Update About My Grandfather’s Mysterious Brother Jacob

1 Mar

I had a wonderful surprise on my blog last week.  A blog I wrote about my grandfather’s mysterious family focusing on his brother ( see blog below) had a message from my great uncle Jacob’s granddaughter.  There has been NO contact as far as I can tell since 1957.

The comment: “Rupert John Rosenberg was my father; Jacob was my grandfather.
Jacob did not come to England (but died in New York c 1957) but (Rupert) John did . I never met Jacob and I know little about my American family but I know Delilah had two children…” (I do not want to go into too much personal detail to keep the anonymity of my cousin.)

I was startled, but immediately answered her sending my work email address.   Since that first contact, she and I have been emailing, sending photos and information.  And finally, we had a face-to-face conversation through Facetime.  Later this month, she will meet more of the family, as we have a family Zoom with her.

In my original blog, I mentioned that my great uncle disappeared in 1957.  I searched for him everywhere. But no mention.  I thought he went to England to live with his son.  No mention.  Now I know that he died in 1957, when he was only 62, from cancer.  This would also impact his son, who also died in his late 50s from cancer as well.

But what I did not know is that the father and son had been estranged.  I am not too surprised, as Jacob also distanced himself from his own family.  His siblings basically had little contact with him after his mother passed away.  But it is a mystery.  My cousin thinks it is because her father did not want to serve in the Korean War, so left the country after he completed college. And that was the cause of the estrangement.   After his father passed away, her father did continue to have contact with his mother.

In the meantime, his son started using his middle name, John, as he progressed in his career as a writer of novels and working in the British film industry. One of the movies he worked on is one that I remember.

For me part of the excitement, besides finding my second cousin and her family, was learning that I was correct in my research.  I had found my father’s first cousins Rupert and Delilah.  Rupert was married exactly as I thought.  And, although I did not write about his sister’s marriage, the Delilah I found was correct.  She married the man I thought, Leonard Raphael, and was a concert pianist.  She had two children. (Since they are living, and I have no contact with them, I will not name them.)

When pieces of the puzzle come together, it is joyful!

My second cousin told me she had an older sister who lived in a Mediterranean country and she wanted to save the cats.  That made me laugh, as my daughter, who has name very similar to this yet unmet second cousin, also lives in a Mediterranean country and has saved many cats and volunteered at a shelter.  Another coincidence is that the cousin who contacted me, has the same name as my niece.  I find that so serendipitous.  My daughter and the sister have virtually the same name, with just one letter change.  And my niece and this cousin have the same name with just one letter change.

To continue the similarities, my newly found cousin has four children.  Her oldest son and my son have the same name. 

Finally, we had a long discussion about our family’s thick and wavy hair.  When she saw a photo of my brother, my found cousin commented that her Dad and sister have the same hair.  The men in my family are known for not having the male baldness gene!  Even the women are known for their thick and wavy dark hair.

I must admit I write my blogs for my family, but also to find out what happened to the people who disappeared.  In my mother’s family that pertains to those who were murdered in the Shoah.  In my father’s family, it is the mystery of his father’s siblings.  There are still two missing, Samuel and Minnie/Muriel.  I hope one day to find them as well.

https://zicharonot.com/2019/12/10/back-to-my-grandfathers-mysterious-brothers-first-jacob/

A Hurdle To Overcome In My Snapple Addiction

10 Feb

Anyone who knows me knows I am addicted to Diet Peach Snapple Tea.  I always have a glass bottle by my side.  I start with a bottle filled with the tea, and as the day goes on, I slowly dilute it with cold water and ice.  Some days I do drink two Diet Peach Snapple teas.  (See blog below.)

I love Snapple in the glass bottles.  To me they taste better that way.  I know it comes in two-liter size, which is cheaper. But for me, the glass bottles in their six-packs was my go-to drink.  I keep cases of it at home, so I never run out.

But starting in mid-January, I was having a difficult time finding my favorite drink.  Whenever I did see it, I would buy two or three cases.  Eventually, I could not find it at all.  I was down to my last four bottles.  And I was stressed.

The original and new Snapple six packs.

Finally, two weeks into the start of no Diet Peach Snapple, I made a run to my local grocery store and I saw something that both horrified and gladdened my heart. There surrounded by the regular cases of all other flavors of Snapple was Diet Peach Snapple!  YES!  But it was different!  NO NO NO!  It was not in its lovely cardboard packaging with its iconic glass bottles.  NO it was a six-pack of newly designed plastic bottles shrink-wrapped in plastic. 

My heart stopped for a second.  Should I even put a package in my cart? Should I bring it home to try. I had to.  The choice between and new package and No Snapple was a no brainer.  I needed Snapple.

I took a picture of the two cases together and posted my angst on Facebook with these words:  WHY?? Why did @Snapple have to change how my diet peach Snapple looks? I have been drinking it for decades. I don’t want any more change in my life. NOOOOO!!!!!

My friends made many comments. The most important: Have I tasted it yet?  The answer was no.  I was afraid.  It said the same great taste.  But what if it wasn’t?  How would I cope?

Some talked about their own Snapple addiction. One even admitting that seeing me with my Snapple, made her try it.  Now she was addicted as well.  One could not find diet Peach Snapple in Arizona. This is a nationwide issue!

Several understood my need for glass containers.  It was a difficult day for me. Tea does taste better in glass. Some suggested saving a glass container and pouring the new Snapple into a glass container.  It does not work that way.  It has to come in glass.

On February 6, I took the dive.  I opened one of the new bottles to try the Snapple.  It was okay.  The recipe had not been changed, but I could taste the difference between plastic and glass.  

I did my research, a research I did not know I needed.  It seems this change had been coming.  But I did not know about it.  It seems the company that owns Snapple,  Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, had been planning this for two years.  It had all the other sizes in plastic, 20, 32, and 64 ounces.  I avoided those. But it kept the 16-ounce six-pack in glass. Now the company wanted all of the Snapple in plastic.  But it tried to keep the look of the glass bottle.

I wrote this on Facebook: I have now tasted the Diet Peach Snapple in the new container. It was fine. And the new container is environmentally better. So I will take this like a big girl and accept reality. No more glass Snapple. Still I think it tastes better in glass. But I am accepting.

However, I really am not accepting.  I am distraught.  Holding the plastic bottle does not have the weight of the glass bottle. It does not feel right.  And the embossed S is gone.  I am trying to be accepting.  I think about the good: The new containers are made from recycled plastic.  I like that.

I guess they did the best they could. We still have factoids on the inside of the lids.  And it is the same recipe.  But I am UNHAPPY.   Why couldn’t they leave well enough alone?  Why fix something that doesn’t need to be fixed.  I understand, it saves money.  It saves breakage. But really taking away the Snapple bottle is like taking away the Coca Cola bottle.  Someone made a bad decision!!!

A major gripe is this, with all the changes we have had to cope with this year, dealing with the change in Snapple is almost the last straw.  How could they do this NOW in the middle of a pandemic.  Have they no empathy or courtesy or kindness?

Okay, perhaps I am going overboard.  There might be in a few crises in the world that some might consider are more important than my Snapple crisis.  Sigh! But at least I can save one bottle and my last cardboard container for my memories.

https://zicharonot.com/2018/02/13/my-dad-created-my-snapple-addiction/

Getting My COVID Vaccine Takes Me to 1960s

5 Feb

This week I received my first COVID vaccine. I traveled through a snow blast to get to my 10:30 am appointment. My walking buddy took me. I don’t like to drive, so she volunteered to get me there. While we went, I thought of my Mom. I called her the snow witch because she attracted snowstorms. She died during the December 27, 2010, snowstorm that blanketed the New York City area over two feet of snow. For me, the snow seemed apropos. Mom was telling me she was looking out for me. Getting the vaccine was important.

When we arrived at the vaccination site, we lucked out finding a parking space in the crowded area.  The parking lot was full, but we were able to find a street parking space not too far away.  In fact, when we left, I told another woman who arrived that we were leaving and had a great spot.  She followed us and parked there as we drove away.

But the main point is that I got my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine.  Yes, I stood in a line for a while.  Actually, there were four parallel lines waiting to be checked in after our temperatures were taken and our paperwork reviewed.  Then it was to the computer check in, and finally the shot line, then I sat in a chair while a nursing student gave me that wonderful little jab.  I honestly felt the edges of my lips curl into a smile as the needle went in.  I never wanted a vaccine more than I wanted this one.

I then joined my friend and sat there for the required 15 minutes.  It was well worth it.  My friend, a dentist, already had both her doses. But she was happy to go back with me to make sure I got my vaccine.

While I was waiting in line, and then waiting for my 15 minutes to pass, my memory went back to my first pandemic vaccine.  Yes, I did have another one.  Just like many of my peers born in the 1950s and 1960s. I was one of the millions of children vaccinated for the polio vaccine.  Then for children, it was the taste of a sugar cube that saved our mobility and lives.

Every summer we went to the Catskills, to the mountains, to get away from the New York City area where parents were afraid that we would get polio in the summers.  People forget that polio was one reason why families wanted to escape the metropolitan area.  But I remember.

I also remember the long line that we stood in to get our vaccine. It was 1962 or 1963. I don’t remember the exact date. But I know I was 7 or 8 years old. My parents, my brother, my sister and I, stood outside in a slowly moving line that snaked into the North Bergen High School building. We never actually stood still. We just kept moving, and others kept joining the long line. Just like I did for the Covid vaccine: in one door and out another.

When we finally reached our goal, there was hundreds of little paper cups. In each one was a sugar cube. But not any sugar, these were doused in the live polio virus. To add to my enjoyment, each sugar cube that had the vaccine was a lovely shade of pink! We joyfully ate our sugar as we walked away. To be honest, I wanted a second sugar cube.

There was a worry that a few of the children might actually get polio from the live virus. But because it was the BEST way to keep the virus at bay, parents were willing to take a risk.  Due to these sugar cubes and the other vaccine developed by Dr. Jonas Salk and Dr. Albert Sabin, in the 1950s and 60s, polio basically disappeared.

So now when I stood in another line to receive another vaccine to help stop the spread of a different pandemic, a little part of me stood in that other line, remembering another vaccine in a time when lies and anti-vaxxers were not trying to destroy faith in vaccines.  When we did not have people protesting and trying to stop people from getting their vaccines, as some protestors did at Dodger Stadium in California. When people understood the need for all to come together to stop a pandemic.  When kindness to others and true altruistic love for your neighbor took precedence over the lies found on social media that seem to be corrupting kindness.

I was so thankful to get my vaccine this week. I look forward to getting my second dose in three weeks, which also reminds me of my polio vaccine sugar cube. We had to have three in all for the vaccine to work.

I am still smiling, even though my arm is a bit sore. As each of my friends and relatives get their vaccine, I feel relief. Life will get back to some semblance of normal. And this vaccine will help us get there. I just wish that kindness to others really meant something. That this kindness included keeping everyone safe and the COVID pandemic at bay.

https://www.cdc.gov/polio/what-is-polio/polio-us.html

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2021-02-04/anti-vaccine-activists-dodger-stadium-have-more-plans

Serenity and Light Returns

21 Jan

Serenity and peace.  No anxiety before I went to sleep last night for the first time in four years.  No fears of what would be tweeted out during the night or what further evil words would come from the mouth of the man who was supposed to be America’s uniter, but instead worked his best to be our divider. Perhaps once again there would be light in our world.  In my religion we are told to be a light among the nations. But for some time, people of all faiths were forgetting to be that light.

Serenity and peace.  After a January 6 like no other in my lifetime.  I have seen much pain as I have matured.  The horror of September 11; the fear of polio when I was a child; the destruction of the Challenger in 1986 and later the Columbia in 2003; the assassination of presidents and leaders, riots and protests against the Vietnam War and the killings of innocents.

I have watched the USA reach for the stars and land on the moon and watched disaster in the skies.   I have watched for years as the World Trade Towers be built as a child living on the New Jersey Palisades and watched them destroyed within hours.  I have joined the lines of children who received their sugar squares soaked in vaccine to keep us safe from the Polio pandemic, and now I await my own vaccine. My husband, a hospital-based physician is getting his second vaccine today. I have mourned the deaths of those who died too young.

But I never, in my life, expected to see our country ravaged by its own people, chanting, “Hang Mike Pence,” our vice president, all the in the name of making our country great again.  The desecration of our Capitol was horrifying. Even more so with a president and his son and lawyer urging the crowds on to do violence. 

What happened to my America — The land of the free, the land of the brave, the land of immigrants? The country that opens its doors to the opposed, Instead became the oppressors to waves of immigrants, separating children from their families.  Bringing images of my own family and its horror in the Shoah!

As a parent and teacher, one action caused me to fail a student and punished my child.  LYING. To my children I said, Tell me the truth.  If you lie, the punishment increases.  I will not have lying.  To my students, I wanted truth.  Do not cheat on a test. Do not copy someone else’s work.  If you are having an issue, let me know in advance.  But if you lie, you will fail that assignment. 

Lying is what I hate the most.   So the lies, the big lies that came from powerful people trying to destroy our country, trying to destroy our election, disgusts me.  I have so much respect for those who finally stood and said NO to the liar in chief. How can we teach our children not to lie, if the president and those in power lie?

With all that in my mind, I was a bit fearful for the inauguration. Would the domestic terrorists strike again?  What other evil deeds could the prior president do?  Would the new administration say the right words in our time of need?

Thank you God for answering and for giving words to the President, to the Vice President, to the young poet laureate, who graced the stage with her poem.  There was joy in ceremony.  There was unity.  There was a plea for peace for coming together, for being one country again.

I watched a press conference where there were no demeaning words and lies told to the public.  This was important to me as both a journalist and someone who hates lies.  It was almost relaxing to watch!

Last night I went to sleep without dread and this morning I woke up to a new USA. To a return to sanity. As Amanda Gorman said so wonderfully, “There is always light. If we’re brave enough to see it. IF only we’re brave enough to be it.”

Pippi Longstocking and It’s A Small World Always Have A Place in My Heart

17 Jan

Over time my sister and I have been amazed that her daughter’s personality is more like mine, while my daughter is more like my sister. I am known to call them by each other’s names because they do something that is so much like the other.

But recently, on a family Zoom, I realized that my reaction to my daughter is often the same as my mother’s reaction to my sister.

In the early 1960s my family went to the World’s Fair in New York City. (See blog below.). We had a great time.  Our favorite ride was the Disney, “It’s a Small World,” which premier at the World’s Fair.  My sister, who was just 4 or 5 at the time, fell in love with the song. 

She was in love with the song and used the $5.00 gifted to her from our grandmother to buy a special booklet about the ride that included the 45 record. My mother asked her to be sure that is what she wanted, as she used her entire $5 for it.  (I used my money to buy a Cinderella watch.)

The song became the bane of our existence.  My sister played that record endlessly.  “I did play it multiple times a day on the small record player that we were allowed to use unsupervised,” she said.  To be honest it drove us all crazy.

One day she came home from school to the horrible news from my mother that the record was broken.  My mom was cleaning and accidentally broke it.  My sister was devasted, but what could she do. It was gone. My Mom was such an honest, good person.  We all believed her.  And I think we all, except my sister, were relieved.

Fast forward about 10 years.  Our house was robbed.  The thieves came in through the back door. The police believe my brother surprised when he got home from school as he came in the front door.  (I have written about this before in the blog below.). It was traumatic for all of us!!!

But in the aftermath, on the floor of my parent’s bedroom, where the thieves had dropped all the stuff they did not want, was the 45 record of “It’s A Small World”.  It was not broken.  It was intact.   My sister was shocked.

“Mom,” she said.  “It’s not broken.”  She says it was the biggest betrayal in her life!  My parents were both speechless and laughing.  My Mom admitted the truth, she just could not stand to hear that record again.  So they hid it. 

My sister says, “Mom did not have the heart to actually break and throw it out.” She thinks it is because she purchased with the money from grandma.   Now, 55 years later, my sister still has the record.  She admits she was obsessed by it and had to keep listening.  (Unfortunately,  while my sister found her record, my watch was stolen during the robbery.)

The doll and towel I purchased in Sweden.

Fast forward to the late 1980/early 1990s and my daughter’s favorite book, “Pippi Longstocking!”  She had to hear that one book every single day.  My husband or I read it to her.  It was my husband who broke first.  He finally had enough of her obsession.  He told me that he refused to read it again.  He took the book and put it at the very top of the floor to ceiling bookcase in our bedroom, knowing she would never find it.  I have to admit, I was right there with him.  I could have taken it down, but I never did.

We were so relieved.  We just never wanted to hear that book again.   Little did we realize that the book was in her soul.  When she wrote her college applications, she wrote about how she identified with Pippi Longstocking in her essays.

While she was in college, she came home for a break and was helping me sort through books.  I had totally forgotten that Pippi Longstocking was still up there in the bookcase, on its side where it could not be seen.  She was up on a step stool, when she yelled in excitement.  “Mom, I found Pippi Longstocking.  It’s not lost!”

I was startled and started laughing until tears came.  She says, it never occurred to her that we hid it.  She felt no sense of betrayal, only excitement because she found her favorite book. Both my Mom and I could not get rid of the evidence of our ‘lie’ which in the end was our undoing. 

Like my Mom, I explained to my daughter how tired we were of hearing and reading the book. So we hid it.  I think we still have the book.  But in August 2019, my husband and I went to the Baltics.  I made amends. The only thing I purchased for my daughter was in Sweden: a small Pippi Longstocking doll and tea towel that was adorned with Pippi’s picture.

I must also say, that “It’s A Small World” is also my daughter’s favorite Disney ride.  I have ridden on that ride multiple times with her. One time, on a rainy day, when no one else was there, she and I did it over and over again.  She is so much like my sister!!!

When thinking about it, I realize that both my sister and daughter were interested in entertainment that explored the world and had a positive view of life. It’s a Small World shows the people of the world singing in harmony and joy.  Pippi is a free and independent girl who is kind and helpful and works against bullies! Pippi Longstocking and It’s a Small World will always have a place in my heart.

These two blogs talk in more detail about the robbery and It’s a Small World Ride.

https://zicharonot.com/2014/03/14/it-was-a-small-world-at-the-new-york-citys-worlds-fair-196465/

https://zicharonot.com/2019/03/02/locking-up-candy-saves-the-day/

Blue M&Ms Welcome A Healthy New Year

1 Jan

I cannot think of one person I know who does not like M&Ms.  My personal favorites are peanut butter or peanut.   I remember as a child my mother doling out regular, plain chocolate M&Ms to my siblings and me.  It was a process.  We each had to have the same number of each color: Tan, Red, Brown, Green and Orange.  If there was a variation, there was trouble. Which is strange because they did not taste any different, but we all had favorite colors so having an equal amount was important, especially at Hanukkah when we used M&Ms to play the dreidel game! 

My Blue M&M swag.

However, notice the colors!  There were no Blue ones when I was a child.  They did not join the mix until 1995.  I remember the election that Mars held that year.  We could vote on blue, pink or purple.  I had two young children, ages 9 and 4, with whom I had discussions on the vote as my daughter loved purple.  At the time, I was busy: teaching in a high school, taking care of my children, free-lancing for a local newspaper where I wrote a commentary column.  But the vote on M&Ms was so important for me, I took time out to vote: BLUE! Blue won hand downs with over 50 percent of the vote. (Perhaps a precognition for November 2020?)

My loving blue M&Ms from the time they were available, became a reason for family laughter  since from that point on, I only wanted to eat the blue ones.  I remember going to family life cycle events, and just picking out the blue M&Ms from the bowls.  One year, at my niece’s bat mitzvah, one of my cousins brought me over a little of tub of all colors, since he knew I loved M&Ms.  But I remarked, “Now I only eat the blue ones.”  He came back a bit later with a bowl of blue ones that he had collected from all the bowls. He is an excellent cousin!

When I play mah Joong with my friends, or go to a party,  I still only eat the blue M&Ms.  It has become so well accepted, that as others reach into the bowl, they often pass the blue ones on to me. They don’t even think about.  I get the blue ones. 

 It is a bit difficult when the holiday ones come out.  Valentine’s Day, Halloween, Christmas, NO BLUES.  But Easter is fine as there are light blue ones!

I have three reasons for my obsession with blue ones.  First of all, blues and teals are my favorite colors.  Why not eat what I like?  I also love blueberries!  But I have another more important reason.  I am actually allergic to dairy.  I get really ill if I eat too much.  So limiting my intake of M&Ms by only eating blue ones, contains my addiction. The final reason is weight control, by only eating the blue ones, I am able to reject other colors and not overeat.

When my children were younger, I fabricated a bit.  I might have told them I ate the blue ones because they were better for me, healthier.  It was, at the time, wishful thinking.  Eventually my children figured out my ruse, and they would laugh whenever I gave that explanation.  But then in 2009 I found out that all these years, I was actually correct! 

My daughter was in graduate school, when I sent her an email telling her to laugh no more!  Scientists had found out that the blue dye used in blue M&Ms and blue Gatorade, known as Brilliant Blue G (BBG), was good for you.  They found that it stopped the inflammation that increased damage when someone had a spinal cord injury.  (See link below.)  I was being proactive, eating only blue ones!

A few years later, imagine my delight when I found the M&M World store in Las Vegas.  I had never been in such a store before, and the sights within filled me with glee.  There were bins with many colors of M&Ms you don’t usually see.  And several of different colored blue and teal pure chocolate ones. Although not my favorites, I still had to fill a bag. There was all sorts of M&M items to admire.  I had to purchase some blue M&M swag that now lives in my kitchen.

Blue, teal, dark teal, light teal and some green M&Ms

But why is my first blog of 2021 about Blue M&Ms? 

Last night, since we could not go out for the holiday, we participated in two Zoom events. On our family New Year’s Eve Zoom with my sister, brother and sister-in-law, and nieces and nephews, my daughter and us, the topic of M&Ms came up.  My lust for blue M&Ms was once again publicly announced and I must admit some ridiculed!

My sister-in-law admitted to a peanut M&M addiction.  I said I had it as well, but only the blue ones.  They all laughed, except my daughter, who knew what was coming! Yes, I told them all about the medical properties of blue ones. They did not seem to believe me, so I sent them the link listed below.

That led several of us on the Zoom, to leave the room,  return with our M&M bags and locate a blue M&M to eat. As we displayed the blue M&M, as we expressed wishes for a healthy year and vaccines for all as we enter 2021.

Wishing you all a very happy 2021 and the joy of finding something you enjoy as much as I enjoy blue peanut and peanut butter M&Ms.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M%26M%27s#:~:text=In%20early%201995%2C%20Mars%20ran,replaced%20tan%20in%20late%201995.

https://www.popsci.com/scitech/article/2009-07/good-news-animal-lovers-and-folks-spinal-injuries/

Walking Through the COVID Pandemic

24 Dec

Walking as saved my sanity through the past nine ten months.  

I walked the Gezer Park trails with my real estate agent/friend.

I have been walking several times a week for over 20 years. When it has been nice, I walked outside with one of two friends.  When it was cold, my main walking buddy and I walked inside at our gym.   She and I have been walking for the past 20 years.

When the virus shut everything down, walking became my lifeline.  We were told going outside to walk was important.  And we were told as long as we stayed six feet apart, outside was okay.  With that advice, my walking dates increased.  Instead of walking three or four days a week, I upped it to six or seven days a week sharing these walks with two different friends. 

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday with my neighbor: Wednesday, Friday and Sunday with my walking buddy and when in town, another friend would join us.   On these outside walks, we visited and talked.  We shared our feelings about what was going on in the world. We discussed our families and what we were going through.  We spoke about how important it was having each other to walk with during this time.

Occasionally I walked with other friends. My real estate agent/ friend and I walked Gezer Park once and around my new neighborhood another time. I loved walking at Gezer Park because my daughter and son in law got married there! A close friend and I eat outside on some Thursdays and then go for a walk when we can. There are other friends who have graced me with a walk as well! Thank you to all my walking buddies! Being with you outside has been wonderful!

My husband and I often take walks on the weekends. These are additions to my walks with my friends.

My main walking buddy and I have done charity 5 Ks together.  How would we do it this year. Well we figured it out and we did. We signed up for the “Run For Ruth We Dissent” virtual walk. We donated to one of the charities listed and then walked together the 3.2 miles needed.  Our other buddy could not sign up because the registration closed, but she walked with us.

The start of our walk in my old neighborhood.

Since I moved during the pandemic, my old neighbor and I have been alternating walking sites. One day in my old neighborhood trails, the next time at the new house. We realized that the tail system by my old house hooked up with the trails by my new house in a three-mile trek. We walked it! My husband dropped me off at her house, and we walked back to my house. Then I drove her home.

On our 3-mile walk through the Tomahawk Trails.

I used to make 10,000 steps about three or four days a week.  Now I have hit that goal almost every day.  I just ended a 56-day string of 10,000 or step days.  I finally took a day off hitting just 6700 steps.  I am back at six consecutive days of walking over 10,000 steps.  Before COVID, I averaged walking 22 – 26 miles per week. When I went over 26, I was ecstatic.  Now I average 29 – 38 miles per week!  A major increase.

Walking has become the silver lining of my pandemic experience. 

Now the weather is getting colder.  We have had several very warm days, even taking advantage of one and going to our local arboretum. Walking in the afternoons has taken over our morning walks. Too cold at 8 am, so we walk at 2 pm.  But some days we just cannot walk outside.  Because of the risks of indoor exercise at our gym, we have decided not to walk there.

Monet Gardens, Overland Park Arboretum

In the pre-pandemic days, I would have just taken these days off.  But now, I get on my treadmill and walk the 2 to 2.5 miles I would have walked with my friends. Some days, I walk slowly, 3.5 miles per hour while I watch my favorite HGTV shows.  Other days, I hustle and try to up my speed and incline to get my cardiac workout. 

Instead of seeing walking as a chore and thinking I could be using my time more wisely.  I now know that walking is what has saved my sanity, my health and my feelings of isolation, as I have walked by way through the pandemic.

Kindness Will Heal the World

21 Dec

In April, after I had moved into my new home, I needed something to do other than unpack and feel panicked about the pandemic. I decided to take online classes, I chose the website Coursera. I started with the most popular course of all, Dr. Laurie Santos’ the “Pyschology of Wellbeing.” Dr. Santos teaches at Harvard University.

It was fantastic.  Her theories and work in positive psychology just touched my soul.  Because of the class, I started keeping in a nightly journal where I recorded each night one thing I savored, one good deed I did and three things that I was grateful for that day.  Her class focusing on learning to appreciate what we have and the importance of friends, family and memories only emphasized something I already knew and what she taught:  travel and seeing the world, making good memories,  was much more important than buying things.

But the most important point was the emphasis of kindness.  I always believed in doing a good deed every day, but according to the class the research has shown, that people who do good things for other people feel much better than those who do not. And they feel better for a longer time than just getting a good job and a pay raise.  Doing good, being kind, is the most important for happiness.

I started listening to her podcast, the Happiness Lab.  I also joined the Facebook page devoted to Dr. Santos’ lessons, The Happiness Lab Classroom.  In this time of stress and uncertainty and physical distancing, it helps to focus on the good.

I followed up that class with one called “Resilience Skills in a Time of Uncertainty.”  This course also focused on the theories of positive psychology. The instructor this time was Dr. Karen Reivich, who is the Director of Resilience Training at University of Pennsylvania.   Her lessons built on what I learned in Dr. Santos’ course.  Some of it was rehashing the same information.  But it reinforced and emphasized how to help yourself feel better.  For me,  what I learned, is that you do that by doing good.

After taking this class, I changed my journal entries.  I now write five things I am grateful for each evening.   What has this done for me?  Instead of going to bed worried about the world, the pandemic, the election, the craziness going on, I think about what I am thankful for and the good that I see.  It really makes all the difference.

What else has it done for me?  I was always a charitable person, but my husband and I have upped our donations especially to food pantries and organizations that do direct aid.  I have written letters to and called people who I think need a boost.   I have tried to let my friends know how much I appreciate them. I am focusing on doing at least two good deeds of kindness each day.  Kindness with conviction.  I would rather focus on that then being upset or annoyed.

I am also trying to watch more uplifting programs.  Forget all the gloom and doom movies and documentaries.   This led me to watch the most magnificent documentary about doing good I have ever seen.   I suggest everyone watch The Antidote.  I cried tears of joy throughout the movie as it tells the stories of nine people and organizations that help others in the most sensible and good ways. 

Every one of these programs should be followed throughout the country.  There were three that truly touched my heart. At Bridge Meadows in Portland, Oregon, foster care children and their ‘adoptive’ families live in a community with seniors.  Watching them interact brought joy and tears to my heart and eyes.

In Sullivan County, New York, the Center for Discovery, was amazing.  Since I spent every summer for over 25 years in Sullivan County, I was stunned to find out about this wonderful educational program and home for children and adults with complex disabilities.  And wonder of wonder, a friend of mine’s uncle spent most of his life here.  I am so impressed.

A nurse and doctor in Boston treat the homeless.  The doctor goes out into the streets to find people and care for them.  The nurse encourages into her clinic, where they soak the feet of the homeless who learn to trust them to get the care they need.  Wow.  Just watch.

The other six programs were wonderful as well.  Watch this movie.  Currently it is on Amazon Prime. If you want to bring some joy into your life and learn about more ways to help others.  Watch it.

Kindness is what will heal our world. Listening to others.  Being a friend. Appreciating what we can and helping others, in my mind, can make such a difference to the divide that is now hurting our country.  

Every human being deserves to live a life to the fullest of their abilities.  This documentary shows us how.

A Pay Phone, Then a Party Line: Using the Phone in The Catskills

17 Dec

Recently I wrote a blog about doing the laundry in the Catskills. (See blog below.) Several of my friends who spent their summers with me in Kauneonga Lake, and my brother, felt I left out one important aspect of the laundry shed: the pay telephone.

In our small colony, owned by my maternal grandparents, the pay phone was also located in the laundry shed. The only way of communication for almost all the residents of the colony to the outside world.  If they needed to call their husbands, doctors, restaurants, anything, this was the only place to make a call or to get a call. Our colony was small, so when someone did get a call, the person standing closest to the phone would answer it and send a child to go get the call recipient!  Of course all the children loved to answer the phone. At larger colonies there was an loudspeaker system to call people to the phones. (See blog below.)

I think, but since I was a child, I am not sure, that the Moms had set times and days when they spoke to their husbands during the week. 

The phone my friend has from the bungalow colony.

The telephone has long disappeared.  However, when reading my blog, one of my friends told me that she had the phone, and sent a picture.  I do not know how she got the wall phone she had.  But though I thought the number was correct, the phone was wrong.  There was no place for the money.  And our pay phone definitely was a commercial one with coin slots.

Now I did say that the pay phone was the only way to communicate. But that is not totally true. My grandparents had their own separate line because they owned the colony and would need to call local people like the plumber or electrician. So if my Dad wanted to call my Mom, they had this private line to speak. Also if there was a true emergency, my grandparents would call for help.  You did not need to use the pay phone.  Hmmmmm. I wonder if the phone my friend has is the one from my grandparent’s bungalow?  Could be.

In 1963 our phone life and summer life changed. My grandparents purchased a winter/all year house about 1/3 mile up Lake Shore Road from the bungalows.  Behind the house was a bungalow that became our summer home.  This was both fun and sad.  We had a bigger bungalow, we had our grandparents, and my parents had some peace and quiet, but we were no longer at the colony at night for fun activities or on rainy days with the other children.  However, there was an apartment at the house, where one of my friends stayed.  (See blog below.). But we were no longer part of the rhythm of the colony on a daily basis. 

Communications changed as well.  People started getting phone lines. They were not completely private. People would get Party Lines.  That is what we had at the bungalow up the hill. My grandparents and my parents shared a party line.  We were so excited to have our own phone.  But it had its now side as well.

The phone lines had slightly different rings, so you knew when you were being called. And we had a special way to call down to my grandparents so they knew we wanted to speak to them.  If you picked up the line when the other people were using it, you would hear them speaking.  In fact, if you were quiet then you could listen to the entire conversation.

That was a bit crazy, cause my grandmother sometimes would listen in!!! My MOM would get furious.  And they would have a big argument!

Here is my brother’s memory:

“Yes. She (Grandma)never said anything just listened. She was really good at it,
and I think many times we did not even know she was listening. Mom
would know when Grandma knew things that she had not been told! It was
one of the things that I remember Mom arguing with Grandma about!”

Since my grandparents lived in the Catskills throughout the year after 1969 when my Grandfather retired, their phone line would be on all year long, while our phone line would be turned off after Labor Day.

But eventually, everyone got their own private phone lines.  It was amazing.  I could call my aunt at the bungalows and find out what was going on with my cousins.  Were they going to the movies? What were the plans for the rainy day or the evening? That was what we were missing when we first moved to the bungalow by the house.  

When we were teenagers, those phones were even more important for when we made plans with our friends and cousins.

The days of the payphone and party lines ended in our colony, but the memory of the times when two people needed to make a call.  Or watching when a teenager was on the phone trying to find a private spot….there was an extremely long cord. Or wondering if my Grandma was listening on the line….I have to admit, every once in a while I listened in on my Grandma’s call. Mainly because I needed to make a call and she was already on the line.

https://zicharonot.com/2020/12/12/the-summer-the-laundry-never-dried/

https://zicharonot.com/2014/09/17/sometimes-rainy-days-were-the-best-days-in-the-catskills/

https://zicharonot.com/2014/12/30/loudspeakers-often-interrupted-life-and-the-quiet-of-the-catskills/

The Summer the Laundry Never Dried

12 Dec

The rain started slowly this time.  Giving my Mom enough time to call for us.  But she really did not have to, all the children in our little colony were running to the same place: the clothes lines.  It had rained for weeks.  Finally, there had been a break in the weather. For days, everyone lined up at the two washing machines to get their clothes and linens done. People were running out of clothes to wear.  Everything was a muddy mess.  No one could afford for the newly cleaned clothes to get wet.

We all hustled and ran for the clothes.  Each group of children around their Moms pulling the clothes off.  The littlest ones were grabbing the clothespins and putting them into the cloth bags.  We were successful.  None of our clothes got really wet.  While Mom went back to our bungalow to hang our clothes up on the porch, I remember helping my Grandma take off some of her clothes off the lines.

At least we did not have to go to a laundromat to clean our clothes! This was important as most of the moms up for the summer did not have car with them in the 1960s.  Having to go to the laundromat was a major ordeal especially with all the little children. I guess sometimes someone did go. There was always one husband/father up there for the week who could run this errand as needed.

For us there was a little shed that held two washing machines.  Our moms would put their laundry basket in a line so everyone knew who went next.  They left their laundry soap and change in the basket as well. The person before them would empty out their laundry from the machine and put the next wash in.  I think it cost 50 cents to do a laundry.  Then they would tell the next person that their wash was up, so they knew when to go get it and start the next load.  How they knew, I don’t know.  Perhaps everyone had different colored baskets or different laundry soap, but they knew.  It is a mystery to me.

Laundry days were usually Wednesday and Thursday. Everyone wanted the laundry done before the weekend when the Dads would be up. But during this time of endless rain, occasionally the Dads would have to take the laundry to the laundry mat. I got to go with my Dad once. It was quite the adventure. Long lines, as everyone needed clean and dry clothes. I remember where the laundromat was, just outside of Kauneonga Lake on the road to White Lake and to ice cream, Candy Cone. Of course, I remember, because once our washes were in the machines, Dad and I went for ice cream while we waiting to go put them into the dryer. Then we stayed close to the laundromat, to get our clothes as soon as they were done.

So many laundry memories came rushing back to me due to a painting. A distant cousin of mine, {her grandmother and my maternal grandmother were first cousins. (See blog below.)} did a series of paintings that she then gave to people who made a donation to her chosen charity, an animal shelter. One painting touched my heart. I made my donation.

In my mind this painting was like a calm and practical Chagall painting, but instead of animals or couples flying above a town, it was a zaftig woman walking across the laundry lines with a laundry basket on her head. The colors, the story of the painting, the atmosphere just yelled Catskills in my mind. Laundry Day! Joy! I had to have it.

When it arrived, the memories started crowding into my mind of the year when the laundry never dried.  How when the sun finally came out and stayed out, all the Moms and grandmas were so filled with joy that they could get their clothes clean. How they rushed to do laundry.  I think they agreed that everyone could do one laundry and then go through again.  Everyone had to get at least some laundry done before it rained again.

 I think they felt like the woman in the painting, just tripping above the clotheslines in happiness.  Finally, finally we all had clean and dry clothes!

Of course, I had to hang the painting in my laundry room. Every time I look at it, I remember how lucky I am to have a washer and dryer of my own. That I do not need to hang my clothes outside to dry depending on the weather. That the joy of laundry should be with me all the time!

https://zicharonot.com/2015/06/13/finding-katie/

https://zicharonot.com/2014/10/07/oh-how-i-dream-about-ice-cream-in-the-catskills-in-the-summer/

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