Friday, November 23, 2012

Let Us Give Thanks

Sammy was downstairs at Menorah Manor waiting for me to pick him up just like we discussed ... he was only three hours too early.

"Dad ... I've been trying to call you. The nurses told me that you have been sitting in the lobby since 2 o'clock. Where's your phone?"

He pulled it out of his pocket. "Here. I never got a call."

"It says that you have four missed calls."

"Is that what that means? See ... I told you it was broken."

"Okay Dad ... let's get going."

After a few tries, Sammy sat in the front seat of my car and settled in. He had important questions on the way over like ... "Do you ever dream, Joel?" and  "Did you put all this stuff in the car (the dashboard) or did it come with that?"

Debbie met us at the door. "Sammy ... I hope you're hungry. We've got some great food for you."

"I'm not particular. I'll eat whatever you have."

 "Well ... we've got lots of turkey."

"Any fried chicken?"

"No ... um ... how about sweet potato casserole and stuffing and green beans ..."

"I don't like any of that ... lettuce and tomato and thousand Island dressing would be fine ... and what kind of bread do you have?"

Sammy stretched out in the easy chair and after a few bites of mashed potato and bread snored peacefully looking like the mask from Scream.

He was ready to hit the road at about 8:30.  So ... I got him to his feet and held his walker while he took a step.

Unfortunately ... His pants didn't take the step with him.

"Whoops Joel. Grab my pants would you?"

Aaaah ... Let us all give thanks (that he DID remember his underwear).

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Turkey? Stuffing? Waffle?

Sammy decided he would join the family today for Thanksgiving dinner.

He wasn't so sure the other day when I called him. Then again, he wasn't sure who was talking to him on the phone. He called me.

"Who's this?" He said.

"It's Joel ... your son."

"Oh. Hello Joel. What can I do for you."

"Well, you called me ... but while I have you on the phone ... do you want to come over for Thanksgiving on Thursday."

"No. But I would like a waffle."

Translation: 'I don't want to deal with 25 members of the family but I'd like you to take me to breakfast on Thursday morning instead.'

So, this morning, I took Sammy to IHOP to get a waffle. As soon as he got served I knew what he was going to say:

"It's not hot enough."

"Don't you think you should taste it first before you say that."

"It's never hot enough."

He waves the waitress down and asks her to heat up the waffle and get him some hot syrup as well. She brings it back smoking on the plate and a large styrofoam container filled with syrup. He dumps the entire content on his waffle and literally drinks both.

No teeth of course.

"How is it?" I asked.

"I'm a little disappointed with the syrup."

"Looks like it didn't stop you from finishing the whole thing."

"Say ... Joel ... I decided to stay with you today."

Panic set in! "We aren't going to eat dinner until about 4. You want to just hang out at the house until then."

"Sure. I'd like to see the O'Malleys."

"You mean Debbie's parents? The Gallaghers?"

"Yeah. Gallaghers ... O'Malleys .... same thing."

I'll let you know how this one turns out. God give me thanks ... or strength ... whatever (same thing).

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Only 120 hours Until Turkey Day

We're doing Thanksgiving at our house this year.

At breakfast, Debbie talked about 'the plan'. "Okay, Joel, I need your help today. I am setting up the table, so you need to get the leaves locked in for me."

"We are setting up the table today? Thanksgiving is 5 days away."

"Yes ... I know ... and we are already a week too late."

"A week too late? If I were doing it, we'd set up the table the day before and put the turkey in the oven and bingo ..."

"Yeah. bingo, we'd wind up at Shoney's eating turkey sandwiches."

"C'mon. I bet the average set up time that families take for Thanksgiving is about three days ... tops."

"Oh yeah? Well let's just look it up."

"Okay." Google brought up tons of Thanksgiving sites and of course ... I was wrong. One site suggested three weeks. I am not making this up ...

Three weeks out:

- Invite your guests 

Oh yeah ... our family doesn't need an invitation. Put out free food and booze and they're there three hours early and leave the next day when the wine runs out.

- Order your organic turkey

What? What the hell is an organic turkey? One that's really healthy before it's slaughtered? I could care less what the turkey eats and how healthy it is before it's plucked and slaughtered as long as it's delicious.

- Set Your Budget  

I guess this should have come up before the organic turkey appeared. Those suckers cost as much as the whole dinner.

- Start checking your grocery store ads and pull out your old decorations

Look for deals like (this was in the list) old Halloween decorations that could be used for Thanksgiving. Personally, I'd like a few Zombies at the table.

Two weeks out:

- Check your linens

In case you spilled crap all over them last year and then just folded them up and put them away? Even I wouldn't do that. Well ... maybe I would have.

- Plan Your Centerpiece and Table Decor

The Zombies are looking better and better.

- Buy a Frozen Turkey

I'm not sure what happened to the organic turkey from the week before. I guess you want to give your guests a choice. "Would you like a healthy turkey ... or would you prefer this frozen, unhealthy, uncooked thing?"

- Check your kitchen supplies and tools

For our family, that means have an adequate supply of plastic forks and paper plates. I won't mention anyone by name ... there is no need to embarrass Dennie with the paper plate stories.

Oh shoot.

- Finalize what dishes your guests will bring

We don't need this step. Our family brings the same stuff every year. The sisters bring about 23 different desserts and Debbie's dad brings a pile of pickled eggs and sloppy joes. Nobody eats the eggs except for Larry which is just fine with him.

By one week out:

- Order flowers

In case anyone actually eats Larry's pickled eggs.

- Polish silver

Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha !!!! Oh wait is that POLISH silverware? Like what is Polish silverware? Plastic forks and knives.

-Buy wine

For our group, you don't want to buy it too early. We always check the expiration date on the container.

-Plan activities for the children

All the kids have their own plans this year (smart group). When they do come the plan is: Run through the house for an hour when you arrive, bang on the piano keys until a few of the hammers fall off, whine about having nothing there that they like and fall asleep in the turkey (ooops ... sorry ... that's me).

OKAY  full disclosure: Debbie does not use anything that is paper or plastic. The table is decorated beautifully with crystal and china and the house is immaculate. (as if you didn't know)

Whew ... Debbie's right. I haven't even gotten to shopping, cooking, making lists (Debbie's part time job), and cleaning the house. This preparation stuff wears me out.

I gotta lay down.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Crescent City

Ahhhhh ... Home again.

What a great time we had in New Orleans this weekend. We did some of the tourist stuff of course: Strolling down Royal, munching on po-boys at ACME, sucking down cafe au lait and beignets (although we did that at Morning Call in Metairie), gambling at Harrah's (and at Treasure Chest at the Lake) ...

The highlight of the weekend was a trip to Frenchmen Street Friday night. I could not believe how much that's changed ... It's where the locals live and party. It's what the Quarter USED to be like ... located just outside of the Quarter in the 7th Ward on the other side of Esplanade, Frenchmen Street has it all.

Snug Harbor is still there and rocking the night away with GREAT jazz acts. Any night you might see Charmaine Neville or Ellis Marsailis or Maria Muldaur. We saw Wess Anderson on sax and his son Wess Jr on trombone. They just killed it.

We went with our friends, the Longs who happened to notice me leaning over the balcony with my face in my hands as I watched the piano player beat on the keys. They also noticed I took a little nap at the same time ... dangerously close to falling into the piano.

Trust me ... it wasn't the music that put me to sleep .. it was the food, the drinks and the late night gambling (according to Debbie).

Outside there were street vendors bathed in a sea of lights and selling everything BUT mardi gras beads and hurricanes WHAT A RELIEF. It's only about three blocks or so ... but it is something that you wouldn't want to miss. John Long was so excited he did his happy dance (don't ask ... it's something you WANT to miss).

Here are some other highlights:

Drinks were the order of the day and night and morning and afternoon ... well any time.

Had to take this picture of Carol taking a picture of the drinks. Apparently, she wanted to document everything in case she couldn't remember later. That's a problem in New Orleans ... they are called blackouts.

Street bands were everywhere.

This group played outside of Cafe du Monde. Not sure about the name of the group but they were pretty good. Big surprise huh? That's like saying I ate some a great restaurant in New Orleans.

It's all good.

There was a Saints game ... a big one. Saints vs Falcons. Saints won.

This was either an inflated Saints player at the entrance of a Bourbon Street bar ... or just a guy who lost all his money at the tables, gave a pole dancer his car keys and found out the next morning that he got stuck on a telephone pole.

I love this place.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

My Pants are Ringing

"I've been calling you." Sammy said ... before I even said hello. The phone display said 'Menorah Manor' which told me that he was calling from the nursing station.

"I didn't get any messages. You okay?"

"Listen ... I dropped my phone a couple of times and now I get a white screen and can't call anybody. What do you think is wrong with it?"

"Well, off hand I'd say you broke it."

"I think I need a new battery."

"It's a brand new phone. I just got it for you two weeks ago. It's a Jitterbug ... they are supposed to be impossible to break."

"I know ... I think I need a battery."

"I think you need another phone."

"Can you fix it for me?"

"I'm not a phone repairman."

"The maintenance guy is getting me a new battery."

"Does he know it's a new phone?"

"Let me talk to Debbie."

"About the phone?"

"About my pants."

"What's wrong with your pants?"

"I had only one pair and it disappeared a few weeks ago."

"So what have you been wearing? No ... don't answer that."

"Will you call Jitterbug?'

"Wait ... what?" My head was spinning. Pants ... phone ...

"Call Jitterbug. They'll replace my phone. They have been so generous."

"Dad ... we write the check and they give us a phone."

"I know."

Thursday, November 1, 2012

What Baby?

Sammy got his Save-the-date card for Nikki's wedding. My first born is getting married on February 2nd.

"Joel ... I got a postcard about Nikki's wedding."

"Great Dad. I knew it was coming ... it's pretty cool, huh?"

"Did you get one?"

"Um .... yes I did."

"Good ... that's good." he paused for a minute then continued. "You know ... I've been thinking about the baby."

"The what?"

"The baby. I know what Nikki should name the baby."

"Dad ... she's getting married ... not having a baby."

"Yeah. Well the baby should be named Lil-e."


"No ... Lil - E."


"LIL - dash - E"

"I don't get it. What kind of name ... what am I SAYING? She's not having a BABY."

"I used to call your mother 'E' remember? Esther ... 'E'."

"I remember."

"Actually it was Little E ... LIL-E. Tell Nikki .... she's got to name the baby Lil-E. Okay?"

"Okay Dad ... I'll tell her." I smiled. "Nice name."

Ballad of the Big Prostate

Here’s a little country tune I wrote just yesterday to commemorate a dark day in my history. I don’t have a tune but realized you can use an...