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Breakfast at Malibu

 

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My much appreciated neighborhood friend Louise [the admirable painter Louise Fishman] gets a very high score for spontaneity. Over the past dozen years one or the other of our phones will often ring between 8 and 2.

One voice will ask, “Breakfast?”

The other will respond (usually), “Sure.”

One or the other will lock in the time, “See you in half an hour.” or “See you in forty-five minutes.” or “See you in ten.”

“Check!”

Louise and I then meet for breakfast at Chelsea Square (closer to my apartment) or at Malibu (closer to hers). Both are classic New York-style coffee shop/diners with Greek roots.

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Yesterday morning we met at Malibu because I wanted to take these photos and celebrate our neighborhood hang-out (also celebrated in Netherland by Joseph O’Neill) for it’s generosity after the recent terrorist attack. (It took place one block from Louise’s apartment, three-and-a-half from mine, almost in front of Mallibu.) Here’s what happened on September 17th:

CHELSEA, Manhattan

— An explosion during a bustling night in NYC’s Chelsea neighborhood Saturday that resulted in 29 people being injured was “obviously an act of terrorism” although no links to international groups has been discovered.

Twenty-nine people were hospitalized overnight and released by Sunday afternoon due to an explosion around 8:30 p.m. Saturday in front of 135 W. 23rd St. between Sixth and Seventh avenues. None of those hospitalized sustained serious injuries, and the worst was described by FDNY as a puncture wound.

The explosion caused “significant damage” to buildings, making it all the more remarkable that nobody was killed. The bombing was one of four eerily similar incidents to hit the tri-state area on Saturday…

[NYPost]

A few days after the explosion, Louise posted the following on fb:

Finally had dinner at the Malibu Diner on 23rd Street between 7th and 6th – the epicenter of the bomb blasts the other day. I found that the owner and cooks at the diner had made two hundred free breakfasts for the tenants at Selis Manor, the residence for blind and disabled people.

The owner also paid for all the food for the first responders, police, fire and ambulance medics, etc. Apparently the mayor and other dignitaries stopped by yesterday to thank them, but offered no remuneration for their good work during the crisis, nor did they bother to have a cup of coffee or lunch during their visit. Why doesn’t the city step up to the plate? The Malibu owner and waiters have been serving the disabled residents with kindness and generosity not seen in this city for a very long time. They help seat patrons, assist in reading the menus and in whatever way they can. They spend time sitting with them, laughing and exchanging news. A great service for our community. I know that my friends and I are proud and happy to have such compassionate neighbors.

Thank you Malibu Diner!!!

WHAT WAS THE MAYOR THINKING???

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I can’t imagine what our (otherwise kindly) mayor was thinking but saw on entering the restaurant from 23rd Street hanging on the wall behind the cash register, a large, ornately-lettered certificate honoring Malibu Diner given by the city. Perhaps Louise will find it in her heart to forgive the mayor and the city for their earlier oversights?

It’s our first breakfast since the disaster and, as usual, many tables are occupied. Included are a few of the usual loners eating while reading newspapers or books. After we’re seated, two familiar blind customers pass our booth (meant for four) tapping white-tipped canes. Spacious booths fill two rooms beyond the opulent pastry cases and the long, formica counter. Today Louise orders Huevos Rancheros – its many componants served on about six plates – while I, between meals, eat nothing, only sip iced tea through a straw, plus one refill a little later on.

Normally Louise and I have a set breakfast that can include a shared rasher of crispy bacon. My usual: two-eggs-over-light, fried potatoes, toasted, unbuttered, sesame bagel. Louise’s usual: Two-eggs-over-light, a few fried potatoes, a bialy.* (Who knows what mysterious X-factor has motivated her decision today.) Louise’s many-plated breakfast  includes tortillas. With her usual culinary refinement, she takes her time eating and doesn’t gulp her food as I’m known to do. We catch up on all the news – gossip, deaths, ills of friends, travel plans, art, literature, the election, news of a 1000 photo Marilyn Monroe collection Louise has discovered.

Finally one of us pays our bill. Louise returns to her life and work and spouse. I to mine minus spouse. It’s a good October day and I love my life.

[*My hand goes over my heart at the thought of a bialy. Unlike the boiled bagel, the bialy is baked but, like the bagel, it conjure lost worlds and childhood sundays. Soft, yeasty bialys entered my childhood when my Russian grandfather and Austrian grandmother arrived on a sunday morning carrying a paper bag filled with bialys from Brooklyn. Louise shares a similar history though hers took place in Philadelphia rather than New York. Unlike my heartless bagel, there’s no hole at the center of her sensitive, well-meaning bialy. Instead there’s a wobbly depression containing a few crisp onion bits.]

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Iceberg lettuce

 

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My sister Nancy (owner of the sublime, cozy, popular Arbor B & B in High Falls, New York) and I discussed iceberg lettuce this morning in the dark way before dawn as an upstairs smoke alarm made ping-ing sounds every minute or so. Because guests were asleep Nancy restrained herself from rushing upstairs to disarm the alarm. Meanwhile, we recalled our childhood/s when iceberg lettuce was the only lettuce. When

Velveeta was the only cheese,

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and Cherrios were the only cold cereal, crunchy, torus-shapped, until milk-soaked and soggy.

Project Honolulu - Honey Nut Cheerios

In those days our parent’s shopped for groceries at the A & P

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or at the other grocery, Bohacks.

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If we were really lucky, during the evening as the family gathered around the radio to listen to a weekly hair-raising episode of Gunsmoke or Suspense  (theater of thrills), our mother would cook up a treat for us – broiled little pizzas on English muffins with melted Velveeta cheese

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or maybe garbanzo beans thrown into a saucepan on top of the stove, heated, then sprinkled with coarse salt and pepper and served hot in a bowl. We called these tasty nibblies Chi-Chi Beans.

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The last rose of summer/the first rose of winter

A miracle in my garden. Or so it seems. So much had recently slipped through my fingers (a sudden death in Oslo, a sudden death at a gym on Madison Avenue, my brother’s passing on 17th Street, surgery needed by a very, very significant other) in these past weeks that I just couldn’t let this one get away.

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The waxy 30 leaf Bulgarian rose bush smuggled through customs in May given by the bountiful Kovatcheva Family from Plovdiv, Bulgaria [see entry from  5/8/2016 title “Hospitality”] was planted right away, had taken root, then (courageously and steadily) grown toward the New York sky throughout this hot summer. More and more dumbfounding as it defied the odds and grew into a self-possessed, unpretentious, slim, two-foot-tall stem with minute non-threatening thorns. In early September it gave off (first) an unimagined bud, then two days ago (fully formed), an even more-unimagined fuchsia pink rose.

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The last rose of Summer? The first rose of Winter?

I bent down, sat at the edge of my garden to visit the newly born rose. Though I coulen’t smell much as my nose and chest have been clogged with bronchitis, I’m certain it’s not without perfume. I admire each velvety leaf – what a proud, egoless creation! Wanting to clip it for my greedy pleasure, I resist. I’ll leave it on it’s bush and cut it in a day or two.

Yesterday afternoon and all last night pounding rain fell from the sky in sheets. I knew I’d made a terrible mistake leaving the rose outside. How could such a delicacy survive this battering? Lines from a Jane Kenyon poem* came to mind –

Everything blooming bows down in the rain:

white irises, red peonies; and the poppies

with their black and secret centers

Lie shattered on the lawn.

I couldn’t sleep, regretted my failure to snip/covet/shelter, rather than love it and leave it be.

No comfort came from Bulgarian folk music [listen if you like] – “One Rose of Bulgaria” sung by Zara] nor old saws like “Rose rose I love you” sung by Frankie Laine in 1951, nor a guided meditation titled – “Sound Relaxations” including light raindrops and gentle synths that (instead) crunched like termites eating the room around me … eating everything. Thomas Moore helped a bit with

‘TIS THE LAST ROSE OF SUMMER***

‘TIS the last rose of summer,
Left blooming alone ;
All her lovely companions
Are faded and gone ;
No flower of her kindred,
No rose-bud is nigh,
To reflect back her blushes,
Or give sigh for sigh.

I’ll not leave thee, thou lone one !
To pine on the stem ;
Since the lovely are sleeping,
Go sleep thou with them.
Thus kindly I scatter
Thy leaves o’er the bed,
Where thy mates of the garden
Lie scentless and dead.

So soon may I follow,
When friendships decay,
And from Love’s shining circle
The gems drop away.
When true hearts lie wither’d,
And fond ones are flown,
Oh ! who would inhabit
This bleak world alone ?

My Catherine Mansfield Project by Kirsty Gunn helped also.

At some point the rain stopped, I must have slipped into a deep sleep because I remember dreaming of a bicycle whose tires were inflating like balloons as I bounced rather than rolled along a Dutch canal. Dawn came at 6:10 a.m. bringing a very blue, very clean sky with it; a refreshed world.

My dear one’s surgery had gone well. I’d missed my friend’s service at Frank  Campbell’s Chapel but someone has saved me a program. The light, pure and swoon-worthy. In my garden, I held my breath. At season’s end, much is overgrown, so I couldn’t get a glimpse of my little patch from afar. When I reached it I saw

img_0200-2and used a clipper to cut it’s stem. Upstairs with a carton of take-out coffee, relief that I could feel in my loosened neck and shoulders, I found an apt little vase/glass;

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but thought again, still weak from bronchitis. I brought the rose with my coffee back to bed and stretched-out on one side of the bed, the rose tucked in beside me.

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Through the next top-ups of coffee, my eyes zero closer and closer into each and every leaf.

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[*lines from “Heavy Summer Rain” by Jane Kenyon] [[**“The Last Rose of Summer” sung by Celtic Women in 1974 ]] [[[***Thomas Moore (1779-1852) ]]]

School supplies

 

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Every year, at this time, our father got very excited because the time was coming to take us out for school supplies. We were four kids and he accompanied each and every one of us irregardless of age, grade or whether or not we wanted his company. Hard to believe, but he’d been looking forward to that day all summer. After our first day of school, each of us would have a list of needed supplies.  These usually included:

spiral notebooks

loose leaf notebooks and paper, dividers and labels, reinforcements, perhaps graph paper

pencils (one or two)

pen (one)

soft gum eraser

ruler

protractor

Having been given textbooks 0n loan from the school, our father would fetch a pile of saved empty brown bags (from A & P or Bohack’s markets), clear off our oval kitchen table, turn the paper bags inside out and cut them open. Then, with perfect folds using no glue, no scotch tape, no staples or other fasteners, he would fashion  a smooth, elegant, tight-fitting paper jacket for each. Pristine brown paper! (Well, clean for a while)

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Our father accompanied us each to a stationary supply store (which is where we got these supplies in those days) as long as he could and when we were no longer students, he’d take his grandchildren shopping with the same glee. He took one of my nieces shopping for school supplies through her undergraduate years at NYU and would have continued accompanying her (and insisting on paying) through her Ph.D. had she not gone far away to Berkley and had he not died.

For anyone wondering why no backpacks or lunch boxes were on the list, please realize: We carried everything in our arms in those times and our lunch was packed in waxed paper and place, along with a paper napkin, into a small paper bag which was discarded when empty.

To this day, we all love wandering around stationary stores.
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It’s about time to celebrate Stephen’s birthday

 

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Today – September 1, 2016 – there will be an unusual Solar Eclipse when (out of nowhere) the moon’s shadow will overlap the sun, darken the day, until a thin rind of glowing light appears. The rind that illuminates the moon’s edges will then slowly widen until the shadow entirely passes across it, seen no more. An ordinary day will return. Today’s eclipse will last 7 minutes and 31 seconds, longer than most others, but still an eternity considering that the moon’s shadow will be (I’ve read) moving at more than 2,000 mph across the Earth.

Map showing the path of the Sept. 1, 2016 annular solar eclipse across parts of Africa.
Map showing the path of the Sept. 1, 2016 annular solar eclipse across parts of Africa [Credit: NASA/Fred Espenak]

 

Many of us won’t be able to see the glowing rings since “..the ring effect will be visible only from a narrow band that cuts across the Atlantic Ocean, south-central Africa, parts of Madagascar, Reunion and the southern Indian Ocean. Most of Africa will be treated to a partial eclipse, as will parts of the Arabian Peninsula and slivers of Indonesia and Western Australia.” Unfortunate. 

September 1 is also the birthday of Stephen Handwork Gold, my former husband, the father of my son. Because bewilderment, immaturity and stupidity swamped our disastrous marriage, my son was deprived of his father who was a tall, good-looking, generous man with curly light brown hair; a man who meant well and had yearned to know his son. Looking back, I don’t regret the divorce, but do regret that efforts weren’t made to separate acrimony from fatherhood.

Not very long after the divorce, under that cloud of bitterness, we lost track of each other. Many years later my husband’s aunt located my son (who carried her name), and we learned his whereabouts. Unhappily, before a path could be cleared for star-crossed father and son to finally cross paths, the father died. He died in his early fifties of unknown causes near to where we had initially met in Mexico. Awful and sad.

The entire saga was a private eclipse that darkened both our lives and the frame froze. Had there’d been a bit of maturity and ballast, the darkness might have run its course and a glow of illumination might have replaced it. The two men share physical traits, sense of humor, and other admirable attributes. Though maturity and ballast came too late, it has come and bitterness is no more. Late as it is, it’s not too late to mark Stephen’s birthday today with a memorial candle,

a cake,

a kiss blown into the galaxies.

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Mama Cass Didn’t Choke on a Ham Sandwich

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Her birth name wasn’t Cass nor Elliott but was Ellen Naomi Cohen from Baltimore whose grandparents, like mine, were Russian immigrants with old-world manners who spoke to us with heavy accents and among themselves in Yiddish. Tormented in childhood because she was overweight, Ellen went from being a plump child to a fat woman who loved men, music, also food. When she died word spread that she’d choked to death on the ham sandwich she’d been nibbling in bed. Indeed, a half-eaten ham sandwich was left on her bedside table, what more needed to be said. But, Mama Cass Elliott didn’t choke on that ham sandwich. She died, at age thirty-two, of a heart attack. Actual medical reports found no food caught in her throat nonetheless Mama Cass continues to be remembered as a life cut short because of a ham sandwich.

Yes, a good lawyer can indict a ham sandwich.

But there are ham sandwiches and ham sandwiches. One fondly remembered ham sandwich was eaten at age eight while riding solo for the first time on a train going from Penn Station in New York to 30th Street Station in Philadelphia where my Aunt Martha and Uncle Leon would be waiting. I wore a tag: CONDUCTOR: MAKE SURE SHE GETS OFF AT 30TH STREET STATION. THANKS. As a vendor in a white jacket and cap pushed a food cart down the aisle of the train, I became ravenous, signaled him to stop. What can I give you, Sunny? he asked, hurting my feelings, since (despite my short hair) I wasn’t a boy. That one. I pointed at the sandwich on top of a pile of others, narrowing my eyes. He handed it over and I handed him most of the “spending money” I’d been given. Once unwrapped from cardboard and cellophane, I saw that the ham sandwich came on dry white bread, contained unspread butter, was airless, had one neat slice of ham trimmed from crust to crust. It’s slices of bread could hardly be separated. It was delicious, unforgettable, each starchy bite took a while to chew giving my tastebuds ample time to experience the butter.

My next best ham sandwich cost next to nothing. It was sold from a kiosk on the Right Bank on the second afternoon of my first trip to Paris at nineteen. On a chewy baguette  lounged thin slices of moist. pink ham, sweet, soft, generously slathered butter, also brown Dijon mustard. (Or did I imagine the mustard?) On a counter at Galleries Lafayette I’d found a red leatherette floppy sun hat with a brim as protection against the outspoken French who seemed, until I pressed the hat over my head, intimidating. The sandwich was so delicious I ate another, seeing it with one eye as the hat drooped over the other.

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What did the hat say to the ham sandwich?

What?

You’re such a ham, I’ll go on a head.

But, like ham sandwiches, there are hats and hats. And, like hats, there are dogs and dogs. As a child I was tormented by an unnamed family member who liked to “Sic!” a friends drooling ghostly-white dog on me. I think the dogs name was Whitey or Ghost. Cynophobia “dogged” me (as it did James Joyce and Michael Jackson) for the next fifty years made even worse when a dog leapt, or licked, or sniffed. As I’d back away in terror, arm raised to ward off an attack since teeth had been bared, it’s owner usually said, Oh. He’s just being friendly He/she wouldn’t hurt a ham sandwich. It was awful.

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A few years ago, though, there was Merlot, an elegant Alsatian who took me on many meandering walks (with its owner, now sadly dead) through a vineyard in southeastern France on the slopes of the Pyrenees, cynophobia lessened. Also, while accompanying another friend who loved dogs on various missions, because he stopped for every dog we passed anywhere to give it a cuddle, to smell its ears (his favorite smell), my fear faded altogether and affection and appreciation took its place. Then, lest I be fear free, aerophobia visited one dark night while flying high over Chicago.

What do you get if you cross a dog and an airplane?

A jet setter.

A ham sandwich on a kaiser roll, Bora. Mustard, lettuce, raw onion. Yes, slice it in two. Hold the pickle. 

Never trust an atom

Why?

They make up everything.

 

 

 

 

Earworm

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A tune crept into my mind (through my ear, perhaps) and hasn’t left me alone since. How to exorcise it?

“Catch A Falling Star”

Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket
Never let it fade away
Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket
Save it for a rainy dayFor love may come and tap you on the shoulder
Some starless night
Just in case you feel you wanna hold her
You’ll have a pocket full of starlightCatch a falling star and put it in your pocket
Never let it fade away
Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket
Save it for a rainy dayFor love may come and tap you on the shoulder
Some starless night
And just in case you feel you wanna hold her
You’ll have a pocket full of starlight (pocket full of starlight)Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket
Never let it fade away
Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket
Save it for a rainy dayFor when your troubles start multiplyin’
They just might
It’s easy to forget them without tryin’
With just a pocket full of starlightCatch a falling star and put it in your pocket
Never let it fade away
Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket
Save it for a rainy day(Save it for a rainy day)
Save it for a rainy day
[Written by Paul Vance and Lee Pockriss, 1957, based on a theme from Brahms]
I was probably 12 when I first heard it. Yes, the era passed long, long ago but the lyrics remain. Etched. Do listen – Perry Como – Catch A Falling Star .
Shall I leave it looped as it could be sparing me from something else, like ….. “Til the End of Time” (1945)? Or, trade it in for Lena Horne’s “Where or When” since these visitations never end unless replaced by something else, something worse, something better, something catchy, something borrowed, something blue.
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VERSE
Sometimes you think you’ve lived before
All that you live today
Things you do come back to you
As though they knew the way
Oh, the tricks your mind can play!
REFRAIN
It seem we stood and talked like this before
we looked at each other in the same way then,
But I canÍt remenber where or when.
The clothes youÍre wearing are the clothes you wore.
The smile you are smiling you were smilimg then,
But i canÍt remember where or when.
Some things that happend for the first time,
Seem to be happening again.
And so it seems that we have met before
and laughed before
and loved before,
But who knows where or when.
[By Lorenz Hart and Richard Rogers, 1957]

O Canada!

 

photo-101It just so happens that I’ve arrived in Canada, a place I love and admire, on Canada Day. [O CANADA, National Anthem with Lyrics and photos ] Listen, and get in the mood!

What’s Canada Day, I asked at the celebration we stumbled on at the driftwood center on Pender Island, B.C. where we encountered *Mounties, *bagpipe bands, free tattoos of red maple leafs.

I was told: It’s when Canadians celebrate the anniversary of the July 1, 1867 union of the three separate colonies of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick into a single dominion within the British Empire. The French call it Fête du Canada. We all called ourselves Canadians.

Oh!

It’s like your 4th of July.

I see.

Loving Canada is an acquired taste, like loving caviar, cut-and-stacked *wood (see above) or canoe paddles – all of which I do. A friend (*Gail) and I met up in Vancouver (she drove up from life on a Ranger Tug in La Conner, Washington State). I flew in from LAX after a few short days with my son and daughter-in-law.

Spending one night in room 405 in a forgettable hotel in Richmond, one (also not memorable) drive in grid-locked traffic along the 17A highway, and one sublime ferry trip from Tsawwassen to North Pender Island, we drove up the ramp between giant arbutus, cedars, firs, big leaf maples, miles of wild blackberry bushes to find *Gerry, my old – tried and true – friend. Gerry’s a former officer on Canadian cargo ships and has the most orderly *wood pile I’ve ever encountered on South Pender. (see above) Also *apples on trees, *peaches, the largest, tenderest *broccoli that we picked, cut, steamed, consumed. Much of Gerry’s exquisite house was built with his own hands. And of course there’s his enchanting little dog, *Paco. [*: see photos below]

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Despite listening to bagpipes and petting Paco, reuniting with good friends, the plight of refugees everywhere remains dire. [Excerpt from New York Times piece: Refugees Encounter a Foreign Word: Welcome by Jodi Kantor and Catrin Einhorn]:

Much of the world is reacting to the refugee crisis — 21 million displaced from their countries, nearly five million of them Syrian — with hesitation or hostility. Greece shipped desperate migrants back to Turkey; Denmark confiscated their valuables; and even Germany, which has accepted more than half a million refugees, is struggling with growing resistance to them. Broader anxiety about immigration and borders helped motivate Britons to take the extraordinary step last week of voting to leave the European Union.

In the United States, even before the Orlando massacre spawned new dread about “lone wolf” terrorism, a majority of American governors said they wanted to block Syrian refugees because some could be dangerous. Donald J. Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, has called for temporary bans on all Muslims from entering the country and recently warned that Syrian refugees would cause “big problems in the future.” The Obama administration promised to take in 10,000 Syrians by Sept. 30 but has so far admitted about half that many.

But in Canada …..the problem seems to be:  too many people wanting to help. From another excerpt:

Just across the border, however, the Canadian government can barely keep up with the demand to welcome them. Many volunteers felt called to action by the photograph of Alan Kurdi, the Syrian toddler whose body washed up last fall on a Turkish beach. He had only a slight connection to Canada — his aunt lived near Vancouver — but his death caused recrimination so strong it helped elect an idealistic, refugee-friendly prime minister, Justin Trudeau.

The Toronto Star greeted the first planeload by splashing “Welcome to Canada” in English and Arabic across its front page. Eager sponsors toured local Middle Eastern supermarkets to learn what to buy and cook and used a toll-free hotline for instant Arabic translation. Impatient would-be sponsors — “an angry mob of do-gooders,” The Star called them — have been seeking more families. The new government committed to taking in 25,000 Syrian refugees and then raised the total by tens of thousands.

“I can’t provide refugees fast enough for all the Canadians who want to sponsor them,” John McCallum, the country’s immigration minister, said in an interview.

Oh! And there are Nanaimo bars that require no baking. They consist of a wafer crumb-based layer topped by a layer of custard flavored butter icing which is covered with melted chocolate made from chocolate squares. Not for the faint of sweet tooth. I can’t say if these refugees like them or not. (How could they not?)

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Mother-in-law comes calling

I left New York at dawn; joined a rush-hour crowd on the E train at my corner; got to JFK; jumped on a 737, aisle seat. Five hours and fourteen minutes later we gently touched down at LAX, Los Angeles International Airport, a madhouse. The temperature was 104 degrees. I watched a smokey fire burning against the robbins-egg blue sky on the mountainous horizon as my indigo-blue Super Shuttle inched onto the freeway. (It’s always something dramatic in LA.) I was here to briefly visit my film-maker/writer son and lawyer/philanthropist daughter-in-law who are based in Los Angeles. They have two sweet rescue dogs (Sergio, who is blind, and Penelope). They’ve been together almost ten years. (Knock wood.)  Of course, mother-in-law jokes always come to mind. i.e.

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I can only hope I’m exempt from at least some of these clichés.  My daughter-in-law certainly is exempt, as she’s superlative. She was born in Brussels to a Belgian mother and Israeli father, an architect, who came from a line of architects. She grew up speaking French at home. When her parents emigrated to Los Angeles when she was five-years-old, she didn’t know a word of English.

“I remember the glory I felt when I began to be able to read in English. I started doing so when driving with my parents in their car.”

“How so?”

“Like I recognized the word ‘STOP’ on signs and names of restaurants… Dad read me the comic ‘Blondie’ in English and that helped too.”

As my son and daughter-in-law had moved, I was seeing their new place for the first time, a duplex off Melrose Avenue. My son was at work and my daughter-in-law walked me through the sprawling, pristine, and thankfully cool place. Looking through the window, she pointed to the house across the street, explained, “That’s where I grew up.”

“What a coincidence,” I commented.

“The very house.”

“Amazing.”

“It truly is since while I lived there I had a kind of cosmic connection to this house, the one I live in now.”

I asked her how so and, over iced tea, she related this tale:

“As you know, I had no brothers or sisters while growing up. My parents were over-protected Europeans, so I wasn’t very adventurous. Often, in the evening, I would look out my window. One night I noticed a cat sitting across the street. I went out on my balcony, made shhhh-shhhh sounds. The cat crossed the street, walked toward our house. I snuck down, went to the cat, and brought her upstairs to my room for a visit.  I began doing this every night for the next weeks. One night I called the cat but she just sat across the street on the doorstep of this very house and wouldn’t move. I was distraught so I went down the back stairway of my house, out the back door. I was shoeless, wearing a ruffled white nightgown that had a light floral pattern. I remember the moon was full, the sky clear. I could feel the cool concrete with my bare feet. I picked up the cat, carried it home to my room and played with it. I wondered why she hadn’t crossed over to meet me. The next day I saw the cat in the daytime and went over to pick it up. A voice called out of the window, this window, Perhaps the owner. ‘Don’t pick up Charlotte. She’s pregnant.’ and I didn’t. Perhaps this was why she wanted me to come to her rather than she coming to me.”

“Gosh!”

“I’d always had a fantasy about living here. Coming here as a child I’d reclaimed a bold self I didn’t know I had. I was such a timid kid that braving the night and crossing the street barefoot in just a nighty on those nights long ago, exhilarated me, gave me a taste of bravery and courage outside of my sheltered childhood. And here we are! It was fate. Now I stand on the balcony here holding two adorable dogs, my husband nearby, telling the noisy neighbors to lower their music.”

She laughs. I do too. And then, the business of picking a restaurant for dinner begins. Following, a photo we took after dinner.IMG_4405

 

Apropos: Anyone remember Ernie K-Doe (1961- “Mother-in-Law”? Have a listen.

Obama won’t apologize for Hiroshima but I do – second posting

Today is 8 August 2023 – two days and 78 years since the United States dropped an atomic bomb over the city of Hiroshima  and one day minus 78 years since a second atomic bomb fell on the city of Nagasaki.  For anyone interested in human details, six first person accounts can be found in war correspondent Jon Hersey’s iconic book Hiroshima, written in 1946, never out of print since then. Calling Hersey’s work gruesome would be an understatement. Because I, a precocious child who read everything, insisted on reading this slim book as when I was ten years old, my inner being was altered forever.

In 2016 I published the following piece as a blog post. It was titled

OBAMA WON’T APOLOGIZE FOR HIROSHIMA BUT I DO

Given the dangerous, sorrow-filled world of 2023,  it seems a good idea to publish it again.

Image-1-30Following, extracted from a BBC report:

Barack Obama has become the first serving US president to visit Hiroshima since the World War Two nuclear attack. Mr Obama said the memory of 6 August 1945 must never fade, but did not apologize for the US attack – the world’s first nuclear bombing. Mr Obama spoke to two survivors and in an address called on nations to pursue a world without nuclear weapons. At least 140,000 people died in Hiroshima and another 74,000 three days later in a second bombing in Nagasaki.

Mr Obama first visited the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum before walking to the Peace Memorial Park, accompanied by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Both men stood in front of the eternal flame. Mr Obama laid a wreath first, followed by Mr Abe. “Death fell from the sky and the world was changed,” Mr Obama said in his address, noting that the bombing had shown that “mankind possessed the means to destroy itself”. Mr Obama said the memory of Hiroshima must never fade: “It allows us to fight complacency, fuels our moral imagination and allows us to change.” Of nuclear weapons, he said: “We must have the courage to escape the logic of fear and pursue a world without them.”

Mr Obama then spoke to two survivors, hugging 79-year-old Shigeaki Mori. “The president gestured as if he was going to give me a hug, so we hugged,” Mr Mori said. Mr Obama also talked to Sunao Tsuboi, 91. The image of President Obama hugging a survivor will resonate deeply with the Japanese public. Opinion polls show that the majority of people welcome this visit and most, it seems, do not mind either about the absence of an apology.

The deep symbolism is enough; the leader of the only country ever to have used an atomic weapon laying a wreath in a city that has become a monument to the perils of our nuclear age.But others will point out that, while his speech was long on lofty idealism, he remains the commander in chief of one of the world’s largest nuclear arsenals, one that he has approved billions of dollars to modernize.

Standing just a few rows away from the president, as he always does, an officer could be seen holding the briefcase containing the nuclear launch codes. Mr Obama had earlier flown into the nearby Iwakuni Marine Corp base nearby, after leaving the G7 summit. Mr Obama told service personnel at the base: “This is an opportunity to honour the memory of all who were lost during World War Two.”

Mr Obama praised the US-Japan alliance as “one of the strongest in the world”, with his visit “a testament to how even the most painful divides can be bridged – how our two nations, former adversaries, cannot just become partners, but become the best of friends and the strongest of allies”.

Many in the US believe the use of the nuclear bomb, though devastating, was right, because it forced Japan to surrender, bringing an end to World War Two. The daughter of one survivor, who was visiting the memorial on Friday, said the suffering had “carried on over the generations”.

“That is what I want President Obama to know,” Han Jeong-soon, 58, told the Associated Press news agency. “I want him to understand our sufferings.”

Seiki Sato, whose father was orphaned by the bomb, told the New York Times: “We Japanese did terrible, terrible things all over Asia. That is true. And we Japanese should say we are sorry because we are so ashamed, and we have not apologized sincerely to all these Asian countries. But the dropping of the atomic bomb was completely evil.”

Thank you for this visit Mr. Obama; also for your eloquence and good heart. I too honor the memory of all who suffered then. As an American implicated in my country’s actions, though, I go a step further, and DO apologize for the use of this bomb. (All bombs.) In my opinion is was wrong, is wrong, will always be wrong.image-8