Saturday, June 30, 2007


Today was hot and humid, the kind of day that if you are working, you are glad to be in the air conditioning if there is any.

Me, I whiled away my time in my floating lounge chair, drifting along in the pool, going from shaded areas to sunny ones, and enjoyed every bit. I read a little Ken Follett and took a nap or two, and let the lazy feeling take over.

Two things occur to me when I do the above. One is to feel guilty that I am doing nothing, and the second thing is I think of all the people I worked with through the years on days like today. I remember the drag of a meeting, or the rush of a schedule, or the worry of a budget that might be in jeopardy.

I recall going to lunch on days like this and hating to go back to the office, shirt and tie on and bad humor to boot. I wonder how my old friends are doing today, are they on their way to a meeting, or under the gun?

It’s funny, I just got off the phone with a company seeking a reference from me about a great gal that worked with me, and as I was speaking I realized that she was one of the people I was just thinking about as I wrote this!

As far as feeling guilty, I’m getting over that feeling quicker with each passing day.

Friday, June 29, 2007


I was deep in sleep, dreaming about a symposium I was attending, giving professional comments, and quite frankly, impressing myself. The moderator was agreeing with me, and it was a woman who looked like she meant it!

Suddenly I felt this rude awakening, a tug on the arm that was about to become a full-scale slap. Jumping from the depths of sleep to the murky waters of semi-consciousness, there stood before me TLW (The Little Woman). Now normally I would probably want to give her such a shot, but shrewdly she was holding a dish with a fork!

“Here, taste this.” (A clear attempt to kill me)

I look into the dish, it is a salad she is making for her cohort who is retiring, as I look at the bedside alarm that reads: 5:39 A.M.!

That is correct, 5:39 A.M.!

Trying to put my mouth into gear to taste, and my arms in motion to accept this blatant attempt on my life and widowhood for her, in my stupor I try the salad.

Some of the salad wants to leave my mouth, as my lips struggle to catch it as TLW asks: “how does it taste? What do you think?”

I reply incoherently that I’m trying to get a fix on it with a dry mouth, sleep in my eyes and murder in my heart.

“Does it taste rancid?”


Do you remember when you were a kid and there was this toy acrobat artist that hung from a bar that when you squeezed the base, it flipped around the bar? Well that was my stomach every time she mentioned the word “Rancid”.

And what was she doing as she climbed the stairs to administer what she thought was a sure thing to widowhood?


You see boys and girls; this is what happens when you are over-insured.

Thursday, June 28, 2007


How do you stop a woman in her tracks, and keep her quiet?
Answer; leave on the QVC channel.

How do you keep your teenage son’s room clean and neat?
Answer; Move when he goes out at night.

Why is it when you drive down a narrow street and there is only one car parked on that street, a car coming the other way always meets you at the parked car making you squeeze by?

Never go to a bank at lunch-time when everybody else goes, not because it is crowded, but because it is never manned sufficiently.

How come whenever I put the TV on, is when the commercials start, and I only wanted to watch for a few moments/

How is it that when I’m in a hurry to get somewhere, a police car is always behind me, or a school bus in front of me?

Why does my dog decide she needs to go out whenever I decide to sit down?

Should I make “Butter Side Down” a regular feature on this blog?

If you have any, please e-mail them to, and I’ll quote you in this space.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


Today I went to Home Depot with TLW (The Little Woman) to see if we could find an archway for our little garden on the side of the house. We find one and decide to purchase it and go up to the line at the checkout in the garden center.

TLW says to me that the price is good, $169, and we should buy it since it is the cheapest one around price wise as values go.

Our turn on line comes and the girl behind the counter scans it and says: “$129, please”.
TLW says: “What?”
Girl: “$129”
TLW: “But the price says $169?”
The shock of this conversation is causing me to lose blood pressure, fainting spells about to occur, and a general heart attack about to start.
TLW: “I saw it on the box over there!”
Not knowing how to stop Honest Abe I give her a slight body check, trying to say my money from undue harm. Meanwhile, she’s arguing to raise the price we pay!
Me: “Whatta ya nuts? The lady said $129! You trying to kill me or something?

See boys and girls, this is what happens when you marry someone who went to Catholic schools all her life, then teaches religion to second graders.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


Note: This blog was written days ago.

There are few treasures in a man’s life that he can keep until he dies. There is only his talents, his memories and hopefully his children and wife.

My memories go back a long time, and my oldest memories seem to have faded a bit, yet the one memory that I cherish is the one I made 36 years ago, yesterday. Funny thing is that yesterday too, became a memory to cherish. When I awakened from a very restful sleep, I was still in a state of dream when I was greeted by TLW (The Little Woman), and when she said: “Happy Anniversary!”, I was shaken back to my senses and on high alert once more. She reminded me that she remembered first, and she did, catching me by complete surprise. I had planned on sending her flowers to her office, but she caught me with my coffee cup down as I found a big white envelope sitting in my chair in the den. Of course, it was a card with all the sentiment that is important to me to read on occasions like this, and to her to express. I felt like I had forgotten, although I didn’t get a card for her, my plan was in place.

This may sound corny, but I still get excited when I see her for the first time after more than an hour away from her. I am grateful she is healthy and vibrant, doing what she does best, giving me projects to occupy my little mind while off she goes for her day at the wannabe bank she works for.

I guess when you put so much trust into an individual, you expect a lot from him or her, but when the payback is so great that you feel like you have a luxury suite you didn’t pay for, and feel guilty for using it, you think there must be some mistake.

Well someone had to marry her, it might as well be me, although she deserves a lot better, to that poor guy out there that should have married her, tough luck, pal, I got the greatest gal in the world!

Monday, June 25, 2007


Last night TLW (The Little Woman) and I went out to celebrate our anniversary to a restaurant in Port Jefferson called Pasta, Pasta. We got more than dinner!

It started off rather nice, as we took a stroll through the historic streets of Port Jefferson, smelling the multitude of restaurant odors scintillating through the air, making our hunger pangs more than we could stand. Having an hour to kill we visited some shops, and browsed the corny knick-knacks offered, T-shirts and trinkets all displayed for the tourists that come from around the island.

At one point we decided to go into a side street and sit on a bench and people watch for a while. Suddenly TLW spotted someone we know, strolling arm and arm, or hand in hand with her escort, who happened to not be her husband! Looking straight ahead, she realized we saw her and pretended she didn’t see us. To avoid embarrassing her, we played the game too.

After our surmising as to what happened to her husband, we got up and walked to the restaurant and sat for a while with a glass of wine, and waited for our table. As we waited, the door opens and who walks in but the same someone we spotted and accompanied by her beau, hand and hand. Sitting across from us she tried to ignore us, and we pretended not to notice her. She had a reservation slightly ahead of ours, and when she had to pass us, couldn’t help but say: “Hello”, with a big old crimson grin.

The dinner was great, the appetizer interestingly creative, the main course large and delicious, and the dessert to die for, the entertainment, though not solicited, was amusing.

Sunday, June 24, 2007


Many years ago, #1 Son was playing on the floor of the living room in our old house, and looking up at me asked; “Daddy, what’s Heaven?”

Not missing a beat I began to describe what I thought Heaven is, what it looked like and what it meant to go to Heaven. I explained to him that Heaven is a place that once lived in the heart of Brooklyn, between Bedford Avenue, Sullivan Place and Empire Boulevard. It was a building with the most beautiful courtyard ever made by man. An original Brooklyn saint, Saint Charles Ebbet, created it and so they named the place after him: Ebbets Field.

I told him about the greenness of the courtyard, with straight whiter than white lines and reddish turf that surrounded the field, a true field of dreams, where those that occupied it were loved and revered for all the happiness they brought to a young mind, sculpturing heroes, both black and white, men of great skill, and courage, men who could disappoint you, and in that disappointment taught you that love is not conditional.

He couldn’t understand what I said or meant, so like a good son went back to playing with his blocks. There was so much more I wished to tell him, like how one day they took away those saintly men and tore down Heaven, so that it would only exist in our minds eye, remembered in our hearts and forever more be etched in our souls. That and the fact that when we went to heaven, we would be able to watch the Brooklyn Dodgers play every game ever played in Ebbets Field from 1913 to September of 1957, over and over again, and all the excitement and joy of loving Dem Bums would come back refreshed.

Today while I was re-seeding my lawn, my neighbor John was walking his dog and stopped by to chat. We started to talk about things in general and got to mention our childhood and the old days. He asked me where I came from and I mentioned Brooklyn, we talked about the Brooklyn Dodgers and he showed me a tattoo that said: “1955 Brooklyn Dodgers”, so of course we now are really reunited, although we never met before we lived in our respective homes. I mentioned to John that it seems that Old Brooklyn Dodger Fans are all nostalgic, and he seemed to realize and agree that is really is so.

I will show John my collection of Brooklyn Dodger memorabilia, share some more memories and maybe drink to the days gone by.

Just Over The Brooklyn Bridge Lyrics
» Art Garfunkel

(M. Hamlisch, Marilyn & Alan Bergman)
A world of its own,
The streets where we played,
The friends on every corner were the best we ever made.
The backyards, and the school yards
And the trees that watched us grow,
The days of love when dinner time was all you had to know.
Whenever I think of yesterday,
I close my eyes and see,
That place Just Over The Brooklyn Bridge
That will always be home to me.
It'll always be home to me.

Saturday, June 23, 2007


Gently roll the years, or so it seems.

I thought it was only yesterday when I looked out my front door and across the street from me stood two little children, playing on the front lawn while their parents were inside the house, looking to buy from Ray Cusimano, my neighbor for over 10 years as he planned his retirement in Florida.

What struck me about the kids was their frisky, puppy like zest for life, frolicking on the front lawn, running and jumping and just having a grand old time. There was a little boy and his little sister, and you could see they were close. Suddenly the little boy pushed his little sister to the ground, and I thought: “Ah, peace in our day” isn’t it typical.

Why do I bring this up? Well the little boy is now a big boy, graduation from high school, and the little sister is a year behind him and going into her senior year. His name is Joey, and sports a ponytail for a worthy cause, hair that will eventually be cut and given for children with cancer! A classy thing to do for such a young age! Joey was dressed in a tuxedo, climbing into his parent’s car on the way to I guess the senior prom, and his sister Lauren, a beautiful young lady was dress in a long gown that made her even more beautiful, and she was going to the prom too. These are two very good-looking kids in both physical and spiritual appearance, coming from parents who gave them that persona.
Richie and Alison are like most of my neighbors, really good people, with good kids, working to make their lives and the lives of their children better.

Sometimes I guess I need to stop and smell the roses, seeing what wonderful neighbors I have, and what wonderful kids they have. You know about My Man Bill and his Lovely Wife Carole and kids, and now meet Richie and Alison. There are others, just as wonderful; it makes for a wonderful place to live.

Friday, June 22, 2007


Sometimes I am so sure of myself that I forget that I don’t know. Sounds illogical but it is the best way to explain myself.

This morning TLW (The Little Woman) and I were going over business for the day when I asked her if she thought I should call the pool guy to power vacuum the pool.

As I write this, I get into another self-argument as to the spelling of vacuum, thinking it is spelled vacumm yet it doesn’t look correct. So angrily, I berate myself for questioning how to spell the word, and look it up, only to find I was wrong, it is “vacuum” after all.

Back to the conversation-TLW asks if I got a bill. No! What bill?? She says: “ didn’t you get a copy of the bill, a yellow piece of paper when the pool guy opened the thing? No, absolutely not. She asks if I maybe put it in the calendar pocket on the refrigerator. Ha, these women always put you in a situation to make you look bad, Geez!

I decide to go ahead and look for the bill, even in the pocket of the calendar, although I know for sure it is not there.

She must have put it there,

I never got it.

Can’t recall doing that.

Come to think of it, I did put it there! Oh yeah, I remember now, folding it and putting it there.

Maybe I just need to rest.

Thursday, June 21, 2007


I was listening on the news this morning about some guy who is suing his neighbor and wife because the couple’s daughters make a lot of noise in the family pool.

Naturally I thought about me neighbor: My Man Bill and his lovely wife Carole. They have this nice big pool in their backyard and a little girl who uses it. Like all little girls, Christina can get a little excited as she and her friends frolic and have a great time. What would happen if My Man Bill and his lovely wife Carole were to God forbid wind up in Jail?

Imagine the scene:
Correction Officer (CO): “Mr. Warden, Sir, they are sending out invitations!”

Warden: “Who?”

CC: My Man Bill and his lovely wife Carole!

Warden: “Are they inviting that nut next door?”

CC: “Yes sir, I’m afraid so!”

Warden: “throw them in solitary then.”

Or even worst still;

Warden: “Officer Chainandirons, WHAT’S THAT HAMMERING?”

Officer Chainandirons: “It’s My Man Bill. Sir, he just got a delivery from Home Depot, and he’s laying marble tiles on his cell floor, put in a wooden door and his own lock!”

Warden: “Does he try to escape?”

Officer Chainandirons: “Well sir, he keeps getting out but keeps coming back with more stuff from Home Depot!

Of course in the real world, My Man Bill would put up a pool in the exercise yard too.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


Once a week TLW (The Little Woman) hands me the order of the day for Saturday, and instructs me to select recipes for the week so she can purchase what is needed.

This week I went through the cookbook, selecting three recipes that I think are interesting and had some fun in the choosing. One of the recipes called for a round steak made in a Chinese mix of ingredients. I composed the list, after checking whatever I wasn’t sure we had, to make sure we really needed it and presented the list to Il Duce.

Hunching my back and gritting my teeth, a normal stance for a husband of 36 years, I awaited the chief’s declaration. It is the hardest job as a husband when TLW any TLW begins to review the poor bastards selection, and he must defend himself.

TLW: “Don’t we have onions?”
The Sniveling Ghost of A Man, Me: (TSGAM, M), Not enough.
TLW: “You need Chile sauce?”
TSGAM, M: “Yup, I just checked the refrigerator, we need it!”
TLW: “I know I bought Low Sodium Soy Sauce just recently!”
TSGAM, M: “We ran out of it.” (As I get up to show her the empty bottle)
TLW: “Let ME check.” After 36 years I am declared “legally blind.” What is this item “Shampoo”?
TSGAM, M: “Yea, we ran out of shampoo.”
TLW: “For who?”
TSGAM, M: “Me?”
TLW: “YOU don’t have any! What kind?”
TSGAM, M: “You know for me. What do you use, I’m not using any sissy stuff.”
TLW: I use hand soap when I’m out of shampoo. Just a pinch.”
TSGAM, M: Look, I’ll give you a pinch latter, just get me the shampoo.”
TLW: “Where is the cap for the pen?” as she edits a new list of items.
TSGAM, M: “I don’t know, I capped it when I returned the pen to you.”
TLW: “Oh, it’s never your fault.”
TSGAM, M: “See if they have arsenic in stock, will ya?”

Monday, June 18, 2007


Its’ funny how the details are clear but the big picture is fuzzy. 36 years ago, and the days leading to the big event, I can remember but the big event, the wedding itself remains foggy, almost a mystery to me.

I recall with almost precise detail, the day before the wedding, working at my first job, finishing it up and giving it to my boss before leaving for the day, the last time as a single man, going off to get married and traveling on a fantastic honeymoon to Europe. My boss, Jack Stern, looked at the design package I did and said it was the best thing I had done yet!

Leaving the office early and on a high note, I took the train to my bride’s house to visit her, being how I left my car at her train station in East Islip in the morning, and how she had already taken her leave from Mobile Oil on 42nd Street. I found her ironing!

That night I went home, had dinner with all the guys in the wedding party and got into an accident on the way to rehearsal at the church! Never once did I consider it a bad omen, since it wasn’t my car, and I wasn’t driving.

After the rehearsal we all went to TLW’s (The Little Woman) house for a little party and an exchange of gifts between TLW and me.

The next morning, my whole family left for the church, without wakening me from a deep slumber, only to be awakened at 10:30 by my best man, knocking on the door. We dressed, went down to my Dad’s bar in the basement, had a shot of scotch and drove to the church, St. Mary’s where they removed my singleness forever. I remember TLW coming down the aisle, the moments before waiting behind the alter for the ceremony to begin

I recollect the drive to Land’s End for the reception in the limo, but it all became a blur to me except for the three drinks I had going at once, one given by the reception hall, one by my boss, and one from my friends. I finished all three, no point hurting people’s feelings on your wedding day.

I recall all the happened after the wedding, the drive to the airport and seeing people on the Southern State going home after the wedding, the seat assignment on the plane and some of the flight to London, England and flying over Ireland to England and as we approached the Heathrow Airport, looking out the port hole and watching a car racing along a English country road, yet the whole day, in spite of the details still remains blurry!

But I guess in the end, when all is said and done, what I have is better than clear memories, I have a wife who is best suited for me, one in which I am extremely fortunate to have, and she knows it, and if I could have to choice to do it over again, I most certainly would, I would have her sweet smile and beautiful face all over again, with all the happiness and joy that comes with her.


It was a bright sunny beautiful day in mid June of 1971, the church was filled with family and friends, and the Priest was in the middle of his sacred duty of marrying off a innocent bachelor and TLW (The Little Woman), when it came time for the most holy of holiest events a Catholic can be part of.

The organ perched high above the rear of the old church called St. Mary’s was playing out softly, and the singer sang with solemnity and clearness, of things of everlasting faith and beauty, of love of God and each other.

Stain glass windows in multi-colored patterns surrounded the congregation for this happy and blessed event, light from the sun dancing and twinkling throughout filling both Catholic and Non-Catholic alike with a newfound spiritualism coming deep from the inner self. The many candles that surrounded this place of worship flickered their little lights in approval of this Holy Union.

Rounding the alter, Father Smith carrying his golden chalice and visited upon the radiant Bride and subdued Groom to administer the sacred sacrament of Holy Communion, with a solemnity that fit the occasion. “Body of Christ” whispered the Priest, “Amen” a hundred times over did he hear, serving to all and I mean all who were in his range.

Bridal Parties are sometimes strictly Catholic, sometimes diverse as in this wedding. The wedding party had Protestants and Jewish participants, who happened to be best friends of the principles.

As Father Smith finished with the Bride and Groom he went to the Best Man, a Jew, and as he did; Phil the Jew, my best friend, almost my brother, surprised by the speed of which the good father approached him opened his mouth in shock! The big gaping hole was soon filled with Christianity, as the Priest slipped one white wafer into an original Catholic’s mouth! You see he should have received that day, even though he was born a Jew, and will die a Jew, because all of us in the church are descendants of Jews for the most part. And if I’m not mistaken, that poor fellow that was nailed upon the cross that we all

Sunday, June 17, 2007


There’s a man I met over 37 years ago, and I must say I am reminded of him daily. His presence seems to linger in not only my memory of him, but in his children and grandchildren. Jim was man of peace, a man of charity, a man of unquenching curiosity and intelligence, a man who loved without qualification or pretense.

The first time I met him he was sitting in his chair in a brown suit, watching the TV as I knocked on the door. I heard the shrill barking of a little dog and a very beautiful lady answered the door, to invite me in. The little dog “Jacque” nipped at my heels and kept up his barking, but Jim just sat there and acknowledged my presence after an introduction. He didn’t badger me, didn’t ask too many questions, just trusted me, and I immediately trusted and liked him. He was for real. No show of manly machismo or usual bull you get when you meet some men.

Jim was a hard worker, worked a shoe store as a manager by day, and a cashier by night at a local diner. On Sundays’ he was an usher, counting the money for the parish, and I can assure you he accounted for every penny of it.

But what made him so special? Loving his Helen meant more to him than life itself. He taught his children that; violence had no place in life, and truth and character were what really mattered. TLW (The Little Woman) is testament to that.

He was a curmudgeon and a lover of the written word, a thorn in the side of the New York Times, as every Sunday he would read it, circling all the grammatical and spelling errors and would send it off to the newspaper with a little note that I am sure poked them in their haughty sides. As curmudgeons go he was the leader. I recall one exceptionally beautiful Saturday morning, as I went to pick up TLW for a day trip somewhere. The sky was a cerulean blue, the sun as yellow and inviting as possible, and the temperature was a perfect 72 degrees, with no wind. I mentioned those facts to him, and when I left the house after his view of the weather I was depressed, praying for rain!

When he wasn’t reading a newspaper with pencil or involved with a book, he was watching a news program or the Watergate hearings that gave him endless hours of fascination and pleasure, as he would relate the day’s proceedings or arguments.

He suffered from emphysema and it seems it was always taking him down for a spell, but he always bounced back. Then one day he didn’t. His weary body could no longer fight, and he sadly said goodbye to his children, not bemoaning his luck, not sobbing or wringing his hands, but like a man who knew his destiny, and accepted it. He was a perfect role model for his sons, he didn’t teach them baseball or sports, didn’t go to many games, or scout meetings, but was there in a spiritual way, teaching them that family did come first, even if one must sacrifice the time with them so they could be provided for, given a quality education, a respect for God, and that love and the heart is present no matter where the soul is.

Thanks, Jim and Happy father’s Day. Say “Hello” to my Dad, and wish him a “Happy Father’s day”. Your sacrifices are not forgotten, both of you have given nine children, grandchildren and great grandchildren a way of life.

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads of the world.

Saturday, June 16, 2007



While in college, sitting in a lab, writing notes from a lecture was most difficult. Not being able to hear, I had to finds ways to improvise to make up for the lack of hearing. I was extending myself beyond the realm of possibility and using visual clues, some lip reading and textbooks that when combined, along with the professor’s body language when he/she had any was my only hope.

My social life was a complete bust. There was no time for any, I didn’t have the money and I couldn’t afford the time since I was so busy trying to catch up with the work I might have missed in class and lectures. Coming from a modest home, there was no money unless I earned it, and earned it I did. I usually work one or two jobs, depending on the day of the week, when the class schedule dictated my time off from classes. It seemed every night I worked well into the night, because I got home from a job at a supermarket, maybe slept for an hour and jumped on a train to sleeping to school the next morning. The train was at 5:30 A.M., because I needed to go into the city, switch trains and turn around and come back out again to another part of the island and make an 8:00 A.M. class or lab, jump off the train and hitch-hike a couple of miles to the campus, in the snow, rain and cold or oppressive heat of the early fall. While I hitched a ride, I would be carrying as camera with a tripod, books, art supplies and portfolio case, about 30” x 40”.

Somehow I managed to do the impossible, and I doubt that anyone believes me in this, but it is all the truth. Coming home at night, it was as difficult as it was in the morning. But things got better for me on a Friday night, my brother-in-law John, God bless him, would come around 6:30 or & o’clock and give me a ride home to his house, where my Dad would pick me up and take me home.

Friday, June 15, 2007


As some of you know by now, I wear two hearing aids. Being deaf is no picnic, and having lost most of my hearing at a tender age of 5, I have learned to try to compensate for the loss, while living a normal as possible life.

I lost my hearing when I came down with a severe case of mumps. In those days, doctors were not sophisticated enough to realize the ramification of a child with mumps, and what it could really mean. I can vividly remember the pain and anguish I had, recalling the suffering not only in my face and cheeks, but in my ears, how powerful the pain was to lead me into almost a hallucinated state of mind. I was so painful that I could not touch my face, or even lay my head down on its side.

My parents thought for years that I was just plain stupid, that I couldn’t learn or understand anything, and that I would end up with nothing in my life and probably in some institution for learning disabled. I was sent to a Catholic school along with my older sister, who was considered the smart one, and I was headed for who knew where.

The teachers at the school never caught on that I was deaf, and I was often punished severely for not knowing something, not understanding someone, and not responding immediately. It took me some time to learn how to lip read and realize I had to pay more attention to what was being said in class, and really feared missing something, which was quite often. One of the reasons I hated school so much as a young child can readily be explained.

My Dad was perhaps the most disappointed in me, not only being unhappy, but also the blow to his ego was too much for him to comprehend or handle. Although it wasn’t my fault that I was deaf, I couldn’t blame him for the way he felt. In those days, no one individual knew or was educated enough to understand the crisis I was in. I think my Mom had inkling that something was wrong, but she too was a severe critic and greatly disappointed. My older sister was the only one who gave me any comfort, never made fun of me, never criticized me, and never made me feel stupid.

Then one day something magical happened. We moved! We moved away from Brooklyn, and out of the school, onto Long Island and a whole new world. A world filled with trees, and water and sunshine and a school nurse named Miss Wager. Miss Wager had worked with the deaf, and I was given a hearing test, the first of many. I was 10 years old, and this was my first hearing test. She marveled that I had survived as long as I did, had gotten anywhere with language and when my parents finally understood, life became a little easier for me around the house.

Having some friends, but not many since I was afraid to make any being deaf, I could hear, but only up close and not well. I was becoming a loner by choice because I had to. I would spend time watching TV or reading, or playing ball. TV was watched only when I could watch alone, not when the family watched, because I needed it “Too loud”. When I was a sophomore in high school, I was sent to lip reading classes in Mineola Hospital where they discovered I could minimally read lips, and with circumstances, I could figure out what people were saying to a degree.

I took a huge step and decided that I really wanted to go to college and get away from the closeness that my parents lived in, and try to open up a new world for myself. I really wanted to teach history, but knew that if I did it would require not only teaching, but also listening, and I didn’t think that students would want to accommodate a deaf teacher. So I took the next thing I could think of, my love of art and drawing. I took a test at the Art Student’s League where I was immediately accepted, my Dad helping me to put together a portfolio of drawings and paintings. Yes Dad had finally crossed over to the other side. But I wasn’t happy with the idea of just becoming an artist in the commercial field. Not only that, I wanted to learn something besides how to draw. I looked up schools in the area and found New York Tech, took an entrance exam and passed. I was in a four-year college, with the promise of a Bachelor of Arts degree.

Thursday, June 14, 2007


Last evening was indeed a night to remember and to cherish as a memory that ranks with my wedding day and the four days my children were born.

A month or so ago, I received a letter from the Community Affairs office of the Suffolk Chapter of the Association of the Help of Retarded Children informing me that the Board of Directors had chosen me to receive their Honorary Lifetime Membership Award. This is usually something that people get by donating large sums of money to the agency.

When I was introduced, there was a long litany of accomplishments that were mentioned, and all I wanted to do was crawl into a hole and hide. I’m not really keen on receiving awards or recognition for charitable work, and I like to just do what needs to be done and leave the recognition to others. But I’ve come to realize that such events are important not to those who are recognized, but to those who someday will be recognized, and so it encourages participation.

When I was nominated for the Board over 18 years ago, TLW (The Little Woman) said that if I do anything, being on the board and helping my daughter would make her proudest of me, and I worked to earn that privilege of her pride.

Last evening I got a crystal and gold clock that I am very proud of along with a certificate or Recognition from NYS Senator Caesar Trunzo. I probably will never get anything else in my life like that, except maybe grandchildren someday.

Please forgive me this blog this one time.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


It’s 10:30 A.M. on a Sunday morning; the kitchen is humming with TLW (The Little Woman) cooking dinner for later in the day. At this point in time she pulls out a tray of meatballs she’s been baking in the oven.

One of the meatballs has my name on it, and has been calling me since 6:30 A.M., seductively aromatizing my nose to the sweet childhood memories in Brooklyn on a Sunday morning. “Joseph,” it calls out to me, “come and taste.” Like a song of a siren, beckoning me to meatball land.

The question for me is: “How?”

How do I get a meatball, how do I get around TLW, how do I do these things and not get caught? A strategy has to be devised, a plan of attack drawn up, a scheme or plot envisioned, all for a meatball. I can wait for her to go to a store, she always does, but that might take too long.

I can wait for her to bend down into the refrigerator, and while she is busy in there, swipe a meatball and take the chance of burning the roof of my upper mouth, burning my lips and/or getting sauce on the stove, my shirt, the floor leaving a telltale sign. All options are either messy or risky. I have only one option, one I hadn’t considered, one that made no sense to me, nor did it offer me any challenges.

“Toots? Can I test one of your meatballs?”


Tuesday, June 12, 2007


J.D. Salinger once wrote that we tend to look at things and people in the way we are taught to look at them. We see a block of wood, and because it has dimension, we accept it as a block of wood. But do we really have proof that that block of wood is really wood, or a block for that matter.

Once upon a time long, long ago, my dad had a group of riders he took to his factory job every morning from Monday to Friday. Door to door service, each lady would climb into her assigned seat in the station wagon, with her little brown lunch bag and say a simple: “Good morning, Tony.” These riders were women who worked the machines of a manufacturer of children’s play clothes, simple natured; their jobs required a learned skill that needs only to be accurate and fast in assembling their part of the garment. They sat at a sewing machine, their heads down at 9:00 A.M. and except for a half hour lunch break and two 10 minutes coffee breaks, didn’t lift their heads again until the whistle screeched at 4:30 P.M.

All the women were “old maids” as they were called for their unmarried status, and the fact that they accepted their designation with resignation lent to their aura sadness. Though their jobs were considered menial, to them it was life and death to have. Being paid piecemeal, each eyed what the other had. The ladies working wardrobes where simple by need and plain by design yet sufficed to meet the challenge of their daily routine. All the women were to put it mildly: unattractive in looks. None of the ladies could drive, and if it weren’t for Dad, would all be taking the bus to work everyday.

Entertainment was a cheap and inexpensive sit in front of the TV, no dates, no restaurants, no vacations to anywhere but washing windows or cleaning a house, sadly those were the experiences they related to my Dad when he asked; “How was you vacation, or weekend?” Conversations centered on their jobs or TV shows they watched, or maybe a family member that was doing something out of the ordinary.

I remember those days and how special I felt that I was only working in the factory for the summer, anxiously awaiting the fall and the return to college classes, smugly knowing that I would not turn out like them, that I would have an education and be “Better” than they were.

One day I graduated college, took a job in the city and started a career, I climbed up the ladder, taking on raises and new positions, soon realizing how I missed those days of working in the summer. The meetings in my career were full of strange people waiting for answers, judging my work, criticizing my approach to a marketing problem rightfully or wrongfully, working long hours or overnight, made me wish for the security of the simple life these ladies had, how all they needed was to do a simple task and no one would question it.

I often wondered if when I left them for college, if they didn’t snicker and think: “Poor bastard.”

Monday, June 11, 2007


All you Jewish and Protestant readers go get a cup of coffee while all the Catholics read this.

Get a new Pope and you get new rules. It was on Yahoo, in the papers and now on the Internet, NO MORE LIMBO!

All those in Limbo are now being instructed as to where to go.

(My angel of God looks and sounds like TLW (The Little Woman) and like TLW has instructions sent from high above.)
“Attention all residents of Limbo. Due to new Papal Proclamation number L19463w847; you are being relocated. You should have received an assignment ticket as to where to relocate in the mail.
If you ticket is blue and white; use the UP staircase, if you were assigned the red and black ticket; use the DOWN staircase. Be sure to present your ticket at the gate before entering the staircase.”

Of course there are other ramifications such as: no more Limbo Rock at weddings, and I guess they will have to destroy all those recordings of the song.

Personally, I hope the Pope eliminates Hell. I could use a few carefree years after all this time.

Years ago, while TLW was attending a pre-Baptismal class as a young parent, a woman raised her hand and asked how come they recognized Limbo in New Jersey, but not here on Long Island? She was told that if you died in New Jersey you went to Limbo, if you died here, chances are … straight to Hell. My immediate thought was to look for a cemetery plot in New Jersey to cover all the bases.

Sunday, June 10, 2007


There are evenings when the mind roams, and I find ways to amuse myself and still manage to stay married to TLW (The Little Woman). Being how the Met game was over and I was watching a detective show while TLW was fast asleep in her chair, I took out the lap top and decided to test TLW while she slept. (Note: DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME, UNLESS YOU ARE A TRAINED HUSBAND!)

I looked up a web site that had religious info with a song you could play. Being how she is a religious instruction teacher, this idea was perfect. The only song available was; “Oh, Holy Night.” I figured why not? I hit the play button and let her rip. As I turned up the volume, I watched TLW, and holy mackerel; she started to stir, as her eyes started to flutter, responding to the call of holiness. Then suddenly I became afraid, thinking; “Maybe this will get out of hand! Maybe she will get up and go off to church, then thought about the outside chance that being it was a Christmas song, she might give me a Christmas present and I hadn’t shopped yet.) Was I creating a monster, a monster with uncontrollable passion to pray for me or worst still, drag me off to church?

Suddenly the song ended, and it was still and peaceful, TLW had fallen off, back to sleep! Gee, I wish I had: “Silent Night” to play.

Saturday, June 09, 2007


Today I went for a semi-annual heart doctor appointment, and he asked me when I had the by-pass. I told him in September of 2003 and he said: “Congratulations!” He looked at my cardiogram and now I have to go to a stress test on Friday the 13th. It’s Friday, it’s the 13th, AND it’s a stress test! How lucky can I get?

Am I worried? No, because I’ve done this before with unfortunate results, and know how bad things can get. Am I being a fatalist? No, just accepting what will come, and when it does you will know about it too.

If you don’t take care of yourself, you can follow along with the results of such stupidity by reading what I have to say about it. If your wives, mothers or love ones says: “Go to the doctor” and you still don’t, don’t miss a word of the anxiety and pain I will experience either now or later on. I know it couldn’t happen to me, yet I did. Don’t listen and I’ll be seeing you in the same predicament.

Do me a favor and; take care of yourself; it’s the right thing to do.

Friday, June 08, 2007


Last evening TLW (The Little Woman) and I sat after diner and were discussing the purchase of the car and all that went with it, mainly or discussion about trees and forest and sound.

TLW: “So which conversation is going on the blog?”
Me: “What do you mean?”
TLW: “You know the one about the trees?”
Me: “Probably, in fact that one is already written.”
TLW: “When will it be on?”
Me: “In a day or two, I have some unpublished blogs I keep in abeyance and put up if nothing is currently happening that is worth talking about.”
TLW: “I never know when a conversation is going to be put on your blog.”

There is a lot of truth in what TLW says; I don’t know what is going up on the blog until I get on it myself. I write what happens, people I meet or have met, and events that occur. But the blog is a chronicle to some degree about my life and family. If by chance the blog lives long enough to the day I die, I will write about it too, and you will know all there is to know about the end of life for one individual, laughs, remembrance and all. Don’t be surprised if I joke on that day.

Thursday, June 07, 2007


Suddenly a shot rang out, a door slammed and a woman screamed. Well not really, actually it was sunny noontime, and the dog growled and what sounded like an airplane taking off was heard.

At first I thought that the growling was my stomach, but realized it was the dog, and I figured someone might be here or in the yard. I immediately went downstairs from my studio and into the kitchen, and as I did, I noticed someone outside my kitchen window! A prowler? An attacker of some kind, was trying to invade my home or maybe worst, a tax assessor?

Out I go into the side yard, and there arrayed before me is what looks like the welding team for the Brooklyn Naval Yard, but turns out to be my man Bill next door.

Three quarters of the outside of my house is a light yellow and one quarter is grey. I have been working with the grey side for a few years now, and was currently looking for grey flowers to work with the siding. The reason the side of the house was grey was because last year it was mildew green. The mildew green worked well with the trees, and I figured I was set. But no, the mildew green turned to grey and my landscape scheme was taking a hit in confidence and becoming impossible to match with flowers or shrubs.

So what was my man Bill doing there? His welding kit turned out to be a power washer, and he was power washing the side of the house, and making it match the other three sides once again!

Bill has a lot of heart and tools, using one or the other interchangeably or separate, it doesn’t really matter. If you look in the dictionary under good neighbor you will find his picture. He is very generous in his time and help, and you can’t imagine what wonderful neighbors he and his wife Carole are. It seems whenever he buys himself a new tool; he tries it out on the neighbors too!

I was seriously thinking of talking him into buying a driveway-paving machine of some kind. Only kidding. (Maybe)

As for the dog, she is a lot like me, I put some food in her dish and she was happy once more. We all have a price.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


Today was pickup day, the day we get the new car. TLW (The Little Woman) and I go down to the Toyota dealership and sign the papers, get the keys and drive off to our home. As we are driving we come to a light and it is backed up with a lot of rush hour traffic, maybe fifteen cars ahead of us. I suggest we turn at the next right and she does, and I see a parking lot that extends to the road we wished to get to after the backed traffic light. I suggest we turn into the parking lot and cut over to the road.

No good!

Nuh, Uh!

TLW will not hear of it. We must stay within the confines of the law.

Suddenly my criminal mind tries to convince the religious teacher of little second graders that it is OK to do so. After all, there are no cops watching, and if there were, they would let us do it.

Logic time has now come!

TLW: “If a tree falls in the forest, and there is no one around, does it make a sound?”

Me: “Yes it makes a sound, the physics are still there for sound to be made, even if no one can hear the sound,” (Pretty good, no?)

TLW: “So what you are saying is that the police are ok with breaking the law?”

Me: “No, I’m saying the sound is made no matter what, all the physics of the laws of sound to be made are present. The cops are ok with breaking the law, providing no civilians or higher-ups are around for a payoff.”

Needless to say, we went the legal long way with no cops anywhere to be found.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007


OK, TLW (The Little Woman) and myself decide to get the Camry, and we talk the deal through as the dealer asks the simple question: “What color would you like?”

Having scouted the showroom floor, I had decided on the nice formal grey that worked well with the grey interior, and lent elegance to the vehicle. Nothing fancy, just a nice solid grey, coming from the finest blacks made and diluted to the correct shade of grey.

Out to the lot we marched, the three of us: the unsuspecting and until now innocent dealer, TLW and the dutiful husband, or #2 man in the outfit. Viewing the different shades of hues we visited upon the red, and when I say red, I mean red. Fire engine hot flaming red, that if parked in my driveway with the coming summer months of heat and humidity would cause me to strip down and run up and down the neighborhood, trying to get cool. Next to it stood a pearl green car, same model and make, just pearl green, looking pea green from the pollen that had fallen that day hiding a real nice color, and finally stood the grey, a car making a statement saying: “Boy am I classy, the valets will fight for my attention, cars will stop on crowed highways to make room for the passing of royalty grey.”

TLW asks a rhetorical question: “What color should I get?” The reason I am #2 in the scheme of things is that I answer rhetorical questions. “GREY!” says I, and wait for the “OK”- I said wait for the “OK”, but it never comes. Instead of; “OK” I get: “Oh no, I don’t want grey, there is a gal who I work with who has grey, and she’ll think I was copying her.” I think the salesman was searching for birds in the sky and I was trying to catch my breath.


Monday, June 04, 2007


TLW (The Little Woman) and I received a notice from Toyota that if we turned in our car now, four months before it is due, we could be forgiven the last four months payments and get a new car.

Being how it was almost time, we decided to do so and wanted to try out the Prius, a car of the future that has been around since 1999. Test-driving the car was a joy, all new technology and a whole different attitude made for a tough decision as to what to do. Being a Camry user for years it was a tough choice, but decided to stick with a Camry for another 3 years.

While we made the deal and finalized everything with the salesman, TLW casually mentioned to the car salesman that she knew him from church, seeing him most Sunday’s at church. Of course the salesman got all excited and asked why we didn’t mention it sooner. He went on to say how he was such a good son that he took him Mom to church every other week although he wasn’t a member of the parish, first taking the old girl for breakfast where they could talk, then Mass.

Getting home I asked TLW why she didn’t mention it sooner and said that she would never use Jesus for gain. Jesus first, Joe’s pocket second, and hope for the best. I guess that TLW spends her time praying just like me. I pray to stay out of church, she prays to find me in church, and either way I don’t save any money.

If my Mother ever finds out I don’t go to church, she will smite me with her wooden spoons, and I will be dammed to eternal hell. As a good Christian boy, what is eternal hell, but a series of lectures from Mom and a look from TLW that says: “Don’t blame me when God catches up to you, sinner.”

Sunday, June 03, 2007


There is nothing worst than when previous history catches up with me. Today the phone rang and not knowing any better, I answered it. It was TLW (The Little Woman) calling from work.

Me: “Hello?”
TLW: “Hi Joe, it’s me.”
Me: “Yes Dear.”
TLW: Can you do me a favor?”
Me: “What?” (Fear creeping up my spinal cavity.)
TLW: “I think you can handle it" said apprehensively.
Me; ????
TLW: “could you take the wash out of the washing machine and put it in the dryer? All you have to do is load the dryer, pull the lint filter up, take out the lint and stick the filter back in. Then go to US Nuclear settings on the dial on you left, go to the red arrow (danger) and turn the knob to high-risk explosives and push the button on your right. Or do you want to wait for me to come home to do it myself?”
Me: “Oh, no problem.” (Hah)
TLW: “If you plan on going out, don’t do it, I don’t like to leave the dryer running when I’m not there, in case of a fire.” (She really means in case I screw it up and there is an explosion and no one is around to save the house and dog because of the dryer being gas.”

Of course she knows something, must be when I last screwed up, and she is trying her best to build confidence in me again.

I did it! Yes, no big deal, no loose change anywhere, but I did it! If you would like to know how I did it, just visit me. Hospital hours are 10:00AM to 12 Noon and 4PM to 8:30 at night.

Saturday, June 02, 2007


Today I went to a meeting of parent’s that have children with physical and mental disabilities. I went as a member of the Board of Directors for the Association for the Help of Retarded Children, Suffolk Chapter.

As I sat in the waiting area for the director to come and fetch me, I could hear a voice from around the corner speaking in a high pitch, and suddenly turning that corner, the voice turned out to be a lovely tall woman that was leading a very small child by the hand. The little boy was being escorted to a program or another classroom, and had an inquisitive look about him as he looked around his world, toddling along. He couldn’t have been more that 3 or 4 years of age, tiny and cute as a button. The young woman was coaxing the boy along, and he obediently followed, but I couldn’t help but want to get down on my knees and talk to him, and tell him to hang on, help might be on the way, “maybe someday you will be on your own little feller!”

As a member of the Board of Directors I was escorted to the conference room and sat at the head of the long 26’ conference table in the Board Room. Sipping my coffee I observed that there were about 10 to 15 couples and single parents there, mostly young in their older 20’s or younger 30’s. Being the first one there I observed them as they came in, one or two at a time and it all came back to me. Each had a face that said; “I am here to help my child have a better life than is possible.” Each father followed behind his uncertain wife who wore a mask of vulnerability, concern and determination, all rolled into one face. You just know that for the most part, the wife, the Mother was leading this quest for help and information. The Father was along for more than the ride, but Momma was the guiding light.

It took me back to a time with TLW (The Little Woman), how it all started with a doctor’s recommendation and our inquiries as to why our sweet little infant could not talk, walk or mature as expected. The blow still hurting from learning that the hopes and dreams of a beautiful child’s future are crushed learning that she is retarded and physically handicapped, imprisoned in a mind and body of pure hell weighing heavily in our hearts and minds, as the doctors and experts broke our hearts forever. We had to come to grips with the fact that our child would never be normal, that our lives would never be normal, that there was no way to make her better if we did it alone.

There were times when we resented the experts, the doctors, and psychiatrists, therapists that laid it on the line for us, telling us things we didn’t want to hear. But yet we kept on asking, kept on getting our hopes crushed and our dreams shattered.

Our daughter is now 35 years of age, she should have been married and perhaps had a few kids too. I often have to go to a niece’s wedding like the one in July, and I will watch my brother-in-law dance with HIS daughter to “Daddy’s Little Girl” and I will be envious of him, but glad he is not in my shoes.

Friday, June 01, 2007


You must have read the startling news that scientist have not only communicated with monkeys, they have spoken to them.

Well surprise, surprise, I’ve been speaking with monkeys most of my life! Yes, that is a fact. Just a few years ago I hired a monkey to put in a pool, one to put in the surrounding deck, and yet another to care for my lawn! It seems none of them could come down out of their tree long enough to do the job right! I believe in fostering monkeys and monkey business, but they ARE ridicules.

Business monkeys are not the only ones that I’ve met, some are teenagers, that when they communicate will use gurgling kinds of sounds when calling for #2 Son. “EEEhhhh, Iss Mike dere? Some of these monkeys will use other sources of communication, like the one that needed my attention one night as he flipped on and off repeatedly the light switch in the dinning room. Some of these monkeys will ape famous people in history like the one that walks with a hood over his head and bends at the neck as he slitters around like Rasputin in the shadows.

Naturally I don’t mean to demean monkeys after all, you might know one or two yourself that you are fond of as I am. There are the ones that drive without thinking, the ones that park in two spaces or the ones that need handicapped parking because they are monkeys, and feel they should be handicapped too.

Of course I’ve also voted for numerous monkeys in both party affiliations and sometimes see them playing professional sports and wonder: “How much are these monkeys making?”

And the biggest monkey of all, was me at the last neighborhood get together.