Tuesday, October 31, 2017


The weight-lose is extreme

In the course of my life, I have tried to lose weight. Attempt after attempt has led to disappointment. Lately, however, things seem to be turning around and I really don't know why. I know I don't eat like I used to, I don't even get excited about eating.

With this new lose weight, I discovered I need new clothes, my jeans don't fit and my shirts are hanging on me. I purchased a smaller belt recently and now I am on the last notch of that.

So, I mentioned to the Little Woman (TLW) that I need to get new clothes, and not to buy any more jeans, just slacks like Dockers and I need new shirts to accent my new boyish figure. I was informed that first I had to rid myself of my old shirts. Now, these shirts probably date back to the 80's. This is a task that I find hard to do. If the shirt is wearable, maybe the color a little faded, but has all its buttons, then why throw it out?

So off to the closet I go, and I begin by reaching in and removing all my shirts, separating the short sleeve from the long sleeve. There are a lot!

After spending a good half hour I decided to give the closet some order, and order that was inspired by a recent visit to Men's Wearhouse. I arranged my shirts by color. Yes, I did.

Once I finished I informed TLW how I want them in the closet when the maid washes and hangs them up.

"Now ya got your patterned shirts in a group, then ya colors, then ya flannels. Now I want them set up white ones first to your right, then light to dark yellows, followed by green then blues, oranges, reds and then ya purples. If you need, I will set up a color chart that follows the primary wheel for your reference and convenience. The reason green goes between yellow and blue is…? It's when ya mix yellow with blue ya get your greens. Are there any questions?"

"Yes, how big a pile you want them?"

Somehow, I just knew this would happen.

Monday, October 30, 2017


Last night I attended a cocktail party for the Board of Governors in Saratoga Springs, NY. It is a time to hob nob with my fellow Board of Governors and discuss things other than policy, law or Medicaid but share a family and self-story or two.

Among the usual cheese and crackers, they pass around hors ‘d oeuvres they get to fill you up prior to dinner, and of course one must drink if at all possible. Some of us go for the hard stuff, some the dainty wine and some a good beer. I happened to try the local Saratoga Springs lager and it is quite good!

Sitting in the corner was a young lady dressed very nicely but not engaged in any conversation with anyone, just staring into an uninteresting space with a gentle smile on her face.

Suddenly amidst the chatter everyone’s attention was directed toward the place where this young lady was standing and the young lady was introduced. Her name, Olivia Esposito and she was going to sing.

Standing strait before the crowd she introduced herself and stated she had autism, and was going to sing.

Suddenly she turned to the accompanying pianist and nodded to her, and a soft but beautiful sound emulated from the keyboard and slowly Olivia began. Her voice ever so gently introduced itself to the eager listeners, slowly rising to a high pitch, flowingly reaching not only our ears, but our hearts and souls, moving many to near tears!

As I listened to this beautiful creature of God, I couldn’t help but feel a certain joy that seemed to overwhelm me, a curiosity that made me what other beautiful talent is out there? I’ve witnessed some very beautiful art, but never a singer of this magnitude who could carry the crowd on a note, lovingly bringing us to the heights of awe and gently lowering us all to her depth of voice range.

It is time that the World feel things like this, where the person is allowed out of the self-internment of fear, and recognize that all lives have meaning, all lives matter, all lives can contribute in some form or manner.

If you ever get a chance to listen to Olivia, please do.

Sunday, October 29, 2017


There is one thing I hate and that is driving through the Bronx. The congestion, of cars and trucks, the noise and pollution make for an unhealthy time. It creates stress and anger, there is a myriad of signs pointing one in all different directions and the sidewalls of overpasses and street grades go on forever. To top off the fun, you can drive under the el, with its steel columns and the rumbling sounds of the train to accompany you.

I had a plan as for how I would get to Saratoga Springs, Take the LIE to the Cross-Island Parkway to the Whitestone Bridge, then onto the Hutchinson River Parkway. That would lead me to my route to the Thruway to Albany.

Crossing the Whitestone as I left the toll, there are a number of turns you can make, but I usually stay to my left and I'm good to go. This time I was a little too far to my right and instead of the furthest left side that I wanted. One wrong turn can lead to disaster! Deep into the bowels of the Bronx I fell, that endless pit of despair and congestion, the grim calling you by name, a holocaust of traffic, and an endless attempt to find my way back on course.

It added about 45 minutes, minutes filled with cursing and anger and self-blame for my mistake. I think I'd rather get lost in my driveway, at least at the end of the day, TLW (The Little Woman) can come and rescue me.

Saturday, October 28, 2017


Believe me.

One of the worst things in life for me is driving long distances.

This year like last year and all the years past, when I drive upstate for a state governance convention, it rains. Instead of seeing the beauty of the fall painted on the trees and mountains, what I see is the streaks of water and the gloom of the grey clouds, the occasional hidden patrol car and the countless trucks that invade my space on the road.

This year seems to be the year of the little girls in their cars and SUVs as they tailgate while I'm doing 75, maybe 80mph. They won't let go and I won't move over for a road bully. They take it up to 90 as they pass me and give me a look, I blow them a kiss.

It seems that there are endless highways going up into the sticks I thought, then I realized the roads are really going the other way, toward civilization. No one goes upstate, they leave upstate. When I worked for a large sweepstakes company, First-prize was a week in Upstate NY. Second-prize was two weeks in upstate NY.

Once you are near the town you are going to, the traffic slows down, it becomes a one lane road and everyone ahead of you is making either a left to right turn that makes you wait for them and the next red light. God, I hate it.

I was considering taking the train, but that would be worse. Without a car, I am stuck in nowhere and at the mercy of a bumpkin schedule maker, like one train every three days.

Getting to the Hilton is a drag. Registering is a nuisance and the best part of it is the lobby of this hotel that is hosting a state-wide meeting for people with disabilities is that it has ‘ramp' that you have to go way out of your way to get to the front desk!

Other than that, things seem ok.

Friday, October 27, 2017


By the time, you read this I will have been to Saratoga Springs and back. I'm off to a convention for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. This occurs twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall.

We formulate policy on a state-wide basis, dealing with Albany and Medicaid and the issues of financial sustainability for all the chapters in this organization. This, in turn, leads to local chapter policies and new ways to survive in the world of protecting and sustaining people with disabilities.

We will vote and listen to reports, manage to stay awake and ponder of what is right and wrong, and I might get up and say something myself, whether they like what I say or not.

For me, I will drive upstate and take in the time of year that is ever so beautiful, mountains, trees and rivers and lakes, all colored by the changing leafs. Coming home as I cruise the highways, Mother Nature has a way of becoming more prominent and dominant. So, does my heartburn. After mornings of scrambled eggs, bacon and bad bagels, lunches of chicken and dreary vegetables and dinners of either overdone steak or dull fish, a dessert I can't finish and one too many Jack Daniels, heartburn is my companion.

This convention is significant, it means it will soon be Halloween, that leads to Thanksgiving and finally Christmas. But all the expectation I hope to see is my lovely wife waiting for me, she will look up at what she is doing and greet me and life goes back to normal.

Thursday, October 26, 2017


And ducked.

Mom was a perfectionist when she involved herself, she involved herself. For instance, the wooden spoon. Mom took purchasing a wooden spoon seriously. It had to be at least oak, long enough to catch a culprit and built to last.

Mom was not only fussy about the type of wood, but the grain had to run a certain way, the spoon portion smooth with the bowl bottom at its thickest. It needed to be aerodynamic and able to cut into space while she was in the chase.

Grip was critical, it had to be thick and tapered from the center out to either the end or toward the bowl, yet it had to fit her hand comfortably.

But her true test was when she applied it. I was the Bonneville Flats of Mom's wooden spoons, even after I married, she would come over, if she had a wooden box with a lid, not unlike a pool player with his own cue stick, and test it out on my head. We all got excited if it passed the test, well, not everyone.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017


Dennis, Del Bloggolo, Angela, Steve, TLW, Maureen, Sara and Kevin
So, another family reunion has passed, and if I may say so, each one is better than the last.

What do you get when you put 4 old people together? A wonderful mixture of conversation, love and good times. Everyone brought something to the table and took away something else in laughter and fun. It was 8 adults with no pretense, no need to be the center of attraction and an abiding interest in each other's lives.

From Friday to Monday morning, under the warm and sunny weather of Cape May, and along the boardwalk and sand of the beach, we strolled, rode bikes and drove.

Our conversations flowed like they came from the water tank that marks the town of Cape May, the wonderfully historic town that holds such jewels as many quaint and great restaurants, a playhouse converted from an old church that was so wonderful and intimate, shops and trolleys along with horse and carriages.

My wife's family AKA "The Mannings" have some interesting people who have interesting life experiences. Two are retired teachers, one is a retired executive director of an agency for people with mental disabilities, a retired president of a college, a banker, and a director of a mushroom magazine, an engineer and some crazy-ass artist.

The conversation one night was about religion, and interpretations of religious personal philosophy, and what came out of it was 8 valid opinions without rancor and a lot of civilities, the way conversations should be.

These are good people, respecting each other's opinion on a high level and thoughtful consideration about religion and its origins, all holding to some degree the same closeted doubts coming to the surface.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017


I am spending the weekend with TLW (The Little Woman) in the beautiful seaside town of Cape May with her siblings. They are all Irish! I'm all Italian. This is NOT war, they married two other Italians, but who's counting?

Their dad, Jim came from Ireland as a young lad from the town of Mullingar, and once on her birthday, I took TLW to visit her roots in Mullingar. It seems the family won't let go, last night we went to a play at the Robert Shackleton Playhouse in Cape May to see the production performed by ordinary people with extraordinary talents; Mullingar!

The theater itself is a thing of beauty, small and intimate that brings you close up and part of the production, a great cast of semi-acting by just 4 people that delighted and made you laugh out loud.

The intimacy of the playhouse, a converted church is ideal as a playhouse, the crowd is mostly elderly people with a smattering of middle-aged. The play is a poignant comedy about two people who love each other with a very moving ending.

Sitting anywhere in the theater will get you a front row view and almost conversational earshot of the actors as they play through their lines and one of the great experiences of play watching. If you ever get to Cape May, then this little theater should be on your list to visit.

Monday, October 23, 2017


Yesterday in Cape May was a glorious day weather-wise. The temperature was in the low 70's and the sky was clear, and as you look out off the beach the horizon looks like it developed from an artist's pallet, a distinct line on Mother Nature's canvas of sky blue and an ocean of cerulean blue, truly a masterpiece.

Renting our bikes was another masterpiece of ineptitude and pain, as four old people dared to ride a bike once again. Getting used to a two-wheeler was kind of hairy for this timid soul, who made an attempt and was ready to take off until TLW (The Little Woman) tried, fell and scraped her elbow. Of course, this scared me as we came running over to her.

Getting up from the ground, the little old lady slowly raised her battered body and wounded pride in the upright position. At our age, the upright position is always important! I suggested a tricycle for her and she agreed, so I took one also so she wouldn't feel different and off we went.

Once we started riding, it occurred to me as I watched TLW steer out of control, that life is a cycle, almost a bicycle, in that we learn on a three-wheeler, grow to a two-wheeler and revert back to a three-wheeler.

But the tour of Cape May was splendid, the sea so calming without the rush of waves and the beach abandoned for the season. God's gift to humanity.

Sunday, October 22, 2017


As I write this I sit on the front porch in a rocking chair, watching the sun rise up and cast long shadows across the green grass and turning leaves of Cape May. The birds sing in the distance to the promise of a beautiful day, awakens all who care.

In front of me sits a flower bush reaching out from the rich soil that lends its hospitality and the soft music of silence, bearing witness to the fact that life is grand sometimes.

Today I will walk down to the sea, and listen to the soft peaceful sounds of the sea, rushing toward me and like a child teasing, slowly pull away. The aroma of the salt air will bring me closer to the awareness that life exists where we look, that even our deepest troubles will fade away in the end and that the only thing let in life will be the sea.

Today I have checked-in my ego, my desire to do anything but look and listen and to engage my senses like never before. I can hear the silence because it is pronounced, lingering and complete, and I think of those I love and have loved who no longer find me. I find the forgiveness in my heart for all who hurt me and free myself of anything but that which is time better spent.

Have a good day.

Saturday, October 21, 2017


The baseball playoffs are not over, Halloween has not arrived yet and Thanksgiving is not even in my mind, but it is 8:21 PM on October 18th and I see my first Christmas commercial of the season!

How come when it comes to advertisers, they never use Hanukkah music to sell a product, yet can use religious Christian songs to sell? This is because there is not many musical themed Jewish music the public knows about. Hopefully, it stays that way for good reason, yet we force Christianity on Jewish people.

But getting back to my complaint. A few weeks ago, I was in Costco and there in front of me stood a Christmas display! We weren't even finished with the 80-degree weather.

It seems to be my constant complaint, every fall, the invasive sales pitches using Christmas holiday as an icon or symbol to rally all the shoppers of the world and corral them into a herd of charging buyers, and they'll take cash too. Being an old man, I am as far away from getting excited as I could be. Except for my granddaughter, who I hope to see during the holidays when I will be excited as I do just for her, and the job of Santa I play, I'd like to go back to bed.


Friday, October 20, 2017


Often, I hear about someone leaving home without their cell phone.  It makes them panic and run back to get it. The cell phone is so versatile with its camera, calendar and oh yeah, the phone itself. Although for years we as a society lived without one, when it came into existence, it became a crutch.

If you need to get in touch with someone, you can text message, call or even facetime someone. Can't see behind something because your head is too large? Just take your cell phone a squeeze under of behind and take a picture, suddenly you see everything! If you need to record a date, you hit that calendar app and away you go, with the calling up the calendar, typing in all the information and even alerting others they need to be at a place on a certain date. EH.

I much rather carry a date book with me and immediately scribble in the time and event and close the book. All finished! I am more paranoid forgetting my datebook than my cell phone.

Cameras? Who needs a camera when I don't need to shoot anything? Selfies? And what will happen to all these selfies taken when I'm gone? (I'm just going to the mall for about an hour.)
I hate texting. I think texting is a waste of time Call or send an email, That is friendlier than messaging,

So, Hello 20th Century, I'm back again!

Thursday, October 19, 2017


Or am I ready to freeze off my behind?

I woke up the other day and went to my local convenience store for some milk. Looking at the temperature in the dashboard, it reads 43ยบ F! The first day under 50 since the early Spring!

This is a wonderful thing, I hate the heat and humidity. It’s difficult to get cool but a lot easier to get warm, and the pervasive humidity stays with you all day long!

Suddenly there is a spring to my step, and ‘joie de la vie’ in my attitude! The coolness invigorates me, makes me do more than I would in the hot days of summer. My mind becomes more creative, it has more focus, I am happy.

Give me a cool day and I will draw, read, and cook all at once. No nap is needed since I am worked up to a crescendo of explosive accomplishments!

I have my own problems!
It is also the time of the year when TLW’s (The Little Woman) nose turns red from the cold. It works to our benefit when we close off the lights and head upstairs, the red glow guiding us safely to the bedroom. It is easy to find a blanket: she’s wearing them all, and a cup of tea is more suitable to my lifestyle and hers.

Now if we can only get through the winter without snow, life will be perfect!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017


Only kidding
As some of you might know, I like to spend my Sunday mornings with TLW (The Little Woman) at a dinner for breakfast. It is a nice way to get away from the usual and make it special. It makes for tolerance during the work week.

We get to the establishment at a certain hour and usually are the first to arrive and get served quickly. We chat over coffee as we wait for our breakfast and it is very calming and soothing.

I have discovered I don't like stragglers showing up while I'm eating. I know, I'm a grouch, but it seems to ruin my peace. Generally, what happens is as the stragglers come in, they pass my table and look at me and my dish. I don't like that. Then either the waiter or waitress, in an empty diner or establishment, seat them next to or behind us.

As they slide into their booths, she starts yakking and he plops his fat rear-end not only into the seat but against the back, which causes me to feel the vibrations from the moron as he settles in. Now I feel the shifting of his fat ass while she has increased the decibel level in the whole place, blocking out the overhead music she is so loud.

I would like to institute some ground rules for my happy dining experience. These are suggestions, but you really don't know if I carry a gun or not.

1. When entering, NEVER look in my eyes. Keep your head down and avoid eye contact.
2. NEVER and I can't stress this enough, NEVER look into my plate!
3. When being seated, ALWAYS ask to be seated as far away from me as possible. This should not stop you from asking for a seat in the parking lot!
4. Always ease into your seat, gently placing your fat ass without disturbing people.
5. If you must communicate, do so at a level that I can't hear.
6. Bringing children into a restaurant is socially unacceptable. If you can't leave them home, drown them before arriving.

There now, simple rules make for simple times, and Bon Appetite!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017


Mom wasn't all that much of a reader, she didn't belong to book clubs or libraries, but somehow knew a lot about life and even could quote famous people.

As a young man, I remember her warnings to me when suddenly out of the thin air a wooden spoon appeared. Later in years as we discussed her methods of persuasion about something she called: "Gentle Persuasion" she said: "Always speak softly and carry a big stick!" It was her way of saying that it's no bother for her to reach for a wooden spoon and knock some sense into me. Teddy Roosevelt may have said it first, but Mom practiced it more often.

In college, I was designing a poster for a design class. I hadn't started the lettering yet but she saw the background, a yellow field with barbed wire running across the width of the poster and she said: "Tyranny like Hell, is not easily conquered!" That WAS what I was going to letter! Mom apparently was familiar with Thomas Paine!

Mom had a knack for recalling from her childhood, remembering things she learned in her education that took her up to her high school diploma, and the shame is she never had a college education. I would bet my bottom dollar she would have excelled.

Once when I was a teenager, she was issuing warnings and such about potential trouble if I were to stray and said: "The way you make your bed, is the way you sleep in it! This apparently came from her highest authority, her Mom, Grandma Mary. Grandma Mary raised three girls by herself during the hard times of the 20's and 30's without a husband.

Mom's most memorable statements were made for my benefit, usually, after I complained about something: "Wait! Just wait till you have children!" Her other wish was the most frightening: "When you have children, I hope they're just like you!"

Monday, October 16, 2017


Finally, after finding two places closed that used to service my tuxedo needs, I discover that Men's Wearhouse and the lovely Amy exist to make me look better than usual.

Taking TLW's advice (The Little Woman), I go to the Best Buy shopping center and Bagel House of Disappointments and find Men's Wearhouse. Men's Wearhouse is situated far in the corner of this rather large strip mall that has its own zip code.
That's me, in the middle.
I arrive at the place at 9:45 AM and as I reach for the door handle, it is locked. "Oh, No!" I think. Are they closing just because I need a tuxedo? Is this a conspiracy, am I really looking at a dark store with a bolt lock in place? Then I see it, ‘STORE HOURS". They don't open until 10:00 AM.

So, what will I do for 15 minutes? Sit in my car? Nah. Wait outside the building? Nah. In the horizon, just below the rising sun, I see a bagel store. An Idea, a bagel with cream cheese and coffee, after all, it is about 3 hours since I had a bowl of cereal. I think that it is far enough to make it count as exercise, and if I return to the Men's Wearhouse after eating my bagel, that walk will double the count of exercise! I'm a genius!

I start the long walk and enter the bagel place. There is a long line, people, kids and all the noise you could ask for. Finally, I get my turn to order, I look up at the menu and it says that a bagel with cream cheese is a dollar more than a bagel with butter. Screw them, I'll order the bagel with butter. Out comes the bagel with butter and my coffee and I decided to sit in the store and eat it. I look in the bagel and notice the bagel has so little butter on it, you think maybe the moron who buttered it is a medical student. So they screwed me!

I walk back to the Men's Wearhouse and enter the store. Of course, there is a small line ahead of me and all the clerks are busy. Finally, after 20 minutes Amy my new personal tailor and the new close best friend says to me: "NEXT"! I step forward. Amy is about 5'2" with a very tight sweater with a mission, to hold ‘em and make me sweat!

I can't wait for the measurement part of the process. Never looked forward to it before, but I'm betting Amy will make me happy. She does, and when I'm happy, then I'm happy, too!

Here's the problem- I can't seem to remember what I'm happy about, but I remember this happy from before.

Sunday, October 15, 2017


Since my old tuxedo place is no longer after all these years, I decided to go to the Mall. When #1 Son got married, I ordered my tuxedo from a place in the mall who could ship it to Maine along with tuxedos for local others in his wedding party, because it was a franchise.

TLW (The Little Woman) knowing I need direction, tells me that there is a place closer to me, but I feel I rather work with someone I already know.

The next day I go off to a meeting for over 2 and a half hours at the agency, then I'm called into another and then scoot off to the mall. I park far from the entrance and walk a distance to the mall looking for the tuxedo store. No need to get dings in my door so I walk.

Since the meetings lasted longer than I anticipated, I have lunch in the food court and begin my quest afterward.

I got down one aisle of stores and look for a directory, I don't see the store anywhere in the directory, so decide I don't remember the name of the place so, I start to walk where I think it might be, I look and look and discover after asking a young lady at a kiosk if there is a place to rent a formal. No, she says and so I go home, once again the kiss of death.

Is no one getting married anymore? Are there no balls to attend? Is putting on the Ritz over?

Sadly, I now have to go to where TLW told me to go, to begin with.

So I went way out of my way for a hamburger and small fries.

Saturday, October 14, 2017


All good things must come to an end, and so they did.

It is that time of the year when I don the duds of a penguin and dance like one too. It's time for the annual Candlelight Ball and I get a monkey suit or tuxedo.

Because I am present of the organization they let me go up and say a few words, which inspire people to want to go home. It is like this every year, and every year I rent my tuxedo.

Renting the tuxedo is one of my favorite things because I get to go back in time, back to the days of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Black patent-leather shoes, long black stripe over black pants and in my case a silver tie with a silver vest.

The place is why I love to rent, it is a private owner one-man shop, with great ink and brush painting of formal wear, simple strokes that with the use of space give you the picture. There are pictures of couples all dressed up and ready to dance, sexy poses by both sexes. It is what must have seemed like the 1930's and 40's as people stepped out to dance or wed or celebrate something special.

I take out the last two year's receipts to enter the shop, a shop I've been going to since 1999. The reason I rent is that when I first started to do these Balls I noticed that a lot of men were wearing what looked like thread-bare tuxedoes from years of use. Someone kept telling me to buy a tuxedo, and frankly, for the once-a-year I will use it, it doesn't pay. I look fresh as a daisy, waiting for Ginger Rogers to dance my way and away we'll go!

Stepping into the world of formal wear puts me in the mood for the ball. So, I drive to the location that sits among many businesses and can't find the place! Am I getting that old that I have forgotten? I have the last two year's receipts with all the measurements on them to make this thing easy. Where is it??? I had a personal relationship with the man, he looked like the owner of a formal wear place, he even called me by my first name.

Where is he? I don't know, he's gone, and with him the 1940's and Fred Astaire. I even tried to phone him by using the number on his old receipts and got a message telling me the number is no longer in service.


Friday, October 13, 2017



Believe me, I love to eat but can't handle as much anymore. When I was a teenager, I could eat at last 3 pork chops for dinner or two steaks! I was growing and it was only upward. When I graduated from both high school and college I only weighed 120 lbs. I was a skinny kid.

I may have been skinny but was very strong, lifting heavy cartons filled with rolls of heavy denim to be cut in the cutting room, I would take these multi-hundred pounds 4'6" cases, wrapped in a metal strap, bulging at the seams and on a hand-truck bring them down a ramp and drop them in the shipping department. Then I would gather up cartons weighing hundreds of pounds and push them up that same ramp. So, I needed meat to work like that!

The other night I went to the movies with TLW (The Little Woman) to see Victoria & Abdul, a movie about an unusual relationship between old fat Queen Victoria and Abdul a Muslim she befriended. A true story that was worth the money and the portrayal by Dame Judy Dench. Sent to England from India, Abdul (played by Indian star Ali Fazal) breaks protocol, by meeting the queen's eye with his, smiling at her and playfully then falling under the table kissing her foot. As guests look on aghast, the queen giggles.

After the show, we decided to eat in an Italian restaurant, since it was Columbus Day. I ordered Eddie's Pork Chops and a tall Peroni Nastro Azzurro, in a tall glass, it exemplifies the traditions of Italian craftsmanship, passion, and flair upon which it was formed. Eddie didn't do so bad either. Two pork chops made with onions, hot vinegar peppers, and a great sauce, I ATE BOTH, and if I weren't in a public place would have sucked on the bare bones!


It’s good to be the king!

Thursday, October 12, 2017


Vieni a ballare, o altro!

Years ago, when I was a young pup, I worked for an ad agency that had the Barbizon School of Modeling for a client. We wrote a headline for its' catalog and ads that read: "BE A MODEL, OR JUST LOOK LIKE ONE!"

As Columbus Day was approaching I volunteered to sign up people for the ‘Italian' dance held at the church. All the coordinator asked is that I show up at one or two masses, the 'sign up list' in hand and perhaps help set up the dance the night it is scheduled.

Of course, nothing I do should be ho-hum, so I started to plot a way to call attention to myself and sell a lot of tickets, after all, my feeling is either pray or get off the kneeler if you know what I mean. So, what came to mind but that great headline: "BE A MODEL, OR JUST LOOK LIKE ONE!" Except, I would substitute the word ‘Model' for ‘Italian.' Then I decided that ‘Look' wasn't right, I needed to make it more original and choose ‘Dance' instead.

Then I would need to look Italian. I have a couple of hats that signify the Italian bent. One is the baseball cap #1 Son gave me, with the "I" on it for the Italian World Cup baseball team. When I wear it, people ask: "What does the ‘I' stand for?" I like to tell them that it is short for ‘Me'. I have a few that come from various ‘Little Italy communities' from around the country, Like the two in New York, the one in Boston and one from Philadelphia. Those hats say: "Italia" and I placed it on the table, next to my flag, and that would give the parishioners an idea.

Of course, I have my Italian flag, it is a small desktop type, and I could bring that, all to help me sell the tickets.

But I need more than flags and hats and banners. I need to say ‘Dance" in plain old English! I could draw a picture of a couple doing the Tarantella, or a hitman stomping on someone's head with a caption, "Don't miss our dance-or else."

Mom would have been so proud of me!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017


Dad left me many things from his treasure of personal habits. One of my favorites is his ability to nap, or as he put it: "Resting my eyes."

Over the years such things as a good steak on a Saturday night, or a good salad anytime, drinking ice-cream floats the way he made them, with ice-cream, cream soda, and cantaloupe melons cut up into small pieces making for a Sunday night summer treat. He made these things the best. He also made great sandwiches on a Sunday night with just ham and Swiss cheese, lettuce with tomato, olive oil and wine vinegar and mayonnaise all between two slices of bread finished up a weekend in grand style.

But the best was his ability to nap.

There are two types of naps I specialize in. One is the lazy Sunday morning nap, taken about 11:00 AM in my recliner. As I lean back, I can hear the distant sound of an owl or maybe the overhead droning of a small engine plane that lulls me to sleep. These sounds can be almost hypnotic and induce sleep. Once the nap is fulfilled and the dreams dreamt, the day becomes more promising, as I smell the afternoon main meal being cooked by TLW (The Little Woman).

The next nap that I specialize in is what I call: The Black and White. This nap like the Sunday one can be used on any day of the week but it must have these key components. The day must be dark and overcast, rainy and a black and white movie going, preferably one made in the 1930's or 40's. With no lights on in the house, and TLW out maybe shopping or working and no one else but me home, the nap comes on rather quickly, like a blanket that settles over my conscious being. Little echoes of silence seem to gather in my head and I drift off.

You heard it on the radio, watched it on TV, read it in the newspapers and it even appeared on Yahoo: taking a short nap is good for your health!

It seems that taking a half hour nap in the late morning or early afternoon helps the heart if you are a man. Of course, the people who made this discovery tested both men and women, the men tested conclusively, while the women kept getting up looking for chores for the sleeping husbands to do out of habit, so the study was unable to get results for the women.

Being older you can live without sex, but not your afternoon nap, or glasses.
You need your glasses so it looks like you are doing something important between naps.

It was just another Sunday until this young couple arrived and sat in front of TLW (The Little Woman) and me. With them was a cute little 18-month old girl, who was on the cusp of life's many discoveries.

I was angry with myself for forgetting to leave on my sunglasses. It wouldn't look good if I put my sunglasses on during the sermon, and caught a few winks. I have learned to perfect the art of sitting up while I nap, and this sermon had nap written all over it.

The little girl in front of me stood on the pew and faced back toward TLW and me. Being a crotchety old man, you know I don't like kids in church when I'm trying to either connect with Jesus or nap. But I have to admit: I got a big kick out of this one. She had such a round face and great smile. She looked at me without showing any emotion, just blankly staring at me. I decided to engage this child with my child-like behavior.

I stuck my tongue out and moved it along my lips left to right a few times. Suddenly the sun came out, all the lights went on and the biggest smile flashed on her beautiful face! She sticks her tongue out, and does the same actions, smiling as I do it back. The mother is a bit of a panic and confused, trying to figure out who or what is making her behave so. The little girl is staring at me and now she is laughing out loud!

TLW shoots me a look and grins too. The little girl is now saying "Hi" to everyone who will look her way. She has a little Minnie Mouse doll and telling TLW it is: "Mimmie", and TLW smiles back at her.

Her father lifts her up from the pew as we all stand while the Priest is leaving the pulpit and launches "Mimmie" into the center aisle! I silently congratulate her, as poor dad has to jump out in the middle of the service to retrieve it. I'm really starting to like this kid.

I guess God meant for me to forget to leave on my sunglasses!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017


It was a quiet Thursday late afternoon, and I'm in the midst of cooking dinner. When I cook, I like to be organized and not disturbed. No one should be in my way and I hate interruptions, unfortunately, that is usually what I get!

As the pork chops heated up to a new level of flavor, my phone rings, Anonymous is on the other end, and so thanks to Caller ID I don't answer. I go back to cooking, annoyed that these calls must be so constant, If, it isn't ‘Anonymous', it's ‘Out of Area' or ‘Private'.

A few moments go by and I hear a few knocks on my front door! I get annoyed, I figure it is some monkey looking to sell me new windows, or a new roof, or even a repaving of my driveway. I go to answer the knock and there he is, a fellow with a bunch of brochures, and now he will annoy me. He is a young man in his thirties or early forties and would put a cue-ball to shame. Not only that, he is staring at me eye to eye and he has a happy face. He introduces himself as a candidate for the NYS Assembly and I recognize him immediately from my wife's description from her meeting him early the week before.

It seems he came to the Wanna-Be-Bank and Truss Company for some reason or another, had a long last name and stated he was a politician running for the office of Assemblyman as a candidate for the NYS Assembly. This information was related to me one night at dinner when I asked TLW (The Little Woman) how her day was.

"He said he was a politician running for office in I think the NYS Assembly!" she said. She went on to tell me he was bald as a cue-ball and for some reason thought him odd. I reminded her that being a politician makes you odd all on its own.

So, looking at him I wanted to say: "Hey, I know you! You're the weird guy from the Wanna-Be Bank and Truss Company!" I refrain but the chops are cooking, yet I want to ask him some questions. He gets away. I'm disappointed that I can't take the time and challenge him. I have a few things I want to say!

Monday, October 09, 2017


Recently I went to my Handy Pantry which is situated right near-by my home to purchase some vegetables for dinner. It is indeed handy since it will take a breakfast order on the computer and with your credit card number to pay for it, have it ready in about 15 or 20 minutes. I usually order two sandwiches for TLW (the Little Woman) and myself on Saturday mornings.

The store has been around a long time and seems to grow every day. The amount of business is phenomenal and because of it, they hire a lot of young college and high school kids to work. They do everything, slice the salami, cut the cheese, make the coffee and ring you up, sometimes calling me honey, and that's the guys!

So, I went out for a head of garlic, a red pepper, a zucchini, cherry tomatoes and a box of whole mushrooms. I stand there like a chootche, while the young lady who is new is ringing me up. She looks confused, she hits the computer and looks some more, then taps the screen again, her brow furrows more so than a moment ago as it gets worse. She calls for help, a young man responds with a half-smile and no better idea than she has. Up, up, and up! Ding-a-ling-a-ling: $13.56!


I take the bag but don't get a receipt, so I ask for one, I'm really interested. As I leave the store I look and the head of garlic is listed as $6.51! Garlic is now more expensive than Gas!


Back in I go, to question the crisis of garlic futures going through the roof.

"Why is garlic so expensive?"

She looks at me, then the receipt, the price of the garlic in the bushel where it is stored. She places her hand over her heart like she's having a heart attack like I was having from SIX DOLLARS AND FIFTY-ONE CENTS!!! FOR ONE HEAD OF GARLIC!!!

She calls over her future stockbroker, they confer and he starts an in-depth investigation.

"You ring him up?"

"Yes!" Her heart attack continues.

Wall Street checks the price, the computer, the garlic and the receipt, makes magic on the computer and hands me $5 and change. No, I'm sorry!

Sunday, October 08, 2017


It seems that this year has been a very dark year with about 5 hurricanes that have devastated parts of Texas, Louisiana, Puerto Rico and Cuba. There was the horrific massacre in Vegas where a bloodbath took place, and there is the danger of nuclear war facing us as we deal with the little dictator from North Korea and the insidious attempts by Vladimir Putin.

Recently on the Dr. Phil Show, Dr. Phil was interviewing people that were shot in the la Vegas massacre at the hospital in their beds. Going from bed to bed to interview victims and hear their stories, he laid out the tragedy from the eyes of the victims as they related their stories when they were under fire.

Being how sad it was and still is, I decided to change channels and as I perused I came upon Ellen Degeneres and her show. I thought that maybe she would lift up the spirits from all the bad news that Dr. Phil presented. That was not the case.

On Ellen Degeneres' show was Rickie Martin the Puerto Rican entertainer. Martin was relating how he went to Puerto Rico and had some footage shot of the disaster of Maria the hurricane and that he was returning with a planeload of necessities. He too went from person to person to interview them and hear what they had experienced and to give them help. From about $200,000 when he went on Ellen's Show originally to the day he reappeared on the show he raised $1.8 Million!

It seems all the news is bad, all the time and started back in January and hasn't let up. You put on the Mets and Jets and it takes another form. Put on the talking heads and they all beat to death the same old things, from inappropriate behavior by the President to his lack of sensitivity, where are we heading?

Saturday, October 07, 2017


I wasn't a bad kid so much as a child that trouble found. My reasoning was guided by my lack of understanding of what the line drawn meant, the teachings of my grandparents and parents so desperately tried to instill in me. I always considered alternative methods and reasoning that was more self-centered than what the plan was.

It was the old-fashion Italian spirit of discipline; Grandma could smack you around just as well and maybe with more experience than Mom or Dad. Usually, it was Grandma who ran to my aid, just as the boom was being lowered, saving me from getting it.

It was an early Sunday morning, bright and sunny and I was getting dressed for church. Mom was very fiscally responsible while Dad was her resource. Not being a churchgoer, Dad was still in bed and it was time to leave for church. Being it was summer, there were no requirements that I sit with my class during mass, so Mom made sure I got there by accompanying me there.

"Joseph, go get some money from your father for the collection."

I wake up Dad and tell him: Mommy said, give me some money for the church." (I didn't have to say please when Mom ordered it) Slowly he opens his eyes and rolls over and grabs his pants from the side of the bed, reaches in and gives me 2 shiny nickels.

As I head toward the kitchen to the bedroom, I pass Mom's sewing basket, and an idea hits me. For a nickel, I could buy a bottle of Pepsi, and for another nickel, I could buy a package of 5 or 6 small powdered donuts. Give me powdered donuts and you could get me to do anything, say anything or lie about anything! Yes, powdered donuts were my addiction!

So quietly I go into Moms sewing box where she kept her buttons and reasoned that if I took 2 shiny metal buttons, I could confuse Mom when they came to collect money, then afterward, I could celebrate with a Pepsi and donuts! I couldn't believe my genius had taken me so far!

Our Lady of Lourdes was a beautiful church, with marble floors and columns, stain glass windows and a large dome that sat over the front altar. There were three additional altars with the one in the back having La Pieta inside a gated enclosure.

Being a large church, with a school, and about 5 priests, the ushers always dressed to the nines, and when collecting, had these long-handled collection baskets made of what looked like wicker.

Mom and I sat, she in deep meditation and prayer, and me deep into whether or not I could scale the grotto wall behind the main altar. Suddenly I noticed the ushers with the collection baskets and reached for my first button. As the basket slid under my nose, I slipped in the first of the shiny buttons. Mom deposited her money and went back into her prayers (probably for my soul) and said nothing. Ah, my rouse was working!!! Donuts for sure!

The second collection comes, and like the first, I slip in the other shiny metal button, Mom deposits her money, and once again goes into deep pray-filled pleading for my wicked soul. Oh! The joy of deep quiet celebration, knowing there were donuts soon on the horizon, glory is to God!

Mass is over and as we walk home I start to talk to Mom, but she is not answering me. I figured her maternal instincts for retribution have kicked in. This goes on for a few blocks, nothing being said by Mom. We climb the two flights of steps to our third-floor apartment when I announce to Mom that I am going downstairs for a while. (Donuts on my mind)

Suddenly, I feel a grip on my shoulder and the words: "Embarrass me in church?" Whack, dragging me into the apartment. "How dare you embarrass me in the church of all places?" Whack, whack, and whack. If nothing else at this critical moment, she was certainly hitting the target!

This went on all the rest of Sunday morning, every time she saw me, "Embarrass me in church?" Whack, and more whacks. Dad kept a low profile; he didn't want to get in the way of her fury, no need to interrupt. That whole morning and early afternoon, I started to pray myself for preservation and rescue, hoping for the company to show up immediately, if not sooner.

Relief finally arrived when Aunt Philomena and Uncle Dominick arrived, with customary cheesecake and appetite.

Somewhere that day angels sang and poets rhymed, the sun shone and the trees whistled in the wind, and somewhere a little boy sat on his stoop in Brooklyn, relieved of his guilt and his nose powdered white, all was even again!


Recently I went to my Handy Pantry which is situated right near-by my home to purchase some vegetables for dinner. It is indeed handy since it will take a breakfast order on the computer and with your credit card number to pay for it, have it ready in about 15 or 20 minutes. I usually order two sandwiches for TLW (the Little Woman) and myself on Saturday mornings.

The store has been around a long time and seems to grow every day. The amount of business is phenomenal and because of it, they hire a lot of young college and high school kids to work. They do everything, slice the salami, cut the cheese, make the coffee and ring you up, sometimes calling me honey, and that's the guys!

So, I went out for a head of garlic, a red pepper, a zucchini, cherry tomatoes and a box of whole mushrooms. I stand there like a chootche, while the young lady who is new is ringing me up. She looks confused, she hits the computer and looks some more, then taps the screen again, her brow furrows more so than a moment ago as it gets worse. She calls for help, a young man responds with a half-smile and no better idea than she has. Up, up, and up! Ding-a-ling-a-ling: $13.56!


I take the bag but don't get a receipt, so I ask for one, I'm really interested. As I leave the store I look and the head of garlic is listed as $6.51! Garlic is now more expensive than Gas!


Back in I go, to question the crisis of garlic futures going through the roof.

"Why is garlic so expensive?"

She looks at me, then the receipt, the price of the garlic in the bushel where it is stored. She places her hand over her heart like she's having a heart attack like I was having from SIX DOLLARS AND FIFTY-ONE CENTS!!! FOR ONE HEAD OF GARLIC!!!

She calls over her future stockbroker, they confer and he starts an in-depth investigation.

"You ring him up?"

"Yes!" Her heart attack continues.

Wall Street checks the price, the computer, the garlic and the receipt, makes magic on the computer and hands me $5 and change. No, I'm sorry!

Friday, October 06, 2017


Many years ago, living in Brooklyn, Dad had a habit. Every workday, he would give me a nickel and send me off to Sam's Candy Store on the corner of Stone Avenue and Hull Street. On the outside of the store was a bench with a pile of different newspapers that one could purchase and hand off the money to Sam or his wife who stood by the open window that overlooked the bench.

You could purchase the NY Daily News, The NY Mirror, the NY Times, the Herald Tribune and the NY Post, along with the NY Journal American and Brooklyn Eagle. Amazingly, that was the daily output of news for the general public to choose from. There were morning and afternoon editions and some ‘Night owl' editions also.

The News, Mirror, and the Times all had affiliations to the three baseball teams that populated NYC, the Brooklyn Dodgers, New York Giants, and New York Yankees. The Daily News was a Brooklyn Dodgers newspaper with Dick Young as the primary sports columnist, along with the syndicated columnist, Ed Sullivan and his ‘Toast of the Town'. Not only did the News have the best sports section, it also carried the best comics. The ‘Mirror' was just that, a lame attempt at being the Daily News, mirroring things including the tabloid format. The hurdy-turdy Times on the other hand, with its fancy logotype and statement: "All the news that's fit to print" was made to make you dig through different sections to find the sports section, and had no comics! Can you imagine, a newspaper with NO comics! It might as well have been the Wall Street Journal or the future Financial Times.

At the kitchen table every morning, Dad would light a cigarette, and with a cup of coffee, read the Daily News from the back page forward, starting with the sports that were the back-page headline. Mimicking Dad, so I learned to do that with the same newspaper.

As I became an adult, I continued to read the Daily News to this day, and I think of Dad when I do. We can be at war, but did the Mets win last night?

As a result of my loyalty to the paper, I now have it home-delivered. I also have Newsday delivered, but it is not as colorful as the News. Being in college and in the creative field, the newspaper of choice should be the NY Times. I find it an anti-blue collar, a snub to my Dad. I tried reading it on the train going to work in the morning, but the articles were a mile long, overworked and giving me both a headache and ink marred hands and fingers.

One morning this week I didn't get my Daily News. This, of course, sets me off in an unhappy state.

OK, one delivery is no big deal. The next morning, no newspaper again! This is too much, NOW it is a big deal, and they shall hear from me so help me God! I begin by complaining to the Little Woman (TLW) who listens patiently and gives me her phone book with the newspaper's number in it.
I will fire those bastards, no tips for that sob delivery guy, and I'm not paying for the missed dates. I will fire them! I practice in my mind how that will go on the phone with the newspaper. My indignation is complete and well-honed. THERE IS NOTHING MORE THEY CAN DO!

I call, there is a robotic voice, probably hired away from the DMV, that informs me: "Do you have a problem with your delivery today only, delivery yesterday only, your account or something else?" There is nothing for today and yesterday! I say: "YESTERDAY!" My angry voice will let them know how pissed-off I am. I wait, there is a reply to my strong answer: We're sorry, your call is important to us, please stay on the line for the next available agent. Someone will be with you shortly. Then… "Normal business hours are Monday through Friday, 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM." The son-of-a-bitches, it's only 7:30 AM! I have to call back, and go through the same process all over again!

Undeterred, filled with anger and venom, intent on giving the severest dressing down under no uncertain terms, ready to fire them, I get the same crapola and a wait when I call again at 8:05 AM: "We're sorry, your call IS important to us, please stay on the line for the next available agent. Someone will be with you shortly.

My swearing is now at a crescendo, highlighted by Italian curses my Daddy taught me at his knee when suddenly a voice breaks in. A nice, friendly voice, the kind you shouldn't yell at.

"Good morning, Daily News, how may I help you?"

"Why, uh, you… didn't deliver my newspaper yesterday or today!"

"May I have your phone number and address, please?"

I give them my phone number and address as asked and the voice at the other end attempts to pronounce my name. Usually, if it is mispronounced, I give them the correct pronunciation rather coldly, but for some reason, I am polite in this case.

"We will have newspaper out to your home shortly and we will credit your account for the failed delivery yesterday. Is there anything else I can help you with?"

"No thank you, have a good day."

Well, I guess I told them off.

That night TLW comes home.

"How did it go today?"


"You fired the Daily News?"

"Those sob's, they had me holding on the line putting me through all kinds of waiting time and questions…"

"Somehow, I feel like I lived this already.


Thursday, October 05, 2017



Yes, I've come a long way baby, and soon I will be burning my bra if I don't retain water! Since I retired TLW (The Little Woman) went to work and left me with the dishes. Being a man when you are left with the dishes is being at a distinct disadvantage.

Woman were trained by their mother's as young girls on the art of how to clean a house, young boys stayed out of the way, the way it should be.

As a husband, entering the field of housecleaning can be an awkward experience. There are ways to do things that you need to know before starting, and I have a manual I refer to called
‘Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Housecleaning' or ‘Ask TLW' The course itself is ongoing and filled with fraught, fear, and uncertainty. It's also not nice.

Suddenly it is "My stove" and "Try not to get anything on the floor!" There is also the issue that I haven't spoken up about: ‘Put your empty used paper cup in the garbage, not on the counter!' I'm not sure who does that: me or TLW, because I have entered the stages of Dementia, Alzheimer's and I forget, too. I'm starting to hear my Mother again, as she reminds me of all those same things.

In the morning when I come home from the gym, I shower, dress and make the bed. Mom used to say: "The way you make your bed is the way to sleep in it." I sleep in it with perfectly lined up sheets that fold over the bedspread and pillows fluffed and shaped and in uniform unity.

Toilet bowls have to be clean, and sparkling with a fresh scent, just like TLW used to do. Sink and counters in both the kitchen and bathroom must be clean and germ-free, and the floors, are always a worry, both to vacuum and to wash, I hate lint on a rug.

Dusting is taking up too much time and is a necessary evil, one that I so hate. I get down on my knees and lift things and go over the tops of the molding and suck it out with the vacuum cleaner, and I hate every minute of it.

So, what have I learned in TLW's stead? I SUCK AT IT!!!

She still finds all the faults I have in my new trade.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017


Every Sunday like clockwork, TLW (The Little Woman) and I go to breakfast at a usual dinner in Ronkonkoma. We are the usual first customers, and from rote will choose our customary booth, and ask for our customary orders of eggs. The diner has a usual waitress and also a special lady. She is not a waitress, but assist in ways such as getting us glasses of water, bringing us more coffee and does odds and ends around the place. She is a woman in her 40's I'm guessing. We don't know her name but she is very sweet and friendly, and with her smile comes her Hispanic accent that only colors her being to a glorious glow.

Each Sunday she comes over to say hello and we chat usually about the weather and how we feel about it. Gradually we have gotten to know her and enjoy talking to her. Being a poor immigrant who works for very little and has to share the tips from the Waitress, there is very little she is making. Being up at that hour and the menial tasks she has convinced me she is poor and working hard. At Christmas, I slip her a $20 bill to let her know she is indeed special and her service is appreciated.

I have always respected hard work, coming from a blue-collar family myself. I know how hard it was for Mom and Dad to pinch two nickels together, to stretch a food budget and to worry about paying bills while feeding a bunch of kids.

When I was old enough to work at 16, in my many menial jobs, I contributed to the household, and I was happy to be considered worthy of doing that. I tagged along with Dad when he got side-jobs and sometimes I was paid and sometimes I wasn't. But if it made it easy for Dad, then I was helping no matter how small it was.

When we moved from Brooklyn to Hagerman, we lived in a small house and eventually moved into something more substantial, and this move made Mom happy! I got a job in a supermarket and bought her a new vacuum cleaner and eventually, I paid for the living room furniture, furniture I wasn't allowed to sit on, after all: "we now have nice things!"

So, when I see this lady in the diner, I remember to make a fuss over her, to greet her first and to thank her last. She comes from San Salvador and helps make my breakfast a little special. We do a little Spanish and she laughs at me, and when she speaks, her English is better than my Spanish, but it is a wonderfully beautiful sound that makes my Sunday shine, no matter what the weather.

I hope she can raise her family in peace, that God will give her the blessing of what we all take for granted and that she can rise out the humdrum of poverty.