I Wish We Could Be Using Solar Panels

21 Jan

Twenty years ago my husband became obsessed with climate change and over population.  He was concerned that the world would not be able to survive as water resources would be depleted and the world suffered through the impact caused by the changing climate.  He started talking about the need to use the sun for energy and stop the use of fossil fuels.  His focus was on solar panels and electric cars.

For his midlife crisis, he acted! Fifteen years ago, we ordered solar panels for our home.  We became the first home in Johnson County, Kansas, to retrofit a private home to solar energy.  It was quite an experience.  We found a company to assess our home for the panels.  A friend of ours worked at Black and Veatch, an engineering firm.  She took the proposal to work, where several engineers reviewed it and made some suggestions.   In the end we decided to put up ten solar panels, as well as add eight back up batteries.

It took a while to get everything ready.  Permits were needed.  The panels and batteries had to be ordered. The roof needed to be reinforced.  The city inspector was at our home several times, climbing into the attic and checking the wiring through the house.  She was quite excited to be part of this retrofit. Eventually the new rafters in the roof were approved; the electrical wiring was approved; the panels were put on the roof; and after months of anticipation the solar panels came online!  It was exciting.  Our neighbors came out to see the panels as well.

Solar panels on our home November 2006!

We had some issues at first with the electric company, KCP&L.  Even though there had been some contact with them about the solar panels, it had not gone to the right people.  We kept having KCP&L service people come out to check our meter, as it was going backwards.  We were accused of turning it upside down!   Who does that?  People who do not want to pay, we were told.  I kept showing them the solar panels and trying to figure out who we needed to talk to at KCP&L.  Finally, a woman repair person arrived to once again accuse us of moving our meter.  I took her to the back yard where she could see the solar panels on the roof. She had the aha moment and understood the issue.  She promised to look into it.

Meanwhile, we wrote to our state senator, John Vratil, who was a great help.  Through him, we got in touch with Dave Wagner at KCP&L.  From there on the process got easier.  Finally in August 2007, resolution of the issue occurred. First KCP&L installed two different meters on our house.  One for incoming electricity and one for outgoing.  On the day these two meters were put in, we had about 11 KCP&L staff coming out to help and watch the installation.   They also put a special shut off level on the house and a commercial surge protector.  It was really exciting for my husband and I, and for KCP&L. 

Dave Wagner was one of the people who came out for the event, as well as a young woman from their media department.  She took lots of photos, as did I, to document the occasion. My husband took several of the KCP&L personnel into our basement so that they could see the backup batteries!   We explained that not only were our electric bills cheaper due to the solar energy, but also due to the panels capturing the ambient heat and keeping the house cooler.

We were actually highlighted in KCPL’s newsletter and were on the news…rather our house was in the newsletter and on the news.  Eventually KCPL developed one meter that could track both in and out electricity, known as net metering.

For 14 years we lived happily in our house.  When the power went out, we had electricity for eight important elements, including the refrigerator, the furnace fan, and lights in several rooms. During the spring, summer and fall, we saved at least $100 a month in electric bills.  And during the brutally hot months of summer, even more!

Two years ago, we decided to downsize from our home of 35 years and move into smaller reverse two story villa.  The one thing we did not count on was the HOA refusing to allow us to have solar panels, even with a rolling black out in the winter of 2021.   There was a HOA meeting where the topic came up.  Among the negative comments included that solar panels were ugly. Not so.  They also did not know anything about the new technology.  Supposedly there was to be a committee formed to discuss solar panels. Not…. The former president of our HOA, who has moved away, told us the only way we would get solar panels was to have the city or the county or the state removed that restriction from HOAs. 

When we first moved to Johnson County in 1985, many HOAs demanded that all homes had to have wood roofs! What a joke. Each Fourth of July, and whenever there was a thunderstorm, some homes had roof fires.  Around 1999 this clause eliminated from many homes associations due to Overland Park passing Ordinance No. BC-2167 which prohibited the enforcement on covenants which prevented homeowners from putting on composite shingle roofs!  The community, and I believe the insurance companies, help make this change.  Now very few homes still have wood roofs!

Johnson County’s ban on smoking in businesses and most public places were enacted on January 2, 2008. My husband, a pediatric allergist, was one of the people who testified at a commissioners’ meeting asking to enforce a ban on smoking.  In March 2010, then Kansas Governor Mark Parkinson signed a law forbidding smoking in Kansas restaurants.

When the community came together, action occurred once again. We now can eat smoke free in any restaurant!

If citizens could make a change with these two issues: public smoking and wood shingle roofs, I am hoping that we can do it again.  I encourage everyone who lives in Johnson County to write to the Johnson County Commissioners as well as their Kansas State Representatives and Senators to work for change. 

Johnson County Commissioners are:

First District: Becky Fast. Jocogov.org/beckyfast

Second District: Jeff Meyers. Jeff.meyers@jocogov.org

Third District: Charlotte O’Hara. Charlotte.ohara@jocogov.org

Fourth District: Janee Hanzlick. Janee.hanzlick@jocogov.org

Fifth District: Michael Ashcraft. Michael.ashcraft@jocogov.org

Sixth District: Shirley Allenbrand. Shirley.allenbrand@jocogov.org

Together, perhaps we can make solar power and renewable energy an option throughout Johnson County, Kansas.

Mysteries, Mysteries, Mysteries: The Continuing Saga of My Grandfather’s Family

17 Jan

It has been a crazy investigation that started when I found a birth notice for a daughter named Rossie Rosenberg for my great grandparents.  I could not find any other information about her.  Just that one document.  So, I posted on my favorite Facebook group for help.  Once again, another Tracing the Tribe member came through…in a GIGANTIC way. 

First of all, a MAJOR thank you to Sherrie V. who connected the dots and solved the mystery of Rossie Rosenberg.  She was born on May 3, 1904.  But her name did not show up in other records.  However, another child, Minnie/Marion/Muriel does appear.  She was born on May 5, 1904.   Close enough.  I have to assume they could not think of a name when their last of eight living children was born, so just called her Rossie.  Once she got home, a final name, Minnie, was selected.  The mystery of Rossie/Minnie is now solved.

I do know that Muriel got married in 1934 to a man named Harry Moskowitz and they had four children.  But what makes it very evident that this is the right Muriel Rosenberg Moskowitz, is that she named her first son Stanley RITT Moskowitz (He has passed away so I mention his name.).  Ritt was my great-grandmother, and Muriel’s mother’s maiden name, which really helped in following the trail.

But Sherri did not stop with Muriel. Something caught her eye about my grandfather’s oldest brother, Samuel.

First some back story.  My grandfather’s oldest brother disappeared.  I could not find him anywhere except on census documents up until 1915.  However, now I know that I did find him, I just did not realize what I was finding.

My grandfather never mentioned his family.  When I spoke to my grandmother about her family, she filled me in a bit about his family, but she was not very forthcoming.  She told me that they were all crazy.  Her information was basic and not totally correct.  In her rendition, he was the oldest of six children.  He supported them because his father ran off and abandoned the family.  He helped put his younger brother through law school, he helped his sisters go to school.  And then they left him.  (See blogs below for information on them.)

Her most important message to my sister and me, was “Be careful who you marry.  Check out the family.  You have to be sure that they are not crazy.  Look what happened to me.”  My sister remembers this being told to us over a long weekend when my grandmother stayed with us.   But that is not the only time she told this story.  She repeated over and over again to me when I was dating my husband and finally engaged. 

My grandfather, just so you understand, was not the oldest of six children.  He was really the third of eight children who survived childhood.  My great-grandmother Sarah, had 12 births and 8 living children.  I found Grandpa’s older sister, Celia, who died at age 24.  (See blog below.)

But I never could find Samuel…till now.

Sherri sent me New York and Federal census lists starting in 1900 through 1925. Many of them I had seen before and had acknowledged as my family. Others I had looked at and thought no, it can’t be them. But with Sherri, I could see how my great grandfather could be listed as Aaron and not Abraham, especially when all the other names and dates matched up. But she had a bit of knowledge that I did not know about the Kings Park State Hospital. A place which I never heard of before, but I have learned much more. Now my grandmother’s rants and stories all make sense.

In the 1915 New York census, it showed Samuel living at home, but listed his occupation as a farmer.  Before that, in 1910 he was the foreman at a tailor shop. When I saw this, I thought, hmmm this is why he disappeared. He left the tailor business and tried his hand at farming. Perhaps he farmed in New Jersey or Long Island and came home to sleep at night.  Okay, I was naïve.  But I honestly could not understand why he was a farmer.

Sherri posted the following note: Is there any anecdote about one of the ‘kids’ being hospitalized? The occupation of “farmer” in the 1915 census makes me wonder whether Samuel was institutionalized at the Kings Park State Hospital which used farming as therapy for mental illness. There is a WW1draft registration and census records there through 1940 for a patient named Samuel Rosenberg, b. 1888. It appears he died in 1944 but I don’t see a burial online.”

Wow! That put a shock through my system. I had seen the WW1 draft form, which I found when I found my grandfather’s and other great uncle’s registration. But I assumed it was not him. And since my grandparents never spoke about him, and I think my Dad never knew about him either. But then my brain started working and connecting and thinking: Grandma! She probably knew all about the crazy brother, hence her tirade on checking out families before you got married. If he died in 1944, I wonder if my grandfather was contacted. Since his mother had died in the 1930s. Perhaps that is when grandma found out about the crazy brother who she knew nothing about.

I had found the military registration for a Samuel Rosenberg in Kings Park, but I just blew it off. I had no idea that a farmer could mean a patient/inmate in the hospital. But now I had to know more. And Wikipedia had the information. Kings Park Psychiatric Center opened in 1885. It was unique in its efforts to actually help people. The idea was to be a farm community where patients worked or helped on the farm as part of their treatments. My great uncle being listed as a farmer was the information Sherri needed to understand what happened. Why was he still listed on their census form? I am not sure. But perhaps because they did not want to say he was mentally ill.

In 1895 the hospital was over-crowded and the state of New York took it over, renaming it Kings Park State Hospital. The residential area around the hospital was also called Kings Park.  The hospital became self-sufficient and grew its own food.  It finally closed 100 years later in 1996.

Over the years there are a few records of Samuel.  And I will say it is a bit difficult to see the words inmate after his name, as well as the words insanity!  What would he be today, bi-polar, psychotic, schizophrenia?  I have no idea, but I cannot help but wonder!

It also made me think about my great grandparents getting divorced by the 1920 census. In those days people did not divorce that easily.  It was considered a Shanda, a shameful event.  But Sarah is divorced and head of the household in 1920.  Celia is dead by the time of the census and Samuel is no longer listed as part of the family, while the six other children are living with her. Abraham is gone.

I think about being a parent.  With one child, who is  in hospital for mental illness by 1915, the age of 27, and another child that dies in February of 1920 at the age of 24, perhaps the stress was just too much.  Or perhaps one of them was also a bit crazy! We will never know why they divorced.

In any case, I am not quite done with my research.  I am trying to get a copy of Samuel’s death certificate, information on his burial and finally perhaps his records from the hospital.  Actually, when I say I am trying, I am hoping my sister takes care of the paper work for the family.  She has a talent for details!

I will admit, while it is nice finally knowing what happened in my grandfather’s brother, I would liked to have found out that he had a family and did something special. Finding him as the inmate in a mental health institution is just sad.

I am left with just one mystery. I just need to find out what happened to my great grandfather!  Where did Abraham go!

(I want to thank Evan W. for all his help in the past in originally finding some of the documentation.)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kings_Park_Psychiatric_Center

https://www.cdc.gov/flu/pandemic-resources/1918-commemoration/1918-pandemic-history.htm

Relating To The Kuchisabishii Feeling

7 Jan

Why are Japanese words so relatable?

My newest Japanese word describes me so well:  Kuchisabishii is the Japanese word for eating when not hungry.   It means “Lonely mouth” or eating just to fill your mouth because you are stressed or bored.  I absolutely relate to this feeling.

During the last two pandemic years, much of what I have put into my mouth falls under these categories.  But honestly, not as often as I once would have because since January 2017, I have been an active member of Weight Watchers (WW).  In fact, during the first four months of Covid, I kept very strictly to my program allowing me to reach my goal weight in June 2020 becoming a life member.  I lost 48 pounds in all.

I kept it all off for until January 6, 2021.  There were several reasons why I started to gain weight.  The first was political.  Watching the attack on the Capitol truly stressed me out.  For a week I was in full kuchisabishii mode.  I wanted to eat even though I was not hungry. I just needed to fill my lonely mouth mainly with chocolate and salty snack foods. Food released something in my mind that helped me cope! The feeling of chewing and the wonderful textures delighted my tastebuds.

But it wasn’t only political stress that got me eating.  Up until Januay 2021 I was participating in virtual WW workshops with local leaders which included a few of the people who had been at my meetings before Covid. After January, the last of my local workshops with leaders I knew, was cancelled. The meetings were now either national or at times that did not fit my schedule. 

Finally, there was COVID.  After a while the stress and the worry of avoiding the pandemic got to me.  Even with my vaccines and my booster, I felt uneasy.  Perhaps because so many people still did not want to be vaccinated or wear masks.  I began to see others as the enemy, which is so against my normal attitude. This all made me want to eat…for no reason.

With no workshops to give me the moral support I needed and the stresses of the world, I reverted to some hard core Kuchisabishii.  I was not hungry, but my mouth was lonely for food. I just wanted to chew on something!

To be honest, I gained almost 12 pounds this year.  The good news, is that my original loss was almost 50 pounds, so I am still over 35 pounds lighter than I was when I started my healthy eating program.  I might have eaten more than the portion called for, but I did not revert back to my extremely bad eating habits.  I did not take a bag of peanut butter M&Ms in my lap and just eat.  Instead I took ten or 12 M&Ms and slowly ate them. 

A year has passed since the world upset my equilibrium. Although the world is still not where I want it to be, I am now going in-person to WW meetings.  After a year of not following sensible eating and relying on kuchisabishii to get me through these uneasy times, I decided I had enough.  I plan to bulk up on my vegetables, stick to eating the Zero point foods and do something else when I feel stressed!

I still love the word, kuchisabishii, but I am not going to let unintended eating define my life.

https://nihongomaster.com/japanese/dictionary/word/65067/kuchisabishii

Oy Vey Rosie Rosenberg!

30 Dec

Somewhere out there is more information about my Grandfather’s supposed sister, Rose/Rosie/Rossie, who was born on May 3, 1904, and died before the 1910 US census. 

First, I have to start by saying, I have known for a while that though we were told my grandfather was the oldest of six siblings, I know that he was actually the third oldest of 8 siblings who lived to adulthood.

I also know that his mother gave birth to 12 children.  For three I have no records, so I assume they were still births.  However, for one, I have a name and a date of birth.  Rose/Rosie.  That name touches my heart.  My father’s nickname when he served in Korea was Rosie.  To this day when I visit a memorial stone I put in the local Korean War Memorial, I always bring a rose.

But he never knew he had aunts who died tragically young: one named Celia, who lived to 24, (see blog below) and Rosie, who probably only lived for a couple of years or less.

But I cannot find Rosie except for this one document which includes her birthdate and her parent’s names.  I know it is correct, because it has Sarah Ritt/Rith for the mother’s maiden name. Also the family did live in Brooklyn in Kings County. I am not sure about the street. I know at one point they lived on a Sackman Street. But that was later. And I have found that this family seemed to move a bit.

Also I know Rosie was born before the youngest daughter Minnie/Muriel.  I remember seeing her name in a list of the family members at some point after 2017.  At that time, I wrote a blog about searching for my grandfather’s family.  Someone sent me an email or a private message with information about all the children from research he/she had done.   At the time I did not believe it was correct because I was still under the assumption that grandpa was the oldest of six, not the third of eight, or even nine.  But somewhere along the way I have lost that document.  And now I need it.

That teaches you to have absolutely NO assumptions about your family’s history and to never disregard a document.

I have found several Rosie or Rose Rosenbergs who died between 1905 and 1909. I am not sure if any of them is my family’s Rosie. Since her sister, Celia, was buried in 1920 at Montefiore Cemetery in the Queens, I was hoping to find Rosie there as well. But the only Rose Rosenberg buried in Montefiore, Springfield Gardens, had no date of birth or death. Could it be her? The memorial ID number is 148979659. But there is no other information or photo.

I am hoping someone who researches better than I can find out more about Rosie! I used Ancestry and Family Search as the two sources for the information I do have. Thank you!

Captivating Sanibel and Captiva Islands

28 Dec

Sometimes you just have to go to a destination wedding.  Especially after two years of Covid cancelling weddings.  Knowing that this wedding of a good friend’s son would be mainly held outside, gave us the impetus to throw caution a bit aside to go and celebrate a happy occasion.

What a great spot to get married!

I will not write about the wedding and festivities, except to say It was wonderful and we were so happy to be there to celebrate!

But we also enjoyed the wonderful weather and beauty of Sanibel and Captiva Islands and the South Seas Resort. We had a wonderful room with a view of both the entrance to the marina and to the ocean.  Every morning I woke up happy to look out my window.  We loved walking the grounds and relaxing.

For me the best part was going to visit the manatees that took over a slip in the marina.  I visited the marina twice a day to just watch them float.  I was not the only one who found it relaxing and peaceful and magical. 

Standing outside on my balcony,  I often saw a dolphin swimming by.  I tried to get photos, but never actually got him jumping out of the water.  My mind still sees it.  The glorious sunrise outside our room was enchanting.  This is a vacation spot that I would love to revisit.  And to have the same room!

We did not spend all of our time at the resort.  I love exploring and museums!  There was one museum I just had to see, The Bailey-Mathews National Shell Museum on Sanibel Island, which opened in 1995. The Great Hall of Shells is really a great hall filled with shells of all types.  The artwork made from shells surprised me.  Seeing live mollusks walk in their shells was also exciting for me.  I have seen shells, but I have never seen one moving in real life!

I learned why Sanibel and Captiva Islands are known for the shells that come ashore. The islands are in an arc shape that catches the waves and so the shells bringing them on to the shore.  I finally woke up early enough to go shell hunting one morning before the crowds.  Most of the shells were quite small, but then, just as we were ready to go, the waves brought me a lovely treasure.  And yes, just as I learned at the museum, I made sure it was a dead shell with nothing inside.

My husband and I enjoyed our time there, learning about shells; talking to the volunteers; and even touching a live mollusk.

My favorite sign.

My other excitement going to the Museum is that I finally got a photograph of my all time favorite road sign.  We had noticed it when we first drove to the resort.  But I did not have my phone ready to take a photo.  We passed a similar sign heading out to the museum as well.  On the way back from the museum I was ready! I had my phone out and started taking pictures before I actually saw the sign.  It worked.  I captured the sign that warned us about “Low flying Owls.”  To be honest, we never saw any low flying owls, but the sign was worth it.  It gave me a Harry Potter magical feeling and added to the enchantment of the islands.  Just whose owls are flying so low and what messages are they bringing.

Although we did eat several meals at the resort, which were delicious, we also ventured off site to try some local restaurants.  The Bubble Room, with its bakery/ice cream parlor and its gift shop, was a wonderful venue with both good food and fun places to explore.  I felt like I was inside a kaleidoscope. The gift shop was great fun as well with its vintage antiques and gifts.  I had to buy a t-shirt!  If you go, save room for desserts. The cakes are delicious.

Other favorite restaurants, included the Mucky Duck where we ate outside by the beach and  the Cantina Captiva with its dollar bills adorning the walls and ceiling (yes we added one!). The food at both of these was good, not special, but the atmosphere made them enjoyable.

I would not mind spending a week or more on Captiva Island.  The four nights there just gave us a taste of the island life.  I have a good feeling that we will be back on these captivating islands.

www.southseas.com

https://www.shellmuseum.org/

https://www.bubbleroomrestaurant.com/home

New Orleans Spirit

21 Dec

I was not going to write about our trip to New Orleans because I have been there several times.  But then I realized I had never written about the city, and it is one of my favorites!

I will touch only on the places I saw this time, with a little of the history of why I love it.

Jazz on the street.

New Orleans is like no other city in the USA, with its Creole and French roots, its diverse populations and its jazz.  I love walking down the streets in the French Quarter and hearing the music and watching the bands play on street corners. 

We cannot go to New Orleans and not have beignets.  Each time we go to our favorite shop and get an order of three to share.  I eat one, my husband has two.  Personally, we like Café Beignet.  I know that many enjoy a different spot. But this one right off the square and next to the police station is the best for me!

Our favorite beignet shop.

I also go to the same restaurant on the corner of the plaza by St. Louis Cathedral. The windows all open and you feel like you are sitting outside while inside. And yes we went there this trip as well.  I was especially happy that in New Orleans you had to show your Covid vaccine record to enter a restaurant.  It made me feel a bit safer.

I did visit the Audubon Aquarium of The Americas. The last time I went there was 20 years ago, before Hurricane Katrina destroyed the aquarium and released many of the sea life.  It is definitely different then what I remember, plus there is construction nearby, and renovation inside, but I enjoyed my hour or so walking around by myself. My favorite spots were the Amazon Rain Forest set up in a giant greenhouse structure, and the sea horses.  But the Great Maya Reef area was also fun.   For me aquariums are great activities for both the young and young at heart.

My second stop was more educational than fun.  I went to the Museum of Southern Jewish Experience, where I learned much about southern Jewish population and Civil Rights activism.  The museum did a good job in showing how Jewish men moved into the south as peddlers and then as store owners.  Their activities against racism were important to the Civil Rights movement.  Although I knew that they had played a part in changing how people were treated, I was not aware of the extensive work of the Jewish population of the south to help.  Another good spot to go!

During past trips to New Orleans, I visited the National World War II Museum/National D-Day Museum.  It is a wonderful spot that really takes hours to visit completely.   Wear good walking shoes and schedule yourself properly. Learning about D-Day and the boats that helped in the Invasion of Normandy was the information that still sticks in my mind. The Higgins Boats, which were used in the invasion, were designed by a New Orleans manufacturer Andrew Jackson Higgins.  The Higgins boats played an important role in the invasion, a fact that has stayed in my mind for years.

I love New Orleans because there are so many museums and historical sites to explore and so many wonderful restaurants to experience the tastes of the city.  The history of Mardi Gras and the diverse communities of New Orleans makes is interesting and delightful!

After the hurricane and Covid issues, it is a city that needs support and love.  At one event I attended, the waitress told me how happy they all were that our convention was held, because it gave them hope and an income which helps keeps their spirits up.  With the rise in the new Covid variant, I know that people are nervous about traveling.  I understand.  I will say that New Orleans is doing its best to keep people safe.  I wish all cities were doing the same. In the meantime, I salute the New Orleans Spirit.

https://audubonnatureinstitute.org/aquarium

https://www.nationalww2museum.org/

A Cathedral, A Basilica, A Black Jesus, and Slowly Sinking Buildings

6 Dec

What is a trip to Latin America without going to churches?  You just cannot do it.

In Mexico City there were two church sites we had to visit.  The first was Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral of the Assumption of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary Into Heaven.  They just call it the Metropolitan Cathedral.  I understand why.

Cristo Negro/The Black Jesus

There were several facts about this Cathedral that make it special.  The first deals with the tradition of Black Jesus/Cristos Negros of the area.  There are several countries that have wooden Jesus sculptures on a cross that have darkened and turned black over the ages.  The one in Mexico City has a story.   Supposedly the bishop always prayed at the crucifix as he entered the cathedral.  There were those who wished him to die.  So they put poison on the feet of the wooden Jesus, knowing that the bishop would kiss the feet when he was done praying.

The bishop did as he always does, and kissed the feet, but he did not die.  Instead, the Jesus sculpture turned black. 

To be honest this is not my first Cristo Negro, or Black Christ/Jesus.  I have been to Portobelo, Panama, and saw the one in the Inglesia de San Felipe. It is special because it was found in the town’s harbor and it wears a robe!   I have also seen the black Madonna in Montserrat, also known as Our Lady of Montserrat. Many go on pilgrimages to see these statues.  For me they have been a happy surprise. (See blogs below.)

This is not the only special site within the cathedral.  There is also magnificent altar and intricately carved wooden sculpture behind it.  Outside, in front of the cathedral, there is a statue of Pope John Paul with an image of the Lady of Guadalupe carved into his robes.  This foreshadows the second religious site we visited.

Statute of the Pope.

But the most obvious and unusual aspect of the building is that it is sinking.  Completed in the mid 1600s, the cathedral was built on land that was once the bottom of a giant lake.  It was also built in the area where the Aztec’s had their temples. In fact, the stones used in the construction of the church were parts of the dismantled Aztec temple.  The cathedral was built upon the ruins.  One way of saying to the Aztec, we beat you.  But not so great centuries later.  

Around the cathedral you can see the excavations of the Aztec sites. A model of what the plaza area looked like when the Spanish first came is near the excavations.

Part of the excavation of the Aztec ruins.

 Within the church, you can see how they have worked to stabilize it.  Marble stone stairs, now sit on a bed of concrete stairs.  A pendulum hangs from the high ceiling and shows if the building is still standing straight or sinking again.  By the lines on the floor, one can see how tilted it once was, and how close to straight it stands now.

Our second religious site was the Basilica of the Lady of Guadalupe.   This site is also sinking, and many of the buildings, the older basilica, the first church and the convent, were also tilting.  They have been stabilized. But you can see that much work still needs to be done.  The newer, larger, round Basilica built in the 1970s seems fine for now.

The Basilica and all the other buildings on the site, including the original basilica from the early 1700s were constructed to honor Saint Juan Diego and his visions and miracles of the Lady of Guadalupe. Sometime around 1530 a picture of the Lady of Guadalupe/Mary appeared on his cloak, which he said was a signal that the indigenous people should convert to Catholicism.  There have been visitors/pilgrims to this site ever since. And many buildings have been constructed to provide a place for them to pray.

Today the new Basilica houses the image.  Encased in two frames, one silver and one gold, it is mounted on the wall near one entrance of the Basilica. You must get on a short moving walkway to see it, which keeps everyone moving forward and no one can stay in front of it for too long.  The Basilica is constantly being used by the people for Mass.  Each hour a new Mass begins. 

Statue of the Pope along side the old basilica.

There is a large open plaza on one side of the Basilica.  It is here that Pope John Paul came to  dedicate the site. A statue to him stands between the old and new basilicas.  He also came here a second time to canonize Juan Diego.

The temple of the well.

We could not enter all the buildings. But I will admit my favorite was the one that covers the well.  It was a lovely little building.  And each of the windows was in the shape of a six-pointed star.  For my Jewish mind it was perfect.  Miriam, the sister of Moses, was known for her affinity for water. When they were in the desert, water followed Miriam.  So to know that here at the site of the visions of the Lady of Guadalupe/Mary/Miriam, there is a well with a temple with six-pointed stars, gave me a little joy.

My second favorite building was a small church that is still standing, but only with the help of metal beams.  In front of it was a small water way, with no water right now, except for a bowl of water that a mama cat was enjoying while her kitten struggled to reach it.

It is quite a site, much larger than I anticipated.  To be honest, I did not want to go.  We had spent the morning visiting the Pyramids of the Sun and Moon, and I was both exhausted and not feeling well.  But our guide insisted that we had to see it.  As it was on our way back to the hotel, I figured I would say yes, but could always back out.

That did not happen.  I was hot, tired and feeling ill.  But I got out of the van and walked the many steps to the entrance of the site. And then for over an hour walked the grounds and through the buildings to see all that I could.  I was amazed that I started to feel better as we walked.  It was so interesting that I forgot to think about not feeling well.  So I have to commend our guide who insisted we visit.

Bosque de Chapultepec: Visiting Chapultepec Park

30 Nov

While we were in Mexico City, we stayed at a hotel that was located on Reforma, just a short half mile walk from the wonderous Bosque de Chapultepec.  We visited three important sites within the park, besides passing by many others and seeing all the activities enjoyed by park visitors.

rOur three main stops were: National Museum of Anthropology/Museo Nacional de Antropologia; The Chapultepec Castle: and Jardin Botanico del Bosque de Chapultepec/the botanical gardens.  We passed by the Ghandi Garden, the entrances to other sites like the Zoo and the History Museum; and walked through an open air market, where I purchased a straw hat.  We also ate in one of the restaurants within the park, El Lago Restaurante.

Honestly, we did not do these activities in one day.  The park is enormous with so much to see.  But I thought it is best to put it all together in one blog.

The first place anyone who goes to Mexico City must visit is the National Museum of Anthropology.  Besides its wonderful architecture, the museum galleries are filled with pre-Columbian masterpieces.  We had a tour guide who explained what we were seeing in English, which was extraordinarily helpful as almost all the signage is only in Spanish.

The building itself is built around a central courtyard with a large umbrella like structure providing shade. As you walk through the different galleries, you return to the center courtyard between areas.  I found that refreshing.  A way of clearing my mind before entering another new world.

We learned about the Inca, Mayan, Aztec, Olmec  and other peoples who once lived in the various areas of Mexico.  I knew that human sacrifice was a large part of the religions.  Owever, I was shocked at the brutal and almost daily sacrifices.  The artwork of these groups, especially the Aztec, focused on skulls, dismemberment and death.  We learned about the Goddess of Rain and the God of the Sun and the feathered snakes that adorned many of the buildings.  The immense stone carvings were beautiful and many were so intricate, you wonder how they were made centuries ago without modern tools.

The original Aztec Sunstone is on display, as well as many other majestic and large works of art.  The Statute of Chaichiuhiticue,  and the Olmec stone heads were immense.  Each were carved from one block of stone.  I don’t know how they moved them!

I honestly cannot tell you what was the most interesting thing to see because there were so many!  I did like learning about the game they played with balls that had to go through a stone hoop. However, I was sad to learn that after each game, someone was sacrificed. 

We spent three hours visiting all the rooms of this museum.  I took many photos.  But in the last room, I was exhausted.  I knew I had had enough because I did not take one photo.  I was mentally done.  There is just so much to see.  It is a museum you could visit again and again and still see and learn about things you missed on an earlier visit.

Needless to say, we left the museum exhausted and ready to eat lunch.  We knew we would be back to the park!

We returned the following evening for a dinner at El Lago Restaurant.  It is situated by one of the lakes in the park and is just lovely.  The food is delicious as well.  But the main reason I am mentioning it, is that while we ate, a young man asked his girlfriend to marry him!  It was quite exciting and everyone cheered when she said yes!  It added an extra bit of charm to an already charming trip.

With the park so close to our hotel, we knew that we would be walking back another day.  We chose the morning after we took our Covid tests to make sure we could return to the USA.  Even though we knew we did not feel sick in any way, having to wait several hours for the results would have made me anxious if I just sat around.  We started walking to the park.  Our first planned stop was the botanical gardens.  This one was filled mainly with succulents and orchids, two of my favorite plantsWe walked around the gardens enjoying the quiet.  We ended with walk through the orchid house and enjoying the many succulents planted in cement cinder blocks!  I want to do that in my garden.

Chapultepec Park is considered the lungs of Mexico City.  The acres upon acres of trees supplies the valley with clean air, which is important, because there is pollution in the valley that encompasses Mexico City.

After we left the gardens we continued walking through the park towwards the hill where the Capultepec Castle sits. The first building of the castle began in 1795 as a summer home for the viceroy.  Eventually it was enlarged and became the home of Emperor Maximillian and his family.  Maximilian did not survive for long in Mexico.  He became Emperor in 1864 and was executed in 1867. The unfortunate thing is that Maximillian seemed to care about the people of Mexico.  But it did not save him from execution.  

The Castle then became the home of the President of Mexico and continued as the Presidential residence until 1939.  Now it is a museum. It does cost 85 pesos to enter.  I did not have that much cash, and they do not take credit cards.  However, if you are over 60, which my husband and I definitely are, you can enter for free!  The cashier said,  “Are you over 60?”  I said yes.  She said go in for you it is free.  Thank you Mexico!!  It would have been so sad not to have seen this building and its gardens!

You do have to walk up the hill.  But the slope is easy to climb.  However, I will say with the altitude of 7500 feet in Mexico City, I am glad I waited for the third day to make that climb!  We walked slowly.  You can take a bottle of water to go up the hill.  But once you get to the entrance of the Castle grounds, you cannot bring it in with you.

To describe the building, all you need to do is think about Vienna and St. Petersburg.  Maximillian was a member of the Habsburg family.  So, of course, his home reflected the elegance and grandeur that a member of that family needed/demanded.  It was a bit offsetting to see the grand carved furniture of Europe throughout the areas of the home.  But it was beautiful.  A major difference from a European home, is that each of the rooms could be entered from the interior of the house, but they also had large doors that opened to the outside.  To see the mansion, we walked along the perimeter of the home and looked into the rooms through opened doors.

The view of the park and the city from the top of the mountain is wonderful.  Even better was going all the way to the top and visiting the gardens on the roof and seeing the view from there.

Another added bonus to our visit to the park was finding a parade was in progress on Reforma!  It was Revolution Day in Mexico.  We spent almost an hour watching the music, the floats, the marchers in colorful outfits denoting their province of Mexico, before we discovered the underground walkway that enabled us to return to our hotel.

Visiting Chapultepec Park is a must.  We only saw a few of the many interesting museums and sites to see there.  Honestly, you could spend a week just visiting Chapultepec Park!

https://www.wmf.org/project/chapultepec-park

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chapultepec

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chapultepec_Castle

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Museum_of_Anthropology_(Mexico)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maximilian_I_of_Mexico

The Pyramids of the Sun and the Moon: A journey to Teotihuacan

28 Nov

Wow.  My husband and I spent over three hours exploring the Teotihuacan site of the Pyramids of the Sun and the Moon and many, many other buildings, temples, and vast plazas.

It was incredible that such an intricate community was built in the early third century, around 200 AD. 

Nearly 2000 years later, the site is still spectacular.  I can only imagine what it looked like to the eyes of people so many years ago.  The wonder and disbelief to what was built had to be awe inspiring and truly a monument to the gods.

For me it was the completion of another item on my list of places that I needed to see in my life time. And it was well worth the journey from Mexico City to Teotihuacan. My husband and his family went to Mexico City in December 1978. He climbed the Pyramid of the Sun. It was on that trip that he realized he missed me. When we saw each other back at Missou, he proposed. I rally needed to see this site!!

When at first you see the Temple rising from the fields as you drive along the highway, I really could not image the massive height of these temples.  Even up close I was stunned.  And it is not just the temples. It is the entire complex of buildings, homes, and plazas.  Each plaza has its own temples and homes. 

The drainage system to keep the clean water from flooding and the waste water from combining with the fresh water was great.  We could see where the rainwater would travel continually downhill till eventually it reached the river.  Keeping the two waters separated made using the fresh water easy.  However, when they reached the river, they combined.  (The river, unfortunately, is quite polluted and smelly!!)

The welcoming plaza with its temples to other religions was grand.  I could imagine myself walking there and being mesmerized by the central temple to the gods surrounded by the many temples of the visiting travelers. Each plaza is so large.  Closing my eyes, I tried to imagine each one filled with worshippers on holy days.  We learned that they believe the priests would meet together before each mass gathering so that they would preach the same information to all the worshippers.   Good planning.

A pyramid’s original decoration rediscovered.

But really nothing can prepare you for the size of the Pyramid of the Sun reaching up to the sky. And also the Pyramid of the Moon strategically placed in front of a mountain that makes its size seem even more gigantic.  Someone had a great eye for drama.  The Pyramid of the Moon demonstrates that drama.

Originally these brick and stone monuments were covered with stucco and painted. There are a few areas where the art and color still remain.  It was interesting to have a local man show us how the colors came from the plants to paint the stucco.  That truly surprised me. But the mural of the puma lets you envision how the entire plateau once looked.

We did not just stay in the large plaza dedicated to the Sun and the Moon. We walked the entire two kilometer site. Climbing up and down the steep stairs to get to yet another plaza.  To be honest it made me think of the song that goes, “the bear went over the mountain to see what he could see. HE saw another mountain.”  For us we climbed over another stairway to see another plaza to see another stairway to walk through to another plaza.  I kept saying to my husband, I think this is the last one.  And it was not.  Till it was.  But honestly, this seemingly endless trek through plazas and up and down steep stair cases was amazing, and worth the trip!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pyramid_of_the_Sun

My Grandfather’s Mysterious Family is Slowly Unveiling

3 Nov

I recently wrote a blog about my Grandfather’s sister Celia.  In it I call her my grandfather’s younger sister.  That might or might not be true.  Her date of birth ranges from 1890 to 1895.  She could be a year older or perhaps four years younger.  But then my Grandfather’s birth dates range as well from 1890 to 1892.  Who knows?  What I do know is that keeping records was not that easy in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

That blog brought a response from Amy, one of my friends, who I met through Tracing the Tribe.  She recommended that I go to Family Search, part of the Mormon genealogy sites to try to find my great aunt Celia’s death certificate. 

Although I have used JewishGen and Ancestory, I never used Family Search on my own before. It was wonderful. Although I already had my Great Aunt’s, death certificate, someone had found it for me, I did not have a photo of her head stone. Family Search had it! Celia’s Hebrew name is Tzipa Gittal. (Thank you to Robin of Tracing the Tribe for figuring out the first name for me.) Like those of many who die young, the stone is in the shape of a tree cut down. There are palm leaves engrave on it along with the words, Beloved Daughter and in big letters SISTER. (I plan to put this photo on the other post as well!)

I found my grandfather’s family on the 1910, 1915, 1920 and 1925 Census.  In the 1915 Census, the last name was misspelt as Rosenbery.  In the 1920 Census, I found out that my great grandparents had divorce before then.  I knew that they were divorced, but somehow knowing they divorced before Celia died made me a little sad.   In the 1925 Census only five of her children were still living with Sarah.  Samuel disappeared after the 1915 Census, Celia died before the 1920 one, and my Grandfather married before the 1925 Census.  All four daughters: Bertha, Edith, Hattie and Minnie, who in this Census was renamed Muriel, were stenographers.  Jacob was already a lawyer.  (See blog below.)

Finding success with Celia, I decided to look for more information on my grandfather’s other missing sister, Minnie/Muriel. I found her as well. She also has a number of birth years ranging from 1904 to 1910. On the census from 1910, 1915, 1920 and 1925, it was either 1904 or 1906. But then I found her marriage license, there she is listed as being born in 1910. It makes sense, even with using 1910 as her birth year, she was still two years older than her husband. In reality, she was about 5 or 6 years older.

Muriel got married May 26, 1934, to a man named Harry Moskowitz in Kings, New York.   She and her husband had four children, three boys and one girl.  Since some of them are still alive, I will not name them.  Muriel died in the New York City area in January 1991.  That actually made me sad.  It means that my Grandfather did not live far from his sister, but he had no contact with her.  Why?  I honestly wish I know the answer!

He did have one sister who he did stay in contact with and whom I knew, Aunt Hattie and Uncle Lenny.  I wrote about them in the blog below.  I also found their marriage license. Besides seeing several birth years for her, 1901 to 1903, I found out that her legal name was not Hattie, even though that is what everyone called her.  On. December 16, 1934, Ethel H. Rosenberg marred Levert Greenberg, the son of Joseph and Rebecca (Schneider).  Uncle Lenny served in WW 2.  They never had any children.  But I remember them fondly.  Although over the years, Aunt Hattie made my Dad crazy at times.

Using Family Search was easy and helpful.  I am glad Amy suggested that I use it.  I do not know why I have never used it before now.  However, I know that I will continue to use it as I double my efforts to find Samuel, as he is the only sibling I have been unable to find.