"If it's not fun, why do it?"

Archive for the ‘People’ Category

Time Sense

I have been waiting too long. They said they’d be here between 11 and 11:30 am and it’s after 12:30 pm. They’re not here. It’s a 2½ hour drive to our destination and I don’t want to encounter traffic or come back too late. I know these people run late and thought I accounted for that when I asked them to pick me up before noon. They run on a different time sense, however.

I distracted myself by uploading photos of these cute baby hats I’ve been making for charity to my Ravelry account. I searched for a book I misplaced. I watched 2 episodes of 30 Rock. I took out the trash. I watered the outdoor planter. I drank some water.

I finally called the more responsible person of the group I was waiting for and said I could not go with them. She said to me, “I can’t go with just the others.” I knew what she meant, capitulated and said OK, I’d go. So here I’m waiting still.

Image: Late by Evan Sharboneau (via Flickr, CC BY-ND)

-/-/-/-/-

They came not much after I wrote the above paragraphs and we were finally on our way. I drove; the trip was uneventful. We avoided three fights in the car by me keeping my mouth shut. We arrived at our destination, did our thing, then headed back. I hate driving west around sunset. We stopped so they could eat. I ate my bag of lettuce in the car, tipped the seat back, and rested my eyes while they dined—the restaurant was not kosher so I came prepared. By the time they finished their dinner the sun had set and night fell. I drove the unfamiliar back roads homeward rather than taking the highway. We played a quiz game someone found on Facebook and laughed at the answers everyone provided.

-/-/-/-/-

I like being on time. On time to me means arriving before, or at the time I agreed to be somewhere. Depending upon community mores, this could be 10 or 20 minutes later than the published time, but it requires a sense of what time means to that specific group. For instance, in my crowd, a New York wedding called for 8:00 pm may not start until 9:30 pm, but a Pittsburgh wedding will start no later than 8:20 pm. It’s something “everybody knows.” There’s the story of the New Yorkers who went to Pittsburgh for a wedding and showed up at NYC time… and missed the ceremony. They just didn’t understand Pittsburgh time.

I’m normally not punctilious to a fault, but compared to these people I was with today, I am an imperious arbiter, running the trains with an iron fist. My more rigid time sense imposes on their free-form, loose and flowing time sense. And therein lies the problem: they will never see my way, and I will never see theirs. This is a no-compromise zone.

So usually I compromise and tell these people to meet me at a time one hour earlier than necessary so that when they arrive “tardy,” it will be the real time I want to meet at. Has my method has been found out? How much longer can I perpetuate this charade?

It’s not that I’m impatient. To the contrary, usually it’s exactly the opposite. I am very “chill,” waiting in line, passing time, being agreeable. I don’t rush, but plan ahead to avoid needing to rush. This talent has grown over the last decade. I got tired of being late, arriving on the brink, thinking of excuses. I changed myself and got discipline. I feel proud of this achievement and it has saved me much aggravations.

Certain situations—and people—push my buttons, though. Repeatedly. This has been going on for a long time. It’s them, not me. I feel I can’t avoid them and their warped molasses sense of time. For now, at least.

Some day I will simply refuse to do anything with that crowd. Or go without me, I’ll tell them. Until then, I will need to breathe deeply, take a few steps away from the cliff, and realize that some old dogs cannot learn new tricks… or how to read a clock.

 

Advertisements

Trump Day

Finally, my shoulders can be lowered from up around my ears.

trump-presidential-inauguration-silver-commemorative

President Trump Inaugural Commemorative Coin,” © The Revolutionary Mint.”

On Friday, President Trump manned the helm of the country. Whether you love him or hate him, voted for him or rallied against him, he is the President of the greatest country on earth. Let us at least honor the Office of the President, fer gosh sake, and disrobe Uncle Sam from the clown costume he’s been sewn into. The world is laughing at us. Really. HATRED makes us look stupid and ineffective.

Will everything be smooth after this? I’m not buying any bridges in Brooklyn, no siree. However, I hope that the political bashing will cease and let us move on. Time to buck up, soldier on, get over it.

Ever since November—nay, even before the election—this country has been swamped with waves of vitriol and bile like never before. Sure, we’ve had protests in the past—I grew up in the 60s—but few so personal, aimed at an individual. As a contrast, participants in Viet Nam anti-war protests thought they would have an effect on policy and force the United States to end its participation there. There were not enough volunteers to continue to fight a protracted war and young men did not want to be drafted. The War was the enemy. While President Nixon was hated for what he did, unpopular to start with then becoming embroiled in the Watergate fiasco, Trump hasn’t done anything!

Unprecedented hatred targets Trump, the man. Timothy Burke, a professor in the Department of History at Swarthmore College wrote an article entitled “The Anatomy of Anti-Trumpism: Ten Thoughts and Reconsiderations.” Reasons people cite range from “Trump is a liar,” and “Trump is stupid,” to “What is uniquely wrong with America?” and “Now terrible things are going to happen to innocent people.” Trump didn’t help his own image with profligate (Twitter) tweets during the campaign, but he has his own agenda, and keeps people off-balance. That is not worthy of the viciousness aimed at him in my opinion.

obama-coin-new-england-mint-t

President Obama Commemorative Coin” © The New England Mint

Politicians lie (remember something about cigars?), the man is not stupid (he’s attention-seeking), and “welcome to the world after 9/11.” I don’t agree with all Professor Burke says and doubt he was a Trump supporter. He voices some cogent points, however, about how the system is broken. That doesn’t cultivate the best of the best and the most idealistic candidates.

I didn’t drink any Kool-Aid. My eyes aren’t closed. I just want to relax and breathe without being exposed to the ugliness seen in the media this past year. It’s been a long election season. Don’t string up Mr. Trump because of the rhetoric; it was  his best tool and weapon.

May G-d bless this country, its leaders, and its people. Especially its leaders. As much as I like knitting projects, take off the Pussy Hats and go home. And, Mr. Trump, please stop tweeting off the hip.

 

Save

Invitation

The boys hopped off their bicycles at the corner. Propped on kickstands, the bikes stood like trusty steeds by the watering trough awaiting their riders. One boy fastened his helmet to the handlebars while the other wore his. They strode to the door and entered the Starbucks store. I squinted at the activity from a nearby table on the patio.

Despite it being December, I sat outside the café in shirtsleeves, enjoying the sun shining into my eyes. I tried to write but pages of my notebook flapped like crows in the escalating wind.  I watched the bicycles and traffic and passersby with an increasing sense of urgency: Where are the boys? When are they coming out? The bicycle rims glowed and taunted me.

Bicycle friends, unchained and free.

Bicycle friends, unchained and free. © JustHavingFun

I grew up in cities—not particularly dangerous ones—places where you had to be on the lookout because bad things could happen. Even from an early age I knew if I left my bicycle unattended it might not be there later. I had a chain. I had a lock. I had a quick-release hub for the front wheel. One simply did not leave the bike unattended. To do that would be an invitation for a thief to steal my most prized possession! Why didn’t the boys chain their bikes?

The wind whipped my pages faster and blew over one of the bicycles. Another patio-sitter jumped up and righted it. I cranked my head toward the store. Where were the boys? A nod to the rescuer and I returned to my pages.

I’m a mother. My mothering powers expand and include all within my gaze… and beyond. My mom-sense hackles were bristling. Another gust toppled the same bicycle. The rescuer rose again, righted it, and I gave her a wan smile. Since I couldn’t write, I capped my pen and went inside.

“The wind knocked over your bicycle,” I informed two boys about 13-years old. One wore a helmet and the other was finishing a latte. The boys thanked me, and one went to peek outside. When he returned I turned my mom-powers on him. “Let me ask you a question. I write a blog and I’m curious: how come you didn’t padlock your bikes?”

Their innocence made me smile. “This place is so safe,” the blond one said. “You don’t have to worry about theft.” True, we were in a modern shopping village development, but I wouldn’t believe it. “I live down there,” the helmeted one nodded toward the gated community a quarter mile down the road. “Nobody ever bothers our stuff.” I nodded and listened without judgment. They felt unassailable. They excitedly told me about a Ravens football player they saw while biking to the coffee shop. All was normal in their world.

So precious. So fresh.

We were not so far from the dangerous, crime-ravaged city but we could have been in a different country. Less than 5 miles away houses sit abandoned and the poor abound. Storefronts hide behind barred windows and people meander on mean streets.  Here however, a boy drank coffee in the afternoon with his friend while their bicycles waited on the sidewalk. This verdant, safe suburb we sat in nestles behind an invisible, invincible curtain. These youths were wrapped in a butterscotch coating of safety and security.

You never know who you’ll encounter in a coffee shop. We chatted a bit, the mom-powered lady and the youths too candid to catch the irony of the situation. I bade them goodbye and pondered upon an upbringing so charming and charmed near Charm City. Though I ventured into the suburbs I couldn’t leave the city in me behind.

Origin of Mother’s Day

Cover of sheet music, 'That wonderful mother of mine.'

Cover of sheet music, ‘That wonderful mother of mine.’ 1918. M. Witmark & Sons. Historic American Sheet Music, 1850-1920 (from Duke University), Library of Congress.

With this weekend being Mother’s Day, I thought I’d post some odds and ends about the day that honors mothers.

  • Mother’s Day originated in the United States although there were various older religious and pagan ceremonies that antedate the modern holiday.
  • The acknowledged founder, Anna Jarvis campaigned vigorously for a day honoring mothers after her mother’s death in 1905.
  • Mother’s Day was first celebrated with a ceremony on Sunday, May 10, 1908 in Grafton, West Virginia, Jarvis’ home.
  • West Virginia was the first state to officially recognize Mother’s Day in 1910.
  • In 1912, Jarvis incorporated her own association, trademarked the white carnation and the phrases “second Sunday in May” and “Mother’s Day.”
  • Placement of the apostrophe in “Mother’s” is intentional.
  • It was made a national holiday in 1914 by President Wilson, to be observed the second Sunday in May.
  • It started to be observed by sending greeting cards and flowers, or chocolates and photos. but that was becoming too commercialized for Jarvis’ taste.
  • Jarvis hated the commercialization of “her holiday” and threatened lawsuits to various entities planning large celebrations, including New York Governor Al Smith in 1923!
  • She accused Eleanor Roosevelt in 1935 of “crafty plotting” to abuse Mother’s Day by using it in fundraising material for charities trying to combat high maternal and infant mortality rates, “the expectant mother racket,” as Jarvis called them.
  • Jarvis spent her considerable inheritance and the rest of her life fighting the commercialization of “her” holiday.
  • By 1948 when she died, Jarvis was bitter, blind, partially deaf, and completely penniless in a Pennsylvania mental institution.
  • Mother’s Day continues to be celebrated as a “Hallmark Holiday,” complete with sales of everything from A to Z.

Source: Mother’s Day creator likely ‘spinning in her grave’. CanWest News Service, May 11, 2008, (accessed May 7, 2015).

R.I.P. Faithful Companion

Storm & Lightning

Storm & Lightning, 2008.  R.I.P, Faithful companions.

 

People become very attached to their pets. Pets become “part of the family.” I’ve heard them described as being “just like a baby,” “the only one who really understands me,” and “the love of my life.” I’ve had dogs. I’ve had cats. I’ve owned fish, turtles, hermit crabs, and took care of the 3rd grade’s reptile for the summer. I’ve given numerous fish a funeral at sea. I’ve also taken a dog to be euthanized, or “put to sleep” as we say. For me the pets were beloved friends, but they were just pets. My sister, Michele, and brother-in-law were more of the first sort of pet owners, head over heels about the dogs.

Storm was put to sleep today.

Storm and Lightning were “brothers,” German Shepherds from the same sire and dam, with Storm being two years the older. Storm’s ears cocked inward; thus he was not suitable for breeding. Lightning developed seizures as he aged and also could not be bred. They were big dogs, Storm the larger of the two, and they barked a lot if they didn’t know you. Great watchdogs. However, they were well-trained and responded to commands. Once they stopped barking I never feared them for they were affectionate and attentive. But they barked until I got out of my car and they were commanded to stop barking. Big noise.

Storm sensed the atmosphere and emotions when it came to my sister. When Michele’s remission from cancer ended, it was Storm who sensed something was off. His behavior prodded my brother-in-law to take Michele to the hospital. This 100 pound furry fellow kept her company, even climbing into the bed, when she was recovering from chemotherapy. He was stalwart. He was the leader of the pack. Meanwhile, Lightning needed more attention, and his health failed progressively until the only option was to put him down. Storm missed him terribly, looking repeatedly around the house for Lightning.

Then Michele died a few weeks afterward. The worst day of all……

Storm and my brother-in-law were buddies after that. Sure, there were the cats, but cats are aloof and didn’t comfort him like Storm did. Then last year Storm started to fail. The only decision was to put him down. Today was the designated day.

Here’s a nod to a good dog and good friend. He’s buried in the back acre near his brother Lightning. Goodbye noble friend.

 

Sitting in Starbucks

Knitting in Public - aqua afghan

Knitting in Public – aqua afghan at Starbucks, March 20, 2015

At a Starbucks in New Jersey this time, taking refuge from traffic as we travel to our Shabbos destination. An impossibly heavy snow started falling shortly before our departure. Snow obscures my vision on the road. We left early and I drive slowly. We’re early and stop to savor time and a cup of warmth. We’ll leave in an hour, closer to the time we’re expected at our hosts. My nostrils twitch in anticipatory pleasure, a nice cappuccino to soon pass my lips. We settle on the leather armchairs near the front window and wait for our order to be called. I wait; he goes and fetches the cups.

The lady in the corner knits. I see her following the instructions with her finger. Bright orange highlighter marks the lines. I ask what it is, outing myself as knitter. It’s an afghan, she says. A most captivating color of aqua green spills over her lap.

I guess her age to be in the 70s. Seeing I am wearing a headscarf and long skirt, she tells me that her mother was from Poland, the youngest of 8 children. This is a form of Jewish geography, the unconscious attaching we do to connect ourselves in time and space. Her grandmother was very religious, she continued, praying copiously. The grandfather died at 39 leaving a widow to cope with all those children. How they made it to the USA was not disclosed. Despite the religious grandmother, l can tell that she is not, but she’s Jewish, too. She wears youthful blue jeans and a trendy hairstyle. She peers over her bifocals at me, one finger on the page, the other hand gripping the knitting needles. 

When I came in she had been talking with the man with a very strong New York accent. They compare their respective histories in the vast country of Brooklyn, discovering they had walked the same streets. Although he traveled all over the world, he never shed his Brooklyn voice. In New Jersey, however, it doesn’t hinder him. He tried to learn Spanish to no avail although his wife is Colombian and the children are bilingual. She lived in Vermont, Texas, Florida, North Dakota, California, and five other states, and lost most of her Brooklyn voice. She can camouflage herself almost anywhere while his New Yorkese blared as loudly as a foghorn. Together they walked through their remembered neighborhood. How they came together on this snowy afternoon is happenstance, coincidence, fate.

A second man joins Mr. Brooklyn. He speaks with a strong Spanish accent but he looks foreign to me, not like local Spanish. Maybe it’s his clothing or sibilant S’s that strike me as different. They launch into a discussion of pipes and fittings, fire sprinklers and city codes. Soon-to-be business partners I surmise. I don’t pay attention to their conversation. I let the business details patter around my hearing, so many wet snowflakes melting as they touch down.

They smile, plan, gesticulate. Ms. Aqua knits. I sip. Hubby reads. Snow falls. The hour inches closer to Shabbos and the time we will continue our trip.

I Feel Your Pain

 

A friend told me the following subsequent to reading my post from last week, The ‘Subway Hilton’ will be Full Tonight.

One day recently, after the Xmas shopping rush, his daughter had the occasion to go shopping in town. She set out armed with all of the “Mom paraphernalia,” a full diaper bag and snacks, plus her own handbag. She strapped her bundled up baby in his stroller and set off for the City. She muscled the stroller up to the train platform in Brooklyn. It is not an unusual sight to see young mothers with strollers struggling up these stairs as there are rarely elevators at those stations. I suspect the trip was uneventful.

When they arrived in the City she rolled the stroller off the train amidst the departing travelers. She faced two long flights up. She started wrestling the stroller up the steps. No passerby stopped to help. She reached the first landing panting. Suddenly she saw motion above, someone jumping over the turnstile. “Here, let me help,” he said extending his hand. He took the foot bar and made light work of carrying the stroller up to the main floor. They passed through the exit gate and she thanked him profoundly. “I appreciate your help. I couldn’t have done it as easily without you,” she said.

“Glad to help,” he replied. “You get to feel someone else’s pain when you’ve been there yourself.” She watched his disheveled form walk away and settle in the corner near the gate amidst some jumbled bags and crates. The man, she realized, was one of the denizens of the subway, an underground resident, willing to lend a hand when most would not.

One can experience kindness anywhere and everywhere.

There is no comment possible

The Eiffel Tower Cries for its people.

The Eiffel Tower cries for its people.

There is no comment possible for the slaughter in France. Radical Islamists struck again.

Twelve cartoonists murdered at publication Charlie Hebdo.

Innocent Jews shopping for Sabbath supplies in the Hyper Cacher Kosher supermarket were targeted by madmen. Yohan Cohen, Yoav Hattab, François-Michel Saada, and Phillipe Braham were killed by a gunman who stormed the market, and were buried in Israel. Thirty were protected by hiding in a freezer, led there by a Muslim shopworker, now a hero.

We are heartbroken, shocked, and outraged. We cannot process the horror. What is happening in France, cradle of Liberty, Fraternity, and Equality? What is happening around the world?

Pray, my friends. Pray.

21 years

happy birthday 21

Happy 21st birthday guys!

Twenty-one years ago today a miracle occurred. Two lives came into the world, my twin sons Z & Y. When I learned I was expecting twins, tears of joy ran down my face. Talk about surprise!! I’ve been totally grateful since G-d blessed me, entrusting me with raising these two little souls. The pleasure experienced through the years of their development far eclipses the sheer exhilaration of that moment.

The soul is an amazing thing. We cannot see it; we have no direct evidence of its existence. Yet, we know that each person carries a spark of the Divine as evidenced by his actions: kindness, generosity, thoughtfulness, caring, selflessness, loving. To think that I was entrusted to raise little people, souls within mortal bodies, so they could express these actions on earth! I can think of no higher calling.

Now we enter a different phase as they are longer children but men. I am always going to be a Mother, sometimes a confidante, friend, and adviser. I love them as a special part of myself taken wing. My soul soars higher, lofted by the beat of their wings. May their souls ever rise higher and higher!

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: