Wednesday’s Wisdom

Diane and I love these… a continuation of last month’s difference making ideas…

“One sunbeam lights a room.

One candle wipes out darkness.

One laughter will conquer gloom.

One step must start each journey.

One word must start a prayer.

One hope will raise our spirits.

One touch can show you care.

One voice can speak with wisdom.

One heart can know what’s true.

One life can make a difference.

That difference can start with you.”

-Unknown

We Drive to Florida But Not Without Fright and Good Fortune

We drove to Florida from Rhode Island, thinking it would be a great opportunity to visit sites along the way. Among those we had in mind were Monticello, Savannah and some others.
Well it is interesting. Once we started to drive, we just wanted to ‘get there’.
And that we did, traveling far enough (about 500 miles per day) so that we were tired and just wanted to rest. We never saw any sites and ‘got there’ but not without a harrowing experience.
Just south of Savannah, some 20 miles from our next stop and in a light rain, we were traveling at under 70 mph in the middle lane.
Suddenly, without warning of course, a car jumped the median from the other lanes and was in the air, upside down and coming at us. It is true that things go in slow motion during an emergency, and that is what happened.
The car was in the air, upside down and coming at us, leaving us enough time to think, “What the hell! Is this a Mel Gibson movie we’re in?! We’re done!”
The car in flight landed in the high speed lane next to us, missing the truck ahead of us and throwing a fender into our lane. I had a chance to swerve away from it. Thankfully, there was no car in the lane next to me.
I looked in the side view mirror. The car that scaled the barrier hit on its roof and bounced a few times. I cannot believe there was a survivor. We will never know.
Diane and I, quite shaken, pulled over to stop behind the truck that was ahead of us.
I went to him. He rolled down his window. “How are you?” I asked.
“Shaking,“ he replied.
“So are we.”
We drove at snail’s pace to the hotel, thanking our guardian angel, praying for the anonymous person driving and crashing the flying car.

Transiant Global Amnesia. Yep… I Had It

In March, I had an interesting medical event happen to me. As I went to my closet to get dressed, I reached for my shoes and from that point, I remember nothing. Diane told me that I was absent for an hour and a half; the first thing I remember was being transported by ambulance to RI Hospital.
There I was seen by a host of medical personnel, had two MRI’s and a CAT scan and was told that I was fine, that I did not have a stroke, that as far as they were concerned, I had no worries.
Well…. easier said than believed. We were to travel to Florida the next day, but that was not to be without a clearance from my physician.
I called him.
“Yes,” he said, “I have all your tests from the emergency room. What you had was an episode of transient global amnesia. I see it every now and then. You can check it on the web”
“Can I go to Florida? We’re driving.”
“Sure. No problem.”

I checked the web site and there it was from the Mayo Clinic….

Transient global amnesia is a sudden, temporary episode of memory loss that can’t be attributed to a more common neurological condition, such as epilepsy or stroke.
During an episode of transient global amnesia, your recall of recent events simply vanishes, so you can’t remember where you are or how you got there. You may also draw a blank when asked to remember things that happened a day, a month or even a year ago. With transient global amnesia, you do remember who you are, and recognize the people you know well, but that doesn’t make your memory loss less disturbing.
Fortunately, transient global amnesia is rare, seemingly harmless and unlikely to happen again. Episodes are usually short-lived, and afterward your memory is fine.
I liked the last part…harmless, unlikely to happen again…etc.

We went to Florida. I’m well.

Excerpts From The Books

Thank you for visiting my site:

www.italianamericanwriter.com

I regularly post my stories of growing up in an Italian household surrounded by loving relatives, neighbors and friends.

But now I also post poetry, essays, literature feeds or whatever comes to mind as

I continue to explore the world of writing.

It has been fun and rewarding. Thus, I encourage you to write and record your stories and

those of your relatives and friends, for if not, they will be lost forever..

On occasion, I will add stories from my next book, “What Ever Happened to Sunday Dinner?.

I hope it will be as successful as my first, 

“Growing up Italian;Grandfather’s Fig Tree and Other Stories.”

Look for those old pictures in the bottoms of boxes and get them out!

They will remind you of what to write. And if you wish to be a guest author on my blog, please send your story along.

They are so valuable. Watch for The Sunday Dinner stories out soon. And watch for the book.

Minna’s Favorite Recipes…I’ll Bet You Can’t Eat One…

This easy and very tasty appetizer is from Biba Caggiano’s Trattoria Cooking cookbook.  She first had these tasty (and easy to prepare) fried olives in Venezia, at Cantina Do Mori.  They should be served warm with a nice glass of wine or sherry.

Olive Fritte

Minna

 

30 large Italian-style pitted green olives
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, spread over a sheet of aluminum foil
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup plain bread crumbs, mixed with ½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano, spread over a sheet of aluminum foil
Vegetable oil for frying

1.  Roll the olives in the flour, dip them in the eggs, and coat with the bread crumb-parmigiano mixture.

2.  Heat one inch of oil in a medium-size skillet over medium heat.  When the oil is hot, fry the olives, a handful of at a time, until they are lightly golden, less than 1 minute.

3.  Remove the olives with a slotted spoon and spread on paper towels to drain.
*Suggestion:  I have used the large green pitted olives in the jars, but I prefer the wonderful large pitted green olives available at the salad/appetizer bar in the supermarket.  I especially love the ones stuffed with cheese – gorgonzola, feta, or whatever is available.  A delicious surprise when bitten into warm…
BUON APPETITO!

Friday’s Quick Quip. I Wonder….

I wonder how uncertain my life might have been if my grandparents did not come to America.

Or, would I have had a life?

The Origin of a Name. Here is My Story

Dad is on the left

In the Middle Ages, people were known by their baptismal names, e.g. Giuseppe, Giovanni, etc. until the year 1000, when a second name was added to avoid confusion.

To distinguish individuals, the name of the father (patronymics) might be added, e.g. Giovanni son of Bernardo became Giovanni di Bernardo or Giovanni Bernardo; or to identify someone from a certain area (toponymics), e.g. Leonardo di Ser Piero from Vinci was the great Leonardo da Vinci

My name plagued me throughout childhood…too long, too difficult to say, perplexing. I heard it all: Yank-a-nelli, Innch-a-nelli, the kid from around the corner and the biggest insult…“the Italian kid” when they had no idea how to pronounce it. Most of my friends had easier names like Dick, Falls, Potts, Sullivan and Terry. Even many Italian-Americans had simple names…Pascale, Delano and Rossi. I had nicknames like “Chilly” and “Nooch.”  A College professor once called me Ed Yank-a-Nelly, so throughout my college years, I was known as “Ed Yank.”

My college art teacher thought my name originated from the Latin words janus, for gate, and coelis, for heaven, and simply meant, “gate of heaven.” God bless him! I liked it!

However, an Italian scholar told me that the name Giovanni, Johnny, jani or ianni in Italian, was common, and that my name might be a derivative of John.  He also explained that vezzeggiativo meant using an ending to make a word pretty…e.g. uccio attached to the word cara…. caruccio, means dear or pretty one. So iannuccio could signify dear or pretty John. “Ini”, or “illo”, in Neapolitan dialect, means small. Iannuccilli could mean little, or dear, John… dear, little John. I liked that too. So kind, so mellow.

But people more than a definition or pronunciation lend honor to a name. There are many Iannuccilli’s … bankers, lawyers, doctors, teachers, realtors, craftsmen, skilled laborers, developers, etc. whose forefathers originated in a small town just south of Rome, Roccamonfina, where successful Iannuccilli’s still labor harvesting a large portion of the world’s chestnut crop.

I have sons, grandsons and nephews who carry this great name, rich in tradition, rooted in history; no apology necessary.

And today, as of 4:29 AM, I have carried the name for 70 years!

So How About a Bunny for Easter…

The Easter following the chicks’ episode, I bought a rabbit. One rabbit on the ground should be easier to handle than four chickens in the air. Like chickens, they were soft and cuddly, but unlike chickens, they could be trained to leave the cage, sit in your lap, eat from your and return to a simple call like ‘isisp, isisp’. And, for sure they do not fly.

Bunny for Easter

Grandpa built a hutch for my rabbit in the back yard. After school, I fed him, held him, pet him, and let him roam. A loyal friend, he recognized me as soon as I rounded the corner and he thumped the floor of his den. He was kind, patient and calm, not as jumpy as I sometimes could be.

One day, I did not hear his welcoming thump. I walked to the hutch and looked in. he was lying at the bottom, motionless. “Isisp, isisp.” Nothing. I banged the side. Nothing. I unhitched the latch and opened the cage. Nothing. I reached in with a heavy arm and pushed him with three fingers. Nothing. I looked around. It was quiet. The trees were still. I looked up at the windows. They were closed. It was quiet. No one was home. I closed the cage. I looked at my rabbit. Nothing. He lay dead.

Just then, Grandpa rounded the corner, saw me at the cage, walked over, looked in and put his hand on my shoulder. I stiffened. My back teeth were clenched tight. My jaw muscles were bulging. I took two quick breaths and wiped my nose with the sleeve of my shirt. “These things happen, Edward.” He paused. I looked up at him. “You know what we can do! We can bury him right here in our yard! He will always be near.”

“Near?”
I watched my grandfather dig the hole, lift the rabbit while cradling his head, and place him on the dirt at the bottom of the hole. He made him comfortable, laid an old sheet over him, and shoveled in the dirt, leaving a little mound. He finished by nailing two pieces of wood together for a cross. Finally grandpa turned and put both hands on my shoulders. I convulsed with uncontrollable sobbing. He wrapped his arms around me and held me close. I could smell the dirt and sweat. “Let’s go upstairs. Maybe grandma has something good to eat.” I looked over my shoulder as I walked to the rear door.  Each day thereafter, I paused at the cross.

Some weeks later, I met a friend who had a finger-like furry thing attached to a chain and clasped around his belt loop. It looked familiar. “What’s that?”
“A rabbit foot.”
“A real rabbit foot?”
“Yeah.”
“Where did you get it?”
“My mother bought it for me. She said it brings good luck.” How lucky! I had an idea. I rushed home from school to dig up my rabbit, cut off his foot, put a chain through it, and wear it. I started to dig. Just as I reached the sheet covering the rabbit, Grandpa entered the yard.
“What are you doing?”
“Getting my rabbit’s foot.”

Once again, he put both hands on my shoulders and looked into my eyes. He shoveled the dirt back. “Once a pet dies, you must bury him and leave him there forever. You must never disturb him because now he is with God.” I looked up at Grandpa. “I will get you a rabbit foot. Let’s go upstairs. Maybe Grandma has something good to eat.”

Summer passed. Leaves, then snow, fell on my rabbit’s grave. Spring came and there were flowers.

So This is What Happned to My Baby Chicks

One day, I opened the door and found them wandering about the kitchen, leaving a trail of deposits.

A deeper box topped by an old screen did not help. Before long they jumped, knocked the screen off, stood on the box for a moment, flapped their tiny wings, and glided to the floor.  Dad became impatient. The chicks needed to be outdoors. “Can I put them on the porch?”

We lived on the third floor of a three-story home with a porch that overlooked the neighborhood. Its rails were high enough to keep children and chickens contained, but it was usually off-limits, probably because passersby did not appreciate being pelted with water balloons. “Okay, for now,” he said.

I re-boxed them, put the screen on top and a brick on top of that. One day, I found that they had tipped the box and were out, roaming the porch. They left their usual trail. A bigger box, a larger screen, and a second brick were to no avail. I received a phone call from an annoyed next-door neighbor. “Edward, you’re chickens are on my porch.”

They had jumped to the rail, fluttered their wings, sailed to the neighbor’s porch one floor below ten feet away and left some presents. It was time for relocation.

Grandfather built a pen along the rear wall of the neighbor’s garage. One day, while I was sitting in the yard, I observed an ominous, huge bird perched on our clothes pole. He made an athletic swoop toward the chickens, tried to pluck them, but was unsuccessful. Back to his perch he went, never taking his eyes from the chickens, or me. “What’s that?” Grandpa replied, “An owl.”

The chickens had to go. Too big and too appealing to predators, they no longer belonged in the neighborhood. We gave them to my uncle’s father, who was farming land not far from our home, and who said to me, “It-sa the perfek place. They can-na stay in-na-the coop, or… run-aroun. You no haf-a-fa ta worry about the big-a bird or the mess, and it-sa good-a foh the garden.”

He said I could visit anytime. I did, once, but I was unable to identify them in the crowd.

My Easter chicks outgrew the box, the cage, the kitchen, the porch, my neighbor, the yard, my father, my grandfather and me. I wondered aloud what happened to those once cuddly little pets; I never got an answer

“I’ll get a rabbit next year,” I thought.

Did You Have Baby Chicks? So I Get Them and Then What?

It was Easter season and our local Five and Ten Cent Store, Ben Franklin’s, had received its annual shipment of baby chicks.

I raced to the store, sped across its long wooden aisles, past the dry goods, clothes, mops, detergents, and the toys, to the rear and the new arrivals. The peeps and smells of chicks and musty grain drew me to those adorable balls of fluff crammed in their high glass enclosure.

I stood on tiptoes to see them warming under the glow of soft yellow bulbs. Chicks scampered everywhere; in their water, in their feed and on each other. I purchased the two warmest, fluffiest and smartest chicks along with a bag of grain, and I rushed home.
I put them in a cardboard box carefully lined with newspaper, and located it behind the warm kitchen stove.  I placed a bowl of water in one corner of the box and a bowl of feed in the other. The chicks were set.

Every afternoon, I hurried home from school to watch the cuddly balls bobbing and winding along on little legs and pointed toes.  Despite squirming, they warmed to my touch. But all they seemed to do was eat, sleep and defecate…everywhere…on the paper, in their food, in their water and on each other.

And when out of the box, they went on the linoleum and sometimes in my lap. Changing the paper, cleaning the dishes and feeding them were annoying, but I accepted the responsibility. The chicks grew quickly. After Easter, my cousins tired of their two, so I appropriated them, and I now had four chicks and was buying five-pound bags of grain.

 

Wednesday’s Wisdom. Simple Things That Can Make a Difference

We love these…. simple…things that can make a difference

“One song can spark a moment.

One flower can wake the dream.

One tree can start a forest.

One bird can herald spring

One vote can change a nation.”

One life can make a difference. That difference can start with you.”

-Unknown

Minna's recipes…for the Lenten repertoire

Minna

Here is a tasty recipe to add to your Lenten repertoire — or anytime!  It’s from the Eating Well publication.  

The dry white wine and Gruyere cheese give this fish casserole a rich flavor that belies its’ virtue of being low sodium.  Topping the dish with seasoned whole-wheat breadcrumbs before baking adds a delicious crunch and fiber! 

 BAKED COD CASSEROLE                                                                                            

Cod Casserole

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 medium onions, very thinly sliced
1 cup dry white wine
1 ¼ pounds cod, cut into 4 pieces*
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme*
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 ½ cups finely chopped whole-wheat country bread (2 slices)*
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup finely shredded Gruyere cheese*

1.  Preheat oven to 400
2.  Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat.  Add onions and cook, stirring often, until just starting to soften, 5-7 minutes.  Add wine, increase heat to high and cook, stirring often, until the wine is slightly reduced, 2-4 minutes.
3.  Place cod pieces on the onions and sprinkle with thyme, salt and pepper.  Cover the pan tightly with foil; transfer to the oven and bake for 12 minutes.
4.  Toss the bread with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, paprika and garlic powder in a medium bowl.  Spread the bread mixture over the fish and top with the cheese.  Bake, uncovered, until the fish is opaque in the center, about 10 minutes more.  Serves 4

*TIPS:  For variety, you can substitute almost any mild white fish.
             I use McCormick’s Italian Seasonings blend.
             I use whole wheat Panko bread crumbs – love the crunch!
             You can substitute shredded Swiss cheese – but the Gruyere is delicious!
BUON APPETITO

Speaking About Writing. I Speak to My Grandson’s Class

I had the opportunity  to speak to my grandson Alec’s class about writing and of my book , “Growing Up Italian.”

It was a while ago, but the memory of how much fun it was came to mind today.

I had a marvelous time and was fortunate to receive this response from the teacher, Ms. Palumbo. Please click on the link below. My goal was to encourage them to write.

Hopefully, I succeeded with some or all.

http://people.ucls.uchicago.edu/~jpalumb/Site/Newsletters/Entries/2009/12/16_Writing%3A_from_ancient_times_to_modern_times.html

I Loved My Librarian and My Library. Doesn’t Everyone?

The Sprague House Branch Library

It was a two story white bungalow indistinguishable from the others in the neighborhood; one that any one of us might have called home. Three cement steps led to the front door. There were windows (even cellar ones), weathered sides, a steep roof, houses close on both sides and an alley that led to the rear. But it was not just any neighborhood house. It was our library. And we did call it a home.

The Sprague House Branch Library on Armington Avenue in Providence was very welcoming, and once a week it was more than just going in to read a book or borrow one. It was the after school story hour with the librarian that I loved almost as much as I loved my former kindergarten teacher.

It was so good to have a library one block away, especially one that made me feel as if I were entering my own home. And being only two blocks from my elementary school, Academy, I stopped on many days after school.

I opened the door to a narrow, carpeted, dark hall with book laden shelves to the ceiling on each side. The books, so neatly stacked in rows, hugged the walls and extended out, making the path so tight that it was difficult to pass someone coming the other way. My fingers made a rat-ta-tat tat sound as I ran them along the hard covers. The musty smells of wood, oil, leaves and dampness reminded me of my cellar. I walked (ran on story hour day) down the narrow hallway and then bounded up a few more oily and creaky wooden stairs that led to a larger, more open room which had tables and a sign out desk. The tables smelled different, kind of like one of the big old neighborhood trees that I used to climb. The undersides of the tables had hard lumps of gum stuck to them (I swallowed my Double Bubble). Only a little light could filter through the side windows that were blocked by the nearby houses. There was a quiet, slow turning ceiling fan which was not enough to cool in the summer. Sitting at a desk near another door, maybe behind a glass, was the head librarian, but I paid little attention to her. I was looking for the one who told the stories.

On a usual day, I sat at one of the tables and found a book to read or to thumb through. It was difficult to be quiet, maybe the most difficult thing I ever had to do, especially when friends were nearby. 

“Quiet please,” the head librarian would say. Her voice was so gentle, so soft, I suppose because she had white hair and peered over clear glasses. She was kinda nice I think, not frightening, so that’s why we were ready to resume our laughing and talking as soon as she went back to her desk. Sometimes the laughing was uncontrollable and, most of the time, I didn’t know why. Everything was funny…a look, a cough, an exaggerated sniffle, a girl with pigtails, a funny looking kid, a gas emission or a burp. There were those lucky guys who could burp repeatedly. What a great skill! Tears of uncontrollable laughter rolled down my cheeks as I buried my head in the table. On occasion the librarian tiptoed over and said, “I think it would be better if you were not in the library today.” She was so patient and kind.

On story day, things were different. There was no way I was going to misbehave. As I entered the main room I looked to the right just to be sure there would be a story hour. Relief! There would be a story hour! In the corner, a quieter place partially hidden by a shelf of books was a bunch of little chairs arranged like a half moon and, in front of them, was a large wooden chair. Our chairs were small but not too small. My feet touched the floor and I could put my elbows on the arm rests. I was the first to sit, and I watched as other kids entered and sat. We waited without saying a word. She entered. When I saw her, I leaned to the edge of my chair, ready to hear another story. She sat. Her hair was so pretty. She smiled and raised her eyebrows

“Good afternoon, children.” What a nice voice.

“Good afternoon, Miss____.”

“Are you ready for story hour?” Her face was soft. She did not wear glasses.

“Yes, Miss ____.”

“What would you like to hear today?” she folded her hands in her lap and crossed her legs.

Frozen, no one answered. We didn’t know what we wanted to hear, but she never failed. Her stories kept us glued to our seats because she took us to places of wonder, surprise and special endings with characters we wanted to be, or avoid.

Was Snow White as beautiful and as fair as the snow? How great it must have been to be a dwarf. And how would Rapunzel get out of that tower? Oh, what a happy ending. And the tiger chasing Sambo turned to butter? Great, because I was so frightened for Sambo. But no one frightened me more than the Giant that was chasing Jack and all for a goose who laid golden eggs! Oh boy was his mother mad when Jack showed her the beans! Three little pigs? A wolf that dressed like a grandmother? A boy whose nose grew when he lied?

When story hour ended, I went home thinking of nothing else; so pleased, so eager for the next week.

As the years went by, I outgrew story hour and the books outgrew the Sprague House Branch which closed, moved up the street and became the Mt. Pleasant Branch Library. Though there was no more story hour for me, not much else changed.  There still were the books; great stories like “Deerslayer,” “Huckleberry Finn,” “Tom Sawyer,”  “The Last of the Mohicans,” “Punt Formation” and “Lou Gehrig: Pride of the Yankees.”  Nor did the rules change. No talking, no laughing, no gum, a fine for late returns. And when we broke the rules, that same gentle head librarian, Mrs. B___, who also moved to the new library, politely told us what she expected.

But there was one important thing so very different. I never saw the story hour librarian again. I heard that the story hour was held in the basement of the new library, but I never checked.

I was thinking of how important a role libraries have played in my life, a role that continues. What a wonderful resource, even today, when I asked the reference librarian for information about the Sprague House Branch Library, and overnight, I had an answer.

Our neighborhood library, replete with history and stories one block away, was an integral part of my life, introducing me to the love of books, story hour and the librarian. How very grateful I am.

The Ambush. Mike Montigny, Guest Author

When we were selected for an ambush, we knew it was going to be a long and stressful night. There was no opting out. It was so difficult to sleep as we were constantly bothered by pesky mosquitoes, animals that crawled over us and, of course, the enemy. (Some marines feared snakes more than they feared the enemy).

Once we were assigned, we walked to our area that could be anywhere…near a path, a bridge, a hill or thick jungle where we were heavily camouflaged. The latter was my assignment for that night ambush.

We were sitting in this position for more than two hours when suddenly I heard the rustling of branches, strange whispering and the sound of metal objects clicking. We quietly readied our weapons and put the enemy in our sight. The corporal in charge selected me as the point marine to open fire when the enemy was in position, but only when he tapped me on the shoulder. The other members of my platoon were to open fire only after I expended my magazine. This would give us fire superiority, because while they were firing, my corporal and I were reloading to maintain a steady stream of rounds. This added an element of surprise to our attack.

I counted five enemy soldiers in the open walking down the path. They had heavy packs on their backs and were carrying automatic weapons. They looked like North Vietnamese Regular Army soldiers. We also heard more troops adjacent to their position walking through the jungle. How many? We could not tell and we had no time to count.

I began to sweat and shake as I waited for the corporal to tap my shoulder to begin the kill. I started to take the slack off my trigger and was ready. One enemy soldier went by our position. No tap from the corporal. I became very anxious as two more passed by. No tap! Then all of them passed. Again, no tap on my shoulder.    Once they were out of range, I turned and whispered, “What the F—-!!!!  What happened? Why did you not tap me?”

Looking more frightened than all of us put together, he said, “I panicked. I could not do it.”

“You could have gotten us killed!” I screamed.

“I’m sorry. I’m sorry, so sorry.” It was too late for his apology. We were disappointed with his lack of leadership and for putting us in danger. I had my own plan.

If we were confronted with another enemy sighting, I was not going to wait for a tap on the shoulder. I so informed the others. Because they trusted me, they agreed. So did the corporal.

When we went back to camp in the morning and walked by our commander’s tent, he said, “Good morning. Did you spot any South Korean Marines, our allies, during the night? They were assigned to patrol the same area where you were stationed.”

My corporal quickly responded, “No sir, it was all quiet.” We looked at each other, incredulously, and continued to our area to get some sleep. He apologized again, and we forgave him for, after all, he unintentionally saved the lives of those men and possibly ours.

Friendly fire might have done us all in. My guardian angel must have whispered in his ear and told him not to tap my shoulder.

We never went on patrol or ambush with him again, because he later told our sergeant what had happened. He was re-assigned to a non-combative position. I guess we had to be thankful.

My angel saved many.

Mom Knocked on the Door and I Was Embarrassed

My mother could be a humorous trip or an embarrassing torch. She would say anything, anytime, jump around, dance, sing or whatever. Though she had a fertile mind, sometime there was no governor, no stop point, no thought to a consequence no matter how frightening.
On this day, her nonstop thought was fun, albeit a bit embarrassing.
There were occasions when I had to fit a relative in to my busy practice. This day it was my aunt. She had the flu.
When she came for the visit, of course my mother and their two nieces, in their seventies, came along. They were going out for coffee after the visit… anything for a Newport Creamery coffee and chat.
After I saw my aunt, I went out to my secretary’s desk where all of them were chatting with my secretary.
I was behind and although they wanted to talk even more with me, I had to go to the examine room to see my next patient, her first visit. I heated to be late.
“I’ll see you guys. I gotta go.”
“Edward,” said my mother, “Would you believe I love you.”
“Yeah, yeah, Mom, I do. See ya.”
I entered the exam room, introduced myself to the patient and sat to take her history. My seat was next to the door. At that moment, I heard a bang, bang, bang on the door. I leaned left and opened it backhanded. I was stunned. It was my mother banging the door with her cane.
“Mom, what do you want? I whispered”
“I have to talk to you.”
Sensing something urgent, I got up and went out while keeping my hand on the door handle. The door remained slightly open. “What is it?”
“Your hair is too short.”
“You’re kidding. That’s why you banged on the door. To tell me my hair is too short.”
“Yes. You should cut it like Regis Philbin’s.”
“Mom, he has a toupee.”
She raised her cane. “No he doesn’t! He does not!” At that point I slinked back into the exam room chair, my face now beet red.
“It’s OK,” said the patient. “I understand.”
Mom’s team went for coffee.

I Wasn’t “Cool” So Who Was?

In high school, Bob introduced me to Chet Baker and Dave Brubeck. Their music was different. It was cool. I tried to be cool like those guys, but I just didn’t make it.

High school was a challenge. I was trying to get comfortable by looking older, fixing my hair, my sweater, my shirt, my pants. I was always fixing. It seemed a thing to do. Should I wear a shirt under my sweater? Or just the sweater? And is a red one cool? How about a white T- shirt under the red? Which was cooler? I fixed my hair and squeezed my pimples. I tried Clearasil.   I wanted to fit in. I had a beer.

But it wasn’t easy. It took me a long time to figure out that everyone was trying to fit in.

Brubeck was cool

baker was cool

Kool Aid was cool

Who else was cool?

Not me

I tried to be what it was.

A Little free Library in Front of Your Home. Worth a Try

I heard from a number of you after I wrote of what books do for me and how collections of them, if saved, will ‘eat you out of house and home’. My Dad loved that phrase as Peter and I made our regular after dinner trips to the refrigerator( that’s for another story).
In the December 15, 2013 edition of the Providence Journal, there was a story entitled “Little Free Library offers books on Street,” by Karen Lee Ziner. Diane and I loved it.
She wrote of people who built little boxes mounted to a pole in front of their houses.
There they placed a one shelf library of their books with an invitation to “Take a book, leave a book.”
It was, as Karen wrote, a “Little Free Library.” What a great idea. And now there is a movement thereof…. At least 12,000 to 15,000 already established around the country…. No fines, no cards, open 24/7… just trusting people who love books.
You can make your own box or purchase one from the
Littlefreelibrary.org

The picture below is from the Little Free Library web site


Online store.
You can even register your home front library.
What a great way to stay connected to books… real books that you can hold and read with a light over your shoulder; just my style.
Try it. We will.

It is a great idea.

Our Own Tray Tables for Watching TV

Did you watch TV in front of tray table; that wonderful functional table that folded easily, fit into a corner and was quickly accessible.  
Peter and I watched Howdy Doody, The Lone Ranger, Range Rider and Superman in front of our tables. They were favorites at supper time and our parents were lenient because TV was novel, exciting and unique.
Ah yes, the tray table. Our personal table, collapsible, portable and all-purpose… made for watching television. Why we even had a rack for them in the corner of the TV room. We had four.

Folding Multipurpose Personal TV Tray Table
The metal legs perfectly accommodated the grips on the underside of the tray, never to fail unless, of course, Peter and I decided to wrestle.
Then it was a mess.

So… did you have a tray table?

Dad Had His Pocket Picked in Rome

I love Adam Gopnick’s writing. His article in the January 13, 2014 New Yorker, Pickpockets and Paranoia in France, reminded me of the time my Dad had his pocket picked in Rome.
Twenty five years ago, we visited our daughter, Jennifer, who was doing a semester in Rome. We started with a week in the countryside of Todi, a place my parents loved because it reminded them of the stories their immigrant parents told of the “old country.”
After the week, we were confident enough to take the train to Rome for a second week. When we got off the train, I thought it might be a good idea to experience the bus to our hotel, Torre Argentina.
The bus was so crowded that Dad and I stood while Mom, Diane and Jennifer found seats.
As the bus rumbled, a lady said to me, “That man just had his pocket picked by that kid.”      
I saw a scruffy, disheveled, filthy kid, maybe eight or nine, near Dad, so I immediately grabbed him by his hair and pulled. He wailed. It didn’t bother me nor any of the other passengers as no one looked up.
Mom, Diane and Jennifer were talking.
I looked to Dad. “Dad, do you have your money?”
He tapped his shirt pocket. “Yep, I do. It’s right here.” He tapped again. Wailing from the kid.
“Are you sure?” More wailing, even louder. Now, the kid’s nose was running. Ugh.
“Yes,” he replied, tapping again. “It’s right here.” He was confident.
“OK.” I threw the wailing ragamuffin off the bus.
“Wait,” Dad said. “ Uh, oh. I had some money in this pants pocket also. It’s gone.”
“Dammit. The kid is gone.”
‘No matter,” someone said. “They hand it off the bus as soon as they get it.”
Rome?? No matter. It was a magnificent time and Dad was only 10,000 lira short.