Monday, January 23, 2023



I was sitting at the wood stove the other day and contemplating starting a fire… my husband usually takes care of that, but he was out for a bit. I opened the door and noticed that there seemed to be a few lit embers left over from the night before, they grew brighter as the oxygen reached them. So, I added a few small pieces of tinder, and the flames caught within seconds.

After a few minutes, letting the flames warm the chimney above, I added a few small logs. It wasn’t long before I had a satisfying and warming fire heating the house. (Supplemental heat, it is not our only source.) I was surprised at how quickly the wood caught and was burning so very hotly, it was both frightening and amazing. Thinking of the firefighters who put out uncontrolled fires, I was in awe at the task they must have to make sure that smoldering rubble does not re-ignite.

I also remembered nights singing around the campfire at the local Girl Scout camp, and the times we entertained in the backyard around an open fire pit. Always make room to be careful, not to get too close to the flames, and of course to make sure that everything is safely out, or properly enclosed, when it’s time to walk away.

Then I made the parallel and realized that the smoldering embers are a lot like our memories and emotions. You think your tears are tamped down but add a bit of oxygen and they flare up; all you need is a bit of fuel, more memories, and the fire rages again. In a way, it is comforting that our memories, both happy and sad, are always there. We should never forget the people we love, whether they are still here or not.

While flames may reduce things to ashes, they can also warm our bodies when controlled. There are both good and bad memories you can dwell on, but if you choose to soak in the warmth of your good memories, it does feel comforting.

Meanwhile, a hot fire in the wood stove on a winter’s night certainly sounds nice.

Monday, January 16, 2023


Understandably as we grow older, mortality seems to be an ever-present tingle in our minds… and yes, sometimes the thought is VERY scary. We lose folks around us that mean a lot, and we discover new aches, pains, and things that just don’t work as well anymore. But instead of fearing the INEVITABLE (NO ONE ESCAPES!) and burying ourselves in what once was, I choose to look forward.


I choose to be thankful for the things and people I have had in my life, and the time I had with them. I choose to be thankful for what I have now. I choose to be thankful for now, who and what I am, my memories, and my ability to hope for a tomorrow. Yes, I still shed tears for people I miss, my parents, my sister, a couple of cousins, a few friends… and yes, even some beautiful pussycats. But I try not to let my tears consume me, and I know that those I love and loved wouldn’t want me to waste a single day or moment that I have left.


And yet I can’t help, every time my phone rings at an unlikely hour, and every time I don’t get a response from someone I’ve reached out to, just a little bit of a shudder and a slap of what could be reality… and thankfully MOST of these alarms are simply false as I breathe a sigh of relief. I just don’t ever want to waste a day, I don’t want to waste any time telling someone how much I love them, I don’t want to waste any time cuddling a pussycat. Yes, I want to spend time reliving some of our memories with my loved ones, and I also want to make lots of new ones.


And when the day comes when I am gone, and those I leave behind shed a few tears, I hope they will live and love the happiest lives they can… mostly for them (and selfishly, just a little tinge for me). I truly believe the best honor we can each do for our dear loved ones is to live each new day as fully as possible and to remember our shared memories long after we can no longer share.


Here is to EVERY tomorrow!


Thursday, January 5, 2023


The world is shaped by
two things – stories told
and the memories they
leave behind.
~Vera Nazarian

A few years ago, while we were packing up our home of nearly 40 years, the home where we raised our family, I had so much angst about the things I couldn’t take with me. The last survivors of the children’s school projects, certain pieces of bulky, and often dusty, furniture, and beautiful wall hangings lovingly gifted, or made, by a generation that had already passed on. Letting go of PHYSICAL memories has always been difficult for me.

We had to downsize to move to the beautiful and rural home where Mark & I planned to spend our retirement years, hopefully, without too much clutter. LOL, when you give shelter to a growing family with children still in school, you receive precious trinkets often. Sometimes the glue on those cherished keepsakes dries too fast to hold them together long enough for you to even dust them daily. But with the dust, cracked edges, faded colors, and more, some of these little knickknacks become too treasured to toss. As for clothing, even those pieces worn to wonderful occasions, go out of style, become frayed, or… shudder… just don’t fit your aged figure anymore. And then, of course, the neighborhood you lived in, with nearby stores and other conveniences, and neighbors that you hold dear as friends. There is just so much to be left behind.

So long as we are blessed with our full faculties, memories are the one thing we never do leave behind. We discarded MOST objects that we knew would not survive the move… and some more things we carefully packed did not live through the actual move. After living in our new home for four years, just my husband and me, there are STILL boxes we haven’t unpacked, mostly because there is no room to properly display the keepsakes within. I really do not miss the clutter, and certainly not the ability to “clean” for last-minute company in less than half an hour, but sometimes I do miss the artwork and photos adorning every single living room wall and corner.

I have my memories and in the event that they get a little foggy, I took pictures of almost EVERY arts and crafts project that my kids brought home; I took pictures of the rooms from different angles, not even minding when I caught some of the clutter; I took pictures of cookie jars that I donated (and almost never used myself); I took pictures of the back yard where my kids swam in the summer and sledded down in the winter; and I even took photos of the backyard corner where we buried our pussycats who had lived out their years sharing their purrs with us.

Mark and I have a beautiful home and property. We have terrific neighbors. And one more huge plus, our yard, and the surrounding community are often filled with various wildlife (deer, fox, bear, coyote, wild turkey, birds, squirrels, and more) who willingly share THEIR home with us. And I have my memories…

The ONLY problem I have is digitizing ALL of these photos to save room!



Sunday, December 25, 2022



At this point, 47 years ago, Mark and I were totally immersed in wedding plans… and trying hard to ignore “certain people” who thought they (even though they were NOT our parents or siblings) had the right to command the way we did things; so much so, that a few nights before our wedding was to happen, my Dad offered to give us money to elope and promised that he would manage to get himself and my Mom and Mark’s parents to whatever chapel we wanted to be married in! It was so tempting (yes, some people were really causing grief), but we decided to stick with our plans and the location we chose.

We spent the balance of the week tracking down RSVPs, adding a few last-minute invites, and making a list of wedding presents so we could send thank-you cards. Our apartment, although we were not yet living together, provided both a place to escape and a place to store some of those previously mentioned wedding gifts. And we had the final fittings for my wedding gown, WHICH MY MOM DESIGNED AND SEWED.

By midweek I had discussed the plans to “kidnap” Mark (masterminds were his brother, brother-in-law, and my brother-in-law. The plan was to kidnap him, put him in handcuffs and take him out for a “adult-only” kind of evening. And that Friday night, dressed in my jeans and a Mickey Mouse T-Shirt (with each Mouse ear conveniently covering each boob, lol), I tricked Mark into going downstairs where he was snatched up. I laughed at the conspiracy, and was surprised when my sister, sister-in-law-to-be, and a friend, also carted me off to dinner, and then to the friend’s house where the guys showed up and we partied till the late hours.

Saturday night, December 27, 1975, Mark and I promised not to see each other and to spend the night before our wedding with our respective parents and siblings.  I was giddy with the anticipation. My poor Mom was still being harangued by “a relative” (who was NOT contributing a cent to the event) telling her all the things we did wrong, who we should have invited, and criticizing (without seeing it) the gown my mother made for me to wear that day! We were all a bit on edge.  I made sure to get to sleep, or at least to bed, nice and early that night so that I could truly enjoy OUR DAY.

Sunday morning, December 28, 1975… it was finally HERE. Mark and I agreed to meet at the catering hall in Queens, get dressed out there, and have a zillion family pictures taken before the actual ceremony. I was excited. My parents left the apartment first, my dad had to help my partially disabled Mom down the three flights of stairs, my 4-year-old nephew and my grandmother went with them. My sister, her husband, and I carried our gowns/clothing in garment bags, locked the apartment door and started downstairs.

My poor sister tripped and fell down an entire flight of hard, marble steps. She was laying crumpled on the landing, conscious, and in tremendous pain. While my brother-in-law tended to her, I ran downstairs to get our dad; my mom, her mom, and my nephew stayed in the car and worried. My first thought was that my sister would have to be taken to the emergency room of the local hospital. My Dad, who was trained in First Aid, checked her out.

Knowing that no matter what we did, I had to reach Mark and let him know what had happened and, possibly, to ask if he would meet us at the hospital. But this was the days before cellphones, and although I tried the office phone at the venue, no one picked up the ringing line. Finally, my sister, being a real trooper, insisted that she was going to walk down the aisle as my Matron-of-Honor even if she had to limp all the way. It took a while for her to get PAINFULLY upright and between my dad and my brother-in-law, they pretty much supported the rest of her journey down the stairs and into the car.

And then traffic was HORRIFIC, and it was not people heading out to watch our nuptials… I cried most of the way from the Bronx to Queens and watched as the time seemed to rush by. Finally, we arrived, and I saw Mark’s brother pacing up and down the sidewalk. I was so afraid that everyone had left, and I burst into uncontrollable tears as I told him what had transpired. He went ahead and told everyone of my arrival.

I was thankful and amazed… THE MAN HAD WAITED FOR ME; Mark and I were going to be married!

My family all got dressed. My Mom helped my sister who bemoaned that she couldn’t wear the beautiful pair of shoes she bought to match her gown and would be walking down the aisle in her sneakers. My Mom’s nerves were totally frazzled… and she still had to put up with the one meddling relative. The service went well, my nephew, our ring bearer, interrupted the Rabbi asking him to please bless our wedding rings, and everyone shouted Mazel Tov at the end.

After posing for less than the zillion photos we planned, we went into the reception hall and danced our first dance as husband and wife to “We’ve Only Just Begun”. Shortly after, my poor Mom, with all the stress she had had over the past weeks and that morning, had a diabetic reaction. She refused to leave the building but did concede to lying down in the bridal suite – where she spent the bulk of our reception. My father-in-law, nerves wracked over my tardiness, imbibed a little too much on an empty stomach and began to serenade our party with a rousing rendition of “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling”.

Mommy did rejoin the party close to the end and was there to see us off. We walked out of the venue to a lot of snow! Mark and I had decided to spend the first night of our married life in our Rockland County apartment and head off on our honeymoon the next morning. By the time we got to our apartment complex, there were snowbanks everywhere. I had to call my parents to make sure my mom and my sister were okay, but we didn’t have a phone installed yet. He was still in his tux, and I was still in my gown, when Mark spied a payphone, he lifted me up and carried me through the snow so that I could call home.

The next morning, we woke and headed out through the snow to Mt. Airy Lodge in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. We had the most delightful honeymoon for the rest of that week.

And now, in 2022, 47 years later, we retired and now live in the Pocono Mountains. Mt Airy LODGE closed in the 1990s, now it is a casino, and yes, we’ve visited a few times. We’re older and still head over heels in love.

And we are happy… all because

Sunday, December 18, 2022

Out of Many ... One

E Pluribus Unum 

From grade school and up, we have always been taught that our country, the United States of America, is a diverse country founded on "Freedom of Religion" and "All Men Are Created Equal"; in 1972 an amendment was added calling for "Equal Rights for All" (men and women). And in more recent years, there have been calls and laws for inclusivity: acceptance and tolerance of all genders and personal gender identities, acceptance of ethnicities, and respect for all religious beliefs.

So where have we gone wrong? While racial persecution, religious prejudice, and gender stereotypes have, sadly, existed in our country since its inception, it has become a loud-mouthed blight in more recent years. Instead of the acceptance of our common bonds of being Americans and HUMANS, there has been anger and hatred acted all too often. And in a country invaded and founded by immigrants, too many have forgotten our own past journeys and the ancestors that fought their way to our shores.

In 2022, 245 years after the "Founding Fathers" wrote the United States Declaration of Independence and founded our country, we are still fighting many of the prejudices and injustices that our ancestors fled from. All too often we see reminders that the UNITED States of America is not nearly as "united" as, allegedly, it was intended.

It has been said that those who resent and criticize other religions are insecure in their own. While every faith has zealots that spout hate and evil, those are actually the minority, and often those who have limited knowledge of their teachings. The teachings of almost every deity and higher power espouse love of fellow human beings and kindness to all living beings. Hatred of others does not defend your religious beliefs, more often it ignores those teachings.

In the United States, just in the months between December 2022 and March 2023, just one-third of the year, we (collectively) observe at least 17 religious observances:

Feast of the Immaculate Conception  December 8    Christianity

Bodhi Day/Rohatsu (Japan)       December 8 Buddhism

Our Lady of Guadalupe   December 12           Christianity

Hanukkah     December 19-26*  Judaism

Winter Solstice/Yule   December 21  (northern hemisphere)  Native Americans/Pagan

Christmas     December 25           Christianity

Kwanzaa       December 26–January 1  African American

Feast of the Holy Family December 30           Christianity


Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary January 1     Christianity

Christmas     January 7      Eastern Orthodox Christianity

Lunar New Year     January 22     Confucianism/Taoism/Buddhism

Maha Shivaratri     February 18 Hinduism

Ash Wednesday     February 22 Christianity

Orthodox Great Lent begins       February 27 Eastern Orthodox Christianity

Purim March 7*      Judaism

Holi    March 8        Hinduism

Ramadan begins (30 days) March 23* Islam (dates dependent on the sighting of the new moon crescent)

In America, we have multiple religions and beliefs observed including Agnostic, Atheist, Buddhist, Druid, Hindu, Islam, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Jewish, Lutheran, Mormon, Muslim, Eastern Orthodox, Latter-Day Saints, Pagan, Protestant, Roman Catholic, Scientology, Sikh, Taoist, Wiccan, and more. 

Frederick Douglass once said, "Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation are people who want crops without ploughing the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning; they want the ocean without the roar of its many waters. The struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, or it may be both. But it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will."

Others have said it, simply, "Can't we all just get along?"

Wishing you all a happy and healthy Holiday Season (no matter which way you say it), with warmth, friendship, and love by your side. Here's to hoping for a more unified, peaceful, loving, and accepting 2023... and beyond.

Wednesday, September 21, 2022



“Books Unite Us. Censorship Divides Us.

    Watch a young child play, he/she creates imaginary friends, makes up stories, and plays them out (like a spaceship landing...), and wonders about things beyond the door and out of sight. It is actually marvelous to enjoy that FREEDOM.

    But lately, SOME people seem to seriously want to limit free thought. Censorship is one way and while we all wish we could hide from some ugly facts of life, isn't awareness and the ability to decide things for ourselves more important?

    "Between 2021 and 2022, there were a considerable number of books banned or challenged in the United States. Most of the targeted books have to do with racegender, and sexuality. Unlike most book challenges in the past, whereby parents or other stakeholders in the community would engage teachers and school administrators in a debate over a title, local groups have received support from conservative advocacy organizations working to nationalize the efforts focused on certain subjects. They have also been more likely to involve legal and legislative measures rather than just conversations in local communities. Journalists, academics, librarians, and others commonly link the coordinated, often well-funded book challenges to other reactionary efforts to restrict what students should learn about systemic bias and the history of the United States. Hundreds of books have been challenged, including high-profile examples like Maus by Art Spiegelman and New Kid by Jerry Craft."  (Wikipedia)

    Just today I read about a teacher who was fired for sharing a QR code to a public library! Not only was she fired from that school, but now there is even a movement to remove her teaching license and remove her ability to work in her field! The QR code in question was for the Brooklyn Public Library which did allow students across the country to take out e-books that are not available in their own school district. (This service has since been suspended) All this is because she encouraged her students to learn.


    As a much younger version of myself, I remember the first time I read Ray Bradbury's book FAHRENHEIT 451. It was chilling. The book, written in 1953, depicted an American nation where books were outlawed, burned if found, and freedom of thought was severely discouraged. Even more disturbing than the book's premise is that the picture above (on the left) is NOT from the book — it is from a book burning here in an American town, in February 2022!

    A few Romance Lit titles that have been banned or challenged through the years include works such as Lolita, 50 Shades of Grey, Gone With the Wind, A Farewell to Arms, and more. Some of the reasons that books are challenged, and possibly banned, include sexual content, alternate lifestyles, interracial involvement, and even historical stories that blame racists. 

    Why not take a trip to your local library and find out which books are challenged/banned, and then use your library card to check them out and read. Keep your minds open, read and learn, and learn not to sit idly by while your Freedom of Thought gets "hogtied".

ALA's Top Ten Challenged Books of 2021

Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe
Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison
All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson
Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Perez
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
This Book is Gay by Juno Dawson
Beyond Magenta by Susan Kuklin

Sept. 18 - 24


Wednesday, September 14, 2022

This Time of Year


In Judaism, as in many other religions, there are times to “repent” for our wrongdoings and make SINCERE promises to try to do better in the coming year, months, and days. At the time that you are reading this, we are about twelve days away from the beginning of Rosh Hashanah, the 2-day festival of our Hebrew New Year, 5783 (sundown on September 25, 2022)

Just like the “Lord’s Prayer” (forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us), we ask for forgiveness in a prayer called “Avinu Malkeinu” (For our sinful actions which we have committed in Your sight… bring us back to You in perfect Repentance).

Rosh Hashanah is followed by Yom Kippur (25 hours beginning at sundown, October 4, 2022), at which time the “Book of Life” is sealed for the year, and we are judged by G-d based on our intentions, our repentance, and the changes we make inside our hearts to be better, to do better. We ask for forgiveness from those we have hurt, as we forgive those who have hurt us.

Sometimes we cannot physically ask for or give understanding, but it must be in our hearts and minds. The hurts we may have inflicted, if done intentionally, are not forgiven… if accidentally, they can be. That doesn’t mean there is no hope for the future, it means we must try harder.

As in the secular new year, this is a time to look forward, to appreciate what we have, and who we have in our lives, and hopefully be able to start anew with more kindness and understanding. We try, with all our might, to be better people.

To you I say “L’shanah tovah tikateivu v’teichateimu”; A good year, and may you be inscribed and sealed in the Book of Life.