DelBloggolo

Monday, December 31, 2018

IT’S OVER!

There are two things I need in life: a dream and hope, for without either there are no real tomorrows.

It took the usual 365 days but the year 2018 is finally over. The torment of events can be categorized and put on the shelf of self-history.

2019 in my heart promises to be a better year, I dream that my own book: Tolyk’s Odyssey somehow gets published, I hope I continue somewhat writing and designing, that I increase my workflow of art and design and that I live a happy and quiet life with TLW (The Little Woman) who will retire on January 11th.

I dream of good health and happiness for all of you, that peace be in your future and hope it all comes true. For my children, I dream that they all find only, good this coming year, that they do things that people will remember them for and not be like their old man, more like their mom.

This past year was filled with turmoil and sadness both at home and in the national arena of politics as well as internationally. Peace for the world at large. I see pictures of Russian and Chinese families who seem just like Americans and ask: “Why would we want to go to war with them?”

I dream that all of you will find prosperity, peace and most importantly, love in 2019 and so I wish you all a HAPPY NEW YEAR, I love you all.


P.S. Don't forget to laugh!


Sunday, December 30, 2018

A FINAL LOOK AT THE YEAR 2018

Courtney, Darby, and Bobby

As I look back on 2018 I wonder how I can keep an honest perspective. You know as an art major, the first thing you should learn is the concept of perspective or vanishing point, that point where all in the picture should come together, “keeping everything in perspective” as they say.There is the vanishing point and all lines point to it.

2018 was just the kind of year for me to need a perspective, to realign my family and myself and understand that in the end, there is a point to it all. I have found the point elusive and troubling. It has rendered my family to pain and anguish and there seemed to be a constant assault on our sanity. Losing my daughter-in-law in that horrible event so pains me, yet she left behind her greatest legacy, the person she was and still seems to be. I have two beautiful and remarkable grandchildren and she will live on in them.

Courtney was a private person who sang out to the world in her talents, her inner soul and her natural beauty. Courtney cultivated her daughter Darby into herself in a way. When I see my precious granddaughter I see my daughter-in-law in all her being as a creative and beautiful person. I miss her. She honored me when she baptized Darby in a dress my mother made for my daughter four and a half years ago when Mom died. She didn’t have to, but she did.

A bench at the Los Angeles Zoo dedicated to my grandchildren
Giving birth she paid the ultimate sacrifice, but before she was done, she left us with one more incredible creation of hers: her son Robert Courtney (Bobby) and so another song is playing itself out in this beautiful child. My heart breaks for both of these children and every time I see them, look into their eyes and see their smiling faces I remember Courtney.

My son, Courtney’s husband and Darby and Bobby’s Dad has done a wonderful job of keeping this beautiful family with a timeless legacy alive and thriving, doing his best and giving the children a chance they so dearly need and seem to have the tools for. Anthony was given a tough burden to carry and he knows that we as his parents along with his brother will help him every inch of the way until he tells us he doesn’t need us anymore.
Daddy and Bobby

My daughter Ellen has also been in a stroke of bad luck. She is developmentally disabled, fragile and needs assistance with every breath she breathes. Ellen leaves us sleepless and constantly worried about her safety. In the last three years, she has been hospitalized due to falls, breaking her leg, causing a brain bleed and needing a ball replacement in her hip. In the past three years, she has spent more time in hospitals and rehabilitation centers that she has spent at home.

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Saturday, December 29, 2018

IT ISN’T WHAT IT USED TO BE!


As I get older the world gets smarter, leaving me behind as I desperately try to catch up. When the computer became a fixture in the home, the first one I thought about was my Dad and how he would have marveled at its cleverness.

As the world progressed since then there is the cell phone and its development to a complex set of tools that replaced a camera, calendar, watch, timer and dozens of other things to simplify our lives. There are spell check and even translators within moments of need and still, the hits keep coming.

Who can remember before the GPS when maps were used as a guidance system and a rich source of arguments between husbands and wives in the family horseless carriage? Now it is a rich source of arguments between the GPS and wives in the family horseless carriage as we husbands just follow orders.

The flat screen TV is a reality as much as it once seemed to be a dream that TV was that thin and in color. No tubes!? Impossible to have a TV without tubes, what on Earth would my Dad do with his treasured box of TV tubes: (“I got every tube type under the sun!”) Obviously he never got out much.

Well, TV has made even greater strides, with remotes and special offerings such as Apple TV and FireTV with the FireTVstick, that brings you movies and specials at a flip of the remote, eliminating all remotes but the one!

Today was an ambitious day for me. I installed Echo Dot with Alexa (Another woman) telling me something. You say: “Alexa, what time is it?” And she replies either the correct time or says: “Look at the clock on the wall stupid, it right under your Italian nose! Geez! If it was food you would probably not need to ask!” And of course, there is Siri, another woman telling me off. You must be careful not to mention Siri when you mean Alexa. I have another Echo Dot to install yet upstairs, which is good as I can ask: “Alexa, why am I up so late watching this stupid TV show???”

Friday, December 28, 2018

NIGHTMARES DO COME TRUE



If you must be in the City of Angels do it in the day time with hours to find a parking space. A few nights ago I was invited to meet some friends from LA and a destination was decided on in the city. I was told that there were street parking and parking across the street and perhaps behind the building I was heading to.

From Burbank, the GPS gave me the mileage and predicted a time of arrival. LIARS!

After horrendous traffic and constant lights, I arrived at my destination carrying TLW (The Little Woman) and Bobby D in an infant seat. Thinking I had a parking spot practically next to the restaurant, #1 Son (Anthony) reminded me that I couldn’t park there because there was a red line painted on the edge of the curb, I had to move!

This is news I do not wish to hear in a strange neighborhood, in the dark, hungry. Slowly I pulled away from the curb as I left everyone off and started scanning the street for space. This was on a busy 6-lane street. I drove on to the next block and still no luck, so I decided to turn the corner and try again, maybe someone would have pulled out by now, but no, the bastards were still parked there.

Coming around once more I decided to try across the street, as by now with a lot of turning I was disoriented and frankly, lost. I drive down this road that is a side street with no lights, circle around a few corners and suddenly there on my right is this parking space! I check it out about three times to make sure there are no signs forbidding Long Islanders from parking there and no red painted lines to annoy me. I look around, park the car and start heading using Google on my cell phone to where I think I should. As I walk a while following Google my cell phone rings and it is #2 Son Mike. This immediately causes me to lose my map.

“Hey, Dad, where are you?”

“Well, I was on my way to the restaurant when my cell phone ended my Google map thanks to your call. THAT’s where I am.”

“Mom said you are heading the wrong way. Do you see a blue billboard?”

“Noooo…”

TLW gets on the phone.

“Joe, I saw you get out of your car but I tried to yell but you couldn’t hear me. GO THE OTHER WAY, and when you get to the corner across the street.”

After all the confusion, all the walking and anxiety, I had parked directly across the street!

Thursday, December 27, 2018

TROUBLE SAYING: “GOODBYE”.


If you rise up early in the morning in Burbank, California, you need to go sit in a lounge chair and bask in the rising sun slowly ascending into the azure sky and feel the warmth brushing your face as you close your eyes and detach yourself from the outside world.

As the sun slowly warms you from the cool night air, painting your face a sudden sense of dreamlike tranquility arresting you into a submission of suspended consciousness, closing out the world. The gentle harping of the birds singing their songs the same notes playing out, the whispering of the leaves through the wind repeating a sonnet of soft cadence to the morning arising.

The mind drifts away into a nether world of anticipated calm, a single engine plane slowly plying the sky with its monotonic tones as it crosses overhead, slowly lulling you sleep. It is no longer part of the outside world, but this serene world you have created.

Your mind slips ever deeper into the slumber of peace and tranquility filling your soul while holding you like a cradled child. Your mind suddenly hears and sees only the quiet sun as you bask, yet your eyes are closed.

Once you have caught the last hours of your Southern California visit, you head inside and say goodbye to those you love in the world you cherish for soon you will leave on a jet plane, hurtling through the midnight sky to home and reality. No more will you hear the sweet young voice that calls out: “Grandpa! Come play with me.” You will miss the bouncing cherub with the perpetual smile and easy calmness of the infant as Shakespeare once said; ‘mulling and puking’, this time in his grandpa’s arms.

The further you fly away, more is the echo of your time spent with the grandchildren, ripping your heart and soul from your skeletal structure as you must now bide for a later time, a time that you hope will come.


Monday, December 24, 2018

CHRISTMAS EVE


Many years ago when my grandmother was alive and the world seemed so much warmer, she would devote her energies to preparing a wonderful traditional Christmas Eve meal known as the seven fish. When my mother started to realize the family was too big to dump on Grandma, she took up the tradition from Grandma and it became the best night of the year.

Mom like me favored a lobster sauce with spaghetti; eels fried in a batter, stuffed Scungilli, bacala salad, made from salted cod that was bought dried and set in water. Calamari was a staple as was the octopus. There were stuffed mussels in a delicious light garlic sauce and of course anything else that lived in the ocean. It was the adult’s holiday, celebrating our Italian heritage and those we loved. Once we left the table as both adults and children, the magic witching hour took over, the time for anticipation of Santa and what might fall under the Christmas tree. The magical appearance the next morning led to even more wonderment, as the toys I wanted seemed to appear. The amazing thing was: my two friends who lived next door got the same exact things!

It is here that I will leave my past and venture to the present, and the house that sits in Burbank, California, thousands of miles away from the cold and snow and my memories. As I sit here in the room where the decorated tree sits I hear the voice of my granddaughter and know that although there are no traditions yet, there will be. But I hope those traditions enter around Darby and Bobby, that it becomes all about them and not the adults with their fretting and agonizing over getting greeting cards out, buying this one and that one a present, that the garbage man and the lawn people get a tip for the holiday, that the newspaper boy/girl/adult gets another tip beyond the weekly one.

(I want to hear about what my grandchildren want for Christmas, listening to their innocent beliefs in the magic of Santa and Christmas. I don’t want to offend anyone by saying to them: “Merry Christmas” or having to feel guilty for a moment that there are indeed others who won’t be celebrating because of religion or the state of their finances.

Many years ago when my wife and I started celebrating Christmas for the first time together, we were poor as I was just starting out in life and she was 6 months pregnant. I truly don’t remember what I got her that season but I do know it was something. She, on the other hand, gave me the spirit and truth of what Christmas should be. It was a small thin package that left me no clues. In it was my watch that had stopped working and I was too cheap on myself to fix it. That watch was all she had and all I ever wanted to this day, it was the true meaning of giving and loving, it was Christmas.

Friday, December 21, 2018

I'LL LEARN


I am sitting reading my I-pad next to Darby Shea a.k.a. La Principessa.

“Grandpa, can you get me a glass of water?”

“Sure!” I go into the kitchen and when I return I give her the water. Something seems out of place but I can’t put my finger on it so I decide to grab my I-pad and continue reading. I discover the ‘out of place is’ is my I-pad! I look around and can’t seem to find it, then, suddenly a slow ripple of giggle can be heard, you know like a little girl’s.

I look at La Principessa and her face has a smile from ear to ear.

“You know where my I-pad is?”

“Nooooo!”

“You DON’T know where my I-pad is?”

“NOOOOO… really grandpa.”

Behind her back covered with a back pillow sits my I-pad! Really.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

ON THE JOB TRAINING


As life goes on, usually grandmas train grandpas and on occasion, they require additional training and procedural clarification. This occurs generations and years afterward, when set in his ways, the re-training is taught by his granddaughter.

Granddaughters being a special breed are eager, vivacious and bossy, ‘bossy’ being the operative word. In less than the 24 hours spent in Burbank California, I as the grandpa in question have built a fort of pillows and blankets, converting it into a tent using the same exact materials, played nasty monster man who chases the sweet little girl, smuggled two donuts to her under cover of a book and constructed a house made of magnets on the floor of her living room where I fell asleep from exhaustion while sitting on the floor. As my little sweetheart left me there and ran to tell everyone in the house of my comatose state, waking to find him or her all laughing at me.

All ideas generated out of a tiny 4 and ½ year old that has big plans but a poorly equipped slave crew to execute it all. All and any request to break the rules filter through me and she knows somehow she will not be disappointed. Requests for lollypops, (orange) cookies, candy, are sent to her despicable agent, grandpa, who procures other things she doesn’t need as well.



Monday, December 17, 2018

ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS


I will be spending Christmas with people I hardly know aside from my family, yet these people are who I want to spend it with and thankfully looking forward to it. Sometimes God sends us little gifts, gifts that go unnoticed until it becomes apparent that it is a gift indeed. Our lives are so consumed that we forget that there are other people living lives of decency and principle, who give out of love and sometimes just for the decency of it all.

Three of the guests are very humble people, people who have the work ethic as their guide, who fear God because, why else would they be so powerful in their presence especially as a family? There is Marta, the wife, and mother, there is Victor the father and inspiration to what dads should be and there is Alex, who has the good fortune to be blessed with two such wonderful parents and has a blend of both his parents. They are the people who clean #1 Son’s (Anthony) home. They attack #1 Son’s home it as if it were an invasion rolling a perfectly coordinated and precisely executed operation. But when the day is done, they seek out all who happen to be nearby and with a smile and quiet continence, respectfully learning English because they want to, and want a piece of the American dream, just like my Grandpa Joe did over a century ago when he came to America from Italy.

But their visit is not done when the vacuum is turned off and the cleaning products and tools are put away, he shows a more Christian or Jewish spirit of giving, seeking out those things #1 Son may need in his quest to feed his children and provide them with a future. Things like shelves are built, plumbing is done and other extraordinary events such as taking my granddaughter Darby out for a fun day. These are good people.

Often I think of Ireland as a magical place, with its rain all day and the sun rising in the evening, turning the green, green, grass of the old sod into an emerald domain of freshness and natural beauty on the rainiest days and the dawning of full life in the morning when the sun rises to start the day. It has given us great American immigrants full of life and joy, and people who are just like my paisanos, but speak English with that magnificent brogue. I can attest to this from the life experience of my father-in-law, one Jim Manning who raised his kids with the same work ethics and values of Victor.

Then there is Our Lady of the Emerald Isle, Cricket, who has a smile that belongs in some warm climate that accommodates her smile and supplements her love of the children she cares for to help #1 Son so he can work and provide. The children love her, she gives them the mother or woman touch that goes with growing up as a child and she loves them as her own. Under the circumstances that God left my son with, although it can’t be the perfect circumstances that I would wish for, it is the next best thing.

Thank God for such wonderful people.

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR!




Sunday, December 16, 2018

ALL THAT NOISE

I often find it difficult to get into the so-called ‘spirit’ of Christmas or the ‘Holidays’ as they are now called. Social media and the press, fortified by advertising revenue all in the need to sell, generate the holiday excitement. It seems to me that something is missing in all this hoopla, we are leaving out something important.

As a child, I remember two very important events that occurred. One was the religious aspect and how it took over and owned the holiday, after all, Christmas or Hanukkah was religion driven, it was the reason for the season as the saying goes. Then there was the other event, the second reason for importance, children. Children were the recipient of the magic and glow of the season, every child dreamed from a Sear’s catalog and prayed for the dream to come true on Christmas morning.

Yet with even that, another ingredient is the gift of love, it is forgotten and trampled on sometimes. We lose track of where we step, what we are doing why there is a holiday. We greet the season with dread because of the things we need to do, the rush to cram as much into a limited time period as possible. We complain about the cards we need to send, the shopping we need to do, those on the shopping list increasing every year and the very noble idea of gifting people who are getting paid for their jobs with additional gifting.

Recently I visited a home for people with disabilities, people who consciously don’t know or understand the concept or spirit of the holidays. To them, the holiday period is one that disrupts their routine and puts them at a certain risk as people who are their caretakers leave for the holidays rather than being with them to get through their day. Often the staff put their own celebrations on hold, depriving their families of all the holiday spirit there is supposed to be. Except for these exceptional people who do the caretaking, we forget those they serve, not because we want to, but because we are overwhelmed sometimes.

I wish we could just give the holidays back to the children, have a family gathering filled with love, and try to put less pressure on ourselves. The greatest gift is the God-given gift of love.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!






Saturday, December 15, 2018

FEELING GOOD


Finally, after all these years, TLW (The Little Woman) is retiring. I will no longer watch her go off on cold winter mornings to her car and the traffic that the mindless morons who can drive so badly go by her passing in utter disregard for safety.

There is, of course, some difficulty to all this, mainly my naptime and the importance of quiet. To have a proper naptime one must incorporate the proper quiet. This also means no Dr. Phil during this sacred time, and since she watches a lot of those crime shows, now having to nap with one eye open!

There is also the proper atmosphere or ambiance to propagate a nap, particularly on rainy dark days, the days most conducive to performing a proper nap. If one is serious about naptime, a fitting and well structure chair or preferably recliner is paramount.

To round out the process, I always like to include a good lunch, preferably with a beer or Jack Daniels Manhattan to create and support a sense of proper tiredness.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

MAYBE I’M TOO CLOSE TO THE NET?


I am trying to update my Medicare situation. Trying to deal with Medicare and the Social Security system is not easy, it is confounding, inarticulate, frustrating, tiresome, and downright bothersome. The steps they lead up to bringing you back and making you want to pull your hair out, and in my case, that would be very frustrating.

Visiting the Internet to find out all I could about a broker that was advertised on the website for people who need help about their Medicare coverage, they promised they would lead me to the Promised Land. Instead, I was led down the path of suicide. I have Part A but need the prescription coverage piece to round out how I will be robbed each month from the drug companies.

They provide a phone number and I call it, someone answers and says they will take me through it by putting me in touch with an unbiased and unpaid consultant, and the whole process will cost me nothing. I speak with my savior and he asks if I have Part B. I tell him no and he informs me that he can’t lead me so well since I need part B first. Being curious and short on time (I really don’t know what the actuary charts reveal about someone my age but it can’t be all that good) how do I get it???

Call this number and get back to me the agent says. I call and am told the waiting time is Tuesday of 2022. Once again, (what the actuary charts reveal about someone my age can’t be all that good) I get tired of waiting. After waiting so long I had to trim my toenails again, I give up.

I try the process again of speaking with an agent who once again tells me the same thing and answers my question about where else I might go. He suggests another website, a rather scary and daunting one titled: socialsecurity/retirement.gov. It is here that I begin to wonder if suicide might not be such a bad idea. The trouble you can’t get started because it is so badly designed that you don’t know where to go to get help and I have to make dinner and it will cause me to rush it. I give up the quest and call it a day: tomorrow’s another day.

Tomorrow comes in spite of all my hopes and dreams and I take up the quest once again. I call the number that had me waiting and this time someone answers, telling I have to go on the Social Security website. OK, I’ll bite and maybe get a little luckier this time in terms of information. Sure enough, the same frustrations are accruing and so get in touch with them via email. I’m still waiting.

I have been bounced around like I’m the tennis ball at a tennis match between Medicare and Social Security.


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Wednesday, December 12, 2018

THE SOUNDS OF SILENCE

It will be six months next week since that awful day in June when my family lost a very beautiful and creative mother, wife and daughter-in-law Courtney, to a tragic circumstance, leaving us on the delivery table at the birthing of her beautiful son.

That awful day sits indelibly in my mind and between the divide of my heart, it has drawn a pall or curtain across my soul, incomprehensible and shocking still to this day.

The events of June have taken a significant toll on my wife and me: we have lost a lot of enthusiasm and enjoyment for life. The usual things, such as music, entertainment, and even food has lost its taste, with that comes the Holidays and the joy of the season it usually brings.

Last Christmas was the best I ever had. I decorated the house including my little granddaughter’s room where she was to sleep. That room was her daddy’s bedroom before he moved away and I made sure it said: Merry Christmas, Darby!

When she arrived her mom remarked about how the house looked like a shrine to Darby with all the pictures on the walls of her. Little Darby went up to her room and came down very excited.

“Daddy, you see my room!”
“I used to sleep in it, that was my room.”
“No Daddy, you should see it now!”

I decorated the rooms with snow villages, 2 Christmas trees, wreaths, and garland, pinecones, electric trains and whatever else I could find. The tree had old ornaments that the kids had made so many years ago, and we had a magnificent dinner, with my quick-witted daughter-in-law.

That was last year, when I was rich with joy and love about my family as I always am, all my children, my grandchild and her mommy, Courtney, who will always be in my heart, along with grandma.

This year I have lost all that. I have decided not to decorate and don’t care that I didn’t, don’t want to and just want to forget everything I can for the big day until I get out to California and see Darby Shea, and Bobby Courtney once again.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

JUST AN OLD FASHIONED BOY

pretty boring
I’m not much on ceremony or rituals, don’t get much out of church since it bogs down in ceremonial rituals that sidetrack me from the business at hand, God.

The rest of my life is pretty much the same, I don’t kiss up to anyone, bosses, friends or colleagues, no one is superior to me as I am not to them.

I work very hard to maintain my principles and have demonstrated such only recently.

But I am a basic kind of guy. I haven’t bought myself clothing in years my wife does. My clothes are just fine I don’t need much and have been happy to not wear suits and ties and even shoes!

But to the daily living, I am a bit of a ritualistic zombie.

Recently, I was running out of soap for my showers in the morning. I like Ivory soap, no fancy colors or scents, just soap. I asked TLW (The Little Woman) when she went shopping to get me more and was informed that they don’t carry it anymore, that I needed to search for it. I found it at a convenience store and so I am happy once more.

My coffee has to be regular, no fancy lattes or other fancy names with swirls and cinnamon sticks. No crapachinos or whatever. Just give me a good cup of coffee and no frills other than milk or cream, no sugar, please.

Jewelry? Not much, just an inexpensive watch, no need for fancy rings, just my wedding band, nothing else. When it comes to colognes and aftershave lotions? Never use them except for rare occasions.

I guess I’m just an ordinary Joe.

Monday, December 10, 2018

HOW SWEET IT IS!

Way back in 2001 as President of the Board of Directors, I met a woman who had a daughter living in our Intermediate Care Facility (ICF) and her daughter was in a hospital receiving a tracheotomy. One day her son visited his sister and was told by a hospital nurse that since his sister was away from the ICF for more than 2 weeks she would lose her place there. The rules back then were that if you stayed away from the ICF for more than 2 weeks, you indeed lost your bed.

The brother went home and told his mother this news and mom immediately demanded a meeting with the executive director of the agency, the program director, and the president of the board to discuss this matter.

It was a hot June day in the small conference room outside the executive director’s office when we met around the conference room table. Suddenly Mom started the conversation and immediately started into a sobbing tearful discourse about the fact that she had nowhere t place her daughter.

I reassured her by saying I was a parent also. We reassured her that we would not abandon her daughter and sought a solution for temporary shelter until a place back in our ICF was available.

After the meeting, I met with the executive director and I suggested that we create a convalescence facility on the grounds like a hospital, with as much equipment as possible with hospital beds that our population could heal and be attended to by our staff, people who knew our population best. The board approved my suggestion after some modifications and so the facility was built. I didn’t realize at the time how important this would be.

Fast forward, to this year and my daughter is rehabbing from her hip operation, and where is she spending her time? In the facility, I asked for so many years ago!

Sunday, December 09, 2018

ANGER MANAGEMENT

We all seem to be engaged this year in politics. Believing in what the President, the House of Representatives and the Senate do is now very important. People are starting to vote again, the parties have become more polarized and the mood of America is not good.

If you are on Facebook or Tweeter, you know how easy it is to get in a punch at what you are mad about, and how easily you can fall into a discussion where everyone writes long dissertations about the ‘facts’ that have stored, pointing you to some obscure link to more one-sidedness and misinformation. It becomes paramount to sound learned on the subject, bring unreasonableness disguised in reason and save the insults for the last resort.

I have never seen so many unhappy people since Watergate and the Nixon Days.

Anger, of course, is always used to contrast someone else’s complacency about what you strongly believe in. Anger is also a two-edged sword, one edge to strike your enemy down, but if you are not careful and use the wrong edge, a saber that impales you and leaves you dead or bleeding.

Saturday, December 08, 2018

A CHRISTMAS CAROL (Again)


“I have endeavoured in this Ghostly little book, to raise the Ghost of an Idea, which shall not put my readers out of humour with themselves, with each other, with the season, or with me.  May it haunt their houses pleasantly, and no one wish to lay it.
Their faithful Friend and Servant,”
Charles Dickens
December 1843.

The Bellport, NY elementary classroom filled with 5th-grade students sat enraptured, following every word the teacher, Mr. Sullivan read from the book. They were getting their first taste of what literature is and learning about a great author. It was a new world for most of us and something more inter4sting than TV, as we casted our own characters to the visions in our heads and the words that were caught by our ears.
 
Chuck Dickens
Every day Mr. Sullivan would read another chapter as the calendar brought us closer to Christmas. The novella by English author Charles Dickens, first published on 19 December 1843 was making huge gains in my imagination, and slowly recreating the spirit of Christmas into a new meaning and spirit.

I was suddenly in charge of the sets, the costuming, and the casting of this wonderful story, so mature and yet so child-like, my imagination working overtime and leaving me wanting for more!

Then I had the good fortune of finding a movie on the TV one Christmas Eve during that season. It was a great find for me, as I sat eagerly in front of the TV and never moved. The black and white presentation would come back to me in later years as I studied cinema as art, and painting as a form of expression. It was: ‘A Christmas Carol’ by Charles Dickens.

Scrooge (1935) Was the first sound adaptation of the novella, and also one of the best, Starred Seymour Hicks as Scrooge. A dark, brooding aesthetic adaptation that owes as much to German Expressionism as anything This version made great use of the photographic technology of the time and also managed to fit the whole story into just over an hour without much strain, yet is the only one that I look for, all other adaptations may be just as good, but this is like that first girlfriend or first kiss!
 
This is not on your I-phone
Over the years I have seen it in most of its forms in movies and some stage plays, and so I went one Sunday evening with Toots II (Lois), Princess Pat of Foxwood Points (Patrizia) and her husband Bill along with TLW (The Little Woman).
 
'SCROOGE' ?
In a small theatre in Port Jefferson, called Theatre 3, a stage production was presented, and although it did not run the story faithfully, it tried very hard to recreate within the limits of talents and money something that was entertaining.

Nothing will ever recreate or equal for me that first production, the one that went on in my 10-year-old mind, or that great movie I found that season, and I always try to find it again, but like they say: “You can’t go home again.”


Friday, December 07, 2018

77 YEARS OF REMEMBRANCE

Getty Image
The day before yesterday, we as a country buried a great President, as Jon Meacham the great presidential historian called the last Presidential warrior from World War II. Those were not his exact words but similar. President George H. W. Bush is remembered for his heroics as a fighter pilot who was shot down in the Pacific, losing his two crewmates and narrowly escaping the capture by Japanese when a U.S. submarine rescued him.

Today is the 77th anniversary of Pearl Harbor. December 7th, 1941 is perhaps the most intriguing date in American history, filled with the drama of the day, the suspicions that still seem to hover over the day back then and the conspiracy theories that seem to abound.

There is the theory that Franklin D. Roosevelt knew the Japanese were coming and let it happen for good reason, and that was Adolf Hitler and his plans for world conquest. England was losing the war and fear was once it collapsed the Germans would then invade Canada and then the Nazis would be at our border. Since German and Italy along with Japan comprised the Axis powers, fighting one meant fighting them all. The American public did not want involvement in some foreign war like it had in 1917, and once again having us lose young sons to a foreign conflict. So, if we were attacked, the American public would then be behind a war, thus saving England and keeping the war away from American shores or borders.

There other “facts” to support this theory, the idea that we had monitoring bases around the rim of the Pacific that tracked the Japanese fleet as it moved toward Hawaii to attack America, meant we monitored the attacking fleet but let it happen.

I like to think that it keeps the day alive in our lives, though many of us were not alive when it happened. Let’s remember those who perished in that war, not just those in uniforms, but the too many civilians, the enemy soldiers that were torn away from their families, our own and those of our allies as well. Let’s remember those that died for the crime of believing in God in their own way or whose lifestyles were different. Most of all, as humans, let us ask for forgiveness for all the killing.

Thursday, December 06, 2018

LEARNING THE ROPES

Being how I retired a number of years ago, I took on some of the chores around the house that I never did before when I had a job. Things like dusting and cleaning are not my strong suits but I don’t see getting a cleaning person to clean the house. It’s not that hard. But once in a while, I see something that gets me busy and I start the chore of cleaning it.



One of the things that will need constant cleaning and care is the stovetop. It is black and shines and when you clean it with a cleaner it streaks. I have tried all kinds of cleaners and they all really leave the streaks.

One day out of desperation I tried something I really didn’t expect to work but did, Windex! Apparently, the ammonia in it is the key, it takes away grease and film as it would on the glass doors of the medicine cabinets I have.



With the above reasoning I discovered if I try it on my chrome or aluminum doors o0f the stove and the door on the washing machine, it works there also. I purchased this stuff that was supposed to do that kind of thing but it took a lot of muscle grease and applications before I was happy.   

Windex, simplicity at it’s best. I think I will apply some on my face and rid some old age away and see if that works.

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

IT’S LIKE COMING HOME AGAIN

With all the electronics available, and the intrusion of Facebook and Twitter, reading a book is becoming a lost art for me. Most of my adolescent life and into my adulthood, I always had a book I was reading. Then around 1991 I got my first computer and got caught up in the Internet with its convenience and quick ability to find my answers and even help me in my work with the many graphics and writing programs it offers.

Then about a month ago, while my daughter was recovering in the hospital from a hip replacement, I happened to be in the lobby area of Mather Memorial Hospital in Port Jefferson and I found a bookcase with books for a dollar or two. I stopped and found some books and purchased them and now I am back into reading again.

Sitting somewhere quiet and opening a book is like boarding a train where you don’t know your destination but as it goes you enjoy looking out the window marveling at all the sights.

There is a warm feeling in reading something for just the joy of it, and reading has always made me happy, and as I am a writer of sorts I enjoy the art of it all. The beauty of it is there is so much to read and I will never read it all but will die to try.

In the book I wrote, there are two brothers, one who likes to read and one who doesn’t but wishes he did. The read takes his brother to the library and tells him to find some subject he is interested in and read about. Great advice.

So, come home to reading once again. It will enthrall you, you will use your imagination and it all makes you calm.


Tuesday, December 04, 2018

I FEEL MY PAIN


MAS·OCH·IST
[ˈmazəkəst, ˈmasəkəst]

NOUN
(in general use) a person who enjoys an activity that appears to be painful or tedious.

"What kind of masochist would root for so many bad teams?

As I watched the New York Jets lose once more, contributing to another losing season, one like all the others, a rebuilding one, I wondered when I would be kind to myself. Watching them lose year after year, never making it to a playoff game before losing made me realize I love watching my teams lose. I have to be that way, why would I do it otherwise?



I thought some more about my rooting skills and my hometown favorites and discovered, but, always suspected, that it holds true for all the sports teams I root for.

Case in point: The New York Mets. In the dictionary, the word loser is illustrated by this-



These bums try to lose every year, they get themselves fading fast all-stars who can’t do it anymore and think this will take them to the Promise-land. Where it actually takes them to is the end of the summer and no further.



I like to spread my genius around when it comes to NY sports teams, so of course, there is the NY Knicks! They sit there in the most prestigious sports palace in the World, probably bigger the Yankee Stadium ever was and all you see is all-stars… on the other teams. They draft someone good and he forgets how to play or injures himself to take a sabbatical and forgets his skills when he comes back. I got excited when Carmelo Anthony came to the Knicks and really enjoyed it when he left!



This year I am holding out for the NY Islanders, they seem to be competitive but this will cause problems. If the team makes the playoffs, I have to root them through until the inevitable, they lose and I cry.

Maybe all this losing is for my benefit, I don’t go through a whole season and be disappointed, I do it early on.





Monday, December 03, 2018

IF IT’S RAINING IT MUST BE TODAY.


It seems to me that all this talk about climate change is coming to fruition. Every other day is raining, and raining hard. Somehow we are experiencing bad weather more often than not and even I am getting tired of it.

Most times it rains I think of it as a good day for a nap. I close my lights in the house and get in my recliner and fall asleep if possible, awaking only for food and the potty. Then about a year ago I got involved in helping to create a book, ‘A PLACE CALLED BROOKLYN’ which took up all my naptime. It meant going out in the rain and cold for meetings with the coauthor, especially in the most critical part of my day, the afternoon naptime slot.

Now the book is at the publisher and I am sitting here on a Sunday morning listening to the rain fall on the skylight as the trees wave at me while I sit in my recliner and type. I hope to get this blogue done soon so I can “Rest my eyes” as Dad used to say.

Taking a nap has health benefits; like with my eyes closed in a recliner, I stay out of trouble. This also helps my morale being lifted because nothing or no one is aggravating me and keeping me from raiding the frig. Next to macaroni and cheese, this is the single most productive and glorious combination in the World!


Sunday, December 02, 2018

YOU MUST BE GETTING OLD WHEN…

It's hairy and there's a lot

You enter your barbershop and the barber says: “I guess just a trim?”

Yes, this is the truth, I have lost most of my hair, and the old days of shampooing and combing are coming to an end.

As a youngster and as I grew old ungracefully, I never wore a hat feeling that it stunted hair-growth. I was wrong. Satellites are reflecting signals off of my bean to other receivers as a way to shorten distances. I now need a hat to prevent that and to protect my head from sunburn. How sad. I still recall my first haircut. It was a Saturday morning and Dad took me to the barbershop on Rockaway Avenue off of Fulton Street in the Bed-Sty section of Brooklyn. Being it was my first time, the barber put a plank over the arms of the chair so I would have some height and took out his electric shaver, the first time I ever met one of those things. I immediately tensed up and he handed me a toy airplane that he said made the same noise. Being about 3-years of age I guess, I probably didn’t even know what the hell a plane was!

I nearly caused an accident the other night when driving I bent down slightly and an oncoming car nearly went off the road when his headlights glared into my pate and back into his eyes causing momentary blindness.

I had a great uncle, Uncle Dom, who used to say because he was bald at 24: “Grass never grows on a busy street!” I would like to think he was right, but who is kidding whom?

I really am starting to hate my barber even though he is balder and younger than me.

Saturday, December 01, 2018

THEY MUST LOVE ME.

Right after this I paid my student loan.
Every day I get the same phone calls about my student loan being forgiven, that I won a ‘FREE’ stay at a resort, my number has been picked at random to win something, and of course some so-called company on a recorded line, can I hear them.

The other day my cell phone rang and sure enough, while in a gastroenterologist office for my daughter there is this female voice telling me that this is my final notice after numerous attempts to reach me that I can get my student loan forgiven and other benefits that are available to me.  Never in these calls is my name mentioned.

Now, I graduated from college a few centuries ago and immediately afterward paid off my student loan, so somehow they must have lost my name for over fifty years. This got me curious: maybe they have me mixed up with someone else?  After the opening speech about “this is my final notice after numerous attempts to reach me that I can get my student loan forgiven and other benefits that are available” I decide to go into this call a little further. I press ‘1’ for further information.

“Are you interested in the loan forgiveness program?”
Me: “Why, Yes I am, and I have a question.”
“Yes?”
Me: “I’m 73-years old, do you think I have a future with a new loan, and which college or university should I apply to?”

There is an immediate click on the other end, and she never answered my question, how will she know whose loan to forgive?

But my day does not end there, no, there is another call informing me about the fact that I’m on a recorded line and can I hear the caller. My stock answer is always: “NO!” This answer confuses them somewhat and causes them to hang up. This is part of a growing scam to get you to say: “Yes” a word they will willfully record to enter any account you may have that is voice activated. Once again, the sudden ‘click’ at the other end.

You’d think they would at least say: “Goodbye?”