sensory, schmensory

23 05 2007


Pete wears shadesHere’s Peter, sporting his fashionable shades with his ever-napping companion Sam. It was not too very long ago that Peter would not allow anything foreign near his face; not toothbrush, hairbrush, washcloth – nothing! Now he asks for his “green glasses” before leaving the house, and has been known to fall sleep with them on (we removed them promptly after he nodded off).

Go Pete!
(or is that “Joe Cool”?)


pump prices pummel purses – promises, promises, promises

21 05 2007

gas pumpI had some unexpected errands to run today, and I noticed the family car was getting low on gas. I bypassed two gas stations close to DC (Old Town Alexandria, VA) and saved nearly 20 cents per gallon by making my gas purchase closer to home. Still, I paid over $41 to fill a Mitsubishi Galant. This is a new high for me, and it made me think back of campaign promises made by scores of Democratic hopefuls this past November. Google helped me find some of the quotes – all blaming “the administration” for the outrageous gas prices, and the promise of a new plan – a new direction.

“Democrats have a plan to lower gas prices…join Democrats who are working to lower gas prices now.”
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Release, 4/19/06; CNN, 4/25/06

“Democrats believe that we can do more for the American people who are struggling to deal with high gas prices…We have offered legislation that would actually do something about the rise in gasoline prices…”
Democrat Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Release, 10/4/05

“House Democrats have a plan to help curb rising gas prices.”
Democrat Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC), Online Town Meeting, 7/26/06

“With gasoline and other prices rising, ‘America’s middle-class families deserve better’ … ‘Nobody thinks $2.50 a gallon is cheap; it’s still expensive.’”
Democrat Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel (D-IL), CBS News, 6/2/06; New York Times, 9/30/06

Nice job, guys! Hot air is still cheap, apparently.

he’s got game

18 05 2007

TV-GameIf you try to analyze this too much, your brain will hurt. It’s dizzying to understand Peter at times. Readers of this blog have been following his developmental progress since July of last year. At that time, he was really not yet speaking.

This afternoon, Emma was given permission to play a video game. She plays the Playstation 2 very rarely, and hasn’t played for several months. As I was setting up her game, there was a brief moment when the TV input was set to the “GAME” setting, but the PS2 was not yet on.  The screen was blank, with the exception of the word “GAME” in the upper left corner. At this very moment, Peter wandered into the room, looked at the video screen, and said, “Game”. He then walked away.

My brain hurts.

a mother’s day reflection

13 05 2007

Mom as a childCharlotte Anita Jacobs was born in March of 1928. Trenton, NJ was her home from birth until she was married & moved to the New Jersey shore. She was the only daughter of Myer & Molly Jacobs – both Lithuanian immigrants. English was her second language, being initially immersed in a Yiddish-speaking household.

She excelled at both art & music, and won acclaim & scholarships with her violin playing. Mom attended Trenton State Teacher’s College, and began her teaching career at her alma mater, Trenton High School. She met a young GI from Brooklyn, NY named Melvin Mankin at a dance, and married him in 1951. His military duties carried them to Stuttgart, Germany. With Stuttgart as an anchor point, they traveled across Europe and enjoyed their early married life with the newly-rebuilt Europe as their backdrop.

Mom as a teenagerMy late brother Mark was born in 1954, after Dad’s military service had ended & he returned to the States for his delayed college career. I was born in 1958, and the Mankin family moved from Trenton to Lakewood, NJ – for my father’s new teaching position at Bricktown High School.

In 1960, at age 29, my father died suddenly of a heart attack, leaving Mom to raise her two sons. In 1965, she married Maxwell Cohen, and we all moved to his house on the other side of town. Mom gave birth to my brother Philip Cohen in 1967.

In 1971, Max Cohen suffered a fatal heart attack, and once again Charlotte Cohen was the sole parent – now of 3 boys.

As her sons grew, there were health difficulties. Mark’s congenital spinal condition required several neurosurgeries, and Phil suffered occasional seizures. Her dedication to both conditions was fierce. Mark was hospitalized in Atlantic City once, and twice in New York City. Mom drove to New York daily – a 70-mile trip each direction (for months), plowing her way through the Cross Bronx Expressway to get to Albert Einstein Memorial Hospital & Montefiore Medical Center.

My mother continued to play her violin throughout her life, and certainly provided my first musical inspiration. She drove frequently to Boston to shuttle me back & forth to college, and eventually traveled to Washington to hear me perform with the Navy Band.

the MankinsMy mother fell one day while participating in a ‘volksmarch’ in Philadelphia, and x-rays revealed unusual growths in her hip. She was diagnosed with bone cancer, but a growth near her brain caused her more severe problems soon afterward. Her decline was very slow, and I know she suffered greatly. She attended my wedding in 1995, and I think it was her last happy time. We visited her in a nursing home in New Jersey for months – then years. She was often unconscious, and we never really knew if she was aware of our presence. We spoke to her, assuming she could hear us, and we delivered the news that she would be a grandmother for the first time in a few months. There was no reaction to the news – immediately.

As I escorted Kathy down the front steps – on the way to the hospital to give birth to our daughter Emma, the phone rang. It was the hospital in Lakewood, NJ. Mom’s condition had grown grave, and they needed a decision on resuscitation. As hard of a decision as this should have been, it was actually an easy one – Mom had suffered enough, and her quality of life had deteriorated well beyond imagination. It was time to let her go.

Emma was born after 30 hours of labor on May 29th, 1999. Mom held on, as if she knew that her granddaughter was coming. Emma & Charlotte crossed paths at heaven’s gates – one heading to earth, and the other leaving. They shared this world for 4 days, and my mother died peacefully, after she knew Emma had arrived safely – even though they were each hospitalized 300 miles apart.

Emma’s first kiss didn’t come from Kathy or me – I believe Grandma Charlotte held the door open for her to enter our lives. Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. Thanks for waiting those last few days.

where’s waldo?

4 05 2007

Waldo as a puppyIn September of 1993, an acquaintance of mine told me of her brand-new puppy. It was a shih tzu named Waldo. He was a tiny, energetic fluffy mop of a dog. Waldo probably was an important spark in our friendship, and Waldo’s owner was ultimately to become my wife, Kathy.

Waldo was soon introduced to his “brother” Sam – a shih tzu rescue. Before Emma & Peter entered our lives, Sam & Waldo were our kids. They came to outdoor concerts & traveled up & down I-95 to visit ailing family up north. Waldo’s personality is unique. For 14 years now, Waldo has been, and is oblivious to the fact that he is a small dog. [small by dog standards – HUGE by shih tzu standards] He barks at the wind and huge dogs alike. He demands table scraps, and defines persistence with his table-side barking. Meals with 2 kids are noisy – add Waldo to the mix, and you have a nightmare – nightly!

Waldo is well into his second life now. In September of 2000, I was taking the dogs for a walk – as I have done for years. There are many types of dogs in our neighborhood, and Waldo barks at them all. There was a known Rottweiler up the street. The dog was never walked, always running around his owners back yard & barking at unseen people, dogs & cars from behind its fence. As Sam, Waldo and I walked past their house, the Rottweiler viciously barked at us. This happened often, but on this walk, all hell broke loose. The dog’s owner had left town for the weekend, leaving his “pet” out in the elements to terrorize anything he could. The Rottweiler repeatedly slammed against its fence until the wooden slats shattered into splinters, and the Rottweiler charged us.He had his choice of us to victimize – he chose Waldo. He pinned Waldo to the ground in his vice-like jaws and bit down in a death grip. My yelling did not deter the attacker, so I resorted to actually kicking him repeatedly in the head in a desperate attempt to force him to release his grip on Waldo. Looking back now, I don’t know if it was all that smart to kick a Rottweiler with death on his mind, but it was what I decided to do in my adrenalin-soaked, panicked brain cells.

It worked. My blows to the animal’s head bothered him enough to have him release Waldo. Waldo was gravely injured, and in shock. He was rushed to the emergency vet hospital, where I said my goodbyes to him forever, along with an apology for ever walking him in this neighborhood. It seemed that my efforts unlocked the jaws-of-death, but now Waldo was to be no more.

The call from the animal hospital the next morning was dreaded. We were sure that the word was of a valiant, but failed attempt to save Waldo’s life, but the call was promising news – he survived the night, and had extensive surgery to repair torn muscles & bruised organs. It was to be a slow, rough recovery, but he might actually survive this ordeal… and survive, he has!

Waldo at 14Tomorrow, May 5th, Waldo turns 14. That’s 98 in human years, folks. He is arthritic (from advanced age & his brush with the Rottweiler), and suffers from Cushing’s Desease, but every day is gravy since September of 2000.

Dinners are still fortissimo thanks to the nightly duet of Peter & Waldo, but that’s life.

The Rottweiler and his irresponsible owner moved from the neighborhood, and we heard that the dog escaped one time too many, and met a motor vehicle head-on. Wish I were the driver.

Happy 14th birthday, Waldo. It’s all gravy!