Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Don’t you just hate it when you have a major event coming up, and you really wish someone else would take it over? What with the food, the decorations, maybe the music, not to mention the cake!

Events are a major part of our lives, and we really put ourselves under a lot of stress, first with the planning, then the day of the event, and then finally, Aunt Millie’s criticisms after the fact.

Well there is a new service out there called Russell’s Event Planning, and yes, I am a shill for it! Why? Because I am helping a good friend of mine build this idea. Her name is Pam Rae, and she is a very creative individual who is a natural for this kind of thing. Her motivation is a good one, the stinking economy, and she would like to put her mind to use doing things that make her happy.

Pam has conceived Russell’s from her own experiences. She is a former head of the PTA, and works for charities now and in the past, and knows how to get things done.

Her services offered will include:
Weddings, memorials, birthday parties, testimonial, retirement dinners, board and business meetings, and after funeral gatherings for families who don’t need the stress of organizing the event. But that is not all: she works with selected small businesses to bring them all together, eliminating high overhead costs, while helping these license and certified business to grow. Her plan is to offer the “Outside the box” thinking, making for great and unique events that will be long remembered. As part of her service, she will arrange for invitations, either personalized from a catalog, or will have it designed especially for you. She sees no limit in what a customer would want, and the challenges excite her.

I have worked with Pam side by side on the high school reunion committee, and have witnessed her ability to get work done, on time and with flair. She can arrange for anything you could wish for, from balloons, butterfly releases to seaside and boat venues. She has a great flair for decorating and yet a very sensitive set of values, that include honesty, morality, and sensitivity to any request, and will respect your wishes.

Pam is a woman on her own, trying to make it in this world without a handout, and with a lot of guts and fortitude.

So, if you think you would like to end the baked ziti and sausage and peppers syndrome, the balloons tied to a chair, in a backyard, give this gal a shot. You can each her at: russellsevents@yahoo.com. I promise you, you will be glad you did. I would not recommend her, if I felt she was not all I said she is.

Monday, November 29, 2010


As most of us know, controlling our weight, as we get older gets tougher. Some of us are lucky and have a great metabolism, so we don’t need to worry. Some of us, especially men, seem to have it concentrate in one place. The issue of diet and exercise is constantly on our minds, and we sometimes just don’t give a damn.

After all these years of fighting a losing battle, you don’t want to commit suicide with a fork, but yet when you get on a scale, you wish you could stick yourself with the same fork that got you there to begin with!

Whenever I go to the doctor, I step on the scale, and the nurse will slide the top weight thingy over into the next room, before she goes to the bottom weight for the singular pounds!

I always want to take off my shoes, my coat and empty my pockets: in fact I would even get naked to get another pound to go away.

Smiling face, my doctor, who sounds like he is a candidate for a nervous breakdown, usually never mentions things like poundage, except when I go over the usual or the norm for me. The funny thing is I used to be a skinny guy, sleek, svelte, and muscular, but of course that was when I was born!

When I sit down to eat, if it is something I shouldn’t have, I immediately try to feel skinny, or put the thoughts that I shouldn’t be eating what I am, out of my mind. The quilt is there, but only for a second! You might say I’m learning self-control.

When my conscience does get the best of me, I think tomorrow will be different. Yes, tomorrow I will start the crusade to thin down and become skinny, and not feel self-conscience when others are around me who are thin. “I’ll get thin like him, and hold my nose in the air in front of fat people”, which is probably said every day!

I once bought a chocolate bar because I had an urge for one. I don’t always buy chocolate bars or candy, although I will have a piece of dark chocolate after a meal. When I purchased the bar, I saw someone I know, who came up to me and said: “Do you really need that?”

Be careful, be very careful, the thought police are all around us!

Sunday, November 28, 2010


I noticed that people have been going a little insane lately with their horseless carriages! Seems that death is an option to them, so therefore, watch out. As for me, I don’t mind their attitude as long as I can continue to witness the madness, because death is NOT an option I want.

The other day I was next to a left hand turn only lane, and the damned fool raced out and cut me off! I yelled to him that his father is unknown. (Maybe not so nicely said as that!)

I was on the LIE when this young lady in an SUV wedged her way in front of me, never thinking that maybe I was too close.

Then there was the meathead who jumps in front of me without a signal. He also has a questionable parenthood from what I can gather.

The problem I see is all the offenders were young. Fast or big cars and daredevil attitudes prevailed, when young people get in cars. I feel this younger generation is very “me first” with its attitude.

Then I get behind the older people, they sit at a light, and forget which color means: “MOVE YOU OLD GOAT!!!”

I am getting very testy in my old age when it comes to driving!

Then there are the women with the cell phones in their ears, when they know it is against the law to use them while driving. I even see men of all ages doing it too, and the worst are the craftsmen!

As I get older, even though I am complaining about all this, I actually am calmer and now realize people will do stupid things, so be careful!

With that I hope you are all careful and drive safely, because I love you all! And try to stay away from Kamikaze Blvd. or the L.I.E.!

Saturday, November 27, 2010


Well, my tooth was indeed bothering me. I couldn’t bite down, and it seemed that everyone had to touch it, push it so it hurt even more, the dental assistant, the dentist and then the dental surgeon!

Going to the dentist with the expectation that he could eliminate my pain, he some how, instead informed me that the tooth must come out!

“OK, let’s do it!”

Dentist: “Ok, I’ll go make a phone call.”

Now why would he make a phone call when I am in the Sachem Dental Group headquarters of all that looks porcelain?

Dentist: “We are sending you to a dental surgeon, a really nice guy! Our dental surgeon is off today.”

I go to the front desk and they give me papers and an x-ray of my tooth to take to an address I have no idea where it is, and off I go. Luckily, my GPS, that mechanical or electronic nemesis of TLW (The Little Woman) is in my car. The GPS has a woman’s voice and tells me where to go. TLW feels she should be the only women’s voice to tell me where to go.

I arrive and I hear those dreaded words: “Are you a patient of the doctor?”


“Fill this out, both sides.”

I look at the 50 questions and think: “I have a 5:30 business appointment/dinner, it is 4:00 pm now, how the hell am I gonna make it out to Westhampton Beach in time?”

I fill out all 5,000 questions, including my mother’s second cousin twice removed current body temperature.

I hand in the papers and finally am called.

I walk to my execution and sit in the chair. I ask for a shave and get a grunt. This is not looking good. The dental surgeon looks in my mouth, gives the tooth a running shove and proclaims as I hit the ceiling: “Yup, that has to come out alright!”

Surgeon: “Who sent you?”

“Dr. Mazolla”
Surgeon: “Oh, I know him, he was my dentist when I was a little kid!”

“But he looks so young!”

Surgeon: “You should really be making nice to me, you know, I have the tools!

“He-he, of course, I was only kidding, I’m 65, everyone looks young to me!”

He gives me a needle or two in the roof of my mouth and the gums.

I sit fuming and looking at my watch.

The dental assistant comes out with another long list of things to check and sign off on.

“Please read carefully and initial each item, them sign the back when you are done.”

The questions are simple to understand, it is a fact that I needed a change of underwear after initialing them all! For instance:

1.) I understand that broken bones or teeth are possible during the procedure.
2.) I understand that my jaw could be permanently opened from the procedure.
3.) I understand that other teeth may be broken or lost in the procedure.
4.) I understand that my mouth could be permanently stretched from the procedure.

These are the confidence builders I am reading, and starting to shake over as I initial over 20 items!

Finally, the surgeon comes in.

“You ready Joseph?” (I hate when they call me Joseph before a procedure!)

“This should go easy enough, once we pull it, you are done.

Easy enough it wasn’t.

By now my gum is numb, and the doctor is in my mouth, and I can feel tooth fragments fly against my other teeth, I can feel this 6’ 5” 235 pounder pushing up into my gum, and I can feel him breaking the tooth: and constantly going back, meanwhile assuring me: “One more time.”

Finally the procedure is over.

“No smoking, spiting, brushing your teeth, sipping from a straw, eat soft mushy foods and keep the gauze on until the bleeding stops, and if there is severe pain, go to the nearest emergency room for help. And come back next week.


Surgeon: “Wait about an hour before you do.”

Friday, November 26, 2010


And I don’t like it!

Yesterday morning, TLW (The Little Woman) and I went for our usual Sunday breakfast at a diner and ordered our usual. Our conversation was probably the usual too, with TLW studying the crowd, while I concentrated on my food. (She obviously is a multi-tasker, and I’m not.)

As we had a few laughs (well I did anyway) she just continued her routine, when suddenly I shut up. The reason I shut up is that I thought I got a sliver of bone from a sausage that went straight up into the root of my tooth, setting off sparks, stars and silent swearing, the words were new, even for me!

I had gone to the dentist a few weeks ago, complaining about this one tooth, and he tried all kinds of things to find the problem of, when I bite down, it is uncomfortable.

Dentist: “Well, I can’t seem to find what is wrong with it, so we (we?) We’ll let it alone until something does happen then we can identify it.

Me: “Umigistfth?”

Dentist: “No, we can’t (we?) because we don’t know what the problem is.

Me: “tqwisthisitc?”

Dentist: “Hard to tell, it might take a while.”

Taking out all the paraphernalia from my jaws, I went on my way a little disappointed.

So we came to breakfast, and the tooth had finally split right up the middle, leaving a loose part in the gums, along with the painless portion that is still rooted. It is a strange thing to happen, since the tooth is now two parts, one part pain and one part fine. Eating is a problem, even chewing on the other side, since food will slip and slide over, and when there is any contact, P•A•I•N!!!!

@(&%^!^$$# PAIN!

Today I will beg, plead and buy tickets to the dental ball if they will take me for an emergency appointment.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Thanksgiving to me is a very tradition oriented day, filled with the old time recipes that fill my memories so sweetly. It is the day that I can relate to dating back to the 1940’s and early 1950’s! It is the day that Mom outdid herself, with the exception of Christmas Eve, when we had a traditional dinner of seven fishes and then some.

I can recall the excitement of those long gone Brooklyn days, when Mom wore her flowered apron with the bib, dressed and stirring the taste buds for the day ahead.

Grandma Frances, my Dad’s mom, would come over, or we would go to her house, witnessing the miracle of the little Old Italian lady who knew how to cook. The problem with Grandma Frances was, she didn’t like turkey, so she made turkey for everyone, and capon for herself. A capon is a castrated rooster. Capons are considered by many people to be a boutique and an old fashioned food, and it tends to have more tender, flavorful flesh as well as a higher fat content. The markedly different flavor profile of a capon is distinctive to consumers once they taste it, especially when the capon has been conscientiously raised.

The city as we called it, was always a special place for a holiday. It seemed to have each holiday spelled out in style, festiveness, and flavor. You dressed for a holiday, usually by going first to church, then visiting friends and neighbors and/or relatives. The relatives lived in your proximity so you never spent a holiday alone.

It was a time to see cousins who you usually never saw, and they seemed like strangers, yet they were blood!

Food was the central theme throughout the day, with the abundance of vegetables, nuts and meats, not to mention pasta. There were always visitors just as we were visitors to someone’s home. Pisano’s o Pisana’s, they came in flocks and left with the ring of a smile on their face from a glass of wine or a shot of booze.

They spoke of the hometown they left, a cousin or relative, or someone who they had a disagreement with. They spoke loudly and with their hands, but always joyously, almost singing their thoughts.

While grandma orchestrated the discussions, grandpa would listen, every now and then throwing in some thought of his own, while grandma told him he was crazy!

There was always a white tablecloth thrown across three tables that ran lengthwise to fit all the diners. The noise level was so loud, and the hands waving as they spoke, yet they managed to integrate dishes and glasses of wine into the flow of words.

The little kids sat at a separate table, just for then. They were served first so Mom’s could get a break, and eat in peace. Peace is what they called it, noisy is what I remember!

Dad would sit next to me and tell me who that one was, or who this one was. He would explain a word in Italian to me: what it meant, and why I should NEVER use it.

Then, once the pasta was gone, the meatballs and braziola consumed, the turkey and Italian stuffing meted out, the pastry and nuts, with bowls of fruit came out, placed in front of you, and sometimes, grandma would take out her cache of candied nuts she got from some wedding, the men would retreat to a smaller table, with coffee or the black strong coffee with anisette, and play poker, the smoke from cigars and cigarettes, turning the air blue. In the background, we could hear the distant nattering of the Philco TV, and the chattering in Italian by the aunts and mothers , sisters and cousins.

By the time things were wearing down, so too were the kids, all sleeping on chairs, laying across them, the constant ditter of Italian penetrating their sleepy brains, as they each fought off the sleep.

Then finally, Dad would pick us up, Mom would put on our coats, and Dad would carry us home, two blocks away, in the cold chill of the black night.

Ringraziamento felice a voi tutto!
Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


On our way home from breakfast, one cold brisk morning at our local gas station TLW (The Little Woman) and I stopped to: “fill ‘er up!”

Attendant: “$32.00!’

I give him $32.00 exact and tell him to keep the change.


“Yes it is”!

Attendant: “I need wife!”

“Huh?” (Sounding like a married man, confused.)

Attendant: Yes! To keeeep me wharm! (Sounding like an unmarried dreamer)

“Yes, that’s right!” (Well, she is sitting right next to me!)

Attendant: “Yes, she keeeep me warm. She keep you warm???”


We drive away, and TLW asks; “What’s that all about?”

“He was trying to make me feel good.”

TLW: “What”

“Sure, he’s a single guy, sees me with you and thinks: “Poor bastard, he’s got a ball and chain!”

TLW: “And do you? My what a day, I’m a ball and chain now!”

“Only kidding dear, you’re a ball, and I’m so happy I’m chained to you!”

Don’t try that at home, when you are not driving!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


He was a very quiet man. Never boasted, never bragged, just sat quietly and maybe read his newspaper or smoked his pipe. His mind was always working, always thinking and very analytical. His quietness was his trademark. He was a no nonsense man with a very corny sense of humor. That wasn’t his only irony: he was also tough, for a man that was always thin. Another trademark was a pencil thin moustache he kept all his life, and I never ever saw him without it.

As I grew up in Brooklyn, he was a small part of my daily life. He was seen on occasions, a party, a holiday, an occasional weekend, maybe at night once in a great while. He was a devoted husband and father to a single child, and he was my uncle through marriage. His name was Frank, and he was Uncle Frank to me. He was one of the few mentors I had in my young life.

He fought in World War II, under George Patton, and regaled me in stories about his experiences in the war, as I sat at the kitchen table, trapped in my own imagination, living every step he recounted.

After the war, he went to work in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and once again told me stories about how during the McCarthy era: the government was on alert for communist spies, checking waste baskets, and the next day the individual was gone!

My earliest memory was of him going to night school, carrying books and doing homework, bettering himself for a higher-grade level in government work. Perhaps that alone impressed me the most. Whenever I saw him, that most of all stuck out in my mind.

So years later, as I worked my way through college, the fortunes of life being what they were, I was involved in a terrible car crash, that almost took my life. I had to give up my rented room near the college and recuperate from a compounded fracture to my leg. Once I was ready to return to school, I was not able to afford to live anywhere, so I was about to give up my dream, when Uncle Frank, and my Aunt Marie, stepped in and offered me their home, which was near the college. I stayed there for most of the end of my education, and got my degree.

When he passed on, I had the honor to deliver his eulogy, to tell the world about this wonderful, quiet man, a man with a huge heart and a generous spirit. I didn’t have to mention that fact that he adopted children, and when he lost his only biological son, how he continued on with the same dignity, that later in life helped me get through my own similar ordeal.

As we gathered around the mausoleum, a small circle of family and friends, the two soldiers who presented the colors for Corporal Frank Corace, U.S. Army played taps. With the sound of each note, it took me through each note in MY life, each note was impressed upon me, making me pause to recall how lucky I was to have had him in my life.

Thanks, Uncle Frank.

Monday, November 22, 2010


Growing up in Brooklyn during the 1950’s, there are many things that I can remember vividly. In my small section of neighborhood, life was presented to me as matter-of-fact. I knew no social distinctions, knew no one who was poor, and yet lived near a poverty level! Irony to this day still rules my memory.

If anyone was poor, he had no family, no place to go, and lived on the curb. Dad didn’t make a lot of money: his paycheck was it. That was all we had, his paycheck, and as it dwindled during the week, the poorer we became as a family, until the next Friday!

In all our silent and invisible poverty, my parents made sure I went to a good school, which they paid for. They made sure my shoes were polished and my hair combed, and my clothes were always neat, clean and ironed. Mom made sure I ate and ate well, and Dad tried to get me anything I wanted.

We never asked for anything, because in those days, we realized that you just didn’t do that. At Christmas time was the only time I could verbally wish for something, in the hopes that Santa heard it.

Outside of a school uniform of a white shirt and blue tie, weekends had only one set of clothes, usually a polo shirt, old pants and sneakers, and were worn on Saturdays. The pants were worn and thread bare in the knees and mom would have to sew them.

With that silent poverty was a very innocent assessment of the world, which was a small radius of a couple of miles. Being how the older folks spoke Italian, and the culture settled around that fact, anyone who wasn’t Italian was identified as American! My parents, being born here were the first generation Italian-Americans, and viewed things with some wish to be American, to break the mold of the Italian influence to be accepted by the “American” kids. That urge was passed on to their children, who took it further, until today, where our kids don’t even recognize it.

It troubles me that life was such a contradiction that allowed us to live in our conclave, be proud of who we are and where we came from, yet strive so hard and mightily to deny it in the face of American culture, and our need to assimilate.

English was mandatory in the house. Speaking a foreign language was to our minds wrong. Yet we embraced the culture in foods and song, and many expressions. These things still survive, and it seems that they may be making a comeback!

Is it a cycle, or just an evolution of culture, mixing with both American and other cultures? Back in the ‘50s, we identified any stranger in the neighborhood as either: Black, Puerto Rican or Irish, and struggled to admit our own identity at times. Today, I am questioned because I mentioned someone was Hispanic, black or something other than white. Why do I have to say that my sons will ask? Why? Because that is what I learned to do it was done as a conditioned reflex, it was done as an identifier, and it was done, not to be prejudicial, and without any rancor.

Catholicism was not a favorite religion in this country, and neither were Italian immigrants welcomed. We as children sensed that, would fight you if you said something disparaging, yet we tried to hide it! If a major college was successful and Catholic, we rooted for it in a sense of pride, because we were accomplishing some things as a Catholic. If an Italian boy, or Italian extraction, went on to college, we all looked up to him. We were claiming our place in American Society, and no longer considering ourselves immigrants or interlopers, but contributing Americans, achieving something with great pride.

There was a young man who lived on the first floor of my apartment. He was a handsome quiet guy, who went to college. He quickly became my hero. My uncle: fought in World War II, under General Patton, again, my hero.

So my sons don’t realize what his old man went through growing up. He doesn’t understand that the effects of seeking acceptance still linger in my soul, and make me who I am to day. By today’s standards, he only knows what he thinks should be, but can’t taste what was, that bitterness that was. Do I fault them? No, I can’t. It does frustrate me though, to the point that I can’t understand it. Yet, I know it is the conditions that my generation set forth, and the outgrowth of my parents conditons.

Fortunately, most Italian Americans now have inter-married, raising families, just like I did. I discovered that Irish are the Italians, just spelled Irish! I realized I love my kids whole, not just the Italian in them. They are real Americans in a real world, which will be judged just as harshly in 20 years, for sure.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Recently I had lunch with an old friend of mine from my PCH days. Every month, we go to this one Chinese restaurant and, as they say: “Pig out”.

This one place called Cashgone Nhow is an all you can eat type. You have all seen them and probably have visited a few. You go, the waiter seats you, and at the same time asks what you want to drink. You tell him and go to the food bars.

Years ago when you went to Chinese food establishments, they usually had a host or hostess who took you to your table and you got settled, he came back and took a drink order, then when the drinks were ready you were given a menu.

The menus went from the basic simple fare of chow mien or egg fu yong to the exotic twice-cooked beef or bird’s nest soup. Today, that is all gone or is quickly going. Now you get all the soups line up for you to help yourself and as much as you like can be ladle into a bowl or two. The same with all the other courses or dishes, and includes the desserts that way, too.

One of the trends I notice is non-Chinese food is now served, along with the Chinese culinary delights. Calamari, breaded chicken, French pastries and God forbid, even pizza!

But the thing that bothers me the most is my fortune cookie. Have you read your fortune cookie lately?

Here is a sample of two “fortunes” found in fortune cookies.

1.) “Always the beautiful answer who asks a more beautiful question.”


2.) “Beware the fury of patient man.”

Do either of these two sound like fortunes to you?

I want my money back, or give me a real fortune. Something I can bite into.

“Large amounts of money will be given to you along with Kim Basinger.”

Now that is a fortune. Nice, simple, happy and talk about good fortune.

What is this world coming too?

My buddy thinks that the Chinese are afraid they will get sued if they predict something, and someone gets hurt because of it!

Saturday, November 20, 2010


A few months ago I went to my daughter Ellen’s annual review. Twice a year I sit with her caseworkers, teachers, house parents, OT and PT people and we discuss Ellen. Being Ellen has many disabilities, and needs an advocate, I act as that advocate, speaking in her behalf.

At the last review, we discussed the fact that Ellen was being taught how to handle money. Ellen can’t count, can’t manipulate either coins or bills, and can’t speak. Yet the good people at the state level think she should be taught to count!

Being a sport myself: I went along with it for a certain amount of time, then that time was over. The state however didn’t know that. My fervent hope is that Ellen doesn’t get a job with the agency that thought up the idea, as an accountant. If she is handling their money, then I will be her personal coach and we will have a grand old time counting the money together! One for the state, one for me. Two for the state, One, Two for me! And so it will go.

Anyway I inquired as her advocate, why they were wasting her time with the nonsense of teaching her to count.

“Well Mr. Del Broggolo, the state mandates it!”

“You mean to say, that the state makes you guys try to teach her to count, frustrate her, and then complain that she is non-compliant, and create a whole new program just to get her to cooperate!”

So I went to the Board of Directors of my agency to discuss this abnormality. Being things are done with the State, abnormality means all is normal with the state.

“I will write a letter to the head of the state agency (I won’t mention his name, because his mother may be still alive, and don’t want her to know she raised a stupid kid.), whoever that is.”

I get a name, and I write a letter. I write it slowly, because they may be slow readers. (Want me to repeat that?)

Finally after months, I get a response! In the form of two phone calls they assure me that they will correct the situation! For now on, since the father is questioning the sense of the individual service program, all individuals will be assessed of their abilities and then we will stop annoying these people, and their cranky fathers.

Friday, November 19, 2010


The other morning I noticed a screw on the rug in the den. Picking it up I see a hinge had come loose from a small table’s double doors between the two recliners. Although I know I have a screw loose or two, this had to be from the hinge.

“Toots! The hinge is coming off the table!”

TLW (The Little Woman): Yes, I noticed that!

“But we rarely go into the table bottom for anything, I wonder why the screw came loose.

Looking at me, she raises her eyebrows.

I ponder this for a while.

“Toots, are you suggesting that I caused it?”

Sitting down in her chair she says: “All I know is it is on YOUR side of the table.”

So, since I sit on the north side of the den, she sits on the south side, and we are divided by the little table. This means that anything, and I mean ANYTHING, north of the table in this world is my fault. The good news is, anything south of the table is her fault! There is a lot more south of the table, than north. Since Canada is a nice friendly neighbor, I guess I’m doing a good job! That is, on my side.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


It is about 10 years now. The awful day back in June still lives with me, and the ensuing days that followed will never leave me. I got home from the city, and #2 son informed me that my brother-in-law Carl had passed on. I went to the phone and found a message from my niece, telling me her father was gone.

My immediate thoughts were how it could possibly be, and then they shifted to my sister, Mary Ann and her two children. Both Christopher and Annmarie were on summer break from college, a college they both shared at Fredonia. As I thought about my sister, I had this urgent need to rush over to her house and be there for her.

When I got there, the house was filled with caring people in support of her and her children. Relatives and friends had come all at once, bringing shoulders of support and arms of comfort, and their own tears of pain.

My sister was the strongest of us all. She stood there and took comfort in our being there, and gave comfort for our being there.

Her children wanted to end their education and stay home to help mom get through life. They were willing to sacrifice their futures for the sake of their mom’s! Mary Ann, my brave sister said: “No!” Her kids would get an education and that was it. Her children respected their parents and what Mom said: went.

Since those awful days, Mary Ann has been blessed with the support of family and friends. But her children gave her back her joy, her sunshine. Mary Ann has changed her career, made a new life for herself, watched her two children marry wonderful people, and even has a new love in her life, Alexander John Schneider, her grandson.

Heroes come and go: some are for many and some for a few. Mary Ann is a hero for all seasons, and my personal hero for life.

Today she celebrates her birthday! Today I celebrate her life, while she and I are still here on this earth, we will celebrate.

Mary Ann has quickness about her; it runs in my Dad’s family, and bang-bang-bang gets the job done attitude. When we were growing up, and she had a date, if it was her turn to do the dishes: you had better hurry up and eat, nothing would make her late. She could stand up for herself, often going toe to toe with any adversary that dared get in her way.

Nothing in this life will get her down, not while she and I share the earth as brother and sister.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010


The bus was on its long haul to Mohegan Sun, to deliver its passengers to the portals of self-denial. Mohegan Sun would do what TLW (The Little Woman) normally does, and that is taking all my money.

The organizer of the trip announced that we would be playing BINGO to while away the time. One card has three games, and it costs $2 a card.

“TLW: “You want to play?’


Reaching into her special stash of cash, she pulls out $8 and buys four cards. We play and I win, sharing the winnings with a few other people. The winnings amount to $7 for me.


$7 is not a big deal, but it was a day to gamble, so I hoped that it was a harbinger of things to come.

The lady, who organized the game, comes over and hands me the winnings. I reach out, take the money, and before I can even look at it, TLW has intercepted the small fortune!

“What happened?”

TLW:” Well, since I laid out the money, I should get the winnings!”

“Huh?” (My standard answer when not sure)

TLW: “I laid out the $4 so I should have the money.”

“WAAAAITH A MINUTE! Hold on a cotton-picking minute there, Momma! Half of that money should be mine! YOU didn’t win, I did. So fork over half!”

The next morning as TW was getting ready for work, I started thinking.

“You know, after watching enough of Judge Judy, (Yes, I do have a legal background) and the fact that you gave me the money, any judge would award me the full amount of the winnings! You offered to pay for my games. You never stipulated that if I won I would turn over the winnings to you! And another thing, my $4 won the $7! So how do YOU get half of it????” (My mamma raised a smart kid!)

TLW: “Well, it came from my pocket book. Besides, it seems I always open my pocket book, YOU never open your wallet.”

“But for 40 years, it was always our money, not mine! When you stayed home, it was “our money” and God help me if I ever said “My money” when we bought anything.”

I won the argument, but not the other half of the money.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Sometimes I shouldn’t read the newspapers! There are things in there that just make my blood boil.

The other day I picked up Newsday and there in the sports section of the newspaper, was an article about Jose Reyes, a baseball player for the New York Mets. The article was about his future with the Mets and it also mentioned what he was doing with a crowd of kids in one of the Old Navy stores.

Surrounded by about 20 children, he was in the store to encourage classroom attendance. If the kids went to school, they get a shopping spree these days. I read the article, and then re-read it, because I didn’t think I read it right the first time! Somewhere since my parents let me out of the house, to be on my own, and today, something terrible has happened to the children we are raising today.

I always thought the point of growing up was to be responsible for oneself: taking initiatives, and doing what is right. Apparently, we can now reward for what we should be doing!

Isn’t it the responsibility for the parent to see that the child attends classes? Isn’t the responsibility of the school to ensure that the child answers “Here” when called for attendance? Should we reward them for coming home too? Maybe a big trophy for eating breakfast should be awarded? How about a big spending spree for being civil?

If this is right, what I want to know is where my kid’s rewards are, and mine for that matter? They went to school and their reward was the sense of self-accomplishment. My reward for attending class was I didn’t meet the business end of a wooden spoon, wielded by Mom, or the back of Dad’s hand across my skull. Believe me, that is rewarding!

But I am encouraged, after all, it can’t get any worse, or can it?

Monday, November 15, 2010


It seems every time I do it, the same things happen. You’d think I’d get used to it by now, but no, that is not how it works. Kids can take a lot out of you, sometimes so much, nobody notices, because you are too numb by the experience to show anything at all.

I went to a cancer center recently to meet my daughter Ellen who resides in a group home for people with developmental disabilities, for a follow-up on a spot a scan found a while back, maybe two years ago.

I went to the main desk, searching for her, and found her in a long pathway in the professional building. The building itself is well appointed with the latest of interior designs and furnishings that look sterile.

Amidst all the professionals in their white coats and clip boards, and with loved ones in attendance sit those who will need treatment, and maybe God willing, not need treatment. All are there for the same reasons, a suspicion of cancer, and back of the mind uneasiness of looming bad news, or a brave battle with and against cancer. All these beautiful people in some kind of unsaid personal crisis, waiting their fate, and what the doctor will tell them, or even the impersonal results of a scan.

Sitting in her wheel chair, groggy from the drug they administer at her home, sits Ellen. She is wavering from consciousness to the sub consciousness, from the world of her reality, to the world of her dreamlike unreality. She has her beautiful little round face, tucked into the opening of her coat, her eyes blinking, sitting motionless. There is no one or thing around her that matters to her, just that little battle that goes on, waging in her head. She suddenly catches a glimpse of me, while her eyes are fluttering; a brief smile crosses her lips. It reminds me so long ago of another sad day in my life, watching my 21-month-old son on a gurney in an emergency room, with only day’s left to live. He saw me as I arrived from the city, standing next to him. He lifted my tie for a moment, and then let it drop. He too realized his old man was there for him.

Ellen started to lift her head, her smile becoming broader, her recognition of me was suddenly apparent! Slowly I walked over to her, leaned down, and she recognized me, holding out her arms. I leaned in and got a hug, and the whole world stopped. There was this only connection I know of between my little girl and me. It is not unlike the feeling one gets when they are in a crowded room, and someone calls attention to them, and the sense of being watched that overcomes them.

It is very difficult to see your child in a semi-conscious state. It is very difficult to know that you allowed your child to get to that state. It is also very difficult to convince yourself that you are doing it in her best interest. And every time I go to this place, I remind myself that she is being watched for something that if not caught in time, will become deadly!

Sunday, November 14, 2010


Friday is our traditional night for pizza. It became a tradition for TLW (The Little Woman) when she was a stay at home mom, and wanted a night off from cooking. I’m glad it was pizza and not chopped liver! She would order the pizza and she was done!

One recent Friday, in the spirit of our pizza tradition, TLW decided we would watch a Netflix DVD while we ate. What does she pull out but a retrospective of Molly Goldberg! Some of you may not know Molly, but she was an icon to mother’s in the early 50’s, a symbol of Jewish culture in this country, and a reminder that we are all humans, sharing the same earth.

Molly Goldberg (Her real name was Gertrude Berg) had this situation comedy that was the forerunner of Lucille Ball’s I Love Lucy show. There were wonderful actors (Philip Loeb) who populated the show and gave one an insight into the lives of Jewish families in America. Keep in mind, in the 50’s; people were just starting to emerge from the cultural cocoons of their ethnicity. Italians were mingling with Jewish or Eastern Europeans peoples and Irish and German mixed in with everyone as an interwoven thread in the fabric of our collective lives.

But the show that began when a neighbor calls out from across the way from her apartment window: “Yo Ho, Mrs. Goldberg!” was a calling to me to watch and be prepared to enjoy an evening with the Goldberg’s. She would talk to her neighbor, then maybe talk to the audience and proceed to live her life for the next half hour.

The DVD brought me back in time. The clothing she wore was my grandmother’s dress and apron. The apron was a symbol of warmth and comfort, and she cooked great simple Italian dishes. My grandmother didn’t own a cookbook: she cooked from the heart. She was a master! Jake, Molly’s husband, was the epitome of the immigrant husband, and it didn’t matter what the language was he spoke, to his wife it always came out: “Yes dear” with a little argument, just to show her he was listening!

The Senate committee, investigating communism in the government and Hollywood, accused Philip Loeb, the fine actor who portrayed Jake, of being a Communist. General Foods, the sponsor of the show demanded that he be fired. Gertrude Berg kept Philip Loeb on the payroll at full salary. He was, and Gertrude Berg went on a campaign to re-instate him. Loeb denied he ever was a communist, and because of the blacklisting, took his own life one day, back in 1951 or 1952.

But with a traditional dinner of pizza, a traditional wife and memories that flooded my mind, I enjoyed myself for a while!

Yo Ho, Mrs. Goldberg, thanks!

Saturday, November 13, 2010


Dear Readers,
Once again, in the interest of your safety, I am posting an e-mail one of my beautiful classmates from high school, Kathy Walsh, sent me. Although I try not to get political, or to show my partisanship on this blogue, I do like to see things as clear as I can, and share it with you when I get it.

Many Americans have become insulated from reality. Pause a moment, reflect back, and take the following multiple choice test.
These events are actual events from history.. They really happened! Do you remember?


1. 1968 Bobby Kennedy was shot and killed by:

a.. Superman

b. Jay Leno

c. Harry Potter

d. A Muslim male extremist between the ages of 17 and 40

2. In 1972 at the Munich Olympics, athletes were kidnapped and massacred by :

a. Olga Corbett

b. Sitting Bull

c. Arnold Schwarzenegger

d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

3. In 1979, the US embassy in Iran was taken over by:

a. Lost Norwegians

b. Elvis

c. A tour bus full of 80-year-old women

d . Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

4. During the 1980's a number of Americans were kidnapped in Lebanon by:

a. John Dillinger

b. The King of Sweden

c. The Boy Scouts

d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

5. In 1983, the US Marine barracks in Beirut was blown up by:

a. A pizza delivery boy

b. Pee Wee Herman

c.. Geraldo Rivera

d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

6. In 1985 the cruise ship Achille Lauro was hijacked and a 70 year old American passenger was murdered and thrown overboard in his wheelchair by:

a. The Smurfs

b. Davey Jones

c. The Little Mermaid

d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

7. In 1985 TWA flight 847 was hijacked at Athens , and a US Navy diver trying to rescue passengers was murdered by:

a. Captain Kidd

b. Charles Lindberg

c. Mother Teresa

d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

8. In 1988, Pan Am Flight 103 was bombed by:

a. Scooby Doo

b. The Tooth Fairy

c. The Sundance Kid

d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

9. In 1993 the WorldTradeCenter was bombed the first time by:

a. Richard Simmons

b. Grandma Moses

c. Michael Jordan

d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

10. In 1998, the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were bombed by:

a. Mr. Rogers

b. Hillary Clinton, to distract attention from Wild Bill's women problems

c. The World Wrestling Federation

d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

11. On 9/11/01, four airliners were hijacked; two were used as missiles to take out the World Trade Centers and of the remaining two, one crashed into the US Pentagon and the other was diverted and crashed by the passengers.

Thousands of people were killed by:

a. Bugs Bunny, Wiley E. Coyote, Daffy Duck and Elmer Fudd

b. The Supreme Court of Florida

c. Mr Bean

d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

12. In 2002 the United States fought a war in Afghanistan against:

a. Enron

b. The LutheranChurch

c. The NFL

d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

13. In 2002 reporter Daniel Pearl was kidnapped and murdered by:

a. Bonnie and Clyde

b. Captain Kangaroo

c. Billy Graham

d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

No, I really don't see a pattern here to justify profiling, do you? So, to ensure we Americans never offend anyone, particularly fanatics intent on killing us, airport security screeners will no longer be allowed to profile certain people.. They must conduct random searches of 80-year-old women, little kids, airline pilots with proper identification, secret agents who are members of the President's security detail, 85-year old Congressmen with metal hips, and Medal of Honor winner and former Governor Joe Foss, but leave Muslim Males between the ages 17 and 40 alone lest they be guilty of profiling.

Let's send this to as many people as we can

Foot note: Fort HoodTexas ......another Muslim 39 years old killed 13 people and wounded 30 some odd others... Does this fit the profile!



Yes we can! Vote

Friday, November 12, 2010


I woke up in the middle of the night, tears running down my face from a sinus infection. I wasn’t crying, just the eyes were so watery that I had to get up and go into the bathroom and get something for it. I had taken an antihistamine before going to bed, so I wasn’t prepared for this.

Struggling to get to the bathroom, my head was feeling particularly funny, like it was inside another head and was bouncing around. As I got to the bathroom, I looked into the mirror and was surprised. There in the mirror stood I, looking like what I felt like. I commented that I didn’t expect to see me in the mirror, since when I got up, I didn’t want to go anywhere.

After going back to bed, the fun began. Laying down I set my pillows so I raised my head a little, and pulled the blankets over me. Now, I don’t like to complain, but TLW is a blanket hog. For 40 years she’s been stealing my entire blanket allotments and using them while I sleep in a fetal position. Even the one-week in August when we don’t need blankets, she sleeps on top of them! That’s the truth, too.

I got up the next morning and started to talk to TLW (The Little Woman), when I couldn’t get the words out! I tried again, but nothing. I decided to practice what TLW trained me to do, that is, keep my mouth shut. But after 4o years of living with me, she said: “You have a cold?”

I shook my head in the affirmative.

“OK, here’s the plan. Don’t paint the ceiling today, just take it easy, and don’t cook tonight. You can make the marinade for the steak, but don’t make the salad, I don’t want your germs, I’m afraid of getting your cold!”

“Oh! What about for better or worse, and let’s not forget in sickness and health?”

“Just take it easy, I want enough time to check the insurance policy to see if we are all caught up on things, you know, just in case. Besides, you get the better and I get the worse! You want to talk about sickness and health, try carrying 4 children for 36 months!”

All an exaggeration, we all know she carries them one at a time, each for only 9 months!

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Today as you know is Veteran’s Day. It is the day we honor all those men and women who put their lives on the line, when our nation, that is, us, asked for their help. We asked for this help and said: “We will give you what you need to finish the job. We will train you to fight, take you to harm’s way, arm you and ask of you that you stand in the face of mortal danger and possible die. If you don’t, we will put you in jail, so we at home can curse you for not willingly sacrificing your life, for that privilege.”

That is not all, we will ask these people to spend only 19 years on this earth and risk the future of their lives, the years we’ve already lived. Some of us may make the claim, and rightfully so, that they fought and expect others to do their duty. To those I say: “Thank you, if it weren’t for you, I would be speaking Japanese, or German, or even Chinese and Russian. Instead I speak English, the language in which this country wrote it’s founding documents in.

The trouble I find in my heart and soul is that those that choose not to fight for whatever reason: had no passion for the cause. As a nation in wartime, we should rally around the flag. But those circumstances are quite different when we have a Viet Nam, where it is an undeclared war, built on policies rather than dangers. The two great wars were immediate threats to our existence, as well as the Korean War to a lesser extent, while the wars of Viet Nam, and the Middle East are strictly wars for political or financial power!

Regardless of the reasons, we did ask people to go overseas and fight. Some went willingly, some went because they didn’t want to spend their days in jail, and some went without any motivation except, love of this country. To all of those men and women I say: Thank you: you deserve my heart felt thanks for risking your lives. I will honor your bravery and service for the rest of my life, and I will always respect you for that.

To those who refused to go, I will say: Thank you, you have stood up for what you believe in, have tested the value of the Constitution of the United States, and in doing so, made us all realize we collectively should have moral judgment as the fabric which we weave into our beliefs as Americans.

I hope no one wants war. I hope that no one has the arrogance of power that we should run over the world because we are so strong. I hope that the will of the people will always balance out the stupidity of the politicians that get us into wars, and the military that practices wars. That is not to say we should not have and be thankful for the military, because they constitute our sons and daughters, who believe in their country and what it stands for. They keep us alive as a nation, and should always be strong.

So where should we stand?

A strong military is needed to keep our peace and freedom, but a stronger people is needed to keep the military in check, when it is run by old men with nothing to lose, but maybe their sons or daughters. Free men must sacrifice not only their lives for the cause of freedom, but sometimes their very own freedoms for the cause of justice.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


It’s Thanksgiving Day; you just had a large dinner of roasted turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and corn. You drank enough beer and or wine, and the desserts were to die for!

As you sit there, a funny thing is beginning to happen! Your stomach is telling you something important. You have huge deposits of gas! The gas is accumulating at an alarming rate, and if you move… BOOM!

What to do? You are a guest at someone’s dinning table: you are with strangers, friends and family! A chill is starting to overcome you, and the pressure, oh, the pressure to let one ride. Just one will make you whole again. Maybe even reach for some of those walnuts they just put out.

But no, no you can’t even talk it is so bad. If you lose control and let one ride, you lose face, because the noise will be so shocking, so intrusive and so unexpected! Speaking of intrusive, need we speak of the unspeakable stench that will permeate through the nostrils of all those unsuspecting guests in attendance?

And the looks, what looks you’ll get, what a reputation you will build. Speaking of building, the gas is building even as you think about it! And what will that look be: from the little woman, when you finally let it pop?

Well, fear no more! Help is on the way, and I don’t mean bean-o, I mean subtle help, in the form of “SUBTLE BUTT”!

The other morning, TLW (The Little Woman) showed me a mail catalog we received recently. In it was the answer to every married man’s dream. I think it answers to married women’s dreams too. This amazing product, will allow you to reach for the walnuts with confidence! Yes, take as many as you want! Subtle Butt will save your butt!

It’s good in America!

Tuesday, November 09, 2010


He would lean in the doorway, which overlooked the three step grey stoop. He would stare out into nowhere, watch people go by. He could hear the cadence of a little girl as she bounced her rubber ball, and every once in while swing her leg over the ball and it descended, then abruptly ascended back into her palm, only to begin the process allover again.

In the street, a game of stickball would be in progress. Once again a rubber ball, this one pink. As the ball came in on one bounce, and the batter, with a sawed off broomstick, handle taped would viciously swiped at it. Soaring high into the Brooklyn day, two sewers or more the ball went in flight, excitedly the boys racing around the street like it was a Chinese fire drill!

But still he would not move from his place. Watching everything, yet watching nothing. He never interacted with people. He had a simple manner that required no maintenance from day-to-day conversations. He never read a book or a newspaper, and he never went to school. He was that person who usually ended up in Willow Brook in those days of the mid-fifties.

His name was Henry: and his mother would keep a steady eye on him. From her bottom floor bedroom window, Lena would bark at him in Italian. Being an immigrant, she knew only enough to survive in a world that brought both hope and despair. She had another son, perhaps a few years younger, attending college, and kind of a mentor to me. His time was spent away from the house, and the stoop, using it only in passing. That other son taught me to catch a ball! Coming home from college classes one evening, Manfredo saw me with a ball and glove, and no one to play with. He laid his books down on the stoop, and gently gave me instructions on the art of catching a ball!

But Henry stood and watched. Not moving, not saying anything to his brother or me, Henry was the silent sentinel at the gateway to my home.

There was a sister, many years younger, a late in life baby as they used to say. Her name was Marianne. Marianne was cheerful girl and full of song. She played with all the little girls in the area, and was the apple of her mother’s eye. The kids in the neighborhood looked out for Marianne, she was there with her smile, and that was all that mattered. That is to everyone but her older brother, Henry.

But Henry watched and he listened, and he never spoke, unless you spoke to him. He once saved me from a terrible injury, when I fell into a gear shaft moving up a cellar elevator. When it was about to clamp down on my leg, the pants being ripped in the process, he pulled me away, just in time!

Henry stayed with me all my life. I often think of Henry, and the fact that I now deal with people with mental disabilities, and I am trying to help them. I see that man, leaning in the doorframe of the apartment building, my apartment building. I wonder if he is still standing there, watching me, posted there to teach me, that life has many sides, and it is not simple or fair. I sometimes wonder if Henry was put there, just for me, to teach me that we are all one, no matter to what degree, we will all be born, live and die. And as we live, we will hold no title, own no principality, or be truly superior than the man next to me. That man always was, and always will be Henry.

But this immigrant family, these simple, wonderful people, who were building their lives had one thing in common. Hey had each other, loved each other, and were not ashamed of what and who was in their family! They were my first true lesson in life, and it all centered around a gentle soul: Henry.

“Only a life lived for others is worth living.” [Albert Einstein

Monday, November 08, 2010


Recently I wrote about a man with dementia, and as I related the story, it came from TLW’s (The Little Woman’s) bank, The Wanna-Be-Bank and Truss Co.

It seems every night I get a run down of the activities and comings and goings of the Wanna-Be-Bank and Truss Co., it employees, and members, and all the events that occur at this prestigious place of high finances.

It seems I made a mistake in relating that the story generated from the bank, when in deed it did not. I was called on the carpet for this by TLW.

“Your blogue today was erroneous and fictitious. Even Lois knows what you wrote about the Wanna-Be-Bank and Truss Company was NOT true!”

Me: (Trembling) “It wasn’t?”

“NO! In fact what you said was only half true.”

Me: (Shaking) “Well we went from ‘Not true’ to half true! Which is worse? ”

“That story I told you about the man with dementia came from the radio, not the bank.”

Me: (Feeling feverish) “Leave it to the bank to not even get that right!”

“AND - You didn’t finish the story that’s why my poor sister-in-law was asking what the father said on your comments section!”

Me: (Sobbing) “Well, I wasn’t misleading anyone, I was misinformed.”



“And another thing, I didn’t say ‘we’ when you were told about the bathroom wallpaper, I said me!”

Me: “You sure? I could have sworn you said we, as in me.”

“No, but I did get YOU, the paint for the ceiling! That is Y-O-U, as in you!”

Sunday, November 07, 2010


A few Sundays ago, I was reading in the newspapers about one the last survivors of a concentration camp run by the Nazis. There are only two survivors left from one of the camps, and I don’t recall which except to know that it was in Poland.

He spoke about the life he led in that God-forsaken place so long ago, and even about the revolt that occurred prior to liberation, and of even watching a father remove his child’s sandals before entering the gas chamber.

The question of why God let 6,000,000 people die that way, by lethal gas was raised, and he said: “There was no God, God was on vacation!”

I thought that that statement spoke to the core of belief in God, to the truth in any religion. Is there a God and did he make these horrors happen, or allow them to occur? Was God on vacation?

I read about the madness of the crusades, the jihad, the senseless murders and beatings of wives and children, the ugly abuse, and we all ask, if there is a God, why is this happening? WHY?

Then I have to wonder if we as a race of animals, the human ones, and the ones that conquer all, that live “civilized” can cope with ourselves? Can we be the God we blame? Did God put us on this earth for a reason? What reason? We have the power to reason, yet we are unreasonable. We do the things we do to each other in the name of God.

I wonder what the point would be if God did allow, or not allow us to do what we do. If he interceded every time we made a move. How could he judge us? How could we be accountable for our selves? Do we want to have an intermediary every time we move, think, or act?

We organize ourselves into different religions, curse other religions as not being the true religion. We decide how to worship God: the right way being our way of course. We play old songs about who killed Christ, whether there is a messiah to come or not, but we forget that it is still God we argue about.

Isn’t God universal? Is his one command to live? To live by the moral standards we impose on ourselves? Then who is God?

Maybe, just maybe he is us collectively. Maybe WE allowed all these horrors. Maybe, just maybe, we are as that famous Pogo comic strip character once said: “We have met the enemy, and it is us!”

Saturday, November 06, 2010


There are two holidays I can’t deal with. One is the Fourth of July late at night and the other is Halloween. It seems this particular Halloween past was the most busy we have been. The kids were coming often and in large numbers all at once.

The football Giant fans sent all their kids out while I was watching the NY Jets lose, and Giants don’t play until Monday night! Constantly I jumped up from my chair as the little brats knocked on my door, and of course when you see them, all dressed up in their cute little costumes, you can’t help but fall in love with them all, but you equally hate their parents for bringing them around when it’s 3rd and 5 and the game is in the balance.

A disputed call is made, a request to review the play is made, and I await the decision when… Knock, knock, knock.

I reluctantly go to the door, and there stands about 3” tall a little monster.

“Trick or treat, smell my feet!”

The little monster is with his fellow monsters and they all have their bags opened for me to put in the candy.

Reaching into my supply of peanut butter Reese’s, the monster takes one look and says: “Hey, I don’t like those!”

My mind says: “Well you little bastard, why don’t you phone ahead so I can accommodate you!”

TLW (The Little Woman) yells out, “Give him some M&M’s, and I heard what you just thought!

I’ll give him something.

I dump a packet of M&M’s into his sack and he checks to make sure he approves.

Then there are the older kids. You know they are older because of two things. One, they don’t wear costumes, and B. they park their cars in your driveway.

When I was growing up in Brooklyn, we got together and didn’t ask for treats, we just offered tricks, usually ringing all the doorbells in the apartment house and then run like hell! Another bit of amusement was to travel to another neighborhood, and throw socks filled with flour or chalk. We chose unsuspecting kids, and when his guard was down, we let him have it.

Costumes were the homemade kind, old clothing your father didn’t wear anymore but was saving for a second coming, and burnt cork, that marked our faces like we were bums. If we did knock on a door, it was someone we knew, and they always rewarded us with… fruit.

So, last Halloween past, as the horde of kids came wave after wave, but my chocolate stash was being depleted, I had to act quick!

“Toots! We’re running out of candy!”

TLW: “No we’re not, I have more!”

I search and find more Reese’s peanut butter, and I hate peanut butter. My new crusade was: ‘Save the chocolate!’ Let the little brats have the peanut butter, I’m running this chocolate into my studio while there is still some left.

Friday, November 05, 2010


As you may have noticed, I’m getting a little older. It seems that everything is in total confusion and disarray!

I tried to get out of bed this morning, and something was holding me back. Gravity! Yes, that silly invisible thing we all studied way back in 3rd grade, was acting up! I got down on my knees to search for my slippers, and my knees immediately fell asleep. I think that part of my problem is that TLW (The Little Woman) was afraid to wake me this morning, in case I was dead. I figure, if I don’t move, give me five minutes more and then call the coroner.

Speaking of which: I read this morning about a 95 year-old man who died recently, and I’m thinking his kids are in their mid-sixties at least. Wow! The kids are old! Heck, I see a 50 year-old and think: What’s that kid doing here?

One of my habits is I go down to the kitchen, pour myself a cup of coffee, and then go into my recliner and try to talk to TLW. The trouble is, after a night’s sleep, I immediately fall asleep again.

When you are married as long as I am, things like dating are in the distant past. It seems however; part of me still wants to date! Take for instance my back, it went out on me last night.

And have you noticed how you now have less hearing, less sight, and less taste buds? Notice you now have more pain!

My memory is still good. My problem lies with the fact that I can’t retain what is in my memory, can’t recall names or words that sit on the tip of my tongue, and TLW gets angry when I try to spit them off to see what they are!

I recall standing up once, and looking down at my toes; now I can’t see them.

But most of all, when I have somewhere to go, the thought of getting up, remembering where the place is or why I’m going is when all my physical disabilities seem to act up all at once! I used to tell myself: “When I’m done with this, I’ll do that.”

‘That’ never comes!

I was in my closet the other day, and I noticed a suit. I thought, that suit is what I wore to my niece’s wedding! SHE’S BEEN MARRIED FOR ALMOST 20 YEARS!

TLW is always on me to throw away old clothes, and I don’t: too many good memories from them.

If I could only remember what those memories are. If I do throw them out, I’ll remember!

Thursday, November 04, 2010

DIGGING OUT (Togetherness in death)

The other day, TLW (The Little Woman) announced to me (Who else?).

“If we are to sell this house, we have to clean out the shed.

Me: “Oh! Well I was planning to take the shed with us.”

“You’d still need to clean it out!”

Me: “Couldn’t we just lock it up and sell it, and say we lost the key?”

“No, and you have to do it yourself.”

Me: “I do?”

“Yes, I think there is a dead animal in there! I’m sorry, but you have to do it!”

That last statement is a stipulation in the wedding contract, the verbal one, and the last chance I had to really open my mouth. It states: “For Better Or For Worse.” This is the “worse” portion of the contract.

I decided to act like a man this time and said, without hesitation: “YES DEAR!”

After all, she needs to know where I stand on things like that.

“Another thing, you will need to separate the different things so we can put them to the curb.”

Silently I prayed: “Please Lord, put me to the curb, I’ll go quietly, as long as I don’t have to clean the shed.”

The big day arrived, TLW was at work, the day was beautiful, and I didn’t want to do it.

There is a shelf, about 4 feet deep and about 10 feet long at the right side of the shed. Up there we keep all the lawn chemicals, including both wet and dry. If a squirrel were to nest, there is where he or she would go to do so. (It is very important to be gender correct when discussing squirrels!)

In this treasure chest of past nightmares sits old lawn mowers, trimmers, tools shingles cement and anything else I couldn’t put in my pocket when done with it and get it washed later in the laundry. (TLW feels it is my responsibility to clean out my pockets before they go into the hamper. She will do the wallet.)

And so I begin, a broom in hand a big old shovel and some garbage cans. I start pulling things out and separating them: keeper and garbage. I start to look up into the shelf, and realize I am staring at what looks like a dead bird’s claw. I think to myself: why didn’t I stand up to her and cry. If I cried she might have taken pity on me. On closer inspection, I realize it is a dead squirrel! I pull him out and put him in the garbage can, and cautiously inspect the shelf for more and clean off the shelf without finding anything else.

Beginning on the floor I start to move things around and notice, there is another dead squirrel! So this was a family affair, and at least they died together, and will be buried in the same garbage can!

Wednesday, November 03, 2010


The other day I came home from wandering around the neighborhood, and as I ascended the staircase, there at the very top, with a sheepish smile on her face stood TLW! (The Little Woman) I wondered why she was standing in the doorway to the bathroom when I noticed behind her. Behind her stood walls, bare of any wallpaper that was there just a few hours before. I know when I exited the bathroom the last time I fully expected to see the wallpaper later. Had I known, I would have said “Goodbye!

Gone was the brand new wallpaper I had just put up 16 years ago, and now I will need to do it all over again. Looking at TLW, I enquired: “WHA Happened???”

TLW: “Wallpaper is out of style!” she boldly announced for my edification.

Me: “But I liked it!”

TLW: “You know we want to sell this house, so we need to be up-to-date!”

Me: “But I liked it!”

TLW: “No rugs and no wallpaper, all out of style!”

Me: “But I like them.”

TLW: “You should be grateful that I keep you up to date, saving you from the old fashioned, and up-to-date HDTV policies I now so avidly follow. Aren’t you glad I got rid of the wall paper?”

Me: “But I like it!”

TLW: “But NOW, you like this better We (We?) need to strip the walls!”

Me: “But I like them!”

“We (We?) need to take off the backing from the wall paper off the walls, we (we?) will get some stuff to do it. It will be real easy, you’ll see. (I will?)

So up to my armpits I stood one Saturday in pieces of wet sticky paper, with glue and gel sticking to my fingers, hands aching from holding the scrappers, feet begging for mercy from the climbing of the ladder and twisting and turning. When I was finished, I cleaned up the last of the debris when TLW appeared.

TLW: “I see we (we?) finished the walls!”

Me: “We (WE?) did?

TLW: “Now we (we?) can get an application to clean the walls of all the glue.”

We (me) are tired. I hope we (me) don’t have too many more rooms with wallpaper on them, because if I see any more stripping, it will be with a Jack Daniels Manhattan in hand and tucking into a g-string a few bucks!

No we won’t, we’ll (me) be too busy painting!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010


The other night, TLW (The Little Woman) started relating to me a story.

TLW: “I had this member couple come into the Wanna-Be-Bank and Truss Company today. They were settling their parent’s account. It seems the mother had passed away, and the father is suffering from the beginnings of dementia!’

Me: “Oh, how sad!”

TLW: “Yes, the father is was having a hard time remembering that his wife is dead!”

Me: “Poor man!”

TLW: “Yup, he’ll say ‘Where’s Mom?” to the kids, and they tell him she died, and it is like he is finding out for the first time! This was going on quite frequently, and the poor man would just become so overcome by the news every time!”

“Me: “Wow!” (Notice I don’t say much?)

TLW: “So they came up with a clever way of handling it!”

Me: “What?” (There I go again)

TLW: “When he asks: “Where’s Mom’, they just say: She ‘s on a trip to Paris. And he is very happy with that answer, and they don’t have to go through all that grief again!”

Me: (finding an opening) That sounds like the beginning of a joke! This guys wife dies, he suffers from dementia, and he keeps asking his kids: Where’s Mom? So he keeps asking the same question and when they tell him she died, he acts like he’s heard it for the first time. So they decide to change their plans. The Father asks; Where’s Mom and they say, She’s on a trip to Paris. Then the father says…”

TLW: “ONLY YOU WOULD LOOK FOR A JOKE in something like that!”

Well, it did happen in the Wanna-Be-Bank and Truss Company, after all.

Monday, November 01, 2010


It seems that I am getting a lot of phone calls lately, from politicians, surveys and sales pitches. Most of the calls come in an automated voice, which I find rude.

However, that does not mean I should not have some fun with them. I mean if they are going to waste my time with their stupid calls, then I should waste theirs.

For instance, a phone call one night had a young lady on the other end

Ring! Ring! Ring!

Me: “Yellow?”

“Good evening, I’m with the ABC opinion poll, we are conducting a voter survey and would like to solicit your opinion.”

Me: “I’m sorry, I’m a married man, and no longer have opinions, maybe you should try all the single fellows?”

Of course there is always the TIME SHARE people.

Ring! Ring! Ring!


Automated… Are you ready to sell your time-share? We offer the best deals in Time-share sales in the most famous and exclusive areas of the country. Press one for a sales representative.”

I press one.

“Coastal properties, Jake speaking, how may I help you?”

Me: Silence

Jake: “Hello”


And so it stays.

I know, “Joe, you got too much time on your hands!’ Well actually, I don’t, I just hate being disturbed by sales people, THEY waste my time, so why not waste theirs too?