Tag Archives: Overland Park

A Great Place for a Staycation

8 Jul

I love living in Johnson County, Kansas.  Our county is constantly listed among the most wonderful places to live in the United States.  We have beautiful parks, delightful museums and a multitude of theaters; our schools are excellent.  When my children were little, I often took advantage of the many free or low-cost activities available to keep them occupied.   It is easy to have a staycation, a stay at home vacation,  because there is so much to do.

Even though I no longer have small children, but am not yet a grandmother, I still like doing these fun activities. Luckily for me I have a friend who enjoys these activities as well.  I hope that we never grow up or grow old.  As they say, age is just a state of mind. And we keep exploring.


In the last two weeks, my friend and I spent an afternoon at the local Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead.  While there we visited all the farm animals.  But we also walked through the historic sections we were went through an apple orchard, visited a cow barn, spoke to a school marm in a one-room school house, visited a bank and a doctor’s office, went to a mine, visited an Native American encampment,  and entered several shops learning about blacksmithing, ice cream and the general store from the late 1800s to early 1900s in Kansas.

I admit we did not go on the hay ride or the pony rides.  We also did not go fishing or pan for gold.  But we could have!  And I have done some of these activities in the past.

We walked through the lovely gardens.  In some ways it was more delightful than the last time I was there with my friend and her grandchildren.  We did not have to keep track of anyone or find things for them to do.  We just meandered and enjoyed.

About two weeks later, I called my friend and told her we should go to the Johnson County Museum, located in the Arts & Heritage Center. I wanted to go specifically to see a temporary exhibit about The Wizard of OZ.  And for people living in Kansas, OZ and the Wizard are a big deal. This exhibit was from a personal collection of OZ memorabilia.

We did not only go to that exhibit.  We went through the entire museum learning about the history of our community and seeing mementos from the area.  The museum moved to its current location about four years ago.  I had visited the museum in its former location many times with my children, but this was my first time seeing it in its lovely new location.



The electric house and a period car.

The exciting part for some of the children who were there, was the house in the middle of the museum. One of the first all-electric houses in the county, the house was enclosed inside  the new museum before the new building was completed.  Moving it took over six-hours from its previous location.  I actually enjoyed watching a video about the move.

There was another area called Kid Scape for the children.  My friend and I did not go in to experience the activities and the crafts, but we peaked inside.  I think my friend will be returning with her grandchildren!

The Heritage Center, where the museum is located, was a bustling place.  When we left the museum, we walked over the historical society, although we did not visit the displays as we  were captivated by the sounds of music. In another room, at the end of a hall,  a live band was playing ballroom dance music, specifically a tango.  We watched as about 12 couples danced around the large room.   I might have to come back with my husband one day.  We enjoy ballroom dancing. Unfortunately, he is usually at work on a Friday at 2 pm.

As we left the building, I looked over to where the black box theater is located.  Beginning in the fall, my husband and I will be coming for productions of the Spinning Tree Theatre shows.  We have been season ticket holders for several years and are looking forward to the company’s move to Johnson County.

I think our next adventure is a return visit to the Overland Park Arboretum.  The plants, the art work, and the pond, the train garden, provide a lovely spot to walk.  It will be another fun day in Johnson County.










My Five Levels of “OY”

4 Nov

I recently realized that in my mind there are actually five levels of Oy. These five different levels provide me the ability to express sorrow or sadness with an oy-statement.

The first, of course, is the simple ‘oy.’ This mean ‘oh’ or ‘ouch.’ I use OY when my cat jumps on my stomach or I drop something. Sometimes I use oy when someone is telling about an embarrassing experience they had. A response of “Oy” is always appreciated.

I never use oy when something bad has happened. It is usually used for events that are a little bit funny. I guess someone slipping on a banana peel without getting hurt would be an oy moment.

It sometimes has an “I cannot believe I did that,” feeling. After you do it, you think, “Oy! Why did I do that!”

But when I say “Oy Vey” I have amped up the response. Now I have feelings of woe, which is exactly what “oy vey” means, “oh woe!” I think the following is a good example of an oy vey experience.

The summer of 2013, on Fathers’ Day, my husband and I were at a party. During the party a storm blew in to the area. It was tornado weather in Kansas. We all took shelter in the house. Although the wind blew and the rain came down, it was not too bad where we were.

All those branches on the ground should be in the tree.  Oy Vey

All those branches on the ground should be in the tree.         Oy Vey

However, when we got home, OY VEY!!!   Our beautiful Sugar Maple was destroyed in a microburst of rain and wind. Branches and limbs were all over our front yard. Part of our fence was crushed.   It looked like a disaster zone in our neighborhood. And our house seemed to be the epicenter.

But it was only an Oy Vey, the second level of oy, because no one was hurt. No homes were damaged. Yes, the tree was going to have to be taken down, but in the long run it was just a second level oy experience.  My son and his friends came over and helped my husband collect all the branches and to get the big branch off the fence. Those branches were big and heavy!

The next day I called the tree service we use. Luckily they had trimmed that tree just six months before, which probably lessened the damage. I will admit watching the tree service actually take the tree down was a second oy vey experience. It was a very large tree! But they took care of everything, while I watched and took photos…all the time chanting, “Oy Vey!”

“Oy Vey Iz Mir” is a much stronger, “Woe is ME! “ When I say the entire sentence, then I am really worried. When I say, “Oy Vey IZ Mir,” something horrible has happened.   Someone I know is sick. Or an elderly parent is in hospice or has passed away. Sometimes I say that when someone has lost a job. It is a statement for a calamity, but not for a tragedy. Or maybe something scary has occurred.

When I was a child in the Catskills, the boys who lived in the house next door were shooting BB guns and aiming at a target made of wood. The BBs ricocheted into our yard. All I remember was the leaves rustling and my Dad, who had served in Korea, jumping on us yelling, “Get Down!! Get Down!!!”

One of my grandparents said “Oy Vey iz mir.” I think both because of the guns and because of Dad’s reaction. He stormed over to the house and yelled. After that there were no BBs for a while. Then I think they built a target with straw behind it. But that “Oy Vey iz mir” has stayed with me!

I think the English saying, “Woe is me” is an example of Yiddish phrasing in English. I have woe. I feel woeful. I am sad. Those are all English. But in Yiddish, Oy Vey iz Mir. Oh woe is me!!!

For a tragedy I have my fourth level of Oy. That is seven oys in a row followed by Vey Iz Mir.   “Oy oy oy oy oy oy oy vey iz mir.” That is when I feel absolutely terrible about what I have just heard: when some one has had a true tragedy. What could that be? A young person has passed away.   Someone’s son or daughter has been in a serious car accident. During my children’s teen years, there were unfortunately several times when the fourth level of oy was invoked.   A suicide is a definite fourth level of oy. Where I might forget why I used the first three levels of oy, when I have a fourth level of oy moment, it lives with me forever.

When I reach this level I usually need a piece of chocolate and a glass of tea. When I say this I know that I would love to speak to my Mom or Dad and debrief. The fourth level of oy moments are the times when I end up making phone calls or sending out emails to let others know, so that we can band together and help.

But I said there are five levels of Oy. So what could be worse than level four? Well there is level five, when I say, “Oy, a Bracha.” With this I am saying “woe is me, we need a blessing.” With the fifth level of oy I am calling on God to help.

When war breaks out in Israel, it is an “oy a bracha,” moment. With a daughter living in Tel Aviv and many family members throughout Israel, the threat of weapons, rockets, war, and destruction makes me very anxious.

For me 9/11 was a fifth level oy moment. We needed all the blessings we could get then. And so for me, it was saying “Oy, a Bracha!” Help us, bless us.

My five levels of oy have been part of my life as long as I can remember.   I am glad that most of my oy moments are level one and level two oys. But I am also glad I know a bit of Yiddish so I have a way to express exactly how I feel.

Focusing on the positive in times of sorrow

14 Apr

I sit in a courtroom called up for jury duty. It is a strange day. April 14. Snow is falling. Tonight begins Passover. It is Monday morning.

Last Wednesday night, I chaired an interfaith event for National Council of Jewish Women, Kansas City Section. Women and men of many faiths came together to learn about divorce in Judaism, Islam and Catholicism. It was an interesting debate, and indicative of Johnson County, Kansas. Peaceful discussions.

On Saturday night I went with my family to the Jewish Community Center in Overland park to see a production of “To Kill A Mockingbird.” We saw how bigotry and racism led to the death of innocence. The sold out audience was riveted by the presentation. Was this show an indication of what would come?

Sunday, an act of evil disrupted the peaceful world of Overland Park and Johnson County, Kansas. A demented, bigoted man entered the parameters of the Jewish Community Center and Village Shalom, a retirement center, and murdered three innocent people. A grandfather and grandson, a woman, none of them Jewish. But they were participating in events at the places where Jews gather. I cannot understand these acts.

But I refuse to focus on the hatred this individual embodied. I chose to focus on all the love.

I chose to focus on the women and men to came together to learn about interfaith issues. I chose to focus on the sold out performance of “To Kill a Mockingbird.” I chose to focus on the outpouring of love to my family from all over the country and the world from family and friends, Jewish and non-Jewish.

Phone calls, emails, Facebook posts, text messages. Tears and anguish from both Jewish and Non-Jewish friends. All saying we love you! All saying we are shocked. And all who live here know how good the Jewish Community is.

I should have been preparing for Passover last night. But we were all in shock. We had planned to celebrate my niece and nephew’s birthdays. And we did. Because we were going to focus on the good.

Overland Park is a wonderful spot to live, to raise children, to feel part of a community.

The Jewish Community Center is part of my life. I served as a board member for nine years. I am on the advisory board. My children grew up there. They went to the preschool, to the day school to the camps. My husband and I exercise there several times a week. We attend shows and presentations.

Hatred such as this man’s invades the soul. But I refuse to let it make me fearful. Sad, yes. I will always think of those who died and their families. But I plan to focus on the love.

As I sat in the courtroom, I knew I would be excused. Passover is tonight. I have a holiday to celebrate and I will. I have family and friends to be with, a community of love. And I will be embraced.