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Posts Tagged ‘Grandfathers’

One day when he was about eight-years-old, Hayden and I were watching television. Rather he was watching and I was playing with my computer. Someone on the show he was watching was crying. Hayden turned to me and said, “He is crying because his grandpa died. Pookie, I don’t want you to die. When are you going to start getting younger?”

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Today’s photograph–me at the coffee shop. Sorry about that but I am running out of local points of interest since my days so far have been limited to exploring the route from my house to the coffee shop.

There were no chickens on the road today nor for that matter very many people. I did however notice the huge number and variety of orchids festooned to the trees of everyone’s yard as I walked by.

The houses along our walk range from one that I call the Thai Hearst Castle to a row of small mostly rental units. I consider my house the second best in the subdivision, second only to Hearst Castle. Second best, I prefer to call it penultimate. It sounds more like you have won something.

One good thing happened yesterday. I met my driver. He is Laotian and speaks no English and I speak no Lao or Thai so I have not yet figured out how to get him to go where I want.

I promise never to write again with so little to say.

Have a great whatever you want.

Joe…

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EMAILS WITH NIKKI REGARDING HAYDEN:

Joe’s email to Nikki:


I walked with Hayden to his school this morning. I spoke with two of his teachers. They told me Hayden is much better behaved since I arrived.
The principal said, “Natalie must be very brave, I could never leave my child the way she has”. Enough said.
She was supposed to come to Chang Mai yesterday. She called and announced that she was too busy and would come today. We will see.

Look forward to seeing you.

Nikki’s response:

OK this is a good start and things are going to be even better in the future
the boy is realizing the meaning of a stable school and life and thank to your tuitition he will improve his english reading and other things.
After we are ok with that we can start working on his sport life like put him on a soccer team or a karate class the neiborough is nice lots of people just he need to be social .
I hope u settle ok in the house maybe u need an office or a desk, when i will be there i ll drive u around and we can start to fix the house put a cable tv and a wifi line and other things we need.
try the new little restaurant close to the house is cheap and good thai food ask hayden he knows where is it
see u guys soon

From Nikki:

Ok joe
i am back safe in italy last development is that She is planning to leave again around the end of march or beginning of april.
i was firm to not make the baby travel again and she mention to leave by herself
moneywise she diddn’t put anything in chang mai yet
i payed the eletric and the food plus 2 thousand bath for food so all the new request of money is for her private expenses
the rationale here is that u should not giving her nothing unless is a verified bill with a valid proof of payments otherwise the money will go to her trough the maid
talk to geery about the security bill and the cost of the water
also tell her that i opened an account with bangkok bank to cover all the bills and food and baby needs so she don’t have to pay nothing in chang mai and will see what she come up with by the end of month i have to pay the school and i will send u the money
if she want she can stay in chang mai to eat and survive i am not gonna feed another mouth in bkk
let me know what Geery said about the water and ur visa deal
tomorrow i am busy for the all day so send me an eamil
ciao kiss to hayden

EXCHANGE OF EMAILS WITH IRWIN SHATZMAN:

From Irwin:

how far away is the coffee shop and don’t you have a kitchen at home? what is the significance of the orchids? and here’s a solution for dealing with your driver: draw some pictures ahead of time (i.e. like an airplane when you want to go to the airport, or a beach scene when you want to go surfing. as for f_____g i’m sure you can figure out some type of diagram). actually you can probably download pictures from the internet showing a market or downtown – how you are connected i am not sure as my imagination has you living in snake country awaiting the arrival of islamic militants.

i.

Joe’s response:


You are either up very late or very early.
It is a 20 min walk.
Yes, I have a kitchen and a maid also, but she does not make espresso.
Filling up space.
Thanks for the advice. I wanted him to drive me to the massage parlor. I will enjoy searching the web for appropriate pictures. Any sites that you recommend?
I am in the north of Thailand, few Muslims but there are a lot of snakes, drug wars, white (brown) slavers, corrupt police and of course elephants.

By the way, how did you sent up your blog? You did a great job. I am pleased that the recent postings are optimistic. I am happy for you.

Joe….

By the way, Hayden calls me his Pookie. Should I be embarrassed?
PS: I just turned on my spell check and it suggested: “Statesman” as a replacement for “Schatzman”. I always knew you were bound for great things. I suppose the next time it will suggest “Nobel”.
Petrillo on the other hand usually turns up “petrol” or “petrel”, black ooze or a damned bird.

Frpm Irwin:

You are either up very late or very early. i get up about 8:30 am, take breakfast at the computer and stay on the keyboard until noon, mostly reading non-personal emails (i.e. ny times, la times, food blogs, etc.). then either about 12:30 pm or 1:00 pm i take a nap and stay in bed until around 3:00 pm. i go for a walk around the subdivision (1.5 miles) no chickens, or elephants but lots of dogs, and crows; i take a walking stick with me to beat off the asians. after that i go to the market, dry cleaners, bank or visit my mom in the retirement care facility. then at 5:00 pm i start watching tv and make diner, after dinner i watch basketball on tv and then a violence movie or maybe i’ll read until midnight. once a month or two i try to get together for an uninspired lunch with former political operatives and we laugh at old tales. all of this is boring.

It is a 20 min walk. kaiser permanente say’s one should excersize for a least thirty minutes a day at least there days a week. i think it has something to do with releasing endorphins in your head or is a scam to encourage people to buy nike shoes. i never believed in it but its something to do and it’s the only time people on the street say “hello”. also i can use it against the doctor when i tell him i follow his advice but still feel like shit.

Yes, I have a kitchen and a maid also, but she does not make espresso. did you ever think about buying an expresso machine and giving the maid something to do. does she like make youe meals? what does she make and is it all spicy? last night i watched a movie bancok dangerous with nicholas cage. in a scene he was eating spicy thai food and had to chew some green leaves to cool off. the other scenes were better..he was killing people, but he didn’t score with the chick.

Filling up space. it’s the hardest thing you will ever have to do. i usually listen to a 24/7 opera radio station on the internet http://www.radiotower.com/player.php?channel_id=7366 and/or to a ham radio repeater station where they talk dirty. if i’m lucky the opera is italian, my favorite is puccinni, and not mozart although i beleive him to be one of the best composers of music.

Joe’s Response:

Thanks for the advice. I wanted him to drive me to the massage parlor. I will enjoy searching the web for appropriate pictures. Any sites that you recommend?
on the search bar just enter “image of a….” and spell out what the image is that you want..

I am in the north of Thailand, provide me with the name of the locale and address so i can google it and see the location on a map, few muslims but there are a lot of snakes what’s the difference, drug wars, white (brown) slavers, my favorite corrupt police my kinda’ guys and of course elephants.dumbo?

By the way, how did you sent up your blog? it’s all free and fairly easy. go to google.com and set up a name and password. then once in, click on “more” then click on “even more” and then click on “blogger”. i suppose you might just do a search for “blogger”. once in, everything is explained and you just have to experiment. the main thing i haven’t figured out yet is how to notify people of a new post without sending them a separate email which is what i do. if you haven’t all readyYou did a great job. I am pleased that the recent postings are optimistic. I am happy for you. thanks. thanks but i am not more optimistic i am just more realistic and have begun to face reality which is the wonderment of anxiety, depression and dispair within which i have lived and will for the remainder of my life. i fully believe that my physical/mental disabilities.infirmities are genetic and that the most i can do is alleviate the syptoms and recognize that that there is no cure. instead of avoiding the draft i should have joined the marines…maybe they would have made a man out of me.

Joe….

By the way Hayden calls me his Pookie. Should I be embarrassed? i’d be flattered. i think “pookie” was a positive character on the soupy sales show but i don’t remember what kind of character he was. not a dog like “white fang” or “black tooth”. although maybe “pookie” means something in thai! better get a dictionary.
PS: I just turned on my spell check and it suggested “Statesman” as replacement for “Schatzman”. I always knew you were bound for great things. I suppose the next time it will suggest “Nobel”.unlikely. i was once chased by a man in israel who came after to me to tell me that my name, which i had just signed on a guest book, meant “spokesman for the people”. usually, schatzman refers to a “dear man” or someone like a “treasurer: the word “dear” meaning worth something like money or jewels, i suppose i could have been at least a contender but was burdened instead by listing to the little guy on my shoulder carrying a pitchfork telling me that, “It’s all good, no one will know, you can get away with it.” But that little guy on my shoulder didn’t tell me that in the real world, you don’t get away with it because even when you are the only one who knows, that is enough to destroy you. It just will happen from the inside out.

Petrillo on the other hand usually turns up “petrol” or “petrel”, black ooze or a damed bird. no. i think petrillo comes from the name peter which is derived from the greek word for “rock”. you know like stong like a rock. wasn’t that a song by bob seger?

Irwin’s response:

what i really want to know before i die is that you had to pay for four wives. three children. were $80k in credit card debt and are now living in a palacial estate in an exotic country with a maid, chauffer, and god knows what else at your disposal. how was this managed?

the weather gauge is turning red and we are allerted by radar that torrential rains are anticipated within the next two hours. we have now had rain storms daily for three days. last night i noticed that my feet got damp when i stood on the carpet next to the french door in the computer room. my last wife, who sleeps upstairs, woke up this morning a head full of wet hair and a spot on the livingroom ceiling is brown and water has dripped down the wall. my backyard isn’t large enough to build an ark…i won’t complain, at least its not a tsunami coming over the back wall.

we are doomed i tell you but at least we maybe don;t have to deal with al gore anymore.

i.

Joe’s Response:


In my subdivision, I use my walking stick to beat off the Europeans. Today I will try to get the driver to take me to the Mall. From there I think I can find my way to the massage parlor.


My evenings so far are spent with Hayden.

The maid makes my breakfast and my dinner. Lunch I fend for myself. Breakfast is bland and dinner spicy. She is not a very good cook but she cleans the house, tends the garden and and washes my clothes.

I prefer watching the the young attractive barristas and waitresses to watching the maid who is kind of square shaped.

I always cry at the final aria of Co Co San in Madame Butterfly. Thanks for the site. I will try it tonight.

I am midway between the city of Chiang Mai and the village of Hang Dong (if you can believe it). I tried google maps but they are not very good for Thailand.

I have to go. My driver has arrived. Will write again later.

Joe…

From Irwin:

how far are you from Chiang Mai and how far is that from bankcok? i see that apartments in chiang mai are $13 us a night so i am beginning to understand how you might be able to afford a house – but it looks like you are in the middle of nowhere;hope you don’t need a doctor in the middle of the night. well i’m still in semi-civilization
and about to leave for the kosher butcher.

Joe’s response is missing.

From Irwin:

worldclub lane is not a very exotic name. who were the subdividers, people from the uk?

it’s now 6:30pm here (sunday) what time (and day) is it there? any palestinians?

if orchid’s grow on trees in one’s backyard what flowers do high school girls wear for a corsage at their prom?

irwin

Joe’s Response:

  1. It is exotic to the Thai’s. The developer is Thai. I think he was hoping that Chiang Mai would host the World Cup or maybe the Olympics. It has a huge indoor-outdoor pool in the health club that is now an American Christian high school. The school, I hear is being booted out for being assholes.

This is a strange subdivision. As near as I can tell there are virtually no zoning, health or design controls. As a result it now contains at least two pre-schools and an elementary schools, a pretty good convenience store in someone’s garage, a martial arts studio in someones house and a couple of restaurants. One of the restaurants is run by an old lady who is the widow of one of the City’s ex-mayors (The current one a woman, has just been caught in a notorious sex scandal). Anyway the widow lives on adjacent to a stub-end street that she closed off and now uses as an open air restaurant that she services from the kitchen in her house. She also grows most of her vegetables and herbs on the open area at the end of the stub-end. She also makes herbal medicines and a wine made from some fruit no-one can name or show me and mysterious herbs. The wine takes three months to “mature”. It begins as a rose’ and at “maturity” turns deep red like a burgundy. It actually does not taste bad, a little like a retsina. You get sort of a mellow drunk with a lot of giggling and no appreciable hangover. We think the one of herbs used is ganja.

My corner of the subdivision is the upscale section, with big houses with elaborate gardens and imposing walls and gates. Most of the occupants are corrupt Thai politicians and businessmen and a few Europeans. In other sections one sees enormous houses filling up the entire lot. On some lots, there are more that one house on others someone will develop a few row houses. It the low rent district there are about 50 row houses. These were the first and probably built for the athletes that never came

2. If it is 6:30 PM in California on Sunday, it would be 9:30 AM monday here.

3. The next time I take a teenage Thai girl to her prom I will ask.

Joe…

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Since Hayden was four years old, almost every night I have been with him, I have told him an ongoing bed-time story regarding a little boy about his age and his pony Acorn (the name of the pony H rode at Naida and Bill’s ranch). The stories concerned Danny and Acorn’s adventures with their friends: the White Knight and his horse, Blackey-whitey; the Black Knight and his horse, Whitey-blackey; the Knight of the Burning Toilet; the Monster that Lived in the Closet; the Wizard that lived in a Castle on the Mountain; and Prince Sammy who lived in a palace in Rivertown with ten princesses whose names were, Brandy, Cindy, Candy, Fannie, Ginnie, Mandy, Sandi, Tammi, Winnie and Abigail Fort and Go Braugh. (I sometimes would forget the names, but Hayden had them memorized and would correct me if I did.)

Danny lived in a small house with a barn for Acorn located next to THE DEEP, THE DARK, FOREST (said in a deep scary voice), in the center of which lived, Grandpa Pookie.

It seems that on the last night before I left two months ago, I had begun an adventure about Zeekie a small green creature and Three Giants. I did not finish it that night. Instead, I promised him I would do so when I returned. Of course, by the time I got back, I had forgotten all about it.

On my first night upon my return to in El Dorado Hills, he took me into the bedroom and asked me to finish the story. After I admitted that I had forgotten what it was about, he nodded sagely, went to a drawer in his headboard and took out a piece of paper. On it, he had written out the entire story I had told so far. The words were all phonetically written but understandable.

This surprised me. When I had left only two months ago, I thought he could not yet write. It amazed that he had taken the time and effort to write it down and had the insight to realize that I would probably have forgotten it all.

That night I told him the rest of the story. It wasn’t bad as those stories go and it even had a moral with a twist at the end. The implications of the twist concerned Hayden a lot.

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Pookie and Hayden

A few years ago, while I was sitting at the table one evening doing little more than staring at the wall, I noticed Hayden writing away in a notebook. This was a very unusual thing for him to do. He typically spends the evenings watching television, building Lego Cities, running around the house screaming for no discernible reason and, just before bedtime, completing his homework. I asked him what he was doing. He said it was a secret and continued to diligently attend to whatever he was working on. When he finished he came over and showed me the notebook.

A few nights previously, I had promised him that we would write a short comic book together entitled “Hayden Without a Hat.” Each evening thereafter he asked me if I was ready to write the story with him and each night I gave some excuse or other. The notebook contained the following (everything is as he wrote it including the punctuation, except for the quotation marks which I added). I promised him I would “publish” it. So here it is:

     “Story for little boys, girls!

        

     Hayden Without a Hat

          Once upon a time, there was a little boy named Hayden Without a Hat.            

          “Oh, no!” says Grandpa Pooky. “Oh no!!!” Grandpa Pooky says “You need a hat.”

          “A hat…” says Hayden, “a hat.” “Let me think. Hmmm, ok” Hayden says. “I do need a hat!!!! “Hey, we can go to the hat store.”

          So Hayden picked out his favorite hat. It was just like Grandpa Pooky’s hat.

          Remember kids always have a hat!!! And mom’s and dad’s.”

I told him that I also sent a copy to his mom because it would make her so proud of him. He said I should not have because she would make him do it again and again until he got bored.

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IMG_4088

Three aging gentlemen and the youthful HRM

One of the more significant problems that arise upon reaching my age (78+) is that I often soon forget whatever I may have been recently up to. Like now — I am sitting writing this in a nondescript Starbucks somewhere in Folsom, not too far from the prison made famous by Jonny Cash. It is raining outside. A few hours ago, I met with my oncologist. He declared me still in remission from cancer in my neck that I had been treated for about a year ago. Hooray for me. I cannot remember what else I have done since my return to the Great Valley a few days ago. Perhaps, I napped a lot. I recall that about a day or so ago, I had a late lunch-early dinner at Subway with HRM a 13-year-old pre-adolescent young man. Our conversation went something like this:

Me: How are things going with you?
HRM: Good.
Me: Anything interesting happen in school recently?
HRM: Everything.

And so on — the conversational rhythms of the emerging adolescent.

One evening, we went for dinner at a nearby Ethiopian restaurant. It was enjoyable, especially accompanied by honey wine. That night, I had a dream so loaded with Jungian overtones that to attempt to describe it could lead to madness. I struggled, eventually successfully, to wake myself up but could not get back to sleep again for fear the dream would return.

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Dunes at Sandy Neck Beach, West Barnstable

Dunes at Sandy Neck Beach, West Barnstable (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This was one of those remarkably beautiful mornings. So as I sat in the cafe sipping my café latte and gazing at the yellow sand beach and the stippled water reflecting the almost empty blue sky, of course, my thoughts wandered off to ruminating on death and dying.

This is not such an odd juxtaposition at my age, especially when recently I began to wonder if my preference for drifting through life requires some adjustment when faced with the inevitable decline of my physical and mental faculties over the next decade or so.

On the other hand, as I so well know, the end may occur while simply standing on the sidewalk looking forward to the future. Or, as the Great Dane mused whether “..to take arms against a sea of trouble..” is really worth it.

This led me to think about my grandfather who bore the same name as I. People called him, “Big Joe,” “Old Joe,” “Pepino” or just “Joe” as the situation required.

I often think about him because I believe, the great dark shadow cast by him stunted the growth of all members of the Petrillo family caught in its gloom.

Big Joe approached life as something to be beaten into shape with his fists or accepted with neither emotion nor regret. When he was a young man he killed another man for calling him a guinea. Convicted of manslaughter, he served about a year in jail. After his release, he fought his way to head one of the first and certainly the largest construction companies in the US owned by an Italian immigrant at that time. When during the Great Depression caused him to lose everything he did not complain and eventually went back to working as a common laborer.

In his nineties, he lived in a nursing home. There, he developed the obsession that were he to lie down on his bed he would surely die. So, every night he sat upright in his chair facing the door to his room ready to fight death to the death so to speak. No, there was no going silently into “that dark night” for old Joe. He was prepared to beat death into submission were the caped skeleton so foolish as to walk through that door and into his room.

One night when he was about 85 years old and working at night directing traffic in the parking lot of one of his son’s restaurants on Cape Cod, he called me on the phone. He said he might be arrested and thrown in jail (not for the first time in his life). When I inquired as to what it was that made him think this, he told me that evening he directed an automobile with two young men and their dates into a parking space. The young man driving ignored him and parked instead closer to the entrance to the restaurant and got out. Grandpa (as I called him) went up to the driver to remonstrate with him and ask him to move his car into the space where he had directed him to go.

The young man responded by saying, “Get out of the way old man,” and pushed “Big Joe” aside.

Shortly thereafter the ambulance took the young man to the hospital suffering a broken nose, the loss of a few teeth, a couple of broken ribs and various contusions and abrasions as they say in the legal trade. I  later learned that the young man remained in the hospital for two weeks.

“Don’t worry grandpa,” I laughed, “If you are arrested, I will take the case, put you on the stand and ask you one question, ‘How old are you, Mr. Petrillo.’ Besides, I suspect the young man will be too embarrassed to press charges.” I was right, he did not.

Anyway, one night midway through his 98th year, a kind-hearted nurse, after giving him his medicine watched him doze off. Believing that he must, at his age, be uncomfortable sleeping upright in a chair, she lifted him up  into his bed. They found him dead the next morning.

That is the way it is with old man death, he may not be strong enough to wrestle you into your grave but close your eye for a moment…

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