Plinky Prompt: Traveling

The final TWA logo

The final TWA logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • Tell us about the farthest you’ve ever traveled from home. Down Under.
    • Up, Up And Away….
    • Being the daughter of an airline employee we flew often and for free. We were young and of course, we didn’t appreciate flying to other countries. We went to see Oma and Opa in Vienna, Austria or our (wicked) step-grandmother in Israel. Didn’t everybody visit their grandparents during Spring break?
      Airline employees lived a different life, we flew stand-by, so we never knew if we would get on a flight until the very last moment. My father would cross his arms into a triangle and we knew that was the meaning for “a cliff hanger” or a very close call, a “a very flight.” We had been thrown off planes or “bumped” before.
      My father worked for TWA and his best friend for Pan Am, and the rivalry was fun and real. We flew to France, Israel, the former Yugoslavia, Switzerland, Germany, Rome, Italy, an island off of Greece, a fishing village in Portugal.
      Years later, when I met my husband, we traveled too, some on frequent flyer miles to Hawaii and to Australia, and later on to France for our miserable, cold and rainy honeymoon.
      We were so lucky, as children, to have had those experiences in the days when flying was actually fun.
      Now, flying is a brutal experience, if we have to fly, we go. But, it is not like the old days where you would get excited to fly and look forward to the trip. In the old days, my sister and I HAD to wear matching sweater and skirt sets. I remember the buttons on them were like ceramic balls. The suits were identical, except for the color. We were NEVER allowed to wear anything less fancy, it just wasn’t done. Back then, you also got dressed up to go to the theater.
      We appreciated the traveling we did back when we were children and teenagers, because once we were 21 and the free tickets abruptly stopped, we missed them even more.

    11fp - Trans World Airlines Boeing 727-231; N8...

    11fp – Trans World Airlines Boeing 727-231; N84357@FLL;30.01.1998 (Photo credit: Aero Icarus)

     

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singing the icy cold blues

Icy blue

Icy blue (Photo credit: GustavoG)

i’m either coming down with the mamas blues or the cold/ flu blues because something just doesn’t feel right. oh lord these bitter cold temperatures are really hurting me, hurting my chronic pain bones and muscles. we went outside for five minutes, i started coughing and couldn’t stop. now my eyes are welling up but you know me, that could be for already missing my son who is leaving tomorrow to go back to school. the anticipation of him coming home after birthright was so intense and seeing his smiling cheerful face at the airport and after looking at his photographs and the way he spoke, he grew up a lot. he could understand how i felt too.  i just need a little alone time for transitions, 24 hours at most for this. he’s leaving home again but i think it’s mostly because he was overseas and i was so eager for him to be back in the u.s. and the excitement of it all. sharing my old memories with him.

dan and i both like when the kids are at school and we have time to ourselves and i don’t have to make 3 different meals that gets old so fast. but tonight, i just want to cry because everything moves so quickly, that what i had been waiting for, was over like a snap of my red, frozen fingers in the icy air that stung like a bunch of angry wasps or bees.

our daughter has been back to her college for a week already and she couldn’t wait to go back to school to be with her friends. i didn’t blame her, she was bored out of  her mind here and we were getting a little annoyed too. sitting in her bedroom watching tv and eating was doing us all in. if her brother hadn’t gone away for 10 days he would have been bored to pieces also. two very different personalities, he always needed to be entertained, always, “mama, play with me” endlessly while she (more like me in that sense) could play by herself with her toys and dolls and stuffed animals for quite a long time, happily.

two children, well, young adults, our son is 20 and our daughter is 18, they will always be our children to us, but they are not children any longer. i used to have a lot of their baby pictures around, special ones, but last year i put them away because it hurt too much to see them. when they loved and needed me best. i needed to realign my life away from the past and guide it to the future.

i try to keep my life, our lives in the present but once in a while, like tonight, one can get a short stabbing pain or two, getting older, watching our amazing children having fun. i think sometimes we are envious. once in a while i focus on the sadder things to come in the future but i work hard to “not meet trouble halfway.”  i know now i will readjust my focus, for 15 minutes and do something soothing, i will feel better physically tomorrow. i will listen to music to energize or soothe me. maybe i will write without punctuation, without editing and capitals, i always loved e.e.cummings., the poet, when i was young. i can turn my head back now and laugh. everything is going to be alright. we are all responsible for ourselves. please don’t forget that, me, and every single being.it’s so important. may your life be a good one, may you help it to be even better.

Where The Sun Rises

Galilee

Image by Florian Seiffert (F*) via Flickr

Right now as I am about to go to sleep there are people waking up all over the world starting their day. The earth continues to spin, bringing me soft cotton blankets and images of sleeping baby lambs. On the other side of the world, in Israel, people are waking up with the energy of a newly performed puppet show for grinning children.

There, old women with white hair put red and blue carpets outside their apartment windows and beat the rugs rhythmically with a broom. That same sound would wake me up in the morning when we visited. Plumes of dust would escape the beaten rugs and disappear into the blue sky like magic.  Once awake, I would tiptoe to the living room window to see the stray kittens and cats on the ground floor crying out, begging for food. I would slip behind my step-grandmother’s back and throw bits of chicken or bread out the window every day. I knew I wasn’t supposed to do that but that was not going to stop me. I would do the same thing today.

There is a main street in the city, Dizengoff Street, that is filled with shops of all kinds and numerous outdoor café houses all in a row. It was a tradition after an afternoon nap to pick a place and have coffee and cake, or in my case, iced chocolate and cake. There was never a question if we would go, but rather where we should go. The one that had the deep chocolate fudge cake or the one that had lemon meringue tarts? Where could we get orchestra seats, a front row table, to watch other people go by. Everyone knew each other back then and it always felt like we were being welcomed back home. My mother was the star, the queen from America; often, people would recognize my mother and come over to say hello and join us as they smoked cigarettes, one after the other.

I felt safest here, walking alone at night with yellow globes of lit lamps along the street and a steady stream of people cheerfully talking near me. I did not fear missiles or bombs or terrorism. I had little more to do than try to avoid eating some of my step-grandmother’s moldy cheese. She would keep little squares of cheese and cut the mold off and say the rest was fine; she did this with all her food. She would hold on to tiny bits and pieces of food in her refrigerator and never throw them away. I tried to stay away from the her home-made dark tuna salad that reminded me of cat food.

During the early morning we would go to a beautiful pool club that was next to the ocean. The pool water was bright, glimmering blue, sunlight crystals sparkling on top of the water like freshly polished diamonds. People would play beach tennis on the beach; the hot sand only a few seconds away. The tide was strong, pulling, pulling, like repetitive pain. The current could go from challenging to dangerous in a split second. Lifeguards blew their whistles here too.

My mother would hold my hand as a child and take me from store to store to find American Cheese and Nestle’s Quik for my milk, I was always a fussy eater. Once we found corn flakes in a tiny store no bigger than a closet and that was a major triumph. On every street corner there were at least one or two vendors selling freshly squeezed orange juice or grapefruit juice. We always stopped for a glass as we walked on the steaming pavement under the blazing sun. I can almost taste the fresh orange essence dancing on my tongue.

In three days my friend’s son is getting married in a forest in Israel. Two interwoven trees, black and white, were beautifully hand drawn on the invitation. I wish my whole family could have been there but it is a long way from home and very expensive. I imagine the happy couple, friends and family, dancing joyfully. I imagine endless platters of food: vegetarian only: hummus with pita, salad, platters of eggplant drizzled with olive oil, home-baked goods and people cheering and celebrating into the wee hours of the morning. Dogs and children playing on the forest floor making happy sounds, babies gurgling with delight.

I need to go back with my husband for a visit. I would like to return to a place where I have a lot of colorful memories from. I would also like to take my mother back to her home. She wouldn’t need to find me chocolate milk or cheese; it’s my turn, this time I would take care of her.

Congratulations Daniel and Nora!

Dedicated to my Mom.

What Would YOU Take?

Pieces of Eight

I am copying this theme from two of my good friends, Mo (Mo is Blogging, I think and Judith: Creativity to the Max) Read their answers on their blogs.

There’s a blog dedicated to that very subject created by Foster Huntington.  Here’s a bit of what he says about his blog:“The Burning House” showcases photos and lists of the things people would take with them if their house was burning. The project is a little over a month old and so far has received over three hundred submissions!”      

Read More of Foster Huntington’s interview on  http://www.gq.com/style/blogs/the-gq-eye/2011/06/something-different-the-burning-house.html#ixzz1WOJsaa4y

I had to face this for real since our house is unlivable because of various horrible problems, think mold, carpenter ants, rotting wood etc. Before Hurricane Irene came and before my husband’s surgery we stopped at our house to dash in and get certain things. This is my list….

Went through that just two days ago with the Hurricane on the East Coast. Not to mention that our house is unlivable, literally so we are in one room in a hotel. I took my old stuffed  yellow and black monkey,  (Nokey because I couldn’t say Monkey) that my dad bought for me on my 2nd birthday, I took a necklace with good luck charms that my dad used to wear when he was alive, a favorite black and white picture of my mother, laughing, many years ago on a beach in Israel,  I took a photo of my daughter and me when we were on Cape Cod, when she was little, something my son found for me: a piece of wood with the number 8 (that number was always special, some day I may reveal it’s significance) on it, and his picture, my computer and books. I will not be able to move back for months but the immediacy of Irene made me make a choice. I chose things that could not be replaced in my heart. I don’t know when I will be able to go back home, it could be months. I have the things I need right now, but I miss having a home.

Living in Other Countries

Bruce Springsteen - Born In The USA

Image by Piano Piano! via Flickr

I had the proud distinction when I was little of being the “only born American” and I wore that honor with pride. My parents and my older sister were all born in different countries and even though my parents and sister came to the United States when my sister was 9 months old, I still felt special.

At this point in my life, with my husband and our two almost grown children, I would love to live in another country for a few years. Italy, Spain, England, Holland? Greece, Israel, Japan? I love to visit different countries when we can afford it. The only place I wouldn’t want to live? Paris. I would be such an American outcast, wearing my blue jeans and long-sleeved gray GAP shirt, sneakers and clogs. There’s no way I’m wearing high-heeled stilettos and expensive outfits for any city. However, the French countryside is breathtakingly beautiful and I wouldn’t mind learning how to make cheese. For now, I think I’ll stay right here in the USA where I can wear what I want and still drink strong coffee and pastries. If, however, the opportunity came up…..I can pack quickly.

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ICD Jewelery Store – Meant To Be

This is a true story about how things sometimes work out the way they should. Oprah used to talk about that a lot.  Synchronicity, things happening because they are “meant to be.” Yesterday, I wrote a blog called “Saying Goodbye To Oprah” today I experienced what she has always talked about.

1) I had a new Doctor’s appointment and when I asked the new Doctor if she was ever in touch with the Doctor who had retired she said “in fact, I’m seeing him tonight.”  I asked her to please tell him about an article I wrote about the loss of my dear friend “Loving Dawn” that was published in a local magazine. She said she would but as I was about to leave I remembered I had copies in my trunk that I had just picked up from the editor the day before. I ran down and got the magazine, happy to show them.  No coincidence there.

2) I stopped by the florist to order my son’s girlfriend’s corsage, continued on to the library and decided to go to a shoe store.

3) I parked my car, (having no sense of direction whatsoever) where I thought the shoe store was. I couldn’t find it. It turned out that I parked in front of a store called ICD Jewelery. When I saw the name I remembered my son saying that he bought his girlfriend’s birthday present there. The door was held open and I decided to walk in and browse. In the past I had always assumed that it was just high-end stuff but it isn’t. It’s a wonderful combination of completely affordable jewelery AND beautiful expensive, sparkling pieces.

4) I  looked around keeping my daughter’s upcoming 17th birthday in mind, I even saw the lovely bracelet my son had bought. There were beautiful pieces in EVERY price range. After chatting with a nice woman named Sarah I softly said:  ” You are doing this store a disservice, you really should advertise more.” She smiled and said “can I repeat that?” I said “I guess so.” She called the owner over, an absolutely stunning and  beautiful woman (she should be a model) named Varda Singer and asked me to repeat my comment. I did, I asked where they advertised because I had no idea that this store sold things in all price ranges. I am the type of person that should live with focus groups. I try every new product, I can predict if something will work or not, I know “star” quality before others. If I really liked this store my friends would too. If I didn’t know about this store they probably didn’t either.

5) The owner, Varda, said “she pays so much in advertising in publications it’s sometimes not worth it.”  After talking with her about the jewelery, both high-end and inexpensive, she fell silent. She looked at me, took a gorgeous pink beaded bracelet off the display, handed it to me and said, “word of mouth: this is how I like to get people to the store.” Before I knew it she took the price tag off and presented the bracelet to me as a present.”If people like it and ask where you got it, you tell them.”  No one had ever given me a present like that and I was shocked.  I said “No, no, no, no… ” but she insisted and put it on my arm.

6) All she knew was that I was a mom window shopping for her daughter. She had no idea I wrote a blog.  We laughed and talked some more and out of the blue she threw in a Hebrew word that I recognized immediately.  The word “Beshert” it’s meaning:  “meant to be” or “destiny.”

7) I told them I wanted to blog about this experience (I am not a paid employee nor am I a sponsor or a PR agent and I am not getting any kind of kickback!)  I asked Varda if we could tie this special day in with my blog. If people read this blog and wanted to go to the store, perhaps they could get a $5 dollar discount? She thought about it, shook her head and said with a smile said:”please tell people that if they just drop by the store and mention your blog, they will get a free “bracelet” too.”

I will REPEAT THAT: Mention that you read this blog and get a free bracelet. Stop by there, look around, you won’t be disappointed.  They are located in the town of Chappaqua, NY, 75 South Greeley Avenue. You can reach them at 914-238-3646 or at ICDJLTD@aol.com. or visit:  http://www.icdjewelry.com/

Thank you again, Varda, for my pink bracelet.

My free gift from ICD Jewelery in Chappaqua, NY

Passing Over Passover

Day 337 - Tuna and Salad Sandwich

Image by JoeGray via Flickr

It’s a big year for change and not something fabulous like: “OMG, we won 230 million dollars in the lottery.” I wish. My husband, after two years of unemployment, finally found a job three months ago. “Be careful what you wish for” because at the moment (and for a few more months) he is working in Buffalo, NY coming home only on weekends. “Not that there is anything wrong with that” as Jerry Seinfeld used to say but it’s about an 8 or 9 hour drive away from home or a one hour plane ride away and another hour and a half for traffic. Good news: he has a job, Bad news: location, undesirable. Having a job is the most important thing, of all people we know that. Trust me. However, I have a chronic pain disease, Fibromyalgia and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and being home with two teenagers and a dog, all the time is hard on me physically.

My son is graduating high school in less than two months. This is a big change, HUGE. Our first child going away to college is an enormous change for the entire family and yes, especially for me, his mom. I burst into tears at random times and yet when he is taunting me and acting arrogant I think, ‘it’s really time for him to go.’  I KNOW he is ready to go and he can’t wait. It’s just a little more difficult for the parents and sister he is leaving behind. All I want for him is to be happy but I can’t help feeling a little sad, selfishly for me. My daughter will be a senior in high school next year, only one grade year apart from her brother but in actuality almost two years apart in age. I can’t wait for her to have the limelight in her own family. I was also the youngest sibling in my family; I know how she feels.

Another change: my nephew is  graduating college this year and when I heard him say on the weekly radio show he hosts that there were only 3″ Grand Avenue Freezeout”  shows  left, forever, I burst into tears. Thank you Jon, for playing and dedicating the song Birds to me by Neil Young.  At least when one cousin goes to college, another one will come home. There is a little comfort in that.

My mother has had a horrible year so far because she first broke her wrist and several weeks later she fell down two stairs and broke two of her vertebrae in her back. Right after that, she got a nasty flu with a high temperature. Then she had to take some medicine that she really didn’t want to take. She has never had anything like this before and it took a great toll on her. This was a horrible and long time period and we were all very worried. Finally, she’s a little better but it was frightening.

It’s Passover and while we are not a religious family  my mom was right when she said “Families should be together on all holidays” this was generally our tradition until the cousins got older and one by one are in college. With my husband away, my kids spending all their free time with their friends on their Spring Break, sharing a tuna sandwich with my dog, Callie, did not cut it. I missed everyone and felt sorry for myself. It wasn’t the religious aspect as much but it was more that I was alone and the lack of loved ones sitting close to me that I dearly missed. It’s hard to be home alone on any holiday. Mom, I understand that more now. You were right and I was wrong, this one is for you, with great love.

Happy Birthday Daddy

Wiener Schnitzel

Image via Wikipedia

November 13th is my dad’s birthday, he would have been 88. He passed away almost 9 years ago but the pain on holidays, birthdays, Father’s Day, is the same raw pain as the day he died.  It’s a pain that is hard to describe for people who have never lost a parent. Believe me, I know.

Instead of wallowing in depression this year I am going to try to remember and honor the man I loved so dearly. His blue-gray eyes, child-like qualities, generosity, pep-talks and his warmth. I miss the soft yet sturdy hugs as if a limb of my own had been amputated. I miss the familiar smell of his after-shave cologne that he sprayed with enthusiasm. My dad and I were very similar; he and I had an amazing connection and a strong emotional bond. We thought alike and we completely understood each other. The day he died, my heart was gauged with intense pain, my heart missing an essential beat.

My dad and I had so much fun together when I was younger. We traveled to  Vienna, Austria, where my grandparents lived. We ate sugary-sweet meringues that were shaped like delicate white swans and sipped hot chocolate with “schlag”  (whipped cream). We ate exploding red-berry sweet and sour tarts in Viennese cafes. My grandmother would fry up her famous wiener schnitzel,  served with plump lemon wedges every single night.

I was in first grade when my mom couldn’t come to open school day but my dad came. I think he was the only father in the class and I was so proud, so happy that he was there. I remember sharing my milk and cookies with him and I felt so important. At a shared birthday party with a friend he surprised me by coming home from work early, sneaking into the party like a secret surprise. It was a joy so innocent and so intense that I remember the feeling to this day. I was shocked and delighted as I wrapped my arms around his tall legs like a clinging, furry animal. Back then dads’ weren’t as involved in their children’s’ lives as they are today but he always had time for me; his little one, his mouse, his baby.

We had adventures, the two of us. My mother worked a great deal, she traveled the world being a tour director and translator. One night my father and I went out to a Spanish restaurant and sipped sangria, with glistening, beaming chunks of bright oranges and green apples bobbing in the rich, red wine. We toasted people we knew with every sip we took. The more we sipped the stranger the toasts were. I remember we toasted a wall -paper hanger guy that never showed up to our house, people we barely knew and random people from the past.

We went to the bagel store together, early on a Sunday morning and the store was closed. However, the fresh, warm, doughy bagels had already been delivered to the store in huge paper sacks. My dad happily took some and we left, an experience a teenager doesn’t forget! We would go grocery shopping at a huge Pathmark store with my mom and he and I would find the biggest size jars of silly things: three-pound troughs of peanut butter and dill pickles, tubs of mandarin oranges and hide them in the cart as a joke. My mother would roll her eyes and shake her head, clearly not amused, but my dad and I would laugh hysterically. Often, there would be open boxes of cookies or candy and we would help ourselves to free samples. Back then, we weren’t worried about poison or germs or anthrax.

My father spent his entire life working for TWA,  getting free airline tickets for our family.  My father, mother, older sister and I flew to: France, Greece, Portugal, Israel, Switzerland and Germany. First class seats were a mere eight dollars extra but that was a lot of money years ago and a very special treat.

This Saturday on my dad’s birthday my husband and I are going to visit my mom and take her out for lunch, we don’t want her to be alone. I know that spending the day with my mom would make my dad very happy.  He loved my mom more than anyone else in the world. Later, that night, my kids and I will remember him with his own, signature and messy concoction, “Papa’s game”: a “mixture” containing  little bits of everything that is leftover on our plates and in our glasses, swirled together with a spoon and a smile. This year, I will toast to his memory.

Buying A Purple Shirt While Eating Jelly Beans

This is a picture i took for the Candy article.

Image via Wikipedia

This is the kind of post you want to read on a Monday afternoon when the clouds are all gray and gloomy and it is the start of a brand new week. The orange-green-red leaves on the trees are swaying and they look like they want to cry. I’m thinking about the future and living somewhere else where the sun stays out all day and you don’t have to wear a thick black jacket.  The only perk today is that our house is clean and it looks pretty. There are no cobwebs that I can see and the wood shines like a Pledge commercial. It smells lemony and the beds are made and the sheets are fresh and I am planning to take a hot bath tonight. It’s against house rules to put your dirty body into a brand new made-up bed with sheets and blankets that beckon you and smile.

It’s our friend Christina’s 16th birthday and she looked so sweet and innocent and happy like a shiny polished Macintosh apple. My son drives her to school and back every day along with his sister seated proudly in the front seat. Christina was wearing the soft beige scarf that my daughter gave her for her birthday. Her arms were packed with brownies and oatmeal cookies and chocolate cake that her school friends made for her birthday celebration. Oh to be young, filled with sweetness, innocence and incomparable joy. I see myself in young Christina, all eager and willing to please, her arms outstretched for a big, warm, hug.

I’m listening to music to quell the anxiety that has been plaguing me for the last week. It starts in the late afternoon and escalates until nighttime; my stomach clenches and my legs ache with unbearable pain. My aches and pains stem from stubborn, bossy, Fibromyalgia and sleep comes as a welcome relief.

I’ve taken down all the photographs of my children when they were very young and replaced them with an up-to-date picture of the two of them grinning, their eyes alive with mischief; my son’s arm casually draped around his sister’s shoulders. I had to beg and plead a lot for that one portrait. While I am extremely proud of my children’s independence I have had a few problems lately adjusting to it.  I can’t forget the moment last year when my son said patiently “Mom, High School is one big lie.” It is a message that has been burned into my brain and I think of it often.  I didn’t believe him then but I do now. Apparently, lies are commonplace but I need to force myself to look deeper, for honor, and not compare my past, unhappy and burdened youth to their present, over-indulged happy lives.

I am booking a massage at the local spa, a gift I received for my birthday, and I am looking forward to it. There, I will not think of the last year, tension pressed up against stress like two sweaty lovers: unemployment and illness together as one.  I will fantasize about traveling, seeing the tulips in Holland, a trip to Israel in the spring, perhaps the countryside of Spain. I will picture my loving husband’s face, his hand in mine, playing the punch buggy game in the car and competing in the “I love you more” contest. I will remember that when I asked him for a phrase, another definition for “empty nest” he threw his head back, howled loudly, with glee and in a snap of a second he shouted: “Freedom.” I love him so much in many ways but I especially love him for giving me that.

Dedicated to Danny