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Tread lightly on tippy toes as a tipster tips you for your service by
(14 Stories)

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Tread lightly on tippy toes as a tipster tips you for your service

Tread lightly on Tippy toes as a tipster tips you for your service


When the mind goes bland or blank (take your choice)


One finds ones focus disappears on the belly of a whale

And even the slightest tipple can wring your upright self,

Then Self fails to stand in the wind

The raindrops are the tears

Puddling in the wrinkles around your mouth and eyes

slyly with a wink you look around and wonder

Does any any body know

That a failure to know is marked with invisible marker

In the eyes of “that” man that I think I love

Waiting and fearing that I will sink

Boomerang by
(14 Stories)

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When I was younger I was a wish factory.  One thing I wished for, this time of year was that I could decorate a Christmas tree.  My mom said “You are Jewish and Jewish people do not decorate Christmas Trees.”  Several years later one of my best friends invited me to a party to decorate her Christmas tree.  I was allowed to go to the party, but not supposed to decorate the tree, I think I did a few ornaments, but was afraid to continue and get in trouble.  I loved Chanukah, the magic of the candles each day, the chocolate candy money, and especially the nuts we used as money when we played the dreidle game. Yet, I still wanted to decorate a Christmas tree.  Perhaps not unexpectedly, I have married two , Episcopalians, and have had the pleasure of decorating many trees over the 37 years of marriage to my second husband.

I wished I lived with my aunt and uncle and their three children.  I wished I could write, with an original voice…That I had some money to study music and write down the notes that I sang to myself.  My parents couldn’t and wouldn’t pay for lessons.  They always thought that the tunes I invented were created by someone else. I wished I could run away from home and get further than the red light which was two blocks from home.  Luckily in this case, (I was about three or four years old) my mother would assist me in collecting my doll, my little red wagon, and scarves or sweaters for warmth.  She even gave me crackers in case I was hungry.  She followed me as far as I dared go, and brought me back home with much patience and kindness.

Many times I have wished for moral courage and compassion, and the ability to carry through life, an open heart and the ability to respect the sanctity of life and the sanctity of death.  Recently, my husband and I have set up our funerals the way we would like them to be.  No guarantee here either, but in my case I will be buried in a natural woodland burial place under trees with no coffin just a degradable shroud.  If I can find a copy of my old poem about being able to feed the roots of trees, it will be read then, by my husband or one of my children.

I feel especially concerned for the well being of this country and this small little world we live in.   Are we going into another extinction?  And how can anybody who knows even a minuscule amount of history vote for a child molester, bigoted, racist man like Trump?

Dustin, my second son, once told me, “Don’t worry mom, we may not be here, but the world will be just fine.”  I wish for my two sons and daughter stability, joy , flexibility, kindness towards themselves and others.  Faith in life itself, and the courage to stand up to fate and know when to fight and when to accept the whole slew of improbabilities washed ashore, to dream and to act on their dreams.  So far they have suffered, failed and succeeded.   Each has a unique pattern of growth and I wish I could cast a net across the ocean of my fears , scuttle them into a parallel dimension. Safety and hiding, though, is not always the best choice, so instead I hope they all explore the world of wisdom truth beauty and love.



The Trickster; at home and at camp. keeping the bullies at bay….or how do you keep a straight face when you are supposed to set a good example and you can’t keep from laughing. by
(14 Stories)

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All three of my children lived and travelled many places during their childhoods.  Sometimes they travelled with us sometimes on their own, going with groups or clubs they joined.  Lately I’ve been writing about the oldest boy, who was a born trickster who was born with a smile on his face and cooing sounds that sounded to us like “I love you”, even as a new born.

When we arrived in Minnesota, in St. Cloud, it was supposed to be the second worst snowstorm they had had in over 20 years. Zachary was about 6 or 7 and Dustin was 2 1/2.  This was Zac’s 3rd move since being born in Edinborough. He seemed to be born a prankster.   He smiled up at his 10 year old sister about the second day of his life, and yanked her long blonde hair.  If you read about his birth, you will know that that was also serious, but funny.

Being the third move in his short life he learned to adapt to the role of “new kid” in every school he attended.  For a couple of years, he endured bullying and about the time he hit the fourth grade, he had a perceptive teacher who allowed him to play a joke on a boy in his class who had been picking on him for several years.  He borrowed a Dracula costume immediately after school and climbed into this young boy’s locker and waited until his tormenter was just about to open it.  Out came ghostly sounds and as the boy opened the door, to the ghostly sounds and saw Zac in his Dracula costume, the  boy ran …

Another time one his friends was teasing him during recess.   He asked the boy to stop several times, then he picked up his friend and threw him onto a grassy area.  I naturally wasn’t at all pleased, “You could have really hurt your friend.”  His reply was, “i looked around and made sure he would land safely.

If you are a fan of the movie, “Grouchy Old Men” or have lived through long and very cold snowy winters, you may know the next one I am about to describe.  The weather should be so cold that you must dress like an eskimo, with several layers of coats, scarves and hats, definitely warm boots.   Take a hose with you (I kept wondering why Zac and his friend wanted to borrow my hose midwinter when it was practically useless.).  He attached the hose at the victims home early in the morning or very late at night,  Turn it on and hose the porch, the path and steps up to the house.  Hopefully there will be snow banked up over the porch, slightly weaken its attachment with water, ring the door bell and hide.  I have no idea how many times he and his friend played this joke , like some mothers I was totally ignorant.

The third area of mischief was summer camp.  Zac always woke up early as a young boy.  Evidently after a few days of teasing, they took a nature hike and took paper sacks with them added objects of interest into the sacks.  Evidently he found several dead mice?, voles?…I’m not really sure and carried them back to the tent.  While the other boys were gone for whatever reason he put a mouse  in each boy’s sleeping bag, except one who never bothered him. then in the morning he placed the one he had for himself in a garbage can in the tent.

He woke very early before the others were awake and went to take his shower.  While showering, he heard them shouting. All of them eventually found their mice, except one young man who ended up bringing it home from camp.

What did his mother ever do to you?”  I asked.

P. S.  The story of Zac’s birth was quite unusual, I have written that down on another part of this website called Retrospect, the site set up by some friends for people who want to reminisce.  It would take up too much room to put it in with this story  for the family reunion.


Ahh…Cartoons by
(14 Stories)

Prompted By Cartoons

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When I think of “cartoons”  I think of The Wizard of Oz, which scared my older brother so badly that he threw up his favorite candies, “turtles” which was a mixture of chocolate , caramel and pecans. (Yes, a bit off topic, but I argue that that movie has a cartoon like appeal.) My mom was pregnant with me and my brother was just short of 4 years old.   When I was born and my parents started taking both of us to movies, I was equally terrified of many parts of Fantasia.  Had nightmares for years about that movie.  Although (off topic) I also had nightmares of the loss of m&ms, in my life, later on.

When I think of cartoons, I think of "The Wizard of OZ", which scared my older brother so badly

As I grew Mighty Mouse became a favorite, Popeye and Olive oil were an afternoon constant.  Saturdays were the best of all, with Road Runner, Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck as well as Woody Woodpecker…much to my surprise many years later when as an adult,our family moved to a lake front location, we had a frequent visitor who was more than a foot long.The rambunctious woodpecker would sweep down when I was sitting on the lakeside deck reading and shriek  exactly like Woody Woodpecker. I nearly levitated the first time he swooped by me as I read.

My favorite cartoon of all time was Bullwinkle show.  My favorite part of the show was “Mister Peabody and his boy Sherman”.  They always explored science questions, history and other subjects from a dizzying perspective.   The whole show was a delightful satire.  I rushed home after school to watch and hoped that my older brother would be late coming home and that my ex stepfather never appear.  It felt safe.

PS, if you go online you can find several pictures of my two heroes.  When I was my early 40’s they reissued the cartoons on the old fashioned tapes, I bought the tapes a  Bullwinkle and Rocky T shirt.  I almost forgot….the fractured fairytales, were really funny too.

I have been unable to transfer the pictures of Rocky and Bullwinkle online to this site, but if you search you’ll find many pictures.

Halloween Fun, down the Generations by
(14 Stories)

Prompted By Halloween

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My best Halloween costume was the one I wore as a Pilgrim, that my mother had sewed.  It was big enough for me to wear in the Thanksgiving presentation that my nursery school gave for Thanksgiving and for several years afterword.  I loved the candy we got and the occasional homemade cupcakes.  There was one family near us that had a slanted wood walk-up into the house so that the owner could used his wheelchair to get in and out.  His treats were often the best we got, and we often finished them off before we walked back home.

Sometimes I collected donations for UNICEF, for feeding hungry children in poorer countries.  We were supposed to ask for donations instead of candy, but usually people would graciously give us both.

My favorite Halloween Costumes, however were the ones I made with my children.   We used to read Bunnicula around the time that Halloween was coming up. ( a vegetable sucking vampire rabbit) That inspired Zac’s costume as a rabbit, which he wore to the parade his kindergarten school.  I used a powder puff to make the rabbit’s tail.  All seemed well until Zac came home and told me that I had left a pin in it.   For several years he was robot which we made with decorated and self designed Grocery Bags, at a time when paper bags were the norm.  After that we moved to St. Cloud Minnesota, and Zac dressed as a tax collector in as Suit like clothes as possible and with the use of his dads very capacious briefcase.   Unfortunately many Minnesotans did not appreciate his sense of humor and refused to give him anything, even though he wore a tie.  The next year one of his Minnesotan friends borrowed his rabbit costume minus the pin problem.

Although I don’t remember exactly what I made with the other two children, I am pretty sure that Jennifer would have been a princess and Dustin, who was fascinated with weapons at a very young age would be something like a warrior with his nerf toys in hand.  (Dustin was an ironic child for me and I worried quite a bit that he really would become a warrior, but thankfully he is a wonderful adult using his many skills peacefully.)

We had beautiful youngsters and their parents coming by today, and there are few things I enjoy more than giving out candy to the trick or treaters(and to myself afterwards). Happy Halloween!!!

“It was a cold and lonely night,..” or Absurdist Reality by
(14 Stories)

Prompted By Parenthood

/ Stories


Part I   The Prelude

We were living in Scotland for almost a year when I discovered that I was pregnant.  Robert, had been moved to Edinborough by his company to  run one factory in Scotland.  We were excited.  I don’t think either of us had spent time in Europe and we both liked to travel.  My daughter was about 9 years old at the time we moved and we put her in a “public” school which is the equivalent of a private school in the states.  We lived just outside a little town called Balerno which had once been considered a vacation spot for the people of Edinborough.  It wasn’t far enough away from Edinborough to have been considered much of a vacation spot by Americans.

Our home was beautiful.  The original owner had been not only a professional soccer player, but also a landscape architect.  There were apple trees, flowers blooming at least 9 months of the year, a large strawberry patch, gooseberries, red currants and black currants.  Flowering trees, and bushes, a very very old oak tree that my daughter would climb and hide in when she was upset with us.  We  had a fish pond built out of local rocks and planted with satisfying water plants and mother of thyme growing between the borders of the rocks as well as tiny alpine strawberries. Nearby was a triangular space with lupines along one edge and along another side was some lavender.  We also had wild poppies, foxgloves and wild bluebells in the spring and summer.

The wildflowers looked like ones we would be proud to grow here in our gardens.  In the front yard we had rhododendrons that never bloomed as long as we lived there and a beautiful rounded garden of lush roses.  One day when I was out in the garden, the man who had helped the original owner create all of this beauty, came by to reminisce about the process of its creation…his specialty had been laying out the stones creating stone walls with small niches for plants.  Although there were many types and seasonal plants in this little paradise, the whole place seemed as if it had always been there, even the little alpine gardens nestled against the shelves of stone along the path leading outside the back door.   There was a small sheltered area for saving  potatoes and other winter vegetables through the cold months or  for storing wine.

In Great Britain the care during pregnancy was good, but we chose a private doctor anyway.  He was experienced and  predicted that my second child would be born around October 24th.  I was excited and so was my daughter and husband.  I continued with my routine.  I joined a British Women’s Club that was not focused on traditional interests but was a mix of culture and fun, history and walks.  I also participated each year in the Thanksgiving festivities with the “American Wives Club” except for the first year.

Robert met someone who invited us over to their incredible cottage with the traditional cottage garden for a thanksgiving dinner. (The home was so traditional that you can almost see the home and kitchen garden by looking at a picture of a  British Cottage and Garden.)  The meal was wonderful, and I think it made the three of us a little less homesick.  These new friends liked the idea of a holiday based on gratitude, and had celebrated Thanksgiving every year.

My routine was getting Dawn off to school, picking her up, arranging birthday parties, trying to help her with bizarre  homework assignments. (We had a special dance called the “—-” dance that we used to excoriate our frustrations with the seemingly impossible requests.  One time Dawn had to research a famous Saint in Scotland who is practically unknown anywhere else in the world.  The books we had available gave no clues.(Computers were not widespread at the time.)

Life was  more traditional than I had ever hoped  it would be.   Derwin and I travelled.  I had begun meditating seriously about a year before we moved.  It was liberating to say the least, although around this time, my original Guru died. I felt as if I had been at the Ashram in India while he was dying. He came in a dream and he talked me through the process of his death in a way which was very peaceful.  I could go on for a long while, this is just the setting and background, and foundation of my life at that time.

All seemed to be going well.  We left my daughter home during one trip because she had difficulty tolerating the conditions of the travel.  At about 7 months pregnancy we took a “bargain” cruise  (CHEAP, Russian ship registered in Greece and run by a Greek Crew.)   We had luxurious bunk beds, an unusable bathroom that leaked all over the cabin, canned foods, and entertainment that could have been used to exterminate all the vermin living there.  Not a great choice for a pregnant women with nausea.  However we visited multiple Greek Islands, stayed a week on Crete, which was really the highlight of the trip for me, since the Greek Guides are so well trained and knowledgeable and the people in Crete are very friendly.

The Greek men were not particularly kind in those days to an obviously pregnant woman out and about in the world.   However Greek women were wonderful, especially the Greek Grandmothers.   They would stop me as we walked along the way to some place or other, talk a bit and gave me plums or other bits of food, as if I were supposed to be eating all the time.  I took full advantage of the situation and enjoyed the friendly broken communication.

By the way I have it from the best of authorities (Greek tour guides) that the best place to empty your bladder if you are exploring an old ruin is to stoop down behind any wall that is six or more inches in height into a deep knee bend and take care of matters. I would like to meet a very pregnant woman who could accomplish that task gracefully and without being soaked and congratulate her.  We went to Rhodes, stopped in Yugoslavia long before their very tragic war.  In one city they had an outdoor Shakespeare production every year.  We also visited a cloister  that was the location of the oldest existing pharmacy.

The trip ended.  We were dropped off in Venice for the flight home.  We had a short time there, and bought a painting of some houses we had seen along a canal.  Another time a few years later,  we returned and bought a hand stamped wall hanging in glittering colors of purple/reds greens and blues and silver.  It hangs along the stairway now, in our current home.

Autumn was on its way, and all seemed well.


Part 2  Daniel decides the timing, not me, not Robert, or Dawn and certainly not the Doctor.

It was Sept 22, 1983, a night neither my husband or probably my daughter or I will ever forget.  I was having early contractions which were not difficult but were a little uncomfortable.  It was about 8 in the evening and I was reading about emergency deliveries, ironically enough.  I’m the kind of person who tries to mentally prepare ahead of events and had an intuition that I might deliver early.  ( My daughter was delivered about about an hour or so after I arrived at the hospital).

Robert and I were a little concerned but not too worried. The contractions were mild. He called the doctor and the doctor didn’t think that we needed to go to the hospital that evening. He reassured Robert with prescient self confidence that  “everything will be over soon”  and to just relax and go to sleep.

I couldn’t sleep. The contractions increased in frequency and intensity.   After about the third call the doctor said to come to the hospital.   We decided to let Dawn stay home and sleep. I think we left her a note, as she was probably asleep by then.   Robert graciously and at the speed of a superman, collected some items to take with us.  Unfortunately none of them proved useful during our adventure. I threw on a dress and  stumbled out the door while holding the baby’s head in as we walked out into a cool September night.  I tried to tell Robert that I couldn’t walk, but he was so one pointed that it was like communing with the dead.  Somehow I managed to slog down the outdoor steps.  Instead of a nightgown a blanket or some baby clothes, he brought and old pair of pants (at least they were clean).

I was a ridiculous sight of course and in an absurd state of mind.  I was on all fours, soon after entering the car because the baby’s head was beginning to crown, and I couldn’t sit. The back seat was my territory and Robert’s detritus. Being the good father that he is, he was helping by reminding me to breath.  I was kicking doors as the contractions  grew stronger.  He would say breath.  For awhile that worked.  Then the contractions overcame my resolve and upon one reminder I told him , “You do it, I’m tired.”

Scotland has roundabouts.  A piece of circular road that one goes around in.  After entering and if not exiting immediately at the next exit, one carefully glides into the center lane. .  Sometimes you can go around several times if you are on a busy roundabout and are unable to move back to the outer lane to exit.  We were about 30 minutes from the Edinborugh hospital when we started.  Rob was hoping that the police would not stop him because he was going about 75 mph.  When on a straight road, it seemed like we were creeping along at 20 mph and I would beg him to speed up.  When on the roundabouts I would beg him to slow down, even though he was going maybe 5 or 10 miles an hour.

Eventually we arrived at the outer door of the hospital….”.it was a dark and lonely night”.  Derwin took a look a me and  left the car door wide open and ran up and down the hospital’s corridors screaming for the doctor.   I delivered Daniel at about 10:40 GMT and lay alone with him as he smiled into my face.  It was serene and although I did attempt to cover him with the pants legs, I was too exhausted to do much.

So I enjoyed his beauty and meditated and felt during that time as if my Gurus had been present with me.  It was a peaceful few minutes and I was grateful for my son. He was quiet and smiling. The delivery was easy. Daniel had a head of thick curly hair.  We just looked at each other, peace.

This resulted in the only time in my life that we were featured in any newspaper. At least two members of the American Wives Club had children in September and the someone wrote up the events of that night. The other lady, had her child only a few hours before Daniel was born.  She later told me that Robert sounded like a heard of elephants going down the halls of the hospital yelling for the doctor.  A nurse and a midwife came out to rescue Daniel and me.  Before long I was cleaned up and warm in my room, with a beautiful son and an exhausted hero.

How many disasters can you fit on the head of a pin? by
(14 Stories)

Prompted By Disasters

/ Stories

When my first husband and I separated, I took my nine month old daughter and moved back to Houston.  At the time I still loved him deeply.  We were on cordial terms although we knew we were not going to be together again.  We were trying to work out, child support, who would raise the child and thinking about a no fault divorce.  Meanwhile, my brother and his wife allowed Jennifer and me to stay at their home while I found work.  My niece was a couple of years old at the time and my brother and his wife constantly had vicious fights.  When I could I would take the two little girls out for a walk or to play.

Jenny was just learning to say a few words, Judi was past  using diapers and bottles.  I first worked at a nursery school which was very poorly organized and hired women who were just short of incompetent.  So I quit and took Jennifer out of that environment.  I went to charity stores where I found the perfect blue polkadot dress to wear to interviews for about a quarter (doesn’t that seem impossible)?  Interviewed many places and ended up working as a file clerk (before computers became widespread) doing this rolling machine, tiny card by card.  I eventually saved enough money to leave my brothers home and to move to a hippie area in Houston which had good bus service.

Meanwhile, I got back in contact with two friends, William and Andy.  William and I used to go out with each other and just end up at interesting places, where we had adventures.  Bill was my night in shining armor and would come and pick Jenni and me up even though it was 15 or 20 miles from where he lived.  My mom, would pick me up after work. She used to drop me off to pick Jenni up at the home nursery where she stayed when I was working. She would sometimes take me to my brother’s home or Jen and  I would take the bus. Another friend had found out I was back in Houston, probably through Andy. She recommended  me  for an opening,I  interviewed well and got a job working at the University of Houston library.  I spent Christmas that year at my friend William’s apartment with Jenni, in order to have time with a friend and to be with a happy person.

We drank magic Christmas morning and all three of us slept together.  Jenni slept later than we did and we were chatting away when a friend of Bill’s that lived below him came up a flight yelling and screaming about the fact that Bill had a woman with him, knocked the door until it shook and soon after the door was opened,fists were flying and Bills jaw was broken.  As this happened, I called the police, hoping they wouldn’t know we were high and would help my friend out.  The crazy jealous young man eventually left, my daughter slept through the event, and the police arrived.  Jen and I got ready to go, William took us back to my brother’s house, and then went to a hospital to get checked out.  He had a broken jaw and I don’t remember, but his nose may have been broken too.  You might think that this was the only shock of the day and the times, but it wasn’t.

Later, John my husband called that day and told me he definitely wanted a divorce. He also let me know how wonderful his girlfriend was (I had met her before I left Indiana where we had lived in a little town called Mishawaka).

A few months later I was working filing those tedious cards, had one of the worst headaches of my life and couldn’t concentrate and just hung on until I could leave those ugly files.  Mom picked me up dropped me off to pick up Jenni and we rode the bus until we were close enough to my brother’s house, to walk. Soon after I arrived I got a phone call from my favorite sister in law Jill…

“Hi Jill I’m so glad to hear you, this has been a horrific day and it is the first good thing that has happened today.”  She was silent for a bit as we chatted.  And then she hesitated and told me, I’ve got something to tell you,  Johnny is dead.  He died of a heart aneurism in the hospital and his last words were “God take me”.

My brother congratulated me, because he said, “I would now have some money”.  I couldn’t wait to leave.

My first car by
(14 Stories)

Prompted By My First Car

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My first car was a very large clunky and old used blue car with sticky seats that burned your thighs when you were driving on  hot sticky days in Houston.  I passed my test with the help of Derwin’s  teaching when we were dating and the help of a friend named Eric who helped me practice and lent me car his to take the driving test.  I had actually thought that Derwin was flirting when he would gently take my hand and put it on the shift of his maroon Volvo.

It was handy to have a car for the bright little cost of a couple of hundred dollars.  I hated driving it, I hated driving, but the car was a necessity as I was driving back and forth to the University of Houston to take classes in Social Work.  I think by that time Derwin and I were dating steadily.  Houston traffic was so horrific that I had time to meditate while waiting on the highway to drive to the after school nursery to pick up Jennifer, my oldest and only child at that time.

This car was my practice car and it is amazing that it lasted as long as it did.

Luckily, within about a year and a half (if I remember correctly) we sold it and moved to Scotland and lived just outside of a little town called Balerno which was a vacation town for people of the previous generation of Edinborough’s citizens.  Each home usually came with a name, I think ours was called Westmere…but it has been over 40 years since we lived there and it could have been something else.

My second car was a very used Mercedes, which I loved, but it didn’t quite survive my time in Scotland….that is another story, but needless to say I switched from a stick shift and drove a ford automatic eventually as I had to repeat the driving test in Edinborough about 6 times before I passed….and as you might guess doing well on a test on the wrong side of the road and very different requirements from the test in America was traumatic–

Putting hands on the wheel in such a way that they didn’t cross as you turned

Making a 3 pt. turn and remembering not to hit a curb and remembering to check the mirror at the correct time

And looking backward and forward at just the correct times as you backed around a corner going downhill and then up.

For a long time I felt very foolish for not being able to pass the driving test in Scotland right away, but later I met people who had given up on trying or were still working at it and may have failed 20 times or more.

The one easy part of the test was there was no parallel parking required.

And my second child was born on the back seat of my husband’s ford,  outside the doors of the hospital in Edinborough as my husband was running up and down the halls yelling for the doctor,  The car’s back door hung open  late on Sept 22 GMT, 1983.




Keeping and Letting Go by
(14 Stories)

Prompted By The Things I Keep

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The Things we Keep

What I find I keep is my memories, my dreams and sometimes things that I wish I could forget. ....I keep an old bird's nest that I found with a small feather resting in it.


What I find I keep is my memories, my dreams, and sometimes things that I wish I could lose and forget.  I also keep a bit of fear, that I will not remember the events, people and experiences that I love and the courage I once had to stand for my principles (not rigid or unchangeable).

I keep an old bird’s nest that I found with a small feather resting in it.  I keep little bits of paper and poetry.  I keep songs that I sing quietly through the day to keep me company when I am sad or in need of courage or connection to joy.  I keep crazy toys that are left from my children which I would buy for them each Christmas for their stockings and for my husband’s stocking, also.  They were intentionally ironic and silly.  We have several balls that used to light up or jingle when thrown.  We have frisbees, small toy cars and a game with a cup on top of a handle with a wooden ball which I almost never get into the cup.  My two boys mastered the game almost immediately.)  I have a collection of books about writing, only a few of which I have read. I have dictionaries, many books on meditation, volumes of poetry.

I am always falling in love with poetry and will carry a particular book almost everywhere I go for months or years at a time.  One of my favorites is a collection of Naruda’s odes, in both the original Spanish and in a brilliant translation.  The book is made with fine binding and very good paper, and my favorite poem is Ode to a Violin.  Naruda led a courageous life and he sometimes had to leave his country to stay alive and free.  This poem explores the severity of isolation and removal from what is loved and what is beauty, and finds hope in the area of California, Mexico as he walks along a beach ….I will let you look for the poem yourself if you are interested because nothing I say to describe it will do it justice.

Some things that I would like to lose include resentment, cowardice, and agitation.

I keep my meditation, and am constantly renewing and learning more from the variety of practices available.  I keep my favorite words for as long as they are lent to me, they are Truth, Beauty, Wisdom and perhaps either love or compassion.

Words and sayings from an immigrant family by
(14 Stories)

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What my family said, “What didn’t they say, would be more like it.”

Playing with curse words and other oddities of family tradition.

I came into life in a third generation immigrant family.   My grandmother was from Latvia.  I loved talking to her about her early life when I finally overcame my fear of her.  I once asked her if she ever spoke Latvian, and she said the Jews all lived together and that she was never allowed to learn Latvian or to mix with the Christian(?) society there.  She came to America at the age of 11 and went to live with some family that had immigrated earlier.  Someone once handed her a banana to eat and she didn’t know how to eat it so she bit into the skin.  She had never seen nor heard of a banana or many of the other things she experienced after coming through the port of NY.  She began working soon after she arrived, in a sweat shop in NY as a seamstress on a sewing machine.

Some of the Yiddish words I remember are mishugana which means crazy or nutty.  Mumzerim which means “little bastard”, polke, which as far as I can remember referred to children’s legs or chicken legs.  One wise thing that she told my mom and that my mom told me, was  “You don’t turn love off and on like a faucet.”  I found that very helpful when I was a young almost divorced widow, trying to take care of a child barely over a year old, working to earn  my first degree.

Although “polke”, and “mumzerim” may sound strange as words designated as affectionate, people still worried about the “evil eye” and were afraid of incurring bad luck if they showed too much attachment to the child they were discussing.  In those days we did a lot of knocking on wood as well, to protect ourselves from imagined disasters.  I was sometimes called a “maidlach”  which I think meant, “little tomato”.

Please don’t be offended, but another word I heard frequently was not a positive description, and has been at times common in America and that is Schmuck(In the German language, that is similar to the word for jewels or jewelry. Usually in Yiddish slang, it referred to an adult man, who might be a show off but in general was not good for much of anything. I also was not allowed to use it around adults, although as children we probably had fun practicing our curse words together.


PS  A friend of mine who converted to Judaism told me that the background of the “protection” of knock on wood, referred to the wood of Jesus’ Cross.  I doubt that that particular saying came across the Atlantic on the boat.  It was probably picked up after they arrived in America.  She also says that her family didn’t consider Schmuck such a “dirty” word.   I guess in my family, the rules were a little stricter.   She and her daughter speak Yiddish, much better than many of us who grew up with it.  My parents used Yiddish to hide what they didn’t want us to understand.  Such a shame, there is so much good literature that originated in this language.

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