Tag Archives: Family

Sad Times July 23rd 2014

It has not been a very happy year so far and it shows no sign of getting better any time soon. I know I’ve been off the radar for two years now and I can’t seem to get back on the horse. I am putting a link that will tell the tale for me in the hopes of getting some help. Here it is http://www.gofundme.com/bm047c
I never thought it come to this but desperate times call for desperate measures. Thanks for reading, and to any who used my work for term papers and such. I hope you got good grades.


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Giving Thanks-Nov 26th 2011

In a previous story (Always In The Small Hours) I told the tale of my brothers trips to the ER. He had come home after being diagnosed the first ER trip with a nosebleed, then he went back 24 hours later and was re-diagnosed with possible pneumonia and given a z-pac and told to follow-up with his own doctor in a week. He tried hard to get better but he was not feeling well, he seemed to rally and then his coughing would start again and so did the bleeding. This time it was no joke, we took him back to the ER and he was admitted.  Now they are checking him for Tuberculosis and after a cat scan, bronchioscapy and more blood tests than you can imagine. My parents and I run back and forth to the hospital to see him donning masks every time.  We brought his laptop day two so he could alert his online teachers of his predicament. The four of us waited out the test results and prayed that all that blood my brother coughed up was just a Pneumonia and not TB. It was a scary time for all of us, I tried not to think about the unhappy  possibilities of losing my brother. He made the best of  it by the second day of strong meds and fluids and was up and around, working on his online degree with renewed energy. I called all the relatives and cancelled hosting Thanksgiving for the family, I was too tired and my brothers favorite holiday was ruined, I just couldn’t go on without my brother and sit and eat turkey while he was in isolation eating hospital food.

Thanksgiving Day we got a nice surprise at the hospital, the downstairs cafeteria for the employees; which also serves the public, was putting up a free holiday dinner for the employees and the families of the patients! This is something they do every holiday apparently, and since my mom had been making an issue out of having turkey on Thanksgiving to the point of being willing to spend $25 each on the privilege of eating it in a diner. It was indeed a happy accident that she found out we could eat for free. Only after I suggested she call and see if the hospital had any special food for the holiday on the menu. So I was glad I stuck to my guns and refused to spend upwards of 75 bucks on dinner. The hospital dinner was really good, I was shocked. We had turkey of course and cornbread stuffing, asparagus, and candied yams with loads of gravy and coffee,tea and your choice of dessert for free!  I shook hands with the manager a told him and the head of the kitchen how much we appreciated the food and the gesture of feeding the families for free.

But the next day (Friday) I got an unusual call in the morning from the hospital, they wanted to know how my brother was doing at home, I told the woman on the phone that he was still in the hospital and she needed to check her records. Yet I was puzzled, so I called my brother only to find out his tests came back negative and he was free to go home. So as soon as his doctor signed his release he was sprung. I got into his car and bolted to the hospital to grease the wheels any way I could. I arrived to find him getting dressed with laptop open on the bed, towels on the floor and suitcase being packed like he was leaving a hotel. There was nothing to do now but get the IV line out of his hand and sign the paperwork. He goes home with no restrictions on anything except to stay away from tobacco and to see his doctor in two weeks. I hand him his keys as we walk out of the hospital and we get into his car and immediately drive to 7-11 for soda and beer for him. He has had nothing but ginger ale and water for days and days. We come home to the relief of my folks, this was really hard for them. This year there is much to be thankful for at this time of celebration.

So I’ve just finished my meager breakfast as we hurtle to New York City on an express train. There are dozens of people heading in to the city today, mostly to shop I imagine. This is Black Friday weekend and I’m taking a trip in today to do a photo-shoot and enjoy the unusual 60 degree plus weather before the rain comes in on Monday. This is totally unexpected as I figured this little mini vacation was going to be a bust. The fact is that for once we got really lucky. I come up from the tracks and head out of the station into the street, throngs of people are about moving in all directions. I head to Macy’s Herald Square for a loo and also I’d like to see it again in full Christmas regalia. I haven’t been here since 2008 and its in full bloom. This place is packed with a choking crowd of people already and it’s not even eleven yet. It takes me twenty minutes to find the loo and twenty minutes to get back out onto the street. I look around a little feeling bad that mom, dad, and brother man never get to see NYC. The fact is that dad has no interest, bro has school and mom is not in good enough shape to travel to the big apple. I wish we were all twenty-five years younger.

I begin to wander in the general direction of The Meatball Shop on 11th between Greenwich and Perry. This is my new obsession after seeing it on the cooking channel, this place serves up six different kinds of meatballs daily. It’s the go to place for lunch and late night college snacks, and  families with a kid friendly menu too. I stop and take pictures of the New Yorker Hotel and wander in the general direction of the lower west side. By roundabout ways I come to that section of Greenwich St that’s fighting to be chic while still retaining it’s village feel. The cobblestone streets surrounded by new trendy clothing shops and restaurants thinly veil  the general feel of decay that lies just beyond the reach of the storefronts and al-fresco dinning. The ongoing construction seems to do little to change the landscape. It appears the same as the first time I came here years ago before I had my blog. This doesn’t mean it hasn’t got promise, in a few years this could be a go to area for the city’s trendy.

You find little gems when you peek under the city’s petticoats, and this time I find a little gem called The Spotted Pig, an old Irish pub that looks inviting and cheery outside with potted plants that even in death of winter seem ripe with promise. Further down hidden under scaffolding is the equally amazing Kaas Glass Works, a place where hand-made glass trays and plates meet a kind of esoteric zeal for the old and new. The place is small and a big man like myself treads carefully in the shop. The plate designs feature old botanical illustrations, advertisements, scenes of New York and Paris, and even a series of plates featuring a skeleton from Grays Anatomy split into four parts and displayed inside a presentation wall frame with museum glass. This is the kind of thing that I love about my travels. Sadly I cannot afford these  beauties and would not buy them until I have my own place. I’m getting hungry now It’s been hours of wandering looking for just the right shot, so I move on to find The Meatball Shop on Greenwich Ave between 11th and Perry St. It’s a  little place with charming white wainscot and a checkered black and white tile floor, old photographs decorate the walls and give the space an old world feel. The pretty blonde waitress explains the menu which is made of plastic and requires a little study. Basically there are five kinds of meatballs,beef, chicken, pork, spicy beef, vegetable and a wild card which changes daily. There are also five kinds of sauces classic tomato, Parmesan cream, spicy meat, pesto, and sweet teryaki. You can get you meatballs in a myriad of ways. Just plain in a bowl, on a hero or smashed on Brioche, over salad,pasta,risotto, or polenta. Even the simple slider is served here! The possibilities are endless and they also boast an impressive list of regional Italian and French wines. I mark my choices with a dry erase marker and go off to the loo for a washup.

When I come back I find my Pabst Blue Ribbon has been poured and I settle down to write a little , observing the people around me and listening to their stories. I hardly have time to do so before my food arrives hot and fresh. I got the classic beef balls with creamy Parmesan sauce over soft polenta. These are perhaps the best meatballs ever! The flavor of the sauce is savory and the sweet corn taste of the polenta combines with the strong meaty flavor of the meat making this qualify as one of the best things I ever ate. This is the thing I miss when I’m back home, no one is doing anything this remarkable in Nassau, not even close. After I finish my meal I look over the book they published about The Meatball Shop history, which can be signed by the chef/authors of the three locations they have. It’s a nice book packed with color photos and recipes so you can try it at home. I pay my bill and venture out again and growing tired I decide to begin to head uptown and see what develops-get it …develops, no oh well. I stop to take pictures, check out menus in windows and take a walk through Union Square market which has been set up like a Christmas village with each vendor next to the other in a long row. The tents are decorated and the whole atmosphere is very cheery if not very crowded, there is occasional breaks to allow people to escape and get some air. I come out the other side of the square and I’m stopped by a young guy hawking a CD, he has pigtail’s and looks a little more mixed race than American Indian but he explains its virtues and I give him my last three bucks for it. He said it was a donation and any amount would do so I gave what I had and continued heading home. In the warm sunshine of a perfect day I make my way uptown admiring the window displays of the stores, the lights are just beginning to come on as the shadows grow longer and longer. It was as good a day especially for a trip that was not originally going to happen. We got really lucky this time and I’m lucky to be alive in the city I love, doing my thing. It may never make me any money or any notoriety in artistic or literary circles, but damn I love what I do.



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Always In The Small Hours-Nov 14Th 2011

I open my eyes to the sound of someone banging on the wall downstairs, I look at the clock as I stagger to my feet and make my way across my bedroom. There are only a few things that this could mean at 2:45 AM, either my mom or dad is sick, hurt, or dead. I’m not being a ghoul really but when you live with sickly aging parents that’s what it usually means. So you can imagine my surprise to open the door and look downstairs to see my mom fully dressed with jacket on and dad visible outside the front door. “Your brother is on the way to the hospital, he’s coughing up blood” mom says kind of matter of fact, like she’s just told me something commonplace. “We were gonna let you sleep, but we didn’t want you to wake up to an empty house and be shocked. So were going in a few minutes.” mom says as she looks up at me and out to the street. I say “Dad’s got night blindness and if anyone’s going to drive to the hospital at three am it’s gonna be me!”  and turn to get dressed with rubbery legs and jangled nerves. I have been asleep maybe two and a half hours and I am still wondering what’s going on with my brother, he has always got a sinus problem and a smokers hack, but I didn’t realize he was actually sick.  The small bathroom garbage can full of bloody tissues tells the tale, it looks like something out of a horror movie.

In the cold chill of the fall night we drive to the ER and I drop them off.  By the time I park the car and walk into the waiting area I find my family including my brother sitting in an mostly empty room while the Turner classic movies channel features ‘Jason and the Argonauts!’ My brother, looking dismal, apologizes for the fuss and fills me in on what’s happened since I went to bed. He has had uncontrollable coughing fits spewing up blood and mucus which isn’t letting up. He informs me that he has been sick with a cough and cold for weeks but with him sequestered in his room as he attends online college and me at work all day, I’m afraid I didn’t notice he was sick. They finally call his name and I sit down for a long night, armed with an interesting book called “The Big Short” by Michael Lewis, an unusual read for me about the investment industry. The author was on NPR (National Public Radio) the previous Saturday promoting his new book “Boomerang” and sparked my interest. The ER waiting rooms refreshment area features a broken free coffee maker, soda machine and snack machine. So wearily at my mom’s request I go on a walkabout looking for coffee but finding none I sit down to read and watch TV.

I sit with my mom while dad wanders around unable to sit still. We speculate about our worse fears for my brother’s health. It’s about 4:00 am now and they are taking him for a chest x-ray when I look up and see through the glass of the children’s play area another TV with a breaking news story. I get up to see what’s going on now, and am not surprised to see that the police in New York City have raided Zucotti Park and driven the Occupy Wall Street protesters out, to clean up the park ostensibly. The operation was conducted by police in riot gear and SWAT teams with precise military maneuvers. The action began at 1:00 am and these kinds of operations are always done  in the small hours, it’s the best time to attack your enemy. The protesters didn’t stand a chance, and even the efforts of reinforcements coming to aid the protesters never made it to the park, they were driven back. This is no surprise to me as I predicted this would happen weeks ago; if only to myself. But what shocked me was the lack of violence, many protestors went peacefully and the few who didn’t were not beaten up too bad. That is at least not from what we witnessed on TV, the next day the mayor held a press conference stating that things went well-better than expected! Also the protestors would be allowed to come back to the park, but not with sleeping bags or tents this time.

The Occupy Wall Street movement begun on Sept 17th in New York’s financial district, inspired by the Egyptian Tahir Square uprisings in June and the Spanish “Acampadas”. It is at its core vow to end the monied corruption of our democracy. The anti-consumerist/pro-environment magazine” Adbusters” published in Canada is credited with calling for the peaceful protest movement as a means to bring about social change for the 99 percent of people making under $100,000 a year. While the 1 percent who make upwards of $100,000 a year enjoy an extravagant lifestyle and pay way less than they should in taxes, the 99 percent are trimming down to only the essentials and yet are still being asked to bear the burden for the good of the country. If you look at a map of the cities where protesters have gathered, you can see that the concentration of the movement is in the northeast, but it reaches all the way to the west coast and a sprinkling of the mid-Atlantic states. The mid-section of the country is where you see the least amount of protest, in some states none at all.

The OWS is a leaderless movement and seems to have no clear set path for establishing their agenda. A few weeks ago I watched an interview with one of the organizers on TV and was amazed at what I saw. He was a young guy in his maybe late twenty’s, he was clearly a corporate hipster type, the kind that wears a suit and is well versed in office protocol but you could easily find him at a Dresden Dolls concert on the weekend. He was telling the interviewer that “We are sending a clear message to Wall Street and to Washington that we want change, we are going to be here, we are not going anywhere until there is real change in this country” He talked in that post valley girl/guy hipster twang with that tinge of the feminine that makes people think your either gay or a snob. The powers that be have got be looking at this and laughing at him. This is not any threat to the 1 percent, and guess what else. The one percentile includes all of our leaders and their families and friends and the leaders of big business right down to the owner of the company you work for who has more money in the bank than you will make in your entire life. They don’t care about you or anyone else in the 99 percentile. My brother came out of his x-ray and waited for the results in the ER and we chatted with him until the doctor came and told my brother that he had a nosebleed. I for one was not convinced since the blood wasn’t coming from his nose, but he gave my brother a set of instructions and a bottle of Afrin nasal spray and said see ya later. So at 5:15 am we arrived home and since I usually get up a six o”clock, I decided it was useless to try to sleep and got dressed for work and made my lunch.

When I came home after a very busy grueling day I found my mom made a meatloaf, so I jumped in to help sous chef the veg and mash and set the table. I asked about my brother who had more coughing fits and while we were  just about to sit down to eat, my brother came in again with a garbage can full of bloody tissues and said “I guess we better go back to the hospital.” I got out of my sweats and into jeans and a shirt and took my brother to the hospital alone this time, my parents stayed home and ate the nice dinner she prepared. This time it was more of the same, the coffee machine was still broken and because it was after seven o’clock the cafeterias were both closed so we sat and sat and sat. My brother wasn’t allowed to eat until he had a CAT scan of the chest to see what was going on. So we both starved miserably and I read and watched some TV while he was examined and taken away for his scan. I bought a bag of hard pretzels out of a vending machine and took a small orange juice from a fridge and that was dinner.  He came back and after an eternity was told that he had a touch on Pneumonia in his upper left lung, so they hung a bag of anti-biotic solution given intravenously and got him a lovely dinner of crackers, applesauce, lime jello, and graham crackers with nothing to drink. That took four requests to be accomplished but he finally got some from the staff who seemed eager to get out and go home. While we waited for the meds to finish we watched re-runs of Seinfeld and kept mom, dad and friends  posted on developments. I excused myself to go to the bathroom and when I came back I realized that we had been alone in that area for quite a while, the meds were now done and we had been forgotten. I joked with my brother that he should take out the I.V. and we should skip this place. He chuckled and I said “No really, take out that thing then put a piece of gauze and tape and put on your jacket, I’ll hit the button on the elevator and out we go down to the basement, then up the stairs by the cafeteria into the front lobby and out the door!” He laughed and said he still needed his script for the Z-pac pills he has to take for the next 10 days but I was only kidding anyway, I just wanted to cheer him up after what amounts to his first brush with a serious illness.

We got home at about 12:30 and I had a few crackers and milk and went to bed exhausted but happy that it wasn’t worse than it could have been. Still in the morning I was shot and considered staying home but needing the money I pushed myself to dig deep and get going to work. I stopped for coffee at the supermarket where I usually go and greeted my friends getting their morning cup before work. This machine makes the best decaf ever and I smiled into my cup as I tasted my first gulp. Then continuing my ritual I walked over to the newspapers and looked at each front cover to get an idea of what’s happening today. The front page of Newsday made me laugh out loud. The picture shows a NYC policemen in profile and behind him a girl in her twenties is wearing only stockings and garter belt, sun glasses and a big smile! The caption read that the police have been turning a blind eye to incidents like this at Zucotti Park where protesters are stepping up the civil disobedience! That’s right they did turn a blind eye. Because the picture was taken the day before the police cleared the park, they allowed the incident to go without arrest to lull the protesters into thinking they could get away with anything. The police knew what would happen less than 24 hours later and besides… she wasn’t half bad-looking. Alls well that ends well. My brother is making good progress and should be fine. He threw his pouch of tobacco out on the way to the car when we left the hospital…it made all the effort and lack of  sleep worthwhile, I just hope he doesn’t have a relapse…I mean on smoking.



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A Short Note On Hurricane Irene-Part 2

This past week I have heard many stories on the radio that I find very disturbing. In response to threats of violence to workers, the police have had to provide escort service to crews who are trying to restore power and clean up downed trees and power-lines. One man in Hicksville was arrested after making “Columbine” like threats over the phone and another in Islip for calling in bomb threats to LIPA/National Grid.

I have lived here all my life and have been through many power outages as a child and as an adult. It was not fun but it was not worthy of threats and violence to the people who we depend on for the power we obviously can’t live without. Have we sunk so low that we can’t make the best of the situation and huddle together to tell stories, read to our children by candlelight, how about playing cards-I’ll bet many of today’s kids don’t know how to play games we played when I was young. Then there is also sitting and making arts and crafts. My artistic talent today can be traced all the way back to my early days. I remember sitting with my mom learning how to draw and paint, and make things with paper and glue and glitter.

This country was built by people who lived by candle light every night and had none of the comforts and indulgent time saving pleasures we have today, and yes I know they knew nothing else but what about our grandparents? They didn’t have TV or AC or PC’s or anything like what our parents even enjoyed. Yet somehow, when things were bad they got together, helped each other and muddled through the bad times, and they did it without threatening to blow anyone up!

Some of these crews are from as far away as Illinois, they are working twelve hour days away from their homes and families. They miss them, their cats and dogs, friends,  their own beds and hometowns. The other day after dropping my car off at a closed repair shop, I walked home secure in the knowledge that it will be Wed before I get it back. I walked right past LIPA as I passed the last driveway I saw a lone truck from Illinois waiting for the light. I stepped up to the cab and looked at the driver, he was maybe between 23 and 28 tops. I raised my left fist in a pump gesture, I told him how much most of us appreciate the twelve hour days to put our island back together. You should have seen the smile on his face, it made the long hot walk home worth while. I hate not having a car but I’m making the best of it, getting things done outside, writing, creating art, reading and studying.

While I do agree that LIPA could have and should do a better job than they did for the money they get. Lets remember that this was the largest outage on Long Island in recent memory, and we could be in worse shape sitting on our roofs waiting to be rescued like those folks in flooded areas.  The bad weather season is upon us, after this we have the winter to contend with, there may be many days without power or stuck inside because of snow storms. The point is we may need these people in the future, lets give em a break at least if not a pat on the back.

Oh and by the way, I never lost my lights. I still said what needed to be said. The driver said “Thank You.”




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A Different Kind Of Christmas-Dec 30th 2010

 I sit and write this on an unexpected day off thanks to a blizzard which has crippled much of the tri-state area, with 20 inches of snow on the ground overnight. Everywhere people are trapped in airports and in relatives homes unable to leave. The end of my street left looking like a bulwark nearly twice the height of the fallen snow, the unwelcome by-product of the plows as they free up the main and secondary roads before the residential streets. I won’t be going anywhere by car at least until tomorrow. The past week has been a blur of unexpected work and worry, and it is only now that I look back on the whole experience with a fresh pair of eyes and a new positive outlook.

 To say that my father and I have not seen eye to eye would be an understatement, we get along as long as I play his game on his team and if I don’t we don’t get along at all. While it is true that I have inherited his love of animals and nature, as well as an appreciation of collectibles, trains, antiques, and coins from him and have also his get-there-on-time attitude, that’s where we part ways. My mom and I have very similar tastes in food and adventure, and watch the travel channel with rapt attention hanging on every word and scene, wishing we could be there with Anthony Bourdain and eat the same food, and it’s my mom who gave me my lust for books and writing as well as most of my artistic talents come from her too.

 So, that’s the bare bones of our dynamic which is of course very complicated in real life, but the fact is that in the last three years especially the house has been a battlefield. My father is a neat freak Felix Unger type, although he doesn’t mind his English clutter which drives me right up the wall. The way I see it if you’re a clean freak, you just can’t have piles of stuff laying everywhere and people with a double standard are my enemy. When my brother moved back home in 2007, dad was forced to give him back his room downstairs much to his anger. My dad didn’t want to give up his room and repeated over and over again”Where am I gonna put my stuff!” Apparently his stuff was more important than his son.  Later in that same year my father had moved out of the bed he shared with my mom citing irreconcilable differences. Which is to say, he got tired of being woken up in the middle of the night and told to turn over on account of his snoring. This resulted in my dad annexing the dinning room and living room as his own personal space and a hallway leading to them became his too. I really resented this and told him so, and many pitched battles resulted in ours becoming a house divided, my dad often alone and ignored as the rest of us had no other space except the kitchen; where my mom sits and works on the computer, my brother in his room and me upstairs in my room. To me this is a very dis-functional household and always has been, but this was the last straw and I often said “I don’t want him dead but I don’t want to live with him either”. Unfortunately, we are all financially co-dependent on each other and no one wants to lose the house and wind up in a miserable small apartment with no garden, patio, or pool.  That gives you about as much back story as you need to understand the situation, the last couple of years especially have been very frustrating.  I have tried to get both my parents to eat right and follow doctors orders, my mom does about 2/3 of what she should do, my dad however does next to nothing. He is the only hold out that hasn’t quit smoking except my brother who started later in life, and my cousin,whos mom died of cancer. Yeah I know …but you can’t tell her either. We have to try to make the best of a bad situation. This would change from bad to worse in a heartbeat on the morning of Dec 16th when my dad requested to be taken to the emergency room at 6:20 when I came down for work. My dad had been suffering from a heavy cold that went into bronchitis and although we told him to go to the doctor, he insisted that he had to wait until he got his blood drawn and then go on the 20th for his already scheduled visit. Prior to this I argued with him that if he was sick he had to go now  and not wait till the 20th but he wouldn’t budge. He had also been complaining about having trouble breathing at night, he said the house was too hot and dry. But it was he who would put the heat up because his blood thinners made him cold and no amount of heat except summer weather is hot enough for him. This is another bone of contention because of the uncomfortable situation for the rest of us especially my brother who has the room right next to the furnace room, so he combats the situation by running an air-conditioner on cooling, sick situation and costly too!

 I called an ambulance and they came and took my father to the hospital where he was already receiving oxygen and fluids by the time I arrived. Then and after settling  in and starting to ask questions I found out what I already knew, dad had Pneumonia and a fever, heart failure, edema and blood in the stool, but there were more tests to do-other things were not kosher. So I searched out his doctor and I found out that he had a low blood count and would be getting blood, liquid iron, magnesium, antibiotics, nebulizer treatment and steroids, I warned the doctor about his hearing loss and his possible Alzheimer’s or senility. The doctor questioned me extensively about my fathers medical history and I filled in blanks left during the examination and corrected wrong information given by dad from lack of memory. Later I went home and filled in my mom and brother on what had happened, then we all went to see him that night. He was still in the ER, they were waiting for a bed for him. Dad would remain in the ER till late, then finally they moved him to the ICU.

  When we visited him in the ICU the next evening it was apparent that things weren’t going well, he was restrained for trying to leave and my dad was angry at us, acting strange and seemed confused. He imagined that dust was falling from the ceiling tiles where earlier in the day the staff had hung Christmas streamers, he also told of a World War I army truck moving through the halls. My dad called every day while he was there, saying that he was being released and gave us a list of what to bring to the hospital. But when we didn’t bring these items he was mad, he also insisted that we bring his wallet. He was scared that he would have to pay for food or starve to death! it made going to see him each evening a gut-wrenching experience after a busy day at work.

  I remembered that his own father had signed himself out of the hospital years ago against doctors orders and imagined my dad would do the same, and we had been advised by his doctor that if he did so-he would resign as his PCP. When he was well enough they moved him to PCU and put him in with another man who was dying and had Alzheimer’s Disease, he was also angry at his son who came to see him, and was also given to outbursts. The last straw was when he called at 3:45 in the morning to tell me to come and get him, again going through the list of items he needed me to provide, he told me that the man in the bed tried to escape and it took three security guards to wrestle him back into bed, my dad was afraid and begged me to come and get him but I had to refuse, he was not well enough. I hung up with my dad and called the nurses station and asked what was going on but his night nurse told me dad was in no danger.

 The indication of internal bleeding was explored but after an endoscopy in both directions and a few scans, there was no reason found for the blood loss or for his increasing confusion. They put him in a regular room as he graduated to better food and was getting stronger and more restless, and finally a cute little nurse told me what no one else could, that the steroids my dad was on could cause steroidal psychotic behavior, but his doctor; after a conversation with me about my dads behavior over the last few years, scheduled a neuro consult with tests to see where he is now and in future tests that will determine if he is getting worse. So, they released him after 6 days and he signed himself out, even borrowing physicians paper pants to come home by taxi rather than wait for me to come after work with his clothes. I was of course exhausted after days of working, driving my mom to the hospital to see dad, pushing her around in her jazzy because she can’t walk well enough, and trying to shop for Christmas, buy food and decorate the house to boot.

 Then finally it all came together, I ran around like a nut and tried to finish my shopping, put up the tree and do shopping for my mom who was in too much pain to shop for her own gifts to give. I maintained constant contact as I tried to find the right things for people, even to the point of shopping Christmas morning for forgotten gifts to bring with us for the relatives on Christmas Day. My dad was still a little confused about many things. When he asked if we paid the bill at the hotel where he stayed, I just told him quietly there was no bill, it went on the insurance and he was relieved. Yes, he would ask me that same question three more times… but as we sat and had our usual Christmas Eve dinner… assorted hot appetizers. It didn’t matter anymore, I just stopped getting mad at these lapses in memory, and stopped resenting him for not taking my advice in the first place.

 By now dad was on the nicotine patch that they started in the hospital and admitted that he screwed up, his doctor told us he was a few days from death if he hadn’t gone to the ER, this would have been the Christmas dad died. We listen to the Yule Log carols on DVD while we eat and dad will get a little teary eyed tonight and on Christmas Day too when talking about how happy he is to be able to spend the holiday with his family, instead of six-feet under. Then we would spend a wonderful day with the rest of the family at my cousin Donna’s house, and thank God the snow stayed away until the next day and didn’t spoil our family gathering. We didn’t put up 90 percent of the decorations in the house or on the tree, and we didn’t spend hardly any money on gifts like we usually do. But the real gift was life, the overspending and the overindulgence in food or drink and the covering of every available space in decorations of all kinds was not necessary. In fact it will make the heart grow fonder for the wonderful keepsakes we have been given if we miss them till next year. It’s five days later and dad is discovering the joys of eating and wanting to eat, but also the boredom of being stuck in from the sickness and the snow, as well as the extra free time one finds when smoking ceases to be important.

  Now as we try to maintain a fragile peace with dad, and he with us. There has also been a peace established with our neighbor, for years we had many arguments and mis-understandings, but it was her mother’s death a week before my dads hospital stay that found me and dad going to the funeral parlor to pay our respects. It was where we found some common ground, the last years and final rest of parents on which to anchor a truce. It was also my neighbors experience that Pneumonia took her mother, not the cancer. My neighbor urged me to get him to a doctor and told my dad to his face to go as well. In some small way she helped the situation, dad always needs to hear things from someone else before he would ever believe us. Why…I don’t know, I guess it’s just his way of handling life.  The one thing I do know is this, I grew up a whole lot in five days and it’s possible to be much happier with less than I ever knew. I still wish I could have given everyone a ton of gifts and filled everybody’s stockings with money, instead I gave them all kindness. A better gift by far than any I gave before.

  Next year I’ll fill the stockings with money! How will I be able to do that? I don’t know, I just have this feeling…

Christmas Peace and happiness to all.



Filed under Christmas, Family, Food, Life, Memories, My Truth

I Cook Well-July 14TH 2010

Those of you who read my BLOG know that I am no stranger to cooking, I do most of the cooking in the house, my mom is disabled and I cook something decent at least four nights a week. But flash back and by the age of eight I was coming down early on Sunday mornings and making bacon and eggs with a pot of tea before my parents were awake. Then I would set the table and lay out the food before going to wake my parents up, my folks groggy eating half cold food and wondering what to do with me. So flashing forward 40 years later and I decide in December of 2009 to teach myself classic French cooking. I armed myself with a set of JA Henckels knives and added to the armload of cookbooks we already had and dove fearlessly into the unknown. My first dish was the ubiquitous french Navarin D”Agneau, lamb stew with spring vegetables. It came out OK but I moved on. By the time I made Blanquette de veau, veal stew in cream sauce. Coq au Vin, chicken cooked in red wine and pan roasted trout with fennel I discovered a few things about myself and about cooking well. I was blooded by a pairing knife (1st time) and wore a forearm burn proudly till it healed. Granted, not all the dishes came out great but the experience was, I learned a little about butchering meat, to look a fish in the eye before I buy it and to read a recipe carefully. I also found out what to do when you get “in the weeds.” This is where rum and Coke helps tremendously.

Most of the men at my job wouldn’t be caught dead cooking French food, and at least one thinks that canned gloppy soup over rice or giant frozen boats of mystery meat swimming in unlikely gravy is Haute cuisine!  They are all caught up in typical American attitudes towards the French and their food. Which as we all know, has been increased exponentially by the former Bush Administration, why? Because of the lack of France’s support for George W. Bush’s war for oil and profit. Even the guys that do cook would not go to the trouble and expense that I do, and I would be kidded no end by my interest in all things French.

So…why do I do it? Because I have to, because I love it. The research in my books, the planning, the shopping and the execution. The proof however is when your family, friends or guests begin to eat. Sometimes the silence is worrying until you look up to see bulging cheeks and nods of approval like some bobble head dolls on a dash-board. That makes it all worthwhile, and just like any art form you can look upon it and say “I made this …and it’s good, very good.” For me the accomplishment of feeding a dozen people Thanksgiving dinner from a kitchen the size of a NYC food cart is enormous, although it is tinged with a little sadness that my mom who taught me a great deal, because of her disability, is forced to sit on the sidelines and watch me do what used to be her job. But at least I have a prep chef and coucil.

In our current “post traumatic economy disorder” many people are finding it harder to feed the typical family of four. Television commercials are touting large TV dinners as the answer to all our problems, serve it up with a salad and call it “restaurant night!” These commercials show happy middle class families excited to sit down to such fare as an alternative to going out for a nice dinner.  The sad thing is that many families are doing  just that because they can’t afford a meal out for four unless it’s fast food served on plastic trays, and guess what-that’s not so cheap as it used to be either. But on the flip side the many chain restaurants are offering two-fer-one deals to try to lure people out of the house with the promise of good food. How much healthier it is to cook from scratch, a few basic techniques, some herbs and spices and you got it. Then get the kids or your friends involved and make it fun! It’s not hard, anyone can do this if they have the guts and the desire. You don’t need a cooking degree from Culinary Institute of America or the French Culinary Institute ( but I would still like one if I could afford to go) to be able to make a few great dishes. I have cooked as a hobby for many years before it became a passion and a necessity in recent times, but this year I feel that I reached a new milestone in my cooking. I have mastered a few techniques, taught myself to cook many things I never tried before and developed a sense of how to cook a dish  just from observing it being made on TV. There is a lot I don’t know and more that I want to do, I need better knife skills for one and I need to learn to cook fish and meat better, and I need to graduate beyond stews and casseroles. I may have my critics and that’s fine, most people do.

All I know is that I may not be a great chef, but at least I cook well.

Bon Appetite


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Filed under Family, Fast Food, Food, French, French Food, Life, Memories, My Truth

Anya,Emillianna,Mosquitos & Me. Aug 14th 2009

A nice warm sunny night after a hot muggy day. I haven’t been to Manhattan since June 6th when I saw the P J Harvey show. My plan was to leave work early and have dinner in the city. But the best laid plans of men often get dunked in the loo and tonight was no exception. First I should tell you about my busy week and the surreal events that transpired since last Friday as it has a picture to paint of my life and typical problems I face.
I got off work Friday last with great joy, I was off for two days and had plans to work in the garden and cook some meat on the grill on Saturday night, and that is just what I did. I spent Saturday cleaning out weeds and brush along “Le Petit Chemin” or the little path I’m building around my pool in an area that used to be very wild back when my garden vision was to live in an overgrown forest like a hobbit. My tastes changed with age and my cousins Chrissy’s serenity garden that was part of her anti-cancer therapy, inspired me to do more with my yard. Sadly, Chrissy lost her battle with cancer but her family continues to maintain her garden, it lives on so she does too in spirit.
I made a lot of progress, pruning, tieing up branches, cutting down a bunch of old half-dead shrubs and vines, and weeding too. I ran some errands and found myself happily sipping a rum and energy drink (a tasty way to take the edge off without losing energy) while eating anchovy stuffed olives while cooking steak and chicken. I was quite pleased with the work I’d done and admired the new rambling rose I got while I cooked. It was scrawny and half dead with disease when I bought it at the supermarket, but now it was happy and getting big with my care.
 Mom came outside to watch me cook but soon went in, complaining of mosquitoes and to oversee the cooking of the roasted veggies in balsamic vinegar and olive oil we were having as a side dish, despite all that I was doing to destroy the population of mosquitoes with my zapper and spraying the garden with lemon water to repel them, Mom always gets stung.

 That would lead to a chain of events that would result in a very hectic three days for me, but I didn’t know that yet. I should also explain that my Dad had taken himself to the doctor to find out he had a UTI and his heart rhythm was messed up despite his medication that he takes to keep it in sync. So with Dad on doctors orders to stay in and rest I had the grill and garden to myself.
 We ate our meal and after goofing off for a few hours I watched “Saturday Night Live” with my Mom who was putting anti-itch cream on some skeeter bites and complaining about being hot and tired. I went to bed about midnight and the next morning I got up late. I was really cross with myself that I wasn’t up with the birds doing more work, but I was however really knackered from the previous days work anyway.

 I couldn’t sit outside to have breakfast like I usually do in the summer months because it had rained overnight and everything was soaked, so I had cereal with banana with my Mom in the kitchen while Dad sat in the living room sick and unhappy and watching home improvement shows on TV.
 By about nine o’clock my Mom said she felt like she had the Flu, she was weak, feverish and shivering on the inside, but… not cold. I was getting annoyed because I thought Mom was just being a hypochondriac, she does have a tendency (all her life) to imagine that she has every dread disease on the planet but I have to admit I was cranky, but when she showed me her leg I knew this was no joke.

 I told her to get ready to got to the hospital, my Dad got all dressed to take her but I insisted he stay home, he was already sickish and would make it worse. So off Me and Mom went to the ER just down the road, thank goodness it’s so close…Mom feels really bad.  The fear was this Swine Flu thing that is in the news every other day, and I didn’t know what to expect, I mean my imagination is already starting to run away a little. 

  We arrive at North Shore University Hospital at Plainview, an all too familiar place in recent years, between Mom, Dad, and my brother we had darkened it’s doors all too much for my liking but at least I knew my way around the place. I got Mom out at the ER and parked the car, then joined her in triage. The process was long and maddening, filling out papers, answering questions and waiting, waiting, waiting. Eventually, we moved to a second waiting room , then to an ER area where Mom was finally examined. There was an entire cadre of people who looked at my Mom, poking and prodding, collecting blood for tests, which was done again because the first time the sample was compromised because the lab was “backed-up” and spoiled the blood. My Mom couldn’t eat or drink anything until they knew what they were dealing with so it was water with ice for a while. So I ran outside and called Dad to let him know what was going on, even though I didn’t know a thing yet. Being hungry out of nervousness I walked to the cafeteria on the main lobby and scanned the offerings, no hot food unless you wanted a burger or a press sandwich, not really very good. Then I decided to go down to the employee cafeteria and find the food to be lacking there as well, so I settle on a coffee and a bran muffin, I’m not hungry…just keeping body and soul together because I need fuel. I can’t tell you how many times I had to oversee what’s happening to make sure everything is going OK. 

 They are pumping antibiotics into my Mom like there’s no tomorrow and she still hasn’t been seen by a doctor! We are worried about the Flu but still only have a vague idea whats wrong with Mom. Finally he doctor comes in and tells her she has cellulitis, caused by scratching the skeeter bites the previous day. Apparently the germs are right there on our skin, scratching just grabs then to the open wound and PRESTO your sick as a dog.
I mean you gotta see my Mom’s leg, it’s dark red and swollen and they admit her without hesitation, she will have to be on intravenous medication and fluids for at least two days.
 We have been here now almost eight hours by the time she is in bed in her room, her roommate is a senile woman who is always cold, You gotta feel it, it’s like a blast furnace in here, my Mom is hot and so am I.
But I get her set up as comfortable as possible, order her dinner and wait for it, she has had nothing since breakfast, finally with a tear in my eye I leave her, I know she is scared and so am I, her condition is actually very serious.

 The time is now 8:00 PM and I go home to fill my Dad and brother in and make dinner for Dad and myself, he often forgets to feed himself, so after cleaning up and watching a little of the Travel Channel, I take a call from Mom who already has a phone set up before I fall into bed unable to sleep knowing that if I don’t call into work, my Dad will defy doctors orders and run around like a nut trying to do too much. I guess it’s his nervous reaction to problems, cleaning like mad, fussing over small details, running to stores to pick up things we need or to bring to Mom, even though he was told to stay down and rest. So I lay in bed and worry and fall into a disturbed sleep.

  When the alarm goes off in the morning, I feel as if I haven’t slept at all, I am spent and I call into my work, get dressed and go down and get a coffee going before washing up, Dad is already up  fussing, nervous and making me more so, too many questions too early. We make up a possibles bag of things she wanted and a few things we thought she might need to bring with me when I go to see her today after nine o’clock. We put her slippers, magazines, makeup, etc into a bag and I leave to go to the several local places looking for a small portable fan to bring to her, it’s hot…I mean scorching so as I go across the parking lot to go into a CVS and find her a small battery operated fan. I find one with a water reservoir attached so she can spray her face and fan it whenever she needs to cool off, this is just what I need so I pay for it and go speeding off fighting the mid-morning traffic to see her.  The parking lot is full and so are the streets surrounding the main parking lot, so I have no choice but to park Mom’s car on a side street well away from the hospital and walk in the heat. I am sweating buckets by the time I get to her room, and start fussing over her getting her cold water filling the fan with water and batteries so Mom can cool off and start asking questions about her condition and walking to the nurses station to talk to the staff and ask even more questions. This is what you have to do, you have to make sure the proper meds are being given, you have to insist that needs are met in a timely fashion. My grandmother was almost killed in the hospital when a nurse almost gave her a bag of blood for no reason! You gotta cover all the bases all the time, my Mom is a lousy patient for me but doesn’t want to “bother” the nurses.

 This is the way it goes for the next two days , a blur of running to the hospital, foodstore, cooking, cleaning, making sure Dad is OK and doing what needs to be done as it occurs. In between all this I take a break and get a few shrubs and perennials and put them in the ground while I’m home and have the chance between visiting hours. I bring Dad to see Mom and after work my brother joins us, he brings a hand-held quiz game for Mom to play in bed. We try to make the best of it but she hates hospitals and wants to be home. So by Tuesday I’m totally “cream crackered” which is the English way to say exhausted, I want only to bring my Mom home. I’ve used the last two vacation days I had for the year and don’t want my Dad to have to bring her home tomorrow, he gets himself so nervous over things he will be a wreck and turn a simple trip into a military operation. The worst part is that at his age and with just a touch of Alzheimer’s, he can be very forgetful and also get very confused and my Mom is a very impatient person, this is a cocktail that can result in explosive arguments in the car just going to the store, and I don’t need a phone call at work saying Dad wrecked the car or worse, a call from the cops saying they both have been in an accident. My Dad already wrecked his own car in 2007 and almost killed my brother, all because he insisted on going out in the dark rainy night to pick up my brother instead of letting me do it, he sneaked out in defiance while I was getting out of my work clothes, even though he knows he has trouble seeing at night.
 So on Tuesday with Dad suggesting over and over that he can do it, I sneak out and take her car and go to the hospital to get her and hopefully bring her home, she really can’t leave till the doctor sees her and no seems to know where he is, so we wait and wait. well, as you might have guessed this takes all day. I mean I ate breakfast with Mom and then lunch came and went and we still waited. Finally, the doctor shows up with a few scripts and gives her the green light to continue convalescing at home, although he really wants her to stay he agrees to let her out. The list of do’s and don’ts is extensive, elevate the leg, soak the leg, stay out of the sun for three days, wear long pants and insect repellant at all times after that, come back in a week to the office for a looksee of the leg and take all the medication till it’s finished.

 We wait some more for the paperwork to be filled out and I pack up Mom’s stuff and take it out to the car, bringing the car to the parking lot from it’s far away location (again) to make it easier when we leave. Then after waiting for an orderly and a wheelchair we get to go down into the heat wave and I bring the car around and off we go homeward bound, of course the first thing Mom suggests as we pass the Old Country Creamery is a scoop of ice cream!
 When we arrive home Dad has got the house on pins, he has the living room set up like  her hospital,even though he was told to take it easy he does what he wants. But she will have to sleep downstairs because her leg hurts too much to walk upstairs. We settle Mom in and  I go to the pharmacy and wait for her meds to be made up and then come home to make dinner, finding them bickering as soon as I walk in the door.

 I guess it’s back to abnormal, which is normal for them, I don’t understand but I guess some couples love each other but don’t really like each other. Does that make any sense? …I’d rather be single than wind up like that, but maybe that’s better than being alone. I thank God that Mom is okay as I lay in bed so tired I can’t sleep, I think about work tomorrow and the concert on Thursday night and work again half a day on Saturday too. I’m gonna feel like someone whooped my ass by Sunday, oh wait a minute…I already do!
Nighty Nite

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Filed under Concerts, Family, Life, My Truth