Thursday Reflections

“Reflection must be reserved for solitary hours; whenever she was alone, she gave way to it as the greatest relief; and not a day went by without a solitary walk…”-Jane Austin

Yesterday was a very quiet Christmas in our home, the quietest that I can remember. We were never huge celebrators of Christmas since I’m Jewish and our children were raised Jewish, but there were years we had a tree and a wreath on the door. Now my husband and I have a small tabletop fake tree with lights and tinsel that we put out. I love to see the lights twinkling when I go downstairs to the kitchen in the morning. I remember the first few years after we had our daughter that we didn’t want to possibly offend my parents by putting up a tree; then we realized they didn’t care. We spoke to our son who is vacationing in Thailand (remember, he is now living and teaching in India) and having a wonderful time. He and his girlfriend were in Myanamar for 5 days and they were cold since they’re so used to the very hot climate of southern India. Now they’re spending the rest of their vacation time enjoying the islands of Thailand. The both of them are living a life they could never afford to do here in the U.S. My daughter just rested yesterday since everyone she comes into contact with in the city and on the trains is coughing, sneezing, etc and she felt under the weather, too. It was very cold yesterday, so early in the morning I prepared mom’s dinner of pasta, lobster and salad to her home. My husband and I ate at whatever time we wanted to eat and had the true luxury of not being on anyone’s schedule…not worrying about getting anyone to the train on time…not worrying about getting mom back to her house (which is very close by, but still…)…not worrying about anything. We’re lucky that we’ve always enjoyed each other’s company. I watched 2 movies that I had never seen before and enjoyed them: “Assault on Precinct 13” with Laurence Fishburne and Ethan Hawke and then “Gangster” with Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling and Josh Brolin…2 movies that I have previously passed by as I clicked from channel to channel. I was very entertained by both movies!  Today hubby returns to work and I’ll do what I do everyday: treadmill and bike, breakfast, mom’s house, reading, and whatever else comes my way. Happy Thursday Folks!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From My Home to Yours

We build too many walls and not enough bridges.”-Sir Isaac Newton

 Happy Holiday Season, Merry Christmas and Good Health are wished to All.

 

I woke up this morning…heard my husband sleeping while I had my pillow speaker connected to my radio on WBAI, 99.5, NYC and was delighted to hear a young Bob Dylan singing live in 1963, in the middle of the night in ‘Bai’s studio as a guest of Bob Fass on his radio show, Radio Unnameable. Dylan sang Mr. Tambourine Man. That was surely a gift!

According to several sources, Sir Isaac Newton was born today (I did see his birthday for the month of January, too) in 1642. “Sir Isaac Newton contributed significantly to the field of science over his lifetime. He invented calculus and provided a clear understanding of optics. But his most significant work had to do with forces, and specifically with the development of a universal law of gravity.”space.com

It’s cold here, about 20 degrees and the day awaits. So happy my hubby is home for the day and we’ll bring mom over to the house later for an early 3pm dinner. We have steamed lobsters in the fridge and clams, which we’ll bake. It will be a lovely dinner, just the 3 of us…daughter isn’t feeling well so will stay in the city…son is in Thailand, but we skyped yesterday.  Christmas isn’t really our holiday, but it’s such a beautiful time of year. Even growing up, I always loved the music and sang the music in glee clubs throughout my school career and my children also participated in the beauty of the holidays through their school choral groups and bands and orchestras. So, again, Merry Christmas and Peace On Earth for All!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“No One Who Cooks, Cooks Alone.”-Laurie Colwin

“No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers.” Laurie Colwin

How true!  This windy, rainy morning, as I sit in my basement typing on my desktop, I can see myself as a young girl in my Bubbie’s (Grandmother’s) kitchen watching her prepare food or helping her. I can see my mom using the meat grinder and helping her prepare chopped liver. We cooks are never alone. Mom, who will be 90 next week, taught me much over the years, she was an excellent cook. From both my mom and bubbie, I learned how to make an excellent dry rub that I use on all meats and poultry; it changes every time, but the basics include paprika, kosher salt, crushed garlic and pepper. In fact, if you just have those 4 ingredients, you’re fine. You can even leave out the garlic and your food will still be delicious. I also learned from the both of them to always, always, season under the skin and years ago I would also place stuffing under the skin. Nowadays, stuffing is made outside of the bird. If I’m in the mood, I place chopped onion and chopped lemon under the skin, I love how lemon tastes after it’s been roasted and has collected the juices of the turkey or chicken. I hope I am not nauseating any vegetarians that may be reading this or perhaps you turned away.

I wish all the bloggers and their families, all over the world, a very Happy and Healthy Thanksgiving whether you celebrate or not, whether you are American or not, whether you acknowledge the holiday or not. We all give thanks in our own way and with our own words. I enjoy reading your blogs, learning from them and I thank you for visiting mine.

“Hold On

 Hold on to what is good,

Even if it’s a handful of earth.

Hold on to what you believe,

Even if it’s a tree that stands by itself.

Hold on to what you must do,

Even if it’s a long way from here.

Hold on to your life,

Even if it’s easier to let go.

Hold on to my hand,

Even if someday I’ll be gone away from you.”

A Pueblo Indian Prayer

Time for a NEW Beginning

As I prepare for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, “I can’t help but wonder where I’m bound, where I’m bound, Can’t help but wonder where I’m bound.”(Tom Paxton, Folksinger, Social Commentator) I would substitute “I” with “We,“ WE as a nation.

My matzo balls are simmering away; my son is living in India; my husband, mom and daughter will partake in a familial and familiar Rosh Hashanah dinner. The candles will be lit, peace and good health will be prayed for.

The Progress byGwendolyn Brooks (1971) – – USA

And still we wear our uniforms, follow

The cracked cry of the bugles, comb and rush

Our pride and prejudice, doctor the sallow

Initial ardor, which keeps it fresh.

Still we applaud the President’s voice and face.

Still we remark on patriotism, sing,

Salute the flag, thrill heavily, rejoice

For death of men who too saluted, sang.

 

But inward grows a soberness, an awe.

A fear, a deepening hollow through the cold.

For even if we come out standing up

How shall we smile, congratulate; and how

Settle in chairs? Listen, listen. The step

Of iron feet again. And again – wild.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“If I Had a Hammer”-Pete Seeger & Lee Hays

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Today in history, Peter, Paul and Mary released their cover of “If I Had a Hammer” in 1962. I remember watching them sing it at The March On Washington on TV. I also got to see them at Carnegie Hall when my older brother took me when I was about 12 years old. “If I Had a Hammer” was first recorded by The Weavers, a great, great folk group in the tradition of Woody Guthrie with their songs that spoke out about unionizing, equal rights and peace. The song has been covered by many, many artists all over the world and was very prominent during the Civil Rights Movement. I used to sing it in the classroom, my students from all over the world loved singing it.

Here’s a list of things I would build “If I Had a Hammer:”

·      Build a school system that is based on true respect for teachers, students and their families.

·      Build governments throughout the world that support their people and provide excellent and equal education for all of its citizens, equal access to technology and employment with quality health insurance coverage.

·      Build a universal Declaration of Human Rights that all peoples and governments throughout the world must follow.

·      Build Peace Through: High Quality Education, Music, Respect, Employment, The Arts, Knowledge

·     Build more venues with easier access to Voter Registration

·     Build a health system that recognizes the value of medical marijuana for all ages.

·      Build quality housing for all citizens in all income brackets.

·      Build food oases in all neighborhoods with the best foods.

·      Build Schools for would-be parents and new parents that teach them how to put the needs of their children first; love and nurture their children; provide for their children; be role models for their children; advocate for their children.

·      Build a Society that is not dependent on feeding jails and Stop and Frisk procedures and discriminatory police strategies that alienate and frustrate and evoke anger and hostility.

·      Build Love, Understanding, Respect, Tolerance, and a Shared Responsibility for All Peoples and Our Planet and All of its inhabitants.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“We need better government, no doubt about it. But we also need better minds, better friendships, better marriages, better communities.”-Wendell Berry, American Poet, Writer, Essayist, Farmer, Voice of the People, Observer, Scholar, Teacher…

Award-winning poet, Wendell Berry is 78 years young today! He truly is a poet for the people and has been quite active and vocal on the environment, sustainable agriculture, doing away with the death penalty, advocating gay marriage, supporting rural communities and many more issues and concerns of the American people. Just google Wendell Berry and you’ll be able to read so many different articles on him, interviews with him, opinions about him and his opinions of which he has many!!!! 

The Peace of Wild Things by Wendell Berry

When despair grows in me

and I wake in the middle of the night at the least sound

in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,

I go and lie down where the wood drake

rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.

I come into the peace of wild things

who do not tax their lives with forethought

of grief. I come into the presence of still water.

And I feel above me the day-blind stars

waiting for their light. For a time

I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Here’s a song I would always teach my students. I think Mr. Berry would approve: The Garden Song performed by its songwriter: Dave Mallett. Feel free to sing along.

 

 

 

 

 

Figs, A Delicious and Beneficial Fruit…And a Poem!

Growing up in Brooklyn, we had a fig tree in our backyard that our Italian neighbor planted for us. He was meticulous in his planting and in wrapping the fig tree well to protect in during the winter months. His name was Joe and Joe was best friends with my dad. They’d sit on the bench in front of the house and just shoot the breeze. I miss having a fig tree. Just a few days ago, our neighbor, knowing my love for figs, brought over a plateful which I managed to eat up very quickly. Our neighbor has told us to just tear off a branch or 2 and plant it, so, before our son leaves for India, that’s what I am going to have him do. If you research figs, you will read how healthy they are for our digestive system and other systems as well!!!!  I searched for a poem containing “fig” and found this wonderful work by Naomi Shihab Nye, a poet that I would use in my classroom. “Naomi Shihab Nye was born on March 12, 1952, in St. Louis, Missouri, to a Palestinian father and an American mother. During her high school years, she lived in Ramallah in Palestine, the Old City in Jerusalem, and San Antonio, Texas, where she later received her B.A. in English and world religions from Trinity University.”Poets.org

My Father and the Figtree by Naomi Shihab Nye

 

For other fruits my father was indifferent.

He’d point at the cherry tree and say,

“See those? I wish they were figs.”

In the evenings he sat by my bed

weaving folktales like vivid little scarves.

They always involved a figtree.

Even when it didn’t fit, he’d stick it in.

Once Joha was walking down the road and he saw a figtree.

Or, he tied his camel to a figtree and went to sleep.

Or, later when they caught and arrested him,

his pockets were full of figs.

 

At age six I ate a dried fig and shrugged.

“That’s not what I’m talking about!” he said,

“I’m talking about a figtree straight from the earth—

gift of Allah!—on a branch so heavy it touches the ground.

I’m talking about picking the largest fattest sweetest fig

in the world and putting it in my mouth.”

(Here he’d stop and close his eyes.)

 

Years passed, we lived in many houses, none had figtrees.

We had lima beans, zucchini, parsley, beets.

“Plant one!” my mother said, but my father never did.

He tended the garden half-heartedly, forgot to water,

let the okra get too big.

“What a dreamer he is. Look how many things he starts

and doesn’t finish.”

 

The last time he moved, I got a phone call.

My father, in Arabic, chanting a song I’d never heard.

“What’s that?” I said.

“Wait till you see!”

 

He took me out back to the new yard.

There, in the middle of Dallas, Texas,

a tree with the largest, fattest, sweetest figs in the world.

“It’s a figtree song!” he said,

plucking his fruits like ripe tokens,

emblems, assurance

of a world that was always his own.