Post election thoughts

November 9, 2016 at 10:34 am (Family, United States of America)

What I was hearing from many people was that their only wish was for this election to be over.

It is now over.

Of course, each individual must plot his or her own course of action. I can only speak for myself. I am not moving any time soon. I have no plans to travel, except to visit beloved family and friends who live at a distance in this vast and beautiful land.

I will always be thankful to live in a country that provided a refuge for my grandparents as they fled persecution and had nowhere else to turn. Once here, they were able to work, meet, fall in love, and begin life anew.

I owe my existence to their courage and determination.

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Of love and baseball

October 27, 2016 at 3:36 pm (Art, baseball, Family)

So for once, I turned up in the right place at the right time…

Naturally the primary reason for my weekend visit to Chicago was to spend time with these most excellent people:

img_20161023_143546‘Mr. Bones’ joined the family for  this portrait; the children are very excited about the approaching Halloween festivities.

img_20161023_143016The presence of my daughter-in-law’s parents was a most welcome bonus.

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We got to preview Etta’s Halloween costume. She’s going to be a fortune teller.

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This is a far cry from her first Halloween. At the age of about three weeks, she was a ladybug! As for Welles, he wants only to be Spiderman, his current favorite action hero.

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Amidst all the family activities, a great drama was unfolding in the world of baseball: the Cubs were on the verge of winning their first National League Pennant since 1945. I’m not much of a sports fan, but I have a residual affection for the game of baseball. Growing up in northern New Jersey in the 1950s, with the New York Yankees, the Brooklyn Dodgers, and he New York Giants nearby, it would have been hard to stay aloof from the National Pastime. My brothers and I didn’t even try. At one point, my older brother actually wrote a letter to the Yankees – the team we rooted for – to tell them of a magical occurrence: every  time he wore his Yankee baseball cap, the Yanks won!

My Dad loved baseball too. And Dad, you would have appreciated that game last Saturday. The Cubs hit the ground running, scoring immediately in the first inning. The high octane drama continued, with pitcher Kyle Hendricks keeping the Dodgers scoreless and very nearly hitless (he allowed two). I loved watching him. His  form was a thing of  beauty; his face an absolute mask of concentration. The game ended with an electrifying double play, clinching a 5-0 win over the LA Dodgers. Then, all you-know-what broke loose:

At 9:45, cheers erupted, not only from our gang but outside  too, up and down the street. Car horns honking, fireworks, police sirens (but things did not get out of hand). Chicago is a city that’s taken its lumps in the press lately, so this healthy dose of good news was especially appreciated.

Sunday morning we were greeted by this Chicago Tribune front page story:

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Now, two games into the 2016 World Series, the Cubs and the Cleveland Indians each have one win under their respective belts. Of course, I’ll continue  to root for the Cubs, but no matter which team wins the championship, there’s no taking away the gift that the Cubs bestowed on the people of Chicago last Saturday.

And as the weekend drew to a close, our dear Etta, who loves to paint and draw, made this gift for Ron and me:

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The Book of Etta

October 1, 2016 at 2:59 pm (Family)

In honor of her approaching birthday, we present Etta, her parents, her brother, and any other interested parties, with The Book of Etta!

From an  early age, Etta has loved  to travel with the family. She enjoys their frequent visit to the beautiful mountains of Jackson, Wyoming. Here she is with her Dad. jacksonbeauty  At an early age she became an avid beachcomber. Here she is, fashionably attired as always,  enjoying the sun and sand. dadbeach (Once again, Dad’s along for the ride!)

Etta takes just as much pleasure in local outings with family and friends. Here we all are last year at a picnic to celebrate the end of the school year. It was a typical Spring day in beautiful Chicago: mid fifties, spitting rain, high winds… But we had fun anyway! (The company was excellent.)

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dancing  Etta’s always ready to cut a rug while playing at home. Little brother Welles – himself a recent birthday celebrant –  often joins in the fun.

13239427_10154600152858912_9032734599531339471_n-copy In addition, Etta has performed at dance recitals and been fêted by her proud family and friends!


Etta likes a variety of sports. Here she instructs her Mom in the fine art of wielding a lacrosse stick while playing defense: img_1996-x2 Etta is bold in the pursuit of athletic achievement: 14115562_10154043844712408_2684280195702690897_o And then, of course, there was the famous ski adventure. (She was only four years old!)

But let us not forget her artistic side. One day when we were at home doing various tasks, she found the time to create this flower out of found materials: img_20160605_160440

Finally, I just have to compliment Etta on her wardrobe choices. As a grandmother, I can tell you: You could go crazy buying clothes for the little ones! img_1608-x2  ettaturquoise Sometimes she just likes to dress up for fun:img_1833-x2

Whether it’s the first day of the new school year or on the trail in Jackson, Etta always has time for her little brother.

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I could go on – what grandparent couldn’t – but I’m sure you get the idea. As you turn six, Dearest Etta, may you discover more and more people and things in the world to bring you joy!

The world is so full of a number of things,
I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings.

Robert Louis Stevenson

Happy Birthday!!

With love from Grandpa Ron and Grandma ‘Berta

 

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Welles is Three Years Old!

September 13, 2016 at 12:00 pm (Family)

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Welles with his beautiful Mom

 

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With big sister Etta

Words seems inadequate, so I will just say, from Ron and me, from the  bottom of our hearts: Happy Birthday, Beloved Little Boy!

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Hail and farewell to our Miss Marple

June 20, 2016 at 8:36 pm (Cats, Family)

What a giver of joy she has been! We said goodbye to her today with sadness in our hearts, but also with gratitude for the good times we shared.

This house was a happier place when she was in it.

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Miss Audrey Jane Marple 2004 – 2016

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On Christmas: a feast for the ears and eyes – and heart

December 25, 2015 at 4:29 pm (Art, Christmas, Family, Music)

First, the music:

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Then, the gift of great art:

Relfections on the Thames John Atkinson Grimshaw

Reflections on the Thames, by John Atkinson Grimshaw

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Coming home from evening service Samuel Palmer

Coming from Church, by Samuel Palmer

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Holy Family with Lamb, by Raphael

Holy Family with Lamb, by Raphael

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Supper at Emmaus. by Caravaggio

Supper at Emmaus. by Caravaggio

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Images of love, with the profoundest gratitude:

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And finally, the closing scene of A Christmas Carol, with Alistair Sim ‘s somewhat over-the-top portrayal of Scrooge, but in a great cause, in a film that channels Victorian London in a way  that’s almost uncanny. The message could not be more profound: Redemption is always possible, but it’s best not to wait too long. Scrooge almost did. He was lucky.

I’m deeply fortunate to be blessed with so many loving friends and such a marvelous  family. I wish all of you the Merriest Christmas possible!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Two happenings that make me (cautiously) hopeful

October 12, 2015 at 12:57 pm (Family, Judaism, Music)

Lately, there’s been so much in the news that’s appalling and heartbreaking; I wanted to offer two items as harbingers, however small, of hope.

First: the Rajko Orchestra performing Bela Bartok’s Romanian Dances. The YouTube post describes the venue as a synagogue in Budapest; the year is given as 2004.

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Second: a while back, in Chicago, my son Ben and I were watching my granddaughter Etta at soccer practice:

I thin that's Etta with the braids. You'll understand that the scene was quite kinetic, so I can't be sure.

I think that’s Etta, foreground left, with the braids. You’ll understand that the scene was quite kinetic, so I can’t be sure.

Meanwhile, Ben had struck up a conversation with another Dad. When he realized he hadn’t introduced himself, he did so, with an extended hand:

Hi, I’m Ben.

The other extended his hand also, smiled, and responded:

Hi, I’m Mohamed.

I remember thinking immediately, This is one of the (many) reasons that I, granddaughter of immigrants. love this country.

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The besotted grandmother strikes again…

September 27, 2015 at 6:28 pm (Family)

Grandson Welles recently celebrated his second birthday. And boy, did he celebrate – we all did!

First, Big Sister Etta decided to dress stylishly for the occasion. We were banned from sneaking a peek, until she appeared at the top of the stairs looking like this:

IMG_1398-X2Let’s see: two dresses, about five bracelets, any number of bows and barrettes, purple shoes – and two tutus! (She did streamline things a bit later.)

The party had a fire engine theme. This is because Welles’s imagination, currently in a vehicular stage, is especially centered on fire trucks. His resourceful Mom found great decorations, such as

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IMG_1456-X3A number of entertainment features were provided for the younger guests. The Bouncy Castle was a huge hit:

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Etta and Welles, bouncing

Etta and Welles, bouncing

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The table laden with goodies

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Welles and his beautiful Mom, surveying the delectables, while Big Sister and other guests look on

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Before the party started to wind down, we gathered the children onto the steps for a photo op

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The Birthday Boy, once again, happily chowing down

Earlier in the day, it had rained hard, and we were apprehensive about what the weather would do later in the day, at party time. As you can see, it cleared up and turned into a beautiful day, made all the more beautiful by everyone’s happiness and the presence of so many children, carefree and exuberant.

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A California sojourn; in which, among other entertainments, a horse tries to eat my finger and and my sister-in-law takes me to prison for my birthday

May 25, 2015 at 2:13 am (California, Family)

Middle of May, 2015.

Ah, Northern California, land of plenty:

Brains, talent, ambition, money, mountains, beaches, majestic trees, spacious vistas, a turbulent and fascinating history.

Yes- a surfeit of everything. Except

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Upon arrival, one expects to be gazing upon an utterly parched landscape. This was not the case, as the view from the kitchen window of my brother and sister-in-law’s house attests:

 

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It is along the verges of the roads that one sees the tell tale signs. Oh – and we are enjoined to use the term “golden” to describe the color – not “brown.”

Dead almond trees in a field of gold. Firebaugh, California. Photo credit: Randi Lynn Beach

Dead almond trees in a field of gold. Firebaugh, California. Photo credit: Randi Lynn Beach

It was surprisingly cold in California this time: temps in the fifties and very windy. But for the most part, the sun shone down on us. After the relentless drear of the East Coast, it was a welcome change.

Donna, my sister-in-law, loves to walk, as do I. Her neighborhood is ideal for this purpose, especially as there is a delightful destination within easy walking distance: the Westwind Community Barn.

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As Donna and I share a love of horses, we entered the gated pasture by a side entrance in order to feed to the animals grazing there some cut up veggies. Donna, the soul of gentleness and kindness,  was delighted that they seemed to like the celery she’d brought. As for me, I was feeding one of them a carrot when he decided that my finger would also make a delightful snack as well. Fortunately, this misapprehension by my new equine acquaintance resulted in a lightly bruised digit and nothing more.

To show there was no hard feeling, I stroked his glossy neck and leaned my head against his warm body.

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The sightseeing highlight was our trip to Alcatraz, aka “The Rock.” (It’s reached via ferry from the Embarcadero in San Francisco.) This fabled island prison once housed the likes of Al Capone, George “Machine Gun” Kelly, James “Whitey” Bulger, the famous Bird Man of Alcatraz, Robert Stroud, and many others of lesser fame but equal infamy.

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It would have been a horribly grim place to be incarcerated, with the glittering lights of San Francisco always in view –  a mere one and a half miles distant, but utterly unreachable due to the icy cold waters of the Bay. Accommodations in the prison itself were exceedingly basic. Privacy was almost nonexistent. Surroundings were profoundly ugly. Secure incarceration, not rehabilitation, was the mission of the institution. Even the most basic privileges had to be earned.

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Dining area and kitchen. All knives had to be accounted for, for obvious reasons.

Dining area and kitchen. All knives had to be accounted for, for obvious reasons.


We obtained the Cellhouse Audio Tour, which was terrific – very evocative and beautifully done. Portions were narrated by former guards at the facility:

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We heard the stories of various escape attempts. The most famous involved two brothers, John Anglin and Clarence Anglin, and a third man, Frank Lee Morris. Their meticulous advanced planning included dummy  heads fabricated from soap, concrete powder and hair, materials obtained from the prison barber  shop. jbmjcfbx2vvesyy4ynyb  Positioned strategically in the prisoners’ respective  beds, these constructions gave guards the impression that the inmates were sleeping peacefully, whereas in reality they were in the process of effecting their escape. frank morris cell

When the prisoners could not be awakened, a guard tapped one of the heads, which promptly rolled onto  the floor. (Oh, to have been a fly on the wall at that moment!) By the time the entire force on the island was mobilized for the search, the Anglin brothers and Morris were off the island. But what then became of them? That question remains unanswered. There are several theories, some of which posit their survival. But all we know for certain at this time is that they were never seen or heard from again.

Escape from Alcatraz DVD R1  The Film Escape from Alcatraz starring Clint Eastwood is based on this incident. (I’ve not yet seen the movie.)

An oddly beautifu; view from "the Rock." It almost looks a bit like Italy.

An oddly Italianate view from Alcatraz Island across the Bay

Before we left “the Rock,” we visited the gift shop. Museum shops are among my favorite places to browse, and this one was particular well set up for that purpose. First, I bought a tee shirt to wear to exercise class. A-TAZTIME-2

Then I noticed that in another part of the store, a book signing was taking place. The book was Murders on Alcatraz, and the author was George DeVincenzi, pictured above as one of the narrators of the audio tour. I purchased the book and had an enjoyable chat with Mr. DeVincenzi. As I was walking away with my newly signed volume, he called after me: “I was involved in the first two murders!” Alcatrazm

When I had returned home, I googled  Mr. DeVincenzi. I was especially curious as to how old he was. By my calculation, he is now 87 or 88! All I can say is, you’d never know it.

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Back home all was quiet and peaceful. Time spent with Donna and Richard is always an enriching experience.

One of the many pleasures of being in this beautiful home was provided by the dainty visitors to the hummingbird feeder affixed to the kitchen window:

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Thursday May 14 was my birthday. On that day, nature staged a rare display.

First, the clouds gathered:

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Then the sky turned an ominous and uniform dark gray:

 

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And then, with the maximum amount of drama, the heavens opened up:

When had they last experiences a downpour like that? Richard and Donna agreed that it was probably back in February.

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Ron, myself, and Donna at Alcatraz

Ron, myself, and Donna at Alcatraz

 

 

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Utter enchantment…

March 5, 2015 at 6:04 pm (Family)

It’s what greeted me this morning as I was directed to a video of my granddaughter on the slopes.

I know it means a lot to my son and daughter-in-law that Etta become an adept skier while learning to enjoy the sport as much as they do. Even so, they declared themselves blown away by the combination of competence and fearlessness she displayed last week in Jackson.

Her Dad made this video. To me, it serves as a celebration of the magic of childhood and of the love they have for their feisty little four-year-old daughter.

Go Etta!!

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