Saturday, August 17, 2019

2019 Birthday Dinner

(with Sheila and JJ at Brent's Deli Northridg) So much food; I was stuffed after the delicious clam chowder; brought the brisket dinner home...

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Grandparents New Article July2019

When I contemplate how old I am and how much has changed in the world, I am gobsmacked, dumbfounded and feel quite out of place. I was a kid in the 50s and times were simple and safe. I lived in an apartment building, and we could leave our windows and door to the back porch open at night in the summer to let in a cool breeze. You could walk down the street without being laughed at and bullied...well, at least a lot less than nowadays. I was fat and there was no getting around anyone pointing a finger and singling me out as different. My mother could walk back from sodality meetings at church at night without worry of being accosted or robbed. There was a sense of community in which people protected rather than harassed one another.

And then, there's the world of technology to deal with. Back in the 50s we did not have computers or cell phones to occupy our time. We did have television, but parents usually put a limit on how many hours you could watch it. It was the same with radio. You could listen for an hour or so a day. If you played games - no, not video games; no internet, remember - physical games like softball, basketball or touch football; or had hobbies like stamp collecting, getting autographs or accumulating baseball cards or record albums ... these were pleasant, peaceful pastimes without any kind of violence that could physically or mentally harm you or  your friends. It was a keen time in which to grow up.

Advanced technology creates distractions from what is basic and at the core of our lifestyle. Take violence, for example. It's everywhere we look in 2019. In international wars, on the big and small screens, and on the computer. The internet fosters hooking up with people you don't know, possible criminals who can take advantage of you in so many damaging ways. Now I am a grandfather. I have to look out for my children and my grandkids. They are my responsibility ... or are they? Has our world become so technologically advanced and independant that we can function alone without close personal help? Is it inconsiderate to question any choices they may make; do they consider us butting into their affairs and interfering in what belongs to them and them alone? This is a big problem in our relationships. But do we want to court violence that can happen in the blink of an eye, that can destroy our loving connections?

Let's take a close look at my friend Tim, also a grandfather, and how keeping quiet has created a significant rift with his family members. Tim does not believe in putting himself in the middle of controversy, even though keeping silent makes him terribly unhappy. His little 10 year-old grandson Mark emails him all the time to tell him of his exploits, like overspending on his father's credit cards or shunning relatives even when they send him gifts, or worse, lying to his parents about what he has been doing. When Tim phones his daughter Ellen - the family lives in Pennsylvania - she laughs when she tells him how cute she thinks Mark has become in his efforts to get ahead and how sharp his aggressiveness is in propelling him forward into, what she believes will be a successful future. Tim is appalled but says nothing. He's petrified to get into a fight with Ellen. He is also afraid to fly back and visit, knowing full well the horrors that await him.

I am always telling Tim that he is dead wrong. We have been friends a long time, since college, and so I know I can say anything to him. I want to encourage him to do what I have been doing. My little  9 year-old granddaughter Susie has already overlooked parental permission. She uses the internet to hook up with whom she believes to be new friends. She even made a date to meet a man on her school playground during mid-morning break. I was mortified, and when I told her that was wrong, she giggled and said, "Grandpa, you're an old fuddy duddy."|"Don\t talk to me that way", I retorted, "Never talk to your elders like that." She hung up on me, so I called my son Dave and told him how I felt. At first he made light of it, but in a week or so, he called me back and apologized. "Dad, I know you mean well...and you're right. I have suspended Susie's privileges. No internet for a week." I told him it should be for good, but I knew full well that a week's punishment is better than none at all.

As it turned out that man Susie met was harmless, but what if he had kidnapped her or tried to rape her? It happens all the time and I do not wish my relatives to be party to that. Communicate how you feel or else you are miserable. I have to compromise my feelings but so be it. Tim won't do a thing. I pray he will not be in for a shock, as Mark seems to get more brazen by the minute. From what Tim hears, Mark is getting some tattoos and has threatened to sue his parents if they try to interfere with his behavior. Imagine suits from minors! Deplorable.

Speaking of violence I accidentally caught a video game recently online and was stupified at how much violence is utilized. Kids see this and think it's a joke. Hitting someone over the head with a hockey puck, pushing someone backward and letting them fall down a flight of stairs, pulling out a knife or even worse a gun and pointing at another, threatening to pull the trigger. It's all too much. It puts evil ideas into kids' heads. It should be stopped or parents should not allow their kids to watch it. Our parents never did. I was brought up  Catholic and most films with the slightest amount of objectionable material were condemned. Maybe that was not such a bad motion after all. It kept us safe. Some might look at it as reverse psychology. Try to prevent the kid from doing something and then he is bound to do it. It's a confusing world for all of us.

Technology is here to stay. It will only get more advanced, increasing dangers for one and all. Should I calm down and stop worrying? Never. I don't care. I will continue to interfere in my children's decisions that affect my grandchildren. I will do my best, whatever that is, to help keep them more secure and purposeful in their intentions. They are the future; we have to ensure that they grow up to be good leaders., who work diligently to make the world a better place.

Grandparents new Article 4

To be sure, grandparents have many responsibilities to work out with their grandchildren. On the plus side, one of them has to be to make them happy. What happier venture can there be than a trip to Disneyland in Anaheim, California or to Disneyworld if you are in Orlando, Florida. You have opportunities on both coasts to spread love in the form of bigger than life entertainment.

I have always detested the crowds and the lines and the overall wait time at the Disney parks, but I must admit getting out into the throng of families and kids of all ages is a way to view a minicosm of the world. There are people who come from everywhere to enjoy Mickey and Minnie Mouse and the other cartoon characters, to visit places like the Haunted Mansion or the Mark Twain Riverboat and to participate in the street parade during the summer at night with a dazzling array of fireworks. There are North Americans, South and Central Americans, Mexicans, Asians, Europeans and many more nationalities who upon visiting this fairyland experience what it's like to be American for the day, week or however long they're staying.

The excitement of seeing the cartoon characters like Mickey larger than life on the streets waving at you and then greeting you up close is thrilling. After all, it's the sharing of friendship and love that counts. I carried my little 3 year-old Marie over to Donald Duck to give him a hug as she blurted out, "I wuv you, Duckie. " He laughed and jumped up and down  for joy. What a pleasure to witness!

Then, of course, there's my favorite attraction the Haunted Mansion, a little too scary for tiny ones like Marie, but ... I found myself making the trek with my son Jake, as Mary treated Marie to a cinnamon-sugar churro on the midway. Then there are the terrific indoor shows where you can watch and sing along to all the merry Disney tunes. Frozen was an experience that left us all breathless...the beautiful sets, costumes and those triple threat actors and actresses who can sing, dance and act to the max.

Once you have spent a day at Disneyland with your grandchildren, you realize that there still is a lot of kid inside you and what you share is unforgettable fun.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Grandparents New Article3

Grandparents beware! As happy as you may be to be a new grandparent, realize from the top that there are tons of responsibilities that face you in the years ahead. It's not just about buying gifts, sending cards and wishing them well. It's more about tough love, a love that they may not like but it is up to you to ensure that they get it, understand it and mature responsibly.

I have one grandchild, my son John's 10 year-old little girl Ally, who is sweet, caring and always ready to receive my love and send it back. She does not seek out excuses to not do her homework or chores around the house, but does everything carefully and loves to learn. She sends me drawings or sketches via email, some of her, others of me and some of the two of us together ... even if it's not real but the product of her imagination, it doesn't matter. She's honest, loyal and endearing.

Then I have another Todd, a 9 year-old from my daughter Marie. Just the opposite from his cousin Ally. He does not thank me for any of my gifts, only writes when his mother makes him, and, as of late, has started to lie to his parents about where he goes after school and who his friends are. He is technologically savy for a little kid, but what does that mean if he is not responsible toward his family?

I must say when I heard about being a grandfather for the first time, I was delirious with joy, but as of late, am burdened with worry about Todd. If only Ally could talke some sense into him, but they barely know each otther...and their parents next to never connect.

If you have a suggestion, write to me and share your story with me. I am most enthusiastic to go forward as a grandparent who truly cares about how to make his grandchildren bear up to total responsibility.

Grandparents New Article2

Grandparents do not always take center stage in the family. This is apparent when their children no longer value the traditions that accompanied their growth and maturation. They look at their parents as over the hill and lacking the foresight to accept current trends as important changes for the future.

I was brought up a Catholic under the very strict beliefs of my mother. Swearing, not attending mass or skipping catechism classes were signs of rudeness or laziness and were never tolerated. My father was not a church goer but supported my mother to the letter and provided the proper punishment for me when she shared her feelings with him. Yes, I was slapped on the derriere and sent to my room without dinner.

Slapping by today's standards is called abuse. Children should never be touched unless you are hugging them as a sign of approval and love. This is the credo of my children who coddle their children, my grandchildren. When I tire of hearing how much they get away with, I try to instill in them a sense of what is right and wrong. However, the kids don't listen and neither do their parents.

I so want to be close with my family once more. I want to communicate regularly with them, but their refusal to accept my traditional perspectives makes it practically impossible. Refusing to send them cards or gifts for Christmas or birthdays is not acceptable to me. Neither is refusing to call and speak to them over the phone, or not writing emails. Communication is so important in any relationship, and despite my antagonism toward foolish changes in bringing up children, I will continue to try to contact them. At some point I am sure they will wake up and smell the roses. If not, we are literally outcasts, and our world is filled with loneliness and despair.

Saturday, July 20, 2019


3. STRANDED (Original)
7. JOE (Original)
  • Vocals: Don Lucas, Roger Befeler, Lindsay DodorasBillye Johnstone & Lisa Donahey
  • Duet: Roger Befeler & Lisa Donahey
  • Lisa Castle, Pathik Desai, Lindsay Dodoras, Lisa DonaheyBIllye Johnstone, Harrison Johnstone
  • Back Up Vocals: Lisa Castle, Lindsay Dodoras & Billye Johnstone

David Arana – Piano
Sherry Luchette – Bass
Dave Johnstone – Drums
Pathik Desai – Guitar
Sax – Kyle O’Donnell
Trumpet – Dexter Warren