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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.

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!

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.

Ralph, Pete and Bambi, Turkeys And A Flock of Birds

29 Aug

My husband loves to feed birds.  We have always had bird feeders and books identifying birds outside our kitchen window so we could not only watch the birds but identify who was visiting our feeders.

When we moved 17 months ago, my husband was extremely concerned that the birds would not find us!  He even put a sign up on our deck beneath the bird feeders telling the birds our new address.  Yes, he is a bit crazy.  But then he is a pediatrician, so he has never grown up.

Happily, the day we moved in, a cardinal perched on his bird feeder.  I was able to say, “Look the cardinal read your sign.  I am sure the other birds would follow.”  Follow they did!   We now have a flock of birds of all sorts lounging near our yard.

Our new, small subdivision backs up to a park and a golf course.  Acres and acres of natural beauty along with several small lakes and a stream.  The animals love it.  And our home has become a gathering place for all sorts of nighttime and daytime visitors.  All due to my husband’s bird feeders.  You see, he does not just buy any old bird food.  No, he buys what I call the Mercedes Benz of bird food, hearts of sunflowers.

We have had turkeys and mourning doves and chipmunks happily munching on the seeds that fall to the ground.   We see chickadees, finches of all colors, Blue Jays, cardinals, woodpeckers, robins, swallows, and a multitude of other birds gathering on the feeders, many times waiting their turn to eat.   We buy bird food in 30-pound bags, several at a time.  And yes, we do have a hummingbird feeder as well, which we recently moved. 

Our garden is surround on two sides by a limestone wall, one side by our house, and the other by a wrought iron fence.  It is lovely and peaceful during the day.  But we have found out that at night, it is a place of high demand and drama.  We recently put in a security camera in the back of the house.  Included in its scope are the birdfeeders. 

We have found it quite exciting to watch and the videos explain much.  We were going through so much bird food, we really could not understand how the birds were eating so much especially at night.  We found out that our bird feeders were being raided by a raccoon, who my husband promptly named Ralph.

Ralph draining the bird feeder!

Ralph would stand on his tippy toes on the fence and reach up to tip the bird feeders right into his mouth and just drain the seed. So first my husband put bricks under the pole to raise the height of the feeders. Ralph won that battle. He climb up the fence, climb up the pole and shimmied down to the feeders. Then another raccoon joined him, I named him Rocky. They did not get along and often had loud fights with growling. I honestly did not like that.

Now the war was really on.  My husband started bringing the bird feeders in at night. Ralph and Rocky showed up, but there was no food. Friends started recommending solutions.  Put a slinky on the pole!  Get a dog!  (Cats don’t work.) Then the best advice came from a friend of mine, who got us into bird feeding and watching years ago. She recommended we get this raccoon baffle thing that is put on the pole. The first night it was on, we just put up two bird feeders to see what would happen.  Ralph could not get the food.

Birds waiting for a morning perch to eat!

With the raccoon baffler in place, we can leave our feeders out at night.

But in the meantime, my husband had been putting humming bird nectar out on a low pole.  And one evening when Ralph moved out of the vision of the camera, we noticed a deer, named Bambi of course.  Bambi had been draining our hummingbird feeder.  So now the humming bird feeder is inside the garden behind the gate, and the hummingbirds are happy. So the deer is back to eating all of our sedum plants! 

Ralph and Rocky can no longer climb the pole, so the birds are happy.  In fact, the raccoons have not even shown up for a week now.  But our yard is not empty.  Now that the raccoons are gone, an opossum, who my husband named Pete, has spent some time walking along our walls at night.   He joins the chipmunks and lizards who already inhabit the hedges.

As for the turkeys, Tom and his three lady friends, they come whenever the mood strikes them. It has been entertaining and fun to watch the wildlife, and I guess feed them. And no animal was injured in our battle to keep the birds happy.

An earlier battle: https://zicharonot.com/2014/05/18/man-versus-squirrel-devastation-disaster-depression-and-destruction-of-dreams/

My Personal Pillars of Life

27 May

I recently was asked to write something about myself for our synagogue’s newsletter because I am a vice president of the congregation. I was unsure, did the president want my qualifications as to why I was a vice president? No, he wanted me to tell the congregation something about me. I decided to discuss my philosophy of life.

The first time I actually wrote down my philosophy was on a cruise ship in September 2019. It was our last big trip before the pandemic cancelled everything. We were in the Baltic Sea. During a sea day, I decided I would pamper myself and get a message. The young woman who was my massage therapist was on her first cruise. She was home sick. So we spent quite a bit of time talking. And among the topics we talked about was my philosophy of life. I am not sure why it came up. But she needed moral support and a way to deal with the daily onslaught of people to serve.

It was not my usual, I will fall asleep massage.  Instead, it was my, I am a mother and here is someone in need.  She also gave me a great massage.  So during the second week of the cruise I had another massage. We had another nice discussion.  When it was over, she handed me a notebook and said, “Please write it down.”  It was strange to put my personal philosphy into writing for someone else, but I did.  I hope it helped her in some way during her six-months on the ship, but more important perhaps during the pandemic. 

Below is the third time I wrote about my philosophy of life.

My philosophy of life is based on four pillars, Gemilut Chasidim (good deeds), Tzedakah (righteous charity), Kindness and Family.   Because I believe in creating a positive energy in the world, I volunteer quite a bit besides what I do at my synagogue.   Currently I am involved in Women’s Philanthropy as campaign chair; for NCJW I chair the scholarship committee providing funds for high school seniors going on to college; and I am a Spiritual Care Volunteer for Jewish Family Services. Every Wednesday I visit with seniors in an elder care facility. I also work at a small, private, non-profit school for children who do not do well in a traditional school setting.  I keep busy!

I believe in being positive!  I have learned that doing an act of kindness for someone brings so much more happiness than buying a gift for yourself.  That act of kindness is the gift!  I keep a happiness journal.  Each evening, I enter something that made me truly happy during the day.  I list at least one good deed I did that day.  And finally, I list five things that I am grateful for that day.  Almost every day that includes my family and my cats.

One way I keep happy is to crochet…mainly baby blankets for the multitude of young couples I know who are having babies.  I could just buy a gift.  But for me, making something filled with the positive love I feel when I make one, has more meaning.  I make other things as well.  My daughter often sends me a photo of something she likes and asks, “Can you make this for me.”  So I do.  I also make items for special people. A friend who donated a kidney loves ducks. So I crocheted her a duck doily. A friend whose son died way too young got a heart doily. A little girl with cancer received a long Anna wig to wear. When I make these items I feel like I am infusing them with love.

I love to I read, because books bring me to other worlds and entrance my imagination.   I usually travel, but for the past 15 months I have been home. Books have given me the opportunity to continue to visit new worlds, both real and imaginary.  My mind is filled with trivia thanks to these books. Reading brings me joy.  I enjoy discussing books with others.

My path to tzedakah comes from my family.  I knew from an early age that giving to others was important. My great grandfather Louis was one of the founders of the Bialystoker Home for the Aged in NYC.  He also was the president of the Free Loan Society for the Bialystokers.  My family supported this institution throughout my childhood.  My Dad, his grandson, was the president of his congregation for 11 years.  We were all taught to help others as we could.

My path to kindness comes from my family as well, especially my Mom. She taught elementary school for 30 years and had great experience in teaching kindness.  I learned from her, and from my experiences in the world, that you do not need to love everyone you meet. However, you do need to be Kind.  You never know what type of day someone is having. By being kind, you can brighten a day for someone else and in turn make the day better for yourself.

Yes, I also get sad sometimes and worry about the future.  No one is happy all the time. When I feel blue, I often go for a walk outside with a friend.  Just being outside helps cheer me up. But sometimes I go back to my foundation of Gemilut Chasidim, Tzedakah, Kindness and Family are my foundation, focusing on something good I can do to bring me out of the blues.

Here are two other blogs that touch on my world view.

What Happened to Grandpa’s Twin Sisters?

16 Apr
My great aunt Tova, my great Grandparents Gimple and Chava. The man driving is an Uncle. And the horses and cart they bought with the money my grandparents sent. They all perished.

Would it be horrible to say that I am disappointed to find that my grandfather’s two sisters were not the victims of Josef Mengele?  It sounds horrible even to me.  But I have been searching to find out what happened to them for over a decade.  And I thought I finally found a glimmer of hope.  I remembered that they were twins.  Perhaps they made it to the right concentration camp and were separated out. I could at least have some closure.

But no.  Another dead end, I write without a pun.  I had already searched through Yad V Shem, where I found my grandfather’s parents and one brother.  I have found my great grandparents, Gimple/Mordechai who died in Auschwitz and Chava who died in the town.  My great uncle, Shimon died in Belzec.   All three testimonies were put in Yad VShem by a cousin, Shalom Hollander.  Although he entered many other testimonies, there are none for the other three siblings.

I have searched through the Jewish Gen files.  I have found many, many, well hundreds of family members who perished in the Shoah.  But I cannot find my grandfather’s two sisters and their families and his other brother.  It is what I have been searching for since I started my genealogy searches. 

I tried the place that usually helps, Tracing the Tribe Facebook Group.  From one member, I found out about the the Arolsen Archives, International Center on Nazi Persecution, in Bad Arolsen in Germany.  And I had great hope.  I filled out three forms with all the information I had on my great aunts, Tova and Tzelia, and great uncle Nachum.  I admit it was not much.  Just their names and town of birth, parents and approximate date of birth. 

I was sure to add that Tova and Tzelia were twins.  I have a photo of Tova.  I knew she was married.  She probably had children. But by the time I spoke to my grandfather about her and his other siblings in the 1970s, he had forgotten the names of her husband and children.  So my search was based on somewhat limited information.

Unfortunately, the Arolsen Archives could not help.  For each of my requests, I received the same message. “We can inform you today that we – based on the data you provided – have made an extensive check of the documentation available to us.
To our regret, it has not proved possible for us to ascertain any information.”

Another dead end.  But I was not totally surprised.  I know that Mielec and Grandpa’s home town of Trzciana, were among the first cities that the Nazis chose to kill all the Jews.  Only 100 Jewish residents from the area survived the war.  Some were killed at the Denbica/Dembitz Murder site.  Others went to the Lodz Ghetto and then Belzec  Some died in Auschwitz.  But some died in their community, like my great grandmother.  Some were burned in the synagogue.  Some were burned in the mikve.  Some were shot. 

I have discovered many people with similar names, but not these three.

I assume they died nameless, not a number in the Nazi machine.

So perhaps not finding them is a good thing.  Perhaps they died quickly.  They did not have to suffer the indignity of being a victim of Mengele.  They did not make it to the Concentration Camps.  But what is so sad is that no family member was able to write their testimonies.  No one could enter their names in to Yad VShem data base.  And I cannot either, because I do not know what happened.

Perhaps my quest to find out the names of their children will never be achieved.  I will never find out what happened.   Each time I have found out what happened to a family member. I have had another little stab in my heart.  Perhaps it is time to let this search end.

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/

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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