what my plans are because there are certain people I don't want to know. But I will downsize and enjoy what is left of life for us.

Often when Mom was still alive I would go to visit her. As I neared her house I would remember the wonderful teenage years I spent in our home growing up, and later dating my wife and then coming back for holidays with the family. There seems to be almost a distant echo that sounds through the trees of the neighborhood streets as I would near her house. All the things that people said and did, calling me back once again, telling me it as the green grass of home, Mom in her apron and Dad in his flannel shirt, two old people that made me think of another time.

Today, as I ready myself for our move, I hear once more the distant echo, this time calling out words like; Daddy and Joe and chats with neighbors and neighborhood parties. As I remember, we even had a goldfish or two and a dog named ‘Happy' who although she loved us all was anything but!

Somehow, I wonder if I'm now wearing that flannel shirt my Dad had, if I look like Dad to my kids, and will there be echoes some day when I'm gone?



Monday, April 17, 2017

"GROOM OF THE STOOL"


It could be crappy!

Mel Brooks had a great line in his movie, The History of the World: "It's good to be the king!"
There was one duty as the king that needed attention to every day, that duty was on the chamber pot, where his Royal Highness placed his royal Hinny but you can bet he wasn't going to do it on his own. Back in the day, around the 1500s, the King of England's head was a luxurious velvet-cushioned, portable seat called a close-stool, which sat a pewter chamber pot enclosed in a wooden box! From the 1500s to the 1700s, British kings appointed lucky nobles the prestigious chance to perform the king's most private task of the day, as the Groom of the Stool.

Being ‘Groom of the Stool'—named for the close stool, the king's 16th-century toilet—was actually a highly-coveted position in the royal house This is not the glamorous job you normally would imagine in a palace. Every day, as the king sat on his padded, velvet-covered close stool, he cleared his mind among other things and revealed secrets. He asked for counsel for everything from taxes to war and the best brands of toilet paper, and could even hear of the personal and political woes of his personal groom, and offer to help.

According to Natalie Zarelli: the job likely began as a rather less prestigious position. In The Private Lives of the Tudors, Tracy Borman quoted the earliest mentions of the job: a written order from 1497 for Hugh Denys, "our Groom of the Stool," which included "black velvet and fringed with silk, two pewter basins and four broad yards of tawny cloth" for him to construct a close stool. Borman also points to instructions from 1452 in the Book of Nurture for "The office off a chamburlayne," which included a little rhyme to help new grooms to the task:

See the privy-house for easement be fair, sweet, and clean;
And that the boards thereupon be covered with cloth fair in green;
And the hole himself, look there no board be seen;
Thereon a fair cushion, the ordure no man to vex.
Look there be blanket, cotton, or linen to wipe the nether end,
And ever he calls, wait ready and prompt,
Basin and ewer, and on your shoulder a towel.

Some say he was "full of it!"
During King Henry VIII, the king's most trusted men of the court were given the title, ‘Groom of the Stool'. Upper crust gentry and noblemen who hung out with Henry (Hank as they called him) in his privy room, acting as his personal secretaries with his undivided attention while he sat on his close stool and wondered what it was he was smelling. Henry VIII and later kings appointed only one person to the task, who would travel with the king and his two-ply and portable stool if the royal cheeks went on a journey.

The Groom of the Stool was the man in charge. All the activities and affairs of the king's bedchamber and other private rooms; making sure the king good and clean, his bed made, and even his personal finances were in order. Monarchs were surrounded by servants and attendants all hours of the day, sleeping in the same room as attendants. Some kings kept their close stool in "more private" rooms than others, but even private rooms would allow a handful of people, with the Groom of the Stool always among them.

Having the King's ear, Grooms of the Stool were often feared by members of the court; having highly confidential information about political and personal affairs. The Groom to Henry VIII was even given the responsibility of Henry VIII's stamp, which acted as his signature for documents. The Groom of the Stool got a special golden key attached to a blue ribbon to handle, of which no other copies could be made, just for the king's personal rooms. Personal attendants, in general, were proud about their status symbols as such and often bragged about it—but to be the king's groom was the most coveted of all.

Grooms were sometimes embroiled in other areas of political power, also—Henry VIII's groom Sir Henry Norris was politically involved with the queen, Anne Boleyn, and was executed along with her after she fell from her husband's favor. It has been written that both James I and his successor King Charles I was so swayed by their grooms' counsel that in some respects, political discussions of the king's privy helped fuel the 17th-century English Civil War.

 





Sunday, April 16, 2017

BELLPORT, NY (A reprint)

Main Street, Bellport, NY

Back in the 1950’s, when I came to live on Long Island, a whole new world for my family and I was opened up. We had left the grime and depression of the Brooklyn neighborhoods that were transforming before our very eyes. No longer could one walk the streets at night without fear, elements had moved in and were turning it into a place that we didn’t know. It was a different neighborhood than what we were used to, so we like thousands of others, fled. Even the Dodgers would do so eventually and for the same reasons.

Funny thing is my #1 Son often says that I remember every meal I ever had, and I do remember the last meal I had in Brooklyn as a resident. As we waited for the movers to come to take us away, my mother sent me down to the corner bar and pizzeria on Hull Street and Stone Avenue and I got us a couple of meatball heroes from their kitchen.

From the dirt, grime and clatter of Brooklyn, with her overhead els, car horns and the mounting crime we went to the serenity, tranquility and charm of a sleepy neighborhood town called Bellport. Bellport Village resembles this day a New England village, on the water, with quiet little lanes and country roads. There seemed to be woods everywhere, and the water was a big part of people’s lives.

From sitting at home cooped up in an apartment in the city on a wintry Sunday afternoon we went to going down to the bay and watching the sailboats on runners, as they skimmed along the frozen stretches of water. In my mind today, some 57 years later it all seems to be romantic in a way, like a Currier and Ives print, complete with billowing sails and shouting children. There were ice-skaters and crowds of them, scattered along the beach front looking out across the Long Island Sound, and the clear crispness of the day allowed one to see Fire Island, an almost foreign land.

Spring was beautiful, and I recall the first days living out in the sunshine of country life. It was an uplifting spirit that took hold, as I would remember the days in Brooklyn when we used to go to Cypress Park or Highland Park and feel the sense of country, and how I wished I could go to Patchogue, just west of Bellport and be with my lucky cousins who roamed that pleasant place!

In the summers as a young child, I would get a vacation of a few weeks and go to Patchogue to stay with my uncle and cousins. Next door lived my aunt and more cousins. Those days were beautiful in my eyes, the going to the country. Suddenly, moving out to Bellport, I was on a baseball team, and playing in an organized league, not a stick ball game dodging the traffic that flowed through and interfered with a 2-sewer homer of Brooklyn. Every summer morning at my uncle’s I would awaken with sleepy eyes to the soft 'toot' of the Long Island Railroad as the trains would pass through the town, telling me I was in a paradise. Suddenly, living in Bellport, if I listened, I could hear them run through Bellport, and the funny thing is I took them for granted and stopped hearing it.

Many a summer day I went to the Bellport beach, laying in the sand feeling the warmth of the grains that engulfed my feet and romping in the water of Bellport Bay, the saltiness clearing my head as it ran up my nose or down to Duncan Avenue and the cool waters of the lake. The hottest days found me at the lake, where the trees covered you with shade and helped cool you down. I recall the thrill of taking a rowboat with my friends and rowing around the lake, with the water reflecting the shoreline trees that made it seem like a blue-green lagoon and returning the boat after seeing a snapping turtle or some swan swim toward the boat. We were good kids and never destructive, returning everything in its proper place.

The village of Bellport with Trotter's supermarket and the bookstore became a part of the whole scene, the fish market on the corner and the drugstore occupying the other side corner of the street, the luncheonette in the middle of the block and Brown’s Garage or salesroom all gave a flavor to the wonderful village. If you went east along Main Street there stood the old white I think Presbyterian Church and further down the old converted barn that became the famous Gateway Playhouse. Along the north-south path: Bellport Lane that led directly to the bay and the magnificent gazebo where the band played on 4th of July nights was the Bellport Hotel, where I would stay during the summer months as Mom and Dad ran the kitchen at the hotel and fed the off-Broadway actors who came in, many who became famous later in life. There were and still are the wonderful art shows that run along Bellport Lane, closed off to traffic on the 4th of July!

But Bellport is a special place, frequented by and lived in by such notables as:
Tiki Barber, NY Giants running back, Giovanni Capitello, filmmaker, Frank Castellano, captain of the USS Bainbridge, artist William Glackens, William Higginbotham (1910–1994), a physicist at nearby Brookhaven National Laboratory. He developed one of the earliest video games, Tennis for Two, Salina Maitreya (born 1955), international photography consultant and author, Mike McAlary (1957–1998), journalist, Pulitzer Prize winner, Samuel Irving Newhouse, Jr. (born 1927), magazine publisher, Jacqueline Kennedy, Isabella Rossellini, Charlie Rose, Randy Smith, (1948–2009), former NBA player, Elmer Ambrose Sperry, inventor of gyroscope and founder of Sperry Rail Service, the first internal rail flaw detection company, former governor of Massachusetts and New York gubernatorial candidate, William Weld, E.B. White, (1899–1985), author and P.G. Wodehouse's (1881–1975), English comic writer.

The town is small, maybe 2,000 people in all, but it is special, a gem set in the midst of some wonderful memories for me. 

Saturday, April 15, 2017

THE HOSPITAL

I arrived in the hospital and was taken to the emergency room to reset the broken compounded fractured right foot, and a little glass mining, removing the shards of glass from my skull. As I lay in the hospital, I am next to a crying child maybe 2 or 3 years old on a gurney. All around me is chaos and confusion as I watch in wonder as nurses and doctors attend to everyone. Suddenly a group of doctors and nurses settle around me and hold me down as they straighten my foot out. Rolled out of the room to a hallway, someone with a tweezer is still picking the glass shards from my scalp. I look down the hall and see my friends, including my best friend, Phil. They ask how I'm doing and we exchange goodbyes as they roll me away.

Once in my room, the pain is starting to settle in as the results of redirecting my right foot. I lay there and realize there are seven other beds in the room, all are occupied. Suddenly, this character appears and enters the room walking toward me. It is Phil once again. Sneaking in he comes over and like the brother he asks how I'm doing. A nurse finds him and throws him out, not without comedic results, as she tries to stifle her laugh and his antics.

Laying in the bed the whole night in pain, I realize that it is my first stay ever in a hospital since I checked out of my mother's womb and took up temporary residence at the Swedish Hospital in Brooklyn at 1 minute old.

All through the night, I lie in a state of agitation and the deep need to pee. Having no idea I try to slip off the bed in my brand new cast, and as I lower the leg, the pain runs right through my brain, and frantically I return it back to the bed.

The next morning Phil once again shows up, and in the course of our conversation, I tell him of my need to pee. He asks why I don't use a bed pan. He looks and doesn't see one anywhere in the commode. Seven other people are in beds with wives and children as Phil yells out:
‘NURSE! MY FRIEND NEEDS A BED PAIN, HE HAS TO PEE!"

Slowly I recede under the sheets, but I know a red light is glowing under the sheet as I have hit an all-time height in embarrassment!

And so the trials and tribulations of my hospital stay begin.

Friday, April 14, 2017

FRIDAY THE 14TH

The first promise of spring that Friday in 1967 arrived. The day was warm, close to 70 degrees, the sun brightening the end of what was a nasty winter, and so my drawing instructor decided we would, as a class, move outside with the model and have our session on the lawn that surrounded the chalet.

It was the last class of the week and everyone was planning their weekend. The model settled amidst the surrounding pads and charcoals as we began the end of the week.

Once the class ended, Tom my housemate and I headed for his car to head back to our rented house where we would both go to our real homes for the weekend.

The Friday night traffic along Old Country Road was heavy, moving from red light to the next, I sat next to Tom, my drawing pad on my lap and me doodling on the cover. As we came to a green light, I happened to look up and see a pickup truck cross our path at the last moment, causing Tom to swing wide to his right to avoid the truck, as we barreled into two parked cars on the curb.

When the car stopped, I leaned back in the seat and felt what I thought was sweat, and when I wiped my head, I realized it was blood. Then there was a funny sensation in my right leg, looking down I saw the most horrible sight imaginable, a bone was sticking through my right foot sock, the foot itself in a very unnatural direction, suddenly I fell back and lied on the seat, Tom had gotten out. A man came and opened the door on my side, pulled out a handkerchief and wiped my brow. The next thing I know, I was in the hospital in Mineola!





TOMORROW; A STAY IN THE HOSPITAL



Thursday, April 13, 2017

PUTTING UP WITH IT ALL

Being married to someone for a long time can be a test of that time. We get accustomed to hearing the same attitudes and as we get older, our spouses learn the magnitude of the attitude is stronger in old age.

Last week we were in our favorite dinner and I ordered my breakfast. My breakfast is filled with requests to accommodate my tastes. For instance: I order pancakes and they come with these stupid little packets of frozen butter, with the idiotic tinfoil covers over the plastic packets. It takes a time to open each one of the packets, liberate the frozen butter and try to spread it over the pancakes. In all these machinations, my pancakes are cold and will be made colder with the addition of syrup. So, I emphasize soft butter on the side and not those stupid packets!

Then there is my order of eggs, scrambled with rye toast and extra-crispy potatoes, either home fries or French fries. This is very important, I hate mushy potatoes, especially as they cool off.

Sometimes the waitress, who is getting too familiar, calling me: "Honey" falls asleep on the job. I say: "home fries, extra crispy!" and she says: "NO PROBLEM HONEY!"  She then forgets. So, I call over "NO PROBLEM!" and tell her to take them back and do them as I asked. She then goes into panic mode and runs back with the fries coming out after I am almost finished with my eggs! "NO PROBLEM!"

After ordering last week's pancake breakfast with instructions about the butter, I said to TLW (The Little Woman) that maybe it would be easier if I just died, making life easier for everyone. She laughed and said: "Here first!" "I've been living with you so long I'm used to it!" Ha-ha.

But my life is indeed filled with my peculiarities, as I am a big pain in the ass, but I decided that I am 72–years old, that gives me the right to start complaining and making others listen to my quirkiness as I have listened in the past.


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

GOING FOR NOTHING

Recently I had to go to the Brookhaven Town Hall to clear up some business on a Certificate of Occupancy. Back in 1996, I had an independent contractor build an addition to my house and a subtraction to my wallet. The contractor never got a C.O. for the building. I redesigned the floor plan, making rooms larger and adding the new room.

In the sea of paperwork I have, I drew up a floor plan that needs to be done in order to apply. Not only did I need a floor plan, I needed it three times. Apparently, the Town wanted to make sure it is the same plan.

In applying for a ‘C.O.' there are many things to include, the title for the house, a ‘C.O.', the survey and a whole bunch of receipts for things like electric.

The application has been hanging around for a couple of years since I didn't really want to sell my house. But it is too much to keep these days. There is the maintenance of the pool alone that requires money and I don't use it enough anymore to warrant opening it. There are no kids in the house and TLW (The Little Woman) hasn't been in the pool in over 20 years!

There are the lawn and the geniuses that maintain it, and of course all the repairs from the weather and age. Frankly, I'm sick of it.

But with all the paperwork that is needed, started over 3 years ago, I thought I'd go down to Town Hall to see if things change before I submit it. This is a very brave thing on my part. With great trepidation, I approached the building that house the geniuses that plowed my empty street with no snow. Of course, I inquired about that and was told they would look into it. Makes me feel so good to know my tax dollars are in their hands!

Entering this magnificent edifice of local ineptitude, I am directed by the wanna-be cop as to where to go, and so I follow his directions, to nowhere! Instructing me to go behind him way up front, to take a number on my right. I advance, passing dozens of construction workers, architects, and engineers sitting in row after row of chairs. Some are actively engaged in conversations and some sit by themselves. Then there are the homeowners, we can pick each other out, we look lost, scared (Like a plow would come by) and apprehensive because we are now dealing with clerks in another dimension.

Finally, I get to the front and search for that little machine that dispenses numbers like at the cold cut counters in the supermarket. I look and look some more. I don't see anything that resembles what I'm looking for, and as my eyes shift from one face to another, this gentleman comes up on my left and approaches a computer screen, bounces his fingers a few places and sure enough, a slip of paper comes out! I do the same thing! Progress!

Suddenly, I am famous! Well, my number is, as it is up in lights. The moment comes and I am called. Now when your number is called, you must not act like this is ordinary, you must show surprise and gratitude because if you don't, they will give you a new number and make you wait longer.

Humbly I approach the counter, the middle-aged clerk has heard it all it seems. The look on her face goes through you, into some faraway place. Somewhat like a lady of the evening, doing her work out of boredom, she half listens and you explain your concerns and ask questions. Your fear is she will say: "NO C.O. FOR YOU!" Instead, she reaches for some more papers for me to fill out, taking me out of my game plan, as I wander back, aimlessly to my car, that is parked so far away, I had to rest a bit before reaching it.

Will I ever get the C.O.? Maybe.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

SPECIAL DAY FOR A SPECIAL LADY

There is so much in life to be grateful for, spouses, parents, children, and grandchildren. From that wonderful mix comes rewards such as love and joy.

Love and joy for me come from the fact that my oldest son married. But like the rest of his life, he insisted on doing it the right way and found his soulmate, someone who shares a love for life and a zest for making it interestingly fun. Courtney has been my daughter-in-law for a few years now and I for one am not disappointed. She has a kind and loving heart, a soul that connects with people, and has demonstrated that once when Darby, La Principessa was baptized. Mom had just passed, and TLW, (The Little Woman) gave Courtney my son's baptismal dress, which she used that day. It was one of the single most wonderful things she has ever done and I will forever remember that.

Today is Courtney's birthday, and like her precious little baby girl gets more beautiful every day. She is super creative and enjoys doing so. If I wanted to order someone for my son's happiness, and sense of fulfillment, she is the gal to go to, offering so many wonderful things that would make any man happy, intelligence, creativity, humor and the most beautiful child in the whole world.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, COURTNEY!

Love,
Ellen and Joe

Monday, April 10, 2017

HE'S BAAACK!

And I don't mean Jack Nicholson.

Last year around this time we had a visitor, a stupid bird. Well, Stupid is back again.
It seems that Stupid likes to fly into my window, all day long. He is sitting under a bush near my dining room window and flies straight into the glass. Thump, thump, thump all day long.

Last year I tried everything I could to rid myself of the stupid bird, but he had such a great time annoying me he came back again this year!

Joyce Kilmer once wrote:
"I think that I shall never see
A poem more lovely than a tree
A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in its hair."

Stupid bird!

First of all, never trust a guy named Joyce, secondly, if I ever find the tree that is supporting Stupid, I will burn it down.

I tried all kinds of things to discourage Stupid such as tape on the window, soap with threatening messages, even running to the window to scare it, but the dumb thing keeps coming back!

Come to think of it, it may be Stupid's brother Dummy I'm seeing, working up a good concussion.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

BENEATH IT ALL

Carmela Orlando Galizia, a Facebook friend of mine posted the photo shown here and it really rang true for me! Way back in the 1960’s when I was still young, my folks bought a new house with a basement the length and breath of the footprint.

The act of business for poor Dad was an executive or wifely order to finish the basement.

“Anthony, finish the basement!”

Dad looked at me and said: “Come with me.”

When the dust settled and the last of the Italian swear words were said, Mom had her wish, Dad had some momentary peace and I had some blisters on my hands from the help I rendered. We had created a secondary life for the upstairs, Mom was building a nest downstairs! Her dream house would be preserved for all eternity or when the company showed up.

Upstairs, just like the picture shows by Carmela, was a state of the art kitchen, dining room and bathroom, a living room with a color TV console, and brand new furnishings with plastic covers, all spacious enough and brand new. Downstairs was a kitchen and sewing room for Mom, a large section devoted to Dad’s pool table and bar. Dad never drank, but the bar well stocked with every kind of wine, liquor, and bottles of beer one could imagine.

In the basement with its sheetrock walls was a toilet. No, not a bathroom, a toilet. The toilet was the usual blue and pink tiles and floors with Dad’s famous home-made look of cabinets and shelves. There was no reading material allowed unless you took it in and took it out when you were done conversing with Mother Nature.

The pool room with a bar was again a Tony Carpentry dream, shelves and bottles, the mandatory lamp with the drunk holding onto a lamppost and glasses for all the drinking we didn’t do.

But the kitchen… Mom’s laboratory was complete. On the shelves sat all kinds of Italian and American cookbooks, books Mom never consulted, yet she felt that she had to have them. In her drawers and cabinets were all kinds of gadgets for baking, knives so specialized for cutting precisely the same thickness of beef or turkey or even ham.

At the center of her universe in that basement, kitchen stood one item that was absolutely essential, the $300 mixer with all the attachments used to make pasta and baking cakes and cookies. Most women dream of special gifts from their husbands in the line of diamonds or furs, Mom wanted the blender.

And we shift to the small space left devoted to TV. In this area, we had a cheap leather like couch and recliner. Mom would do her reading in the recliner and watch a little black and white TV, while upstairs was this brand-new state of the art console, that not only had a color TV with remote, a record player and a radio! Yes, we were right up there with NASA and the Vanderbilts! It is here that the story gets ugly.

It was a Saturday afternoon in the early summer. I returned home from some event and there was Dad sitting in the upstairs living room watching the Mets in color on his new TV. (He never used the remote because he didn’t realize you needed batteries to operate it. I wasn’t going to be the one to tell him!)

Well, one of my four witchy sisters come in and changes the channel on him while he is watching. I get involved and change it back, all of a sudden, the other three witches descend on their brooms and there is a fight going on, me against them! After it was over my shirt pocket was ripped, my eyeglasses broken and a large scratch down my neck. And Dad? Dad was downstairs watching the old black and white TV.