Launching "The Priest and The Peaches"

Just wanted to empty myself a bit. My first novel, “The Priest and The Peaches” has been officially launched and I must admit, it is a scary time for me. As an author you spend inordinate amounts of time putting the work together. From the original idea that danced around inside your head to scattered notes, onward to a first draft you go. You now have gotten wet up to your ankles. You read what you have and think, “This stinks”, and start over. Now you are in up to your knees and have to re-write again. Maybe six months has gone by or maybe two years. Some folks take ten years to actually write a novel.(It took me about a year and a half) When I finally looked at the finished work I knew in my heart I was done. I also knew that I should go back and make it “better”. But you have to know when it is time to get in the ‘”deep water” and see if you will sink or swim. That is the time you expose yourself for what you are as a writer. For me, I am in the deep water and, so far, I have not went under. It is hard to believe, but the book has received some wonderful reviews. A half dozen folks have contacted me and they have all told me that they “couldn’t put it down” and read the entire book in one sitting. That blows me away.

Anyway, I am humbled  by the fact that I was able to create something that brought enjoyment to others and simultaneously put forth the  good message of “Love your neighbor”. The book has only been out about a week so time will tell its future. Onward and forward. The sequel is in the works and  I am  almost up to my ankles.

A "Bah-humbug" to all you anti-Christmas Grinches

Ebeneezer Scrooge harbored such contempt for Christmas that four separate ghosts had to appear to him and scare the bejeebers out of him before he would actually see the error of his ways and be able to smile and shout out, “MERRY CHRISTMAS”. Unfortunately, for all those pseudo Ebeneezer Christmas haters who seem to grab so many headlines, like the idiot judge in Texas who threatened anyone saying the word “amen” at a school during the Christmas season with jail, there will be no ghosts appearing to them to set them straight. Alas, Dickens is dead. Too bad.

The proliferation of 24/7 news broadcasts, on-line publications, “You-tube” etc., seems to bring to the forefront all of these “offended” folks who mock Christmas, treat it with disdain and contempt, and try to have reference to it, celebration of it and reverence for it removed from every nook and cranny throughout the land. (But they do not have a problem staying home for the Holiday–well, Christmas is a national holiday, right). Now, the Congress of the United States of America, yes, our Congress, has been told that they are not allowed to put “Merry Christmas” on their correspondence. I’m getting a headache.

Here’s the thing and this is not easy for me to do.  Suppose we dare to take the religious aspect out of Christmas. Jesus of Nazareth was a historical figure, right? He did not go to the university but He was a teacher. He was poor and certainly had no servants but they called Him Master. He was not a doctor but He was called Healer. King Herod was so afraid of Him that, when Jesus was only a baby,  he had thousands of innocent boys, two and under, executed in an attempt to kill Him. The only reason he failed was because Jesus’ dad was able to smuggle his wife and son out of the country and into Egypt. Not bad for a guy about 18 or 19 years old with no money caring for a girl about 14 or 15 and a baby.

It took them about 33 years and then they finally did kill Jesus. Why? Because he had the temerity to speak of love and forgiveness. He certainly never hurt anyone. His crime was being kind, helping others and loving His fellow humans. What a “monster”!!

So, to all you anti-Christmas loonies who are so obsessed with stopping the celebration of a Man who simply represented love to ALL mankind—whatever is your problem? You don’t have to be Christian if you don’t want to be. Why can’t you leave us (the VAST majority) alone. This has nothing to do with the First Amendment. This has to do with having a common respect for what others think and feel. I shall close with the most defiled word in use today:  WHATEVER

Ever Wonder about a "Partridge in a Pear Tree, and so on"?

A bit of Christmas History

Did you ever wonder (like me)—What in the world do leaping lords, French hens, swimming swans, and especially the partridge who won’t come out of the pear tree have to do with Christmas?
Well now, here is one version of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” 
From 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England were not permitted to practice their faith openly. Someone during that era wrote this carol as a catechism song for young Catholics. It has two levels of meaning: the surface meaning plus a hidden meaning known only to members of their church. Each element in the carol has a code word for a religious reality which the children could remember.
-The partridge in a pear tree was Jesus Christ.
-Two turtle doves were the Old and New Testaments.
-Three French hens stood for faith, hope and love.-
-The four calling birds were the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John.
-The five golden rings recalled the Torah or Law, the first five books of the Old Testament.
-The six geese a-laying stood for the six days of creation.
-Seven swans a-swimming represented the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit–Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership, and Mercy.
-The eight maids a-milking were the eight beatitudes.
-Nine ladies dancing were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit–Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self Control.
-The ten lords a-leaping were the ten commandments.
-The eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful disciples.
-The twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of belief in the Apostles’ Creed.
So there is your history “folklore” for today….  maybe it is true, maybe not—for me, well, It is the Christmas season so it works for me—-
Merry Christmas

"What is a Friend"

I received this from a FRIEND and it was so beautiful I just had to post it here.(Author unknown)

Subject: What is a Friend…..
Friends…….They love you,
But they’re not your lover
They care for you,
But they’re not from your family
They’re ready to share your pain,
But they’re not your blood relation.
They are……..FRIENDS! !!!!
A True friend…… .
Scolds like a DAD..
Cares like a MOM..
Teases like a SISTER..
Irritates like a BROTHER..
And finally loves you for YOU..

The nicest place 2 be is in someone’s THOUGHTS!
The safest place 2 be is in someone’s PRAYERS!
And the best place 2 be is in………..

"I LOVE Thanksgiving—-

I’m a holiday kind of guy. I love the Christmas season with its “peace-on-earth” and ‘”joy-to-the-world” messages and Santa Claus, and elves and Christmas lights and all that comes with the excitement leading up to Christmas Day. Most of all, I love the “reason for the season”—acknowledging the birth of Christ.

I also am fully aware of the pressure and stress Christmastime can bring to so many; the homeless, the unemployed, those with serious illness, and especially the parents with no money who desperately want Santa to visit their house on Christmas Eve. Let’s face it, kids are kids and Santa is Santa; to them the “real world” has no place in their little, anxious hearts. The stress this can cause for a mommy and daddy who might be struggling just to make rent can sometimes be overwhelming. Single parents have a double whammy. They are missing a spouse to vent with. This I shall address in a week or so. But, for now, it is Thanksgiving week.

I LOVE Thanksgiving. To me it IS the best day of the year. Why? Because it is the one day of the year when we pause and simply give thanks for all that we have even if it is just a little. A job, good health, a cancer in remission, connecting with a long lost relative, the birth of a child, so many things that we can be thankful for. People from every economic situation can have a turkey dinner on Thanksgiving Day. Homeless shelters and soup kitchens and prisons serve turkey. Folks who have little money are able to receive turkey baskets from various charitable organizations so they can have a turkey dinner at home with their families. No-one in America needs to go hungry on Thanksgiving Day. You do not need to purchase gifts. All you have to do is show up, hang out, eat and enjoy the uplifted spirit of family and friends that are with you, even if they are strangers in a soup kitchen. It is a beautiful thing.

“If the only prayer you said in your WHOLE LIFE was,”THANK YOU”, that would suffice.”
Meister Eckhart 1260-1327, Theologian and Philosopher

"Hooray for Kelly Ripa and All You Women Who Agree With Her"

Television hostess, Kelly Ripa, of “Live with Regis and Kelly”, when asked for her thoughts about women picking up the tab after a dinner date said, “I’m sure a lady doesn’t want to pick it up. But because she thinks chivalry is dead already, maybe the guy should impress her and pick up the check. And maybe pull out her chair, too.” She added, “Any feminist who disagrees with me, I am sorry, but it’s gone ridiculous now. We give birth; you pick up the check.” Ripa also said that she tells her husband, “Raise your sons to pick up a check for a lady.”

Within a few hours the women’s website, Jezabel, slammed Ripa for her “antiquated social extremism”. WHAT? Are you kidding me? The writer was outraged, “A woman can buy a man’s meal any damn time she wants to—Ladies DO want to pay. Yours truly wants to pay, likes to pay, plans on paying etc, etc.”

So where do these diverse views from women leave us men in these modern times? How are we supposed to know what will happen to us if we have the temerity to hold a door open for a woman or offer her a seat on a bus or maybe offer to help her with her overflowing grocery cart while she is trying to lift her toddler out of its seat? Are we going to be thanked or cursed? Are we going to be accused of being one of those defiled
 “male chauvinists”? (FYI ladies: there are actually very few true “male chauvinists”. But it is sure a handy stereotype). We men do not know what to expect anymore. As for me, I DO NOT like it.

I come from a world where a boy was taught to do these things. I can remember men walking down the street and tipping their hats to ladies as they passed by. It was a sign of respect and the ladies ALWAYS nodded and smiled. We men view women as needing to be “looked out for”, protected, as wanting a strong shoulder readily available to “cry on”. It is our nature. We are somehow genetically programmed to want to take care of you.  It has nothing to do with mental acuity. In the IQ world many women are smarter than men. Women today are doctors, lawyers, politicians, successful entrepreneurs, accountants, IT experts, etc. Surprise ladies, men respect that. Most men also believe that women should get equal pay for doing similar jobs. But men DO NOT believe that women should become like men and strip us of who and what we were meant to be and mask it under the guise of equality. There are women out there who actually have this twisted notion that fathers are unnecessary. Just go to a sperm bank—who needs a stupid man. WHATEVER. If I were to pull your chair out at a restaurant it would be out of respect not because I would think I was better than you or was trying to control you or dominate you. I find it hard to believe that I  am actually explaining this but this is where our minds have gone.

Lord knows, I NEVER wanted to give birth to any of my children. But I sure loved being there to take care of and protect my wife and to hold my kids and feed them and even change their dirty diapers. I loved watching them grow, playing Santa and wrestling with my boys and teaching them how to throw a ball. The fact is, there are millions of men who feel the same as I do. Consequently, we deserve the same respect that you expect from us. “Hooray For Kelly Ripa” and all you women who agree with her.

Jumbo Feeney: "I'm Giving the Kid a Cupcake"

I got a call from my childhood buddy, Jumbo Feeney, the other day and I knew what to expect as I answered the phone; Jumbo was already in mid-sentence. “Know what I mean, Petie? (he calls me Petie) What’s wrong with a cupcake? Show me a kid who don’t like a cupcake. Know what I mean? Gimme a break, who do they think they are anyway?—“

I almost shouted, “Whoa, Jumbo, slow down. What are you talking about?”

“You’re not paying attention, Petie. I said, no cupcakes allowed. That’s what I’m talking about.  C’mon now, pay attention.”

“Jumbo—STOP. Just stop. You always do this. Please start from the beginning.”

Look, I love the guy. We have been close friends since grade school back in the Bronx during an era when you could leave your doors unlocked. But, when Jumbo was hyper, he would always start his conversations  before dialing the phone. “Okay Petie, okay. My grandson, Mikey—ya know, he’s four, well, he stayed over last night and I brought him to his day-care place this morning. You won’t believe this.”

“Won’t believe what?”

“You gonna let me talk or what?”

Smiling I said, “Sorry, Jumbo. Go ahead.”

“So I packed the kid’s lunch and put a cupcake in the bag. When I get there they check inside the kid’s lunch bag and tell me that  cupcakes are not allowed. I mean this girl, who looked like she shoulda been waving pom-poms at a high school football game, is telling me, ME, the kid’s grandfather, I can’t give the kid a cupcake. Yeah, they only serve organic, hormone free stuff, like free-range eggs. What in God’s name are free-range eggs. They only serve organic milk. Snacks are celery or carrot sticks—“

“Yeah, but that’s the way it is nowadays.”

“What’s wrong with you Petie? Don’t you get it? It’s the principle of the thing. I love Mikey to death. What—they think they know best? C’mon man, we ate cupcakes and drank soda and ate salami and we ain’t dead yet, are we?”

“But Jumbo—“

“Look Petie, free-range eggs and organic dairy stuff and hormone free whatevers are healthier than cupcakes, okay. I know that. But it is not their job to tell me what I can and cannot feed my grandson. The only ones who can tell me that are his parents. These people want to give me the information about this health food stuff, great. Gimme a print-out. Then we can figure out.”

“Yeah, Jumbo, sure–but—“

“But nothing, Petie. But nothing. These young parents of today are being stripped of their parental  rights and they don’t even see it happening. And it is all being done under the virtuous umbrella of ‘what’s best for the child’. The parents know what’s best for the kids. Not some kid,  fresh out of day-care school, who probably still has her mommy washing her clothes. And as far as this grandparent goes if my grandson wants a cupcake when he sees me, which is only about twice a month anyway, I’m giving the kid a cupcake. Gotta go.” click

Good old Jumbo. Gotta love the guy.

The "Jack-O'-Lantern" (one version)

Long ago in Ireland, the land of shamrocks, leprechauns, soft winds and smiles, there lived a man named Jack. Jack was quite lazy and did not like to work. But he had the gift of “blarney” and could talk the peat off the moss. He would tell wondrous tales about his adventures as a world traveler and the people in his village would be held spellbound by his golden tongue; however, Jack outsmarted himself when he  stole money from the townsfolk. He thought that they were not very smart and would never find out. But they did find out and began chasing him down the streets of the village.

As Jack ran down the road as fast as he could he rounded a bend and ran smack into the devil. The devil smiled at Jack and told him it was time for him to die and that he was there to take his soul. Jack quickly convinced the devil that if he would let him go and promise to never take his soul he would give him all the souls of the folks who were chasing him. “And how do you plan to do that, Jack?” the devil asked.

“Well now, all ye have ta do is turn ye-self into a pot of gold coins. Then I will give the coins to the people and you will be in all of their pockets. They will be yours.”

Since many souls were better than only one, the devil readily agreed and turned himself into a pot of gold coins. Jack gave the coins to all the people and they went away smiling never realizing that they had given themselves to the devil in return for money.

So Jack lived on, grew old and, like all mortal men, finally died. His life had been so sinful on earth that he could not get into heaven and since the devil could not take his soul, he could not get into hell. He had nowhere to go. He asked the devil how he was supposed to see because he was in complete darkness. The devil laughed and tossed Jack a burning ember from the fires of hell, an ember that would never burn out.

Jack, using the ember to guide his way, found a pumpkin patch (some say it was turnips) and carved out a pumpkin. He put the ember inside and began carrying it around so he could see where he was going. To this day he wanders the earth seeking a resting place. And that is why he is known as “Jack-O’-Lantern” or “Jack of the Lantern”.


"Food: Give Us the Info—We Can Decide"

It seems that the war on childhood obesity has some new commandos entering the fray. Their purpose—to protect us and our kids and grandkids from sugar, fat and sodium, those little monsters that seem to get into most everything we eat and drink. Then these little demons trick us into thinking that what we are eating and drinking is good because it tastes good but they know it really isn’t good and they happily go about their business of making us fat. Since we are not nearly as smart as the government, a new bureaucracy called “The Inter-Agency Working Group In Food Marketed To Children” has been put in place.Their job— to protect us from these evil monsters because they know that we are not smart enough or diligent enough to do it for ourselves, no less our children. Whew!

This new arm of the “food police” is suggesting that the food industry “retool” recipes in order to attain new levels  of sugar, fat and sodium in the vast majority of food and drinks we consume. Restaurants are included. The consequences of non-compliance with new guidelines will be no more marketing and advertising allowed. Joining the ranks of the unemployed will be “Tony the Tiger”, “Count Chocula”, M&Ms, Girl Scout cookies, popcorn, pretzels, bagels, milk, sherbet, even water. I’m getting a headache—

It is very nice that this new age government loves us so much that they will even consider throwing themselves on a bowl of instant oatmeal to protect us but, golly gee, did they ever stop to consider that maybe, just maybe, we can decide for ourselves what is good and not good or healthy and not healthy. Hey guys, just give us the info–we can decide. The fact is if I want to give my kid a cupcake—it’s none of your business. If I want to give my kid raw carrots with fat free dressing—it’s none of your business. Give me the info—I can decide. You bureaucrats might find this preposterous but, we the people, are actually smart enough to disseminate the information which you provide us  (we really appreciate this info) and then feed ourselves and our little ones accordingly. Even the president, the top guy over all of these organizations, likes his cheeseburgers, drinks beer and smokes cigarettes. So what–he is an adult, has disseminated the information, and made his choices. Well, good for him. It’s called freedom.

Look, if my grandkids come over and I want to give them a plate full of home-made, sugar filled, butter soaked, chocolate chip cookies that’s my business. If I want to give them celery sticks with tofu dip, that’s my business. Give us the info–we can decide for ourselves. The vast majority of American parents know what’s best for their children, not the government. Just give us the info and let us decide.

Being a Parent REQUIRES Saying "NO"

The other day I picked up my four year old grandson, Tyler, from “Kid’s Planet”, one of the millions of day-care, pre-school, baby sitting centers that are spread out across the country. As Tyler and I were leaving we passed a young mom who was pleading with her three year old, “Please Jessica, Please. Do it for mommy. Please.”

The cute little tyke’s response—“NO, I don’t want to. I don’t want to.”

As Jessica’s refusals rapidly transformed into tears, screams and foot stomping (the kid looked like a promising clogger) mommy pleaded some more, “Oh Jessica, please—do it for mommy. Aren’t we friends?”

I don’t know about you but the last time I had a three year old friend I was three years old. Anyway, Tyler just stared at the unfolding drama and  I shook my head and kept on walking not having any idea as to what Jessica did not want and what Mommy did. I really did not care either. What I would like to have seen was mommy say to cute little Jessica “NO!”, pick her up, plop her into her car seat and be on her way. Oh well—.

I don’t get it. Children, especially in their formative years, besides being loved and nurtured, need to be taught that “No” means “No”. They need to learn that they cannot have everything they want and  that there are consequences to refusing to cooperate. Developing these qualities  requires due diligence from their primary teachers— their parents. They need this so that they may develop a healthy fear and respect for rules, authority, and primarily so that they may have a healthy , social existence as adults. I know some kids can be obstinate and stubborn and drive a parent nuts. But–you are the PARENT, the ADULT. You do NOT beg them to be “good” or promise them a reward if they behave (that drives me crazy–you do not reward bad behavior).

So look, don’t be your child’s friend. Friends are people you can fight and argue with, have fun with, share things with and, if one is lucky, a friend can be a lifelong  treasure. Your cutie pie will have his or her share of friends throughout their lives. You are a parent—a unique and profound position you have been blessed with. Along with that position comes the responsibility of saying “NO”. If your little one seems sad or mad or is pouting because they have been told “NO” be glad. It means that you are doing your job and succeeding.