Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thanksgiving Remembrances...

Every year, when I was a kid, I wanted to watch two things that were shown on network television every bloody Thanksgiving; (Network television because there wasn't anything else! You watched what was showing... or nothing! Period!)

Every year they would show Laurel & Hardy in "March of the Wooden Soldiers" and they would show "King Kong".

As of this day, I have never, ever gotten to see either of the movies in their entirety on Thanksgiving.

For some reason my grandfather, who loved me dearly, and who generally went out of his way to see that I got things that I wanted, in this one instance was in opposition to me, and I'm not really sure why.

He and my grandmother were both drinkers, and Thanksgiving Day was essentially a day to get, well... Shitfaced!

I'm sure that being three sheets to the wind by 10AM most likely had something to do with it... but I can't really be sure.

The reason that I would want to watch these movies, in addition to wanting to see them because I just liked them, is that the kids at school would all start talking about what they traditionally watched on Thanksgiving at their houses, and the talk would build up and build up until we broke out of school on the day before Thanksgiving, and then I would have to hear all of them discussing the finer points of the movies throughout the following week back at school, without the benefit of having actually seen the movies in question... (well... I had seen "King Kong", but it helped to have everything fresh in your mind if you wanted to sound like you had a clue at all!)

I would usually start out by asking whether I could watch my shows a few days (read weeks) before Thanksgiving... to which I would either be told "sure!", or, "we'll see" depending upon the mood and identity of whoever I happened to be asking..

When the actual Day came along, it generally went something like this;

I would get my pillow, park my skinny ass in front of the TV and flip through the channels until I found whatever channel the first movie (March of the Wooden Soldiers) was on, and I would sit through 20 minutes of whatever hideous and miserable show that was on before it... The commercial would come on, and then, finally the music and credits for the actual movie would appear. Three minutes into the movie, my grandfather would haul himself out of his chair, walk over to the TV, switch the channel to something else, and say, "Alright mac, that's enough... time for me to watch something, now..." or, more to the point, "You aren't watching this crap. It's my house. When you grow up and get your own house, and your own TV, you can watch what you want."

Naturally, I would raise holy shittin' hell over this, feeling that I was being treated unfairly, and becoming indignant over the outrage. The arguing and screaming would commence, and sooner or later my mom would slap the living crap out of me for being 'fresh' to my grandfather... then I would be 'fresh' to her, too... out of sheer indignance, audacity, and pig-headed stubbornness (which, admittedly, I have way too much of..)

There would generally be a contest of switching the channel back and forth until I was threatened with something sufficiently inconvenient to prevent me from daring to touch the TV again, whereupon I would go in search of the big guns; Nana!!!

She would be half in the bag by now, too, and every indignity and injustice that she had ever suffered or that she perceived that she had suffered at the hands of my grandfather would, I'm sure, surge right to the surface, and she would wade in... all barrels blazing!!

"JOE! Why can't the poor kid watch his shows?? You're like a dog in a manger! You haven't even glanced at the TV the entire day, and you know that he was waiting to watch his movies, and now you have to decide that you want to change the channel??"

My grandfather was not one to cave in just like that... he once returned to the bar that he owned to find that some guys with broken noses and pinky rings had installed a juke box without having discussed it with him. He called the owner of the jukebox company, which was printed on a sticker right on the jukebox, and told him that since they didn't show him the respect of asking him first whether he wanted a jukebox in his bar, to come and take it out of there immediately.

The gent on the other end of the phone told him that the jukebox was staying, or that he (my Pop) would be cleaning his brains off of the bar.

My grandfather wasn't dissuaded by this and told the man that if the jukebox wasn't out of his bar in 30 minutes, that he was going to throw it into the middle of Richmond Avenue, which was the main thouroghfare in Staten Island where my grandfather's tavern was located.

The man on the other end of the phone said, "The jukebox STAYS!! Touch it, and you're a DEAD MAN!"

After 30 minutes, my grandfather picked up the jukebox, carried outside, singlehandedly (He was a very large man), and threw it into the middle of Richmond Avenue, smashing it into a million pieces...!!

When the Gangster Boss showed up at the Bar to confront my grandfather about the incident, my grandfather explained that had he been shown the slightest bit of respect, that he would have happily allowed the jukebox to stay... as a matter of fact, he had been thinking of calling that very company to ask for one!

The Mob Boss was incredulous at this, and asked why my grandfather had done this, hadn't he known that he would be dead?? My grandfather replied that he knew that most likely this was the case, but that right was right and that was that.

He offered the Mob boss, whose name was Jimmy, a drink. They sat, and they drank, and Jimmy pointed out that it was kind of quiet in the place, and my grandfather asked him if he knew anyplace where a tavern owner might obtain a jukebox, and Jimmy allowed that he might just know of such a person... and, from that day on they were very close friends. Until the day they died, actually.

Needless to say, he didn't back down an inch from my grandmother, who had a certain amount of chutzpah in her own right.. having once driven the family car through the front wall of the Tavern they both owned because my grandfather had 'eighty-sixed' her and had the lads toss her out of the bar and lock the door!!

So... every year, I would want to watch my movies. Every year, Pop would put the kabosh on it, and every year I would go to my grandmother. And every year I would start a great big domestic quarrel.

When I was 11 or 12 years old, I think I finally put two and two together, accepted the fact that I wasn't going to ever be allowed to watch those movies on Thanksgiving, and that bringing it up was only going start a huge fight and ruin everyone's Thanksgiving. So I stopped even trying.

I have never to this day watched either of those movies on a Thanksgiving Day, for some odd reason... I suppose if I had them on DVD I probably would... but it never occurs to me to even think about it until the very day... and then its too late.

As a matter of fact, I have never seen the movie "March of the Wooden Soldiers" in its entirety in one sitting, though I have seen bits and bobs of it over the years...

As it turns out, not bringing up the movie thing never once prevented a huge family fight on Thanksgiving... they simply found something else to fight about! It was either my grandfather suddenly surging to his feet and throwing everyone out of his house; including my grandmother (which didn't really go over all that well!), accusing everyone of being freeloaders, no good bums, etc., or my grandmother spilling some secret in front of everyone in the entire family that would instantly infuriate the person who had told her the secret in confidence, AND start some huge shit between that person and whoever the secret happened to be about, who would invariably be right there... otherwise where's the fun in it atall, I suppose, right? OR... my mom would start in on someone, a cousin would make a quip, my aunt or uncle would let my mom or one of my granparents have it, or someone would simply punch somebody else in the face ... and the fight was on!

The table went over, somebody always went ass over teakettle over the coffee table, and my battlestation was to protect the fishtank. (I enjoyed mixed success with this task.... sigh).

One of these days, I am going to watch both of these movies, on Thanksgiving Day, and then I am going to throw everyone out of the house.... and I am going to go with them...

After all, who wants to sit home all alone on Thanksgiving??

Happy Thanksgiving!

I am thrilled to be off today, and to be able to spend the entire day with my wife!!

We started the day out slowly, and as I type this, a pot of delicious, festive, flavored coffee is brewing! Once we enjoy our morning coffee and make the requisite 'family-holiday-calls', we will start to liesurely prepare our holiday dinner.

I have been counting the minutes and seconds to our day off together, since we don't see all that much of one another these days due to our crazy work schedules... either she works on any given weekend day, or I do... or we both do.... but it hardly ever works out that neither of us are scheduled to work.

Somewhere along the line, I have managed to catch a creeping crud (probably at work... where everyone is hacking out a lung on a constant basis... ick!)

My head feels like it has been forcefully pumped full of goo. My eyes feel like they are being squeezed, my ear canals are 'scratchy' and I hear everything as though I am listening through stereo wrapping paper tubes. Lastly, I can barely breathe...

Luckily, I get the occasional painful sneeze or coughing bout where I tear an internal organ in order to break up the monotony. Hopefully, it will pass quickly so that I can simply get on with it.

In any case, I don't plan on letting a stupid cold or flu ruin my day off with my girl. I am off to start the day with a nice, hot, steaming cup of coffee, and then I will get started on dinner prep!

Hopefully, my head won't explode at the dinner table...

That would be incredibly inconvenient. Not to mention the difficulty of trying to clean up such a huge mess with no head!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 20, 2006


Last night we both had to work at our respective 'weekend' jobs. We got up and had our Sunday morning coffee, and then, later on in the day we went trundling off to our favorite Turkish Food restaurant for lunch. We ate, we talked non-stop, each of us sampling the other's food... and then we headed back to the cottage to start getting ready for work..

After work, we cooked up some food and plopped on the couch to watch the rest of "Rocky Jones, Space Ranger: Crashing Moons!" (This isn't a joke... this movie was *SO* bad that it was actually fantastic!).

Part way through the movie, we simply paused it, and sat and talked and cracked each other up, and laughed until we cried, stomachs and cheeks aching, and throats raw..

I am giggling now thinking about it!..

And, that says more about 'us', in a much more eloquent fashion, I think, than I ever could... so I thought that I would share..

It occurs to me that marrying my wife was one of the few deals in life where the reality is really and truly much, much better than I had ever expected it to be... I had very high expectations... but the reality is just so much better than I ever could have hoped for that all I can do is constantly send silent (or not so silent!) 'Thank You's' to whoever or whatever may have been responsible for my good fortune...

I am so fortunate to have her to love me...



Well.. Monday morning, and I am at work, so I suppose I had better get to it... My boss is a good guy, and I don't want to take advantage...

Saturday, November 11, 2006

From the Monastery Kitchen

Tonight I made some monastery soup, and thought that I would share my recipe with you. I started with a recipe from "A Year of Monastery Soups", but I did quite a bit of my own 'tweaking', so now it is a completely different recipe, with a completely different taste, feel, flavor, and mood. It is an easy enough soup to make, and it is hearty and delicious. Use a big pot, it makes quite a bit! I like to serve this with two loaves of fresh baked bread and some softened butter... sometimes I will make an herb spread, sometimes not.

Potato, Leek, Artichoke Soup with Sausage

8 Red Potatoes (peeled and cubed)
2 Small Onions (chopped)
10 Cloves of Garlic (chopped)
1 Leek (rinsed and chopped - make sure you get all the sand out!)
6 Hot Sausages
2 sweet sausages (I get the packs of mixed sweet and hot sausages. I bag and freeze the remaining sweet sausages, they will be used in pasta sauce another day!)
2 14oz Cans Artichoke Hearts (drain well before using)
3 Cans Chicken Broth
1 Can Beef Broth
2 Cups Dry White Wine
4 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
2 Whole Bay Leaves
2 Eggs
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper

Loaf of fresh bread and butter.

Cut Sausages up into chunks (I cut them to approximately four pieces per sausage). Pour approximately two tablespoons of olive oil into a dutch oven or frying pan.
Brown sausages. Cut sausages into small pieces (about the size of Milk Duds). Set aside.

Pour approximately seven tablespoons of olive oil into bottom of pan and add onions. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add Leeks. Simmer 5 more minutes, add garlic, simmer for an additional five minutes, then add wine, cover, and simmer over very low heat for about 5 minutes more, stirring occasionally.

Transfer to large soup pot (You can make this all in the soup pot… I do not… I suppose I like cleaning lots of pots and mixing bowls or something… ).

Add sausage, potatoes, artichoke hearts, bay leaves, rosemary, coriander (go easy with the rosemary and coriander… they can easily take over your soup! Just a dash is needed) and 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice. Stir thoroughly. Bring soup to a boil for about five minutes, lower heat, salt and pepper to taste, and simmer over very low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Beat two eggs thoroughly with 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Turn heat up to high and bring soup back to a boil. Add egg mixture to soup, and stir thoroughly. Lower heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Garnish with chopped parsley. Serve immediately with fresh bread and butter.

It's difficult to describe the taste of this soup, but I think you will enjoy it.


Friday, November 10, 2006

Hello!? McFly?! Are You in There?!

I stopped at Seven-Eleven this morning on my way to work in order to pick up a cup of coffee... I needed it..

I ran into a customer from my last job, (for simplicity, I'll call it NSBS ((Non-Specified Building Supplies, Inc.))((I will call my Current Job 'CJ, Inc.' - Yup! you got it,... C-urrent J-ob. .. I know... I can't help it, It's a birth defect))

So... I run into this guy with his crew as we are walking towards the Seven-Eleven;

John M: "Hey! Haven't seen you over there in a while! Where ya been?"

Me: "Well.. I found a new job. I don't work for NSBS anymore..."

John M: "You don't!? Where ya workin' now?"

Me: "I work for 'CJ' as an Admin Assistant, now.."

John M: "They let you wear that at NSBS these days?" (indicating my suit and tie...)

Me: (??) "Huh? Oh! The suit?! Well, um.... No.. I mean, I don't work there anymore... this is business attire at my new job."

John M: "Oooooh..... So, what'ya, change out of it when you get to NSBS?"

Me: (DO you hear the words what's comin' outta my mouf??!!) I sorta don't actually go to NSBS... because..... I don't actually work there anymore. I left... I got a new job... ... "

John M: "Gee! That's great!! So, I guess we'll see you over there a little later on then, okay?!"

Me: (??? !) ".. ? ... where?'

John M: "NSBS!"

Me: (sigh) "I don't think so..."

John M: "No? Why, you off today for Veteran's day or somethin'? I thought Veteran's Day wasn't till tommorrow..?"

Me: "No... I'm working.... at my new job.."

John M: "So, I guess you'll get tommorrow off then, if you're lucky, huh?!"

Me: "Probably... since I don't have to work on Saturdays anymore AT MY NEW JOB... So, I suppose it's looking pretty good!"

John M: "So listen, can you price out a job for me sometime before lunch? I have to do a proposal for a customer this afternoon on a roof job... I'll call you later with the numbers...."

Me: " see.. I. Don't. Work. There. Anymore. John."

John M: "What? You're not gonna be there? Why don't I give you the numbers now, and you can price it out when you get back, then?? I have everything in the truck..."

Me: (I can't solve this...) "Listen, why don't you just call the numbers in to NSBS, this way they won't get lost. When you go in there later on, it will probably be done... okay?"

John M: "Hey! Great! Thanks, Bear! I guess I'll see you over there in a little while then.... boy, you're gonna be hot working in that suit, huh?!"

Me: "You know.. you're probably right... when I get home, I'm going to change out of it into something cooler..."

John M: "Good Idea! See ya over there!"

Me: "See ya... take care,... nice seeing you, John.."

Why do I have this persistent feeling that I might not be getting through?

Thursday, November 09, 2006

A Milestone.. and a New Beginning

For the past six years or so, we have been living (and suffering enormously) under a burden that was of such a personal/financial nature that neither of us has ever blogged about it....

As of yesterday, that burden has been lifted, the impediments have been removed, and the obstacles have been negotiated.

After six long years of toil, struggle, and difficulty we have managed to get past what seemed for so long like an absolutely insurmountable problem.

We don't make much money, and, to be honest, we really don't have all that much... but, although this sounds like a whine or complaint; it isn't. What we now *do* have, that many, many others do not, is peace of mind!!

We are now standing on the threshold of a new phase in our lives. We have hope for the future that, until now, we realistically could not have dreamed of...

It may not be the best set of circumstances that anybody could have ever dreamed up, since financially we are still struggling quite a bit, and most likely will be for a good while... but, considering how things have been up until yesterday, I am absolutely thrilled!!

I feel as though a tremendous weight has been lifted off of my shoulders, and I can breathe again!!

Breathing is pretty cool!

I'm happy... now, instead of having to concentrate on busting my tail simply to get to square 1, I can actually look to working for some type of a future for us!!

The important part of this whole post is that we can now move forward without a constant nagging dread all the bloody time.

None of this would have been possible without the constant, unflagging efforts, hard work, and dedication of my wife.... I really don't know where I would be without her.

She is my heart, and my soul, and I am truly the luckiest man alive to be loved by her and to wake up each morning beside her....

Thank you, God.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

My Wife Kicks Ass!

Marcheline took a week of vacation from work and built us a gorgeous brick patio! She scrounged free brick, planned the whole thing, and built it from scratch!

I am absolutely amazed!

There couldn't have been a better time, coming as it does right after the loss of the trees....

Bop on over to her blog for pics, and for her take on DIY patio building...

I can already see sunny Sunday mornings, barbeques, and summer afternoons spent on our patio... in my mind, I see pots of flowers, tiki torches, and all sorts of cool stuff all around...

Thank you so much, Marcheline/Elysia... for all of your hard work. I really appreciate everything that you do...