Looking Forward, Thinking Back

Rodin Le PenseurEarlier this month, I had a unexpected falling out with a gal pal that left me very puzzled. “What a great fantasy blog post topic,” I thought. “I’ll use it as a launch when I host the blog hop at the end of this month.” I even went so far as to begin in my mind to write a tongue-in-cheek post (which I may yet do at another time, since the situation was so totally “whack”).

Then, simultaneously,  a national tragedy took place and I attended, back-to-back, two of the most joyous events of my entire life. And I made a decision… I could do better. Being snarky and poking fun could wait.  As the host of The Writers’ Post’s final blog hop for 2012, I was tasked with a unique opportunity — setting the tone for the new year.

With an eye on 2013, I can’t help but reflect on the year that’s winding down and realize how very much I have to be thankful for. I feel the need to pay tribute to everything and everyone that’s shaped me this year. Wouldn’t it be nice if we all started 2013 in a loving, appreciative frame of mind?  That said, for The Writers’ Post Blog Hop #61 I invite you, fellow bloggers, to, whether in rhyme, song, poetry, prose or by some other means, complete this phrase: “I am grateful for….”

Personally, I am grateful for:

  • (My) Husband — First and foremost and above everything else. He is always there for me and and always, always has my back, but he outdid himself this year, making me fall even more  in love with him….

    Gary at anniv. party

    My wonderful hubby!
    Photo by Gabriel Solomon, LifeCapture Images LTD

  • (Fresh) Air — Getting out into it and breathing deep can make such a world of difference.
  • (The) People in my life — Friends, family, colleagues, even strangers. Every interaction has made my life richer and increased my understanding.
  • (The) Parties I’ve attended — They have been breeding grounds for new and/or improved relationships, renewed connections and repeated chances to share love, joy, laughter and good times.
  • (The) Younger generation — I’m so proud of and in love with all my nephews and niece. They are amazing. Being with them after the CT incident reminded me of just how remarkable and loving they are.
  • Naomi, my older sister and only sibling — It hasn’t always  been smooth sailing for us, but she gave new meaning to “Family First” this year and restored my faith and love.
  • Photo by Gabriel Solomon, LifeCapture Images LTD

    Aunt Ellen and Uncle Michael!
    Photo by Gabriel Solomon, LifeCapture Images LTD

    Ellen, both my mother-in-law and my aunt (and Michael, my uncle!)– Their hugs, kind words, enthusiasm for my work and never-ending support got me through/over some very rough patches.

  • Work, both of the volunteer and house varieties — The myriad opportunities I had to exercise my brain and my body resulted in growth and accomplishments I never thought possible. 
  • You — You who read my posts, you who leave comments, you who message me, you who share your lives with me.
  • Everyone and everything — That pretty much speaks for itself, I think. 
  • All the world around me — That, by the grace of God, I get to be a part of and witness to daily and hourly. 
  • Ron (and Marion!), my wonderful parents — They made this amazing, magical, magnificent life of mine possible. There would be no me, without them so, naturally, I had to save the best for last. 😀
Mom and Dad kissing!

Mom and Dad at their 50th anniversary party. Aren’t they cute?
Photo by Gabriel Solomon, LifeCapture Images LTD

I hope you’ll share your gratitude list on the hop! Happy New Year!

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What’s a Nice Jewish Girl Like Me Doing For Christmas?

Chinese food on ChristmasTwo Martians run into each other in New York City. Surprised and delighted to see another of their kind on Earth, they promptly introduce themselves.
“Hi,” the first one says, “I’m 854375.”
“Nice to meet you. I’m 758689,” replies the other one.
To which, the first one says, “Funny, you don’t look Jewish.”  

I was disappointed when I read the first part of Corrine’s post for Blog Hop #60 because, almost down to the last detail, there is hardly a thing this nice Jewish girl from Brooklyn doesn’t love, love, love about Christmas. It made me sad to think some people might not enjoy it as much as I do.

There is one exception to my unconditional love. I don’t “go for” the way stores like Target have taken such divine, moving Christmas songs as the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah (my favorite!) and re-written them for their commercial purposes. To me, that’s just ridiculous.

But the resplendent trees, the festively dressed church-goers, the mouth-wateringly scrumptious looking meals people prepare and the generous sentiments that people express all give me chills.  Can you honestly say that this picture is not spectacular? White Christmas Tree

And then there’s the music. Oh! The music! There is a reason that this Youtube flash mob video has gotten more than 40.5 MILLION views. (Incidentally, I’d say about 10 million of them are mine… LOL!)

I wish you all could have seen me earlier this week wildly waving my arms and gesticulating madly as I walked into the dry cleaner’s to drop off my husband’s suits. I looked liked I was having a seizure. In fact, I was conducting an invisible orchestra and chorus in a round of “Oh Come All Ye Faithful” much like I’d just heard on the local classical music station during my drive from home. Is it weird that I know the words to the song almost by heart … in Latin?

What can I say? I’m so touched by the holiday. I just think it’s magnificent and breathtaking and joyous and … . The list of descriptors goes on and on.  Even Gary gets caught up in it — checking his computer to track Santa’s position via NORAD.

Why do I love this holiday so much? For all the reasons I’ve mentioned already, but there’s one more reason and it’s a biggie. I so enjoy it because I don’t celebrate it and so, I can stand back and take it all in without having to think about doing any of it.

That’s how a nice Jewish girl from Brooklyn, like me, celebrates Christmas. Merry Christmas!!!! 😀


Sabbath a la Timothy Leary

LFlashing police lightsast Friday, I was in New Jersey preparing for my nephew’s Bar Mitzvah when I got word about the horror that had taken place in Connecticut earlier that day.

I don’t know why this is the case, but I think Americans have a twisted interest in and fascination with death. We are a nation of rubber-neckers. When we see flashing lights on the side of the road, suggesting a wreck or an arrest, we don’t avert our eyes. Rather, we slow down and try to get a better look.

For nearly ten years as a newspaper reporter I got paid to go after the bad stuff. I’m sure some of you are familiar with the industry phrase, “If it bleeds, it leads.” I took that very seriously and I couldn’t understand why my family — especially my sister, who has four kids, was always so horrified by the stories of my reporting exploits.

I’ve been out of the reporting business for about 10 years now and I’ve begun more and more to “get” that that sort of news really doesn’t inspire or uplift anyone. In fact, I’m confident that we’d all be better off with less of it.

When I first heard about the massacre, I followed my instinct and turned on the TV. But I had somewhere to be and time was short, so I had to turn it off. Little did I realize at the time what a good decision that would turn out to be.

Shabbat - Just do it

The next morning, before heading to synagogue for the main event, I turned on the tube–again. I wasn’t depressed and anxious enough already? This time what I saw was so much worse. While Gary washed up, I watched an interview with a man who lives near Sandy Hook Elementary School who simply by happenstance ended up sheltering several children in his house. As he answered questions, it was clear that he was fighting to keep the tears back. I didn’t fare as well. Gary came out of the bathroom to find me on the bed, red-eyed from weeping. He immediately switched the telly off and directed me to the bathroom to get cleaned up, saying I couldn’t go out in the condition I was in.

While I was literally washing away my tears, I thought about where we were headed and realized that we would be with people for whom devotion to God results in them, once a week, taking a break from the events of the world. What had happened in Newtown wouldn’t go away quickly, I reasoned, so I wouldn’t miss much if I followed their example and took a day off from the news cycle.

So, for the next 12 hours, giSabbath Rest Signve or take, I imposed upon myself a complete ban on all news, turning my attention instead to the thrilling, once-in-a-lifetime celebration that I’d been invited to partake in. It ended up being a magical weekend full of joy with plenty of time afterwards to catch up on current events.

When I think back on my actions, I can’t help but smile. I’m a child of the 60’s (if barely) and what I ended up doing that weekend was to “tune in, turn on and drop out.” It was truly a Sabbath a la Timothy Leary. 

Oh Daphne Girl, The Pipe Dream’s Calling….

Dolly!Prompted by a photo for a prior blog hop, I commented that I’d love to write a country music song. It probably would have been more accurate if I’d written, “I’d love to publish a country music song and have it produced,” because as life would have it, at the time, I had a song “in the can.”
Mom and Dad side by side

In late October, I got together with my aunt, Ellen Mandel, and uncle, Michael Lydon, and we sang the song with music and all. It was more fun than I expected and it prompted me to write another one for my parents’ 50th anniversary which was this past Sunday, December 16th.

This is the refrain of the song entitled, “Oh My Darlin’ Steins.”  Not bad, eh?

Which brings me to my dream for 2013. I would just flip to see my country song picked up by one of the major country artists. Given the lyrics — it’s really more a parody of a country song than an actual country song — I think the best artist for it is Dolly Parton. I’m not sure if she’d do it, but I suppose it never hurts to ask.

This may well be a case of, “Oh Daphne girl! The pipe, the pipe dream’s calling,” if you know what I mean….

If she won’t do it, I suppose I could always sing it. Stay tuned readers … or should I say “listeners”?

Some Vacation Experience

Vermont State Fair at nightCiao peeps!

I’ve been busy, busy, busy lately writing a song and a poem about my parents to be shared at a party in honor of their 50th wedding anniversary later this month. And I spent much of last month cheering on a gal pal who I met here on The Writer’s Post in her quest to complete NaNoWriMo (which I’m thrilled to say she did). You might say I’m in an artistic “zone.”

Which has made me think about how nothing fictional is truly fiction. Everything we writers write derives in part or whole from life and our experiences. As your host for Blog Hop # 58, that brings me to our topic.

I invite you to consider the following: “It is said that ‘Life often imitates art.’ If you could step into a book or a piece of art, which one would it be and why?”

Late this summer Gary and I took a trip to Vermont, which culminated in a day spent at the Vermont State Fair in Rutland. Up until then, I’d never been to a state fair. What awaited me was the stuff of legend.

We got there during the daylight hours so I could see all around me. The fairgrounds site was enormous — stretching as far as the eye could see. But with all the rides and concession stands jammed into the space, to say nothing of the people, one couldn’t see far. 😀

As we walked along the midway, I took it all in. The outlandish rides with their vibrant, seductive signs and the game booths with their kaleidoscopic array of prizes. The concession stands proclaiming all kinds of greasy or icy or staggeringly sweet treats and the aromas that wafted from them. The din of the music from — well — everywhere. The scene was like nothing I’ve ever experienced in my life.

Charlotte's WebIn that moment, I felt as though I’d fallen straight into the world famous classic, “Charlotte’s Web.” And what a fabulous feeling it was.

I tell you, I half expected to walk into the animal barns and see the stall of a smiling swine over which was a spider web with “Some Pig” woven into it. 😉

When day gave way to nighttime, the absurd idea that people would actually retire to their homes/hotel rooms and go to bed was put to rest, so to speak. To the contrary, that was when the entire place lit up and sprang to life. It was overwhelming, magical and completely unforgettable.

As Gary and I continued to walk, hand in hand, I found myself thinking of young love and Fern Arable and Henry Fussy. And when Gary and I finally left, although the fair was still going strong, I couldn’t help but wonder if hidden away in one of the many barns, a rat, named Templeton or otherwise, was making plans like this:

“I’m going to make a night of it. The goose was right. This fair is a rat’s paradise. What eating! And what drinking! Everywhere is good hiding and good hunting … This will be a night to remember in a rat’s life.”

Some PigI’ve read countless numbers of books and been to dozens of museums where I’ve seen more works of art than I can remember, so if I’d been asked the question, “What oeuvre would you step into?” I’m not sure I necessarily would have chosen, “Charlotte’s Web.” So I’m absolutely thrilled that it chose me.

I can’t wait to see your pick! Hope you’ll share it on the hop!

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McFly and I

It had to have been destiny because it couldn’t have been anything else, so if I didn’t believe in destiny before, I do now.

What the heck am I talking about?!

This past week I was on vacation in Florida and with weather in the sunny 70’s in the end of November there was no way I was staying indoors. Hence, there was no way I was going to be spending time on my computer. But, for a lark on Thursday, I decided to check The Writer’s Post for the topic of Blog Hop Week #57.

Hmmm… . Share your thoughts about destiny … . Yikes! That was a tall order because, to be perfectly honest, when I first considered it, little came to mind.  And then it was time to leave Florida.

We had a late flight out of Orlando on Friday, November 30th — that is, the day after I saw the blog prompt — so Gary and I spent the day in Winter Park, FL. Our first stop was the Albin Polasek Museum and Sculpture Garden where we learned about the famed Czech sculptor and saw dozens of his works in marble, bronze and other media. At the entrance to the property were a few sculptures of naked or half naked men. Needless to say, they got my attention!

My beautiful picture

The one pictured above in particular caught my eye, because it seemed so “alive.” I all but fell over when I saw what it was called.

My beautiful picture

Clearly I was destined to be here… .

Later in the day, we were kicking around on Park Avenue — Winter Park’s main drag for shopping, dining, etc. — and we found ourselves among hundreds of people all in attendance for the annual Christmas tree lighting.

It goes without saying that when you have that many people gathered in one place, there are sure to be some “characters” in the crowd.

I only saw him for an instant, but as we walked, a guy wearing a very eye-catching shirt passed me. Why was he so singular among the scores of men, women and children in attendance? Because, I kid you not, his shirt said:

I'm Your Density

For those who delight over that wonderful movie moment, have one more chuckle on me with this little clip.