My Dad the Writer…Who Knew?

“Good Evening My Gorgeous Lovely Darling Wife: I love you with all the love there is in my heart. I’m mad about you, crazy about you, can’t live without you, do anything in the world for you. Fight for you, die for you, beg for you, steal for you. I’d do anything in the world for you. All you have to do is ask.”-Sunday, Feb. 2nd, 1943 Written by My Dad to My Mom

I just took a lot of pictures from mom’s home because I’d like to sort through them. I discovered 2 rubber-banded packages of letters my dad wrote to mom in 1943 before they were married and as I peeked at 2 of the letters, the salutations were very romantic with “wife” as the last word of the salutation. I said to mom, “You and Dad were married in 1945, but in his 1943 letters, he calls you “wife.” Mom said, “That’s how your dad thought of me.”

I am asking my WordPress readers for advice on how to go about putting together a book of dad’s letters and photos. This will be a labor of love and it will entail many hours, days, week, months, so I know Step 1 is to get organized. After I’m organized, I’m thinking of getting a Duplex portable wifi scanner that will scan 2 sides.

For those of you who have done this sort of thing before or put together your own book with photos or letters, what advice would you give me? Which portable wifi scanners would you suggest?

NOTE:  I used to always be able to copy images from Google Image for my posts and now I can’t!!!  Anybody know why or have suggestions?????    In addition, the print is not coming out like it used to and I do not know why!!!!  Have things changed at WordPress????

“Tell Me What You Pay Attention To and I Will Tell You Who You Are.”-Jose Ortega y Gasset

This morning, the singing of the birds beckoned me to rise from my bed and start the day on a positive note. As I rose, I thought about the interview I saw last week on Oprah’s OWN station with Oprah interviewing the writer, Sue Monk Kidd. In 2002, I read Kidd’s, “The Secret Life of Bees” and loved it…didn’t love the books that came after. Recently, I read her latest book, “The Invention of Wings,” which I really enjoyed, but not as much as “…Bees.” Anyway, I thought of what Sue Monk Kidd said in the interview…to paraphrase, she said, “We become what we pay attention to.” I’ve been thinking about that since I heard it and trying to be more positive in life…instead of focusing on minor aches and pains or inventing “what if” scenarios for things that may never happen. I’m focusing on what I am grateful and thankful for. The singing of the birds inspired a quick haiku this morning:


I heard singing birds
Calling my name to join them
So I rose and did.

And now, just as I finished printing the haiku, my wonderful husband just put on“Looking into You: A Tribute To Jackson Browne” CD with Don Henley and Blind Pilot singing, “These Days,” yes, so thankful. “Well, I’ll keep on moving, things are bound to be improving, these days.” (Jackson Browne)

We become what we pay attention to…yes…music always helps…we just listened to Roseanne Cash’s newest album on vinyl, “The River and the Thread” and we give it a thumbs up, especially “Etta’s Song,” which I can listen to over and over again. It’s a beautifully produced album, just the pureness of Roseanne’s clear voice and the clarity of the instruments and her wonderful musician husband/arranger John Leventhal. We are also looking forward to listening to our newly acquired, “Quiet About It: Tribute to Jesse Winchester,” which we’ll listen to later. This cd was released in 2012. It was so very sad to learn of Jesse’s death. He was a beautiful songwriter and had such a lovely presence on stage.
My readers…I have been checking in to see what’s going on in your blogs and am enjoying all that I read. I hope to return more vigorously to my blog. I am thinking of using a new WordPress theme and perhaps when my son returns from India for a vacation in June, we’ll work on it together. He is finishing his first year of teaching in India and has one more year to go. From there who knows where he’ll go, but he’ll go. Just this morning, when we saw each other on Skype, he said he has amazing parents and he is who he is because of his upbringing. Music to my ears. As a parent, you do what you do and hope something sinks in and you don’t expect any thank yous or accolades, but my son is always giving us applause…this from a kid who didn’t like reading or writing and went to school to socialize. It’s heartwarming hearing his hopes, dreams and the absolute confidence he has in himself. He said he and his girlfriend have a 5-year plan…it’s great that they are doing all of this traveling now before children and mortgages, don’t you think? My daughter is doing well in NYC; my mom is hanging in there and for over 90 she’s doing great! My hubby recently retired, but is continuing to work at his present job 2.5 days per week…there are still bills to be paid and improvements on the home to be made and then he’ll fully retire. It’s so wonderful we live in the same town where he works. Now that the nice weather is here, I am doing my daily walks in the park and paying attention to everything I see there. I want to become what I pay attention to. Ah…now Jimmy Lafave is singing Jackson Browne’s “For Everyman,”
“Everybody’s just waiting to hear from the one
Who can give them the answers
And lead them back to that place in the warmth of the sun
Where sweet childhood still dances
Who’ll come along
And hold out that strong and gentle father’s hand?”-Jackson Browne

I remember Linda Loman telling her sons, “Attention Must Be Paid,” and I never forgot that line from Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller. Willy mattered to Linda and wanted him to matter to their boys as well despite Willy’s shortcomings. If we become what we pay attention to, perhaps we have to look further into someone to see their goodness and pay attention to that instead of all of the “what ifs,” and “what coulda beens.”

NOTE:  I had a lot of trouble printing this posting the way I usually do!!!!  I usually take my word doc and copy and paste it using the “comic sans” font and it usually looks very nice and the hyperlinks work out well, too. Well today, the print looks so plain when I paste it and none of my hyperlinks came out…I had to insert them on the blog itself. If you understand what happened, please advise…Thanks!!!!!

 

 

A Boulder On My Heart

“Only people who are capable of loving strongly can also suffer great sorrow, but this same necessity of loving serves to counteract their grief and heals them.” –Tolstoy

For the last few weeks, I had been very depressed because my favorite and beloved uncle was dying.  He was only 84 and I say “only” since he had so much more to give. My uncle was an historian and researcher and wrote scholarly texts on the Hapsburg Monarch. He was also a very loving and compassionate humane individual who marched during The Civil Rights Movement and spoke out on many injustices. He was a good example of a fully lived life and he was a role model all of my life. He was one of mom’s younger brothers and she is grieving.  I spoke with my aunt today and I think speaking with her and also viewing the extraordinary obituary lifted the weight of the boulder from my heart.

In August, I hope to travel with my daughter and attend a celebration of his life while mom stays home with my husband in attendance for her. 

In a letter passed out to the faculty of the college where my uncle taught and changed the History Dept. forever, a former colleague and friend saw him at a Convocation years ago…  “he was already seated in the front row as I passed, and I looked at his face.  It expressed who he was–a teacher and a scholar. I still see that face today.  For him, this was a calling, and he lived it broadly, both in the academy and out.”  The letter goes onto say, that my uncle’s, “… active commitment to civil rights and social justice was evident to everyone who knew him.”

solomon wank

 

Takin’ A Break

“Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for.  Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.”-Maya Angelou

Haven’t posted in a few days…busy taking care of Mom…busy worrying about Mom…being a caretaker is just all-consuming. We’re just at the end of February and more snow is predicted, so, I worry about getting mom to a much-needed and important doctor appt and dental appt next week. If I could just take one day at a time and not project or go into my “What if…” scenarios!!!!!   Way back in 1970, Simon and Garfunkel’s album, Bridge Over Troubled Water was certified gold. Every song on that album is a gem! To think that I was 17 years old then, 61 now…it’s amazing how the years fly!!!!  

My Lazy Days of Winter

      

      

“Inspiration is a guest that does not willingly visit the lazy.”-Tchaikovsky

It has been 4 days since my last posting. Just didn’t know what to write about. Life has been OK, no emergencies…Mom’s doing all right, though she’s been in the house for weeks due to the weather and the mountains of snow; yet she doesn’t complain. As long as I always have library books for her and she does her daily crossword puzzle, she’s not bored. How lucky I am that she has never been a demanding person who needs to be entertained. Speaking of Mom, I’ve written before on the time she took me uptown to see a panel discussion on Civil Rights in the early 60s at the NY Society for Ethical Culture. The society is over 100 years old. I definitely remember Sydney Poitier and Harry Belafonte being on the panel and I think James Baldwin also was there among others. Well, today is Mr. Poitier’s 87th birthday!!!  I remember mom and I going to the movies to see “Lilies of the Field” and singing “Amen” along with Sydney Poitier and the nuns. I’ve seen every one of his movies. Today also marks the death of the great Frederick Douglass in 1895. It was a sudden death after having a very nice and productive day at a Women’s Rights conference. Folksinger, Buffy Sainte-Marie was born today in 1941. Always loved her music.

So, I found a little inspiration today to do my blog posting! Yay!

Hope all are well out there in WordPress Land!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It Doesn’t Make Sense

           

Richard Ford, American novelist (“Canada”), was born today in Mississippi in 1944. He could’ve been talking about yesterday’s verdict in another southern state known for inequality in their treatment of African American male victims, when he once wrote, “I have a theory… that someplace at the heart of most compelling stories is something that doesn’t make sense.” My husband was born today, in 1950, in Tallahassee, Florida, but was raised in the Harlem neighborhood of NYC. When he was 12, his mom shipped him down to Florida to live with relatives for minor offenses in NY, such as skipping school. A little Caucasian girl with her mom pointed at him and said, “Mommy there’s a N____,” which offended, angered and hurt him…the next day his dog was found dead outside the front door…murdered. He was shipped back up to NYC…went to school every single day…got his BFA and MFA. My husband will never return to Florida. He’s retiring and we will continue to live in the Northeast since he loves the changing of the seasons and we also never want to be far from our children. I am the mother of an African American male and I worried about him as a teenager and young man from the moment he left the house until he returned. As many of you know, he’s living and teaching in southern India for 2 years. He mentioned that he may go visit New Delhi and I warned him that there have been incidents in New Delhi of Africans being attacked and I told him not to go. Will he listen to me?  Who knows? It’s a scary world. We raise our children and prepare them the best we know how in navigating their world and hope for the best. Jordan Davis in Florida was America’s son, America’s child and he was murdered, “…for something that doesn’t make sense.” How the jury couldn’t convict the defendant for first degree murder is incomprehensible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Showing Up

 

Knowing how nervous I would be to drive to mom’s this morning, my husband drove me early at 7am so as not to interfere with his going to work. I just needed to see for myself that mom was ok since I didn’t see her yesterday. She was fine. My husband also shoveled a bit at mom’s even though our service shoveled there last night; it snowed in the wee hours of the morning again. That’s love. Showing up.

 Very True Haiku for My Husband:

He promised my Dad

A meal I would never miss

He has kept his word.

This is absolutely true; my dad was concerned that my husband had no money and wasn’t earning much money and came from a family that struggled and couldn’t help us. He told my dad I would always be well fed.

On The Pleasure of Reading

   

“To acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all the miseries of life.”  ~W. Somerset Maugham

Like many of you out there, I have always been a reader; started very young and was encouraged to read and write by my parents. All through school I read lots of books and wrote lots of poems and stories. As a teacher I would tell my students that the more you read, the better you read; and the more you read, the better you write. Reading and writing go hand and hand. I passed the love of reading onto my children, though my son fought it and didn’t become a reader or writer until later on…more so when a graduate student. My daughter took to it right away. Each child is different.  Currently, I just started “The Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt, which has received very good reviews that I usually ignore. I’m not one to choose books by looking at book lists; only what strikes a chord as I’m reading the blurb. So far, so good, but I just started. I so enjoyed the last book I read, “The Invention of Wings” by Sue Monk Kidd, whose “The Secret Life of Bees” I truly loved 12 years ago, even enjoyed the movie, a rarity. Since mom is pretty much homebound, I am always looking for books for her to enjoy. She finds big books too big and too heavy to hold so now I’ve been getting her paperbacks like small mystery series set in England…nothing gory. Also, when I can find a good book set in WWI, like the wonderful, wonderful Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear, I make sure to order those through my library. I refuse to buy books. No room. The latest WWI book that mom loved was “Somewhere in France: A Novel of the Great War” by Jennifer Robson, which I may read too, after I finish “The Goldfinch.”  Reading brings joy. Reading distracts. Reading takes me places without moving one step! Gotta Love it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Knowledge IS Power”-Malcolm X

   

Yesterday, when I heard that a NYC technology teacher in Flushing, Queens, told his students they couldn’t do reports on Malcolm X, it just reminded me that there are some teachers out there who do not do their HW; that do not know the whole story; that do not educate themselves. It was sad and reminded me of the time I wrote a play for my students that had a song about the release of Mandela from jail that exact month, February, 1990. I had some parents come over to me and say, “I heard this or I heard that about Mandela and I’m not sure the kids should be singing this.” I reassured them with knowledge. “Knowledge is power” as Malcolm said and the show went on. I hope those students and their parents, when they heard about the death of Mandela, remembered their moment on stage. On 2/11/90, Nelson Mandela walked out of prison and onto the world stage to change many lives for the better.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Birthdays Ain’t What They Used to Be

        

“Expect nothing. Live frugally on surprise.”-Alice Walker

61 years ago today, I was born in Brooklyn to a stay-at-home mom and a working dad. We lived in a 2-family attached brick house downstairs from my grandparents and shared an alley. How glorious to leave our kitchen through a door and race up 2 flights to my Bubbie and Zadie and just hang out with them. Mom returned to college when I was about 7 and dad, hurt both physically and emotionally during WW II was sick on and off with heart attacks at a young age and a bad back; he retired early. Dad would do the shopping and the chauffeuring. Mom also learned how to drive so that when dad couldn’t, she could get him to doctor appts.  I had a brother who was 4 and a half years older; a beautiful child; looked like a model! He had a rough relationship with my dad and probably a whole host of other problems that weren’t surfaced enough for us to see. We shared a love of reading and music. He got caught up in drugs for many years, Heroin… and even though he was recovering, he died nearly 21 years ago from AIDS. Dad died 23 years ago. Mom retired after dad died, took care of my brother in her home and after he died,  sold the house in Brooklyn and came out to the suburbs to be close to me and my family. I continue to miss my dad and my brother and I’m glad they knew my children and my children remember them. We used to have birthday celebrations with the whole family, but, at 61, both my husband and I like quiet celebrations and don’t stand on ceremony. Today I’ll see mom in the morning as usual; I’ll talk to my daughter on the phone; perhaps I’ll talk with my son in India and my husband and I will enjoy the chicken currently brining in the fridge overnight. Today is also the birthday of Carole King (72) and Alice Walker (70). I remember buying “Tapestry” in 1971. We still listen to it.  I’m in great, great company!!!!!

Before I Leave The Stage by Alice Walker

 

Before I leave the stage

I will sing the only song

I was meant truly to sing.

It is the song

of I AM.

Yes: I am Me

&

You.

WE ARE.

I love Us with every drop

of our blood

every atom of our cells

our waving particles

-undaunted flags of our Being-

neither here nor there.