Saturday, April 25, 2020

Looking ahead...

Longer hours of daylight, more hours of sun, flowers emerging from the soil, warm days. It is difficult to remain sad. On the other hand it is effortless to be optimistic. Although the number of virus cases creep up daily in my county, there are signs the light at the end of the tunnel is visible. Barely, but discernible. 

Meanwhile folks tentatively emerge from six weeks in quarantine. My town awakens. Slowly, carefully.

The local ice cream store opened in March, but closed a few days later. Folks were serious about quarantining, and the weather was cold and nasty. No one had ice cream on their mind. Fast forward a month, and Sundaze opened for the second time this season. Hopefully their doors will remain open until November. Takeout only, but it’s a start. 

An iconic local restaurant, shuttered since mid-March, announced on Facebook that they will open in early May for takeout. Another restaurant currently under construction also announced they will open for business mid-May for takeout and delivery. 

Our town’s farmer’s market is scheduled to open May 22. This year only food stands are permitted, and booths will be dispersed throughout the parking lot. I look forward to fresh local fruits and vegetables. 

These are small steps in the recovery and revival of life in my corner of the world. But they are moving in the right direction. Looking ahead...

Thursday, April 23, was Take Your Sons and Daughters to Work Day. My granddaughter had been looking forward to going to work with Daddy this year. So Thursday morning father and daughter went to Daddy’s temporary office together – in their basement. Disappointing. Sydney can’t wait to actually go to work with Daddy next year. Looking ahead...

This weekend, the last weekend in April, hub and I would be in Florida. If life were normal we would celebrate my granddaughter’s Bat Mitzvah and 13th birthday. But life is not normal, and the event has been rescheduled for October. Instead the Florida family celebrated her not-mitzvah in a uniquely quarantine way – the car cavalcade. Hopefully the entire family and friends will assemble in person in October for the main event. Looking ahead... 
These pictures were taken from a Facebook video
of the car cavalcade celebrating my granddaughter's not-mitzvah.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Before Quarantine...and Now

The days of quarantine go on...and on...and on. So what is life like now? How is it different from life BQ – before quarantine? Here is a summary of my life before – and now.

Before Quarantine
and Now
6:30 AM – 
Get up and
practically jump out of bed.
Wake up, glance at clock, 
ask myself: what day is it?,
turn over and go back to sleep.
Grab something to eat, 
and go to the gym.

Spend an hour working out – 
not every day, 
but often.
Finally get up, throw on sweats, 
grab a cup of coffee 
on the way to the family room.
Return home, 

Think about doing morning stretches, but don’t. 
Settle on the couch, 
turn on computer.
Breakfast time!

Relax on couch, 
check email & news.
Scan email, news.
Think about breakfast.
to attend a class or 
organization meeting.

Class or meeting continues.
Relax after breakfast.
Return home for lunch
meet friends for lunch.

Think about cleaning the house OR attacking a home-improvement project.
Instead read a book.
Continue lunch with a friend
run errands 

Continue reading
attend a Zoom meeting 
or get-together.

Think about taking a walk - after reading another chapter in my book.
Prepare for classes, work on volunteer projects, write.
Laundry, clean house, 
paper work (bills, etc.)
Take a walk, 
garden if weather permits, 
or continue reading. 
Have a snack if hungry 
or if just in the mood for a snack.
Read, check emails, 
maybe take a walk, 
think about dinner.
Check emails, 
watch news.
Think about what to cook for dinner.
Prepare dinner 
decide where to go out to dinner.

Prepare dinner 
Decide where to order delivery or curbside take-out.
Go out to dinner 
OR eat home.  
Attend meeting 
or social event.
Eat dinner.

stay home.

Binge watch a series, sit in on Zoom event, review email and news, 
fall asleep on couch.
Check next day's schedule, bedtime...


Saturday, April 11, 2020

The Promise of Spring

Where flowers bloom so does hope.
-       Lady Bird Johnson

Flowers sprouted prematurely in my community this spring. Maybe it was the mild winter and – or – rains that saturated the soil. This is the best year I can remember for my yard’s flowering flora. Crocus never emerged, but there are clusters of daffodils - white and shades of yellow, and pink and purple gladiolas. Red and white tulips made their appearance, and pink blossoms emerged on the tree in the center of my front yard. A vibrant mélange, a counterpoint to endless weeks spent primarily indoors. The arrival of spring and vivid sunny days heralds the promise once again when we can walk and bike on the boardwalk, talk to neighbors closer than six feet apart minus face masks, visit family, and restart selected small group pre-quarantine activities. 

When I was a kid spring meant a new dress for Passover seder and Easter Sunday family get-togethers. Sometimes the holidays felt like spring, warm and sunny, but some years the days were cold, occasionally wet and rainy, and that new lightweight spring outfit inappropriate for wintry weather. But whatever the day brought, I knew spring was just around the corner. The promise of spring meant more time outdoors, shedding sweaters and coats, spring vacation, time to plan summer activities. 

Today my barbecue grill sits patiently on the patio eager to cook up delightful dishes. The past few days have been cold and windy, rainy too, so it sat unused. But a cloudless sky and warming temperatures lure me outdoors, and the promise of more mild sunny days lightens my mood. 

My vegetable garden – unattended last year and a victim of benign neglect most years - begs for attention. I made it outside one day, weeded, raked, and planted early spring veggies. A manila envelope with a variety of seed packets sat in my garage for at least two years and probably longer, awaiting my garden-gloved hands. This year those seeds will initially feel the damp earth, hopefully see daylight and yield delicious produce. I realize old seeds may not be as robust as new ones, but whatever flourishes will be welcome. Like the promise of spring, my garden promises bounty yet unknown.
My patch of earth morphs into a vegetable
garden - basil grows...
To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.
-Audrey Hepburn

I wish everyone Happy Holidays
and the gift of life coronavirus-free soon.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Two Trips Fifty Years Apart

My staycation, a.k.a. quarantine, continues. I do less of what I should do – clean the house for instance – and more of what I like to do, such as read, participate in Zoom get-togethers, and indulge a bit of nostalgia. Burrowing through my closet, I discovered a T-shirt that conjured up memories of two trips taken fifty years apart.


Summer 1967. The world explodes, or so it seems. Race riots break out around the country. The Vietnam War heats up and anti-war demonstrations take off. Israel’s Six Day War begins and ends. I turn 17 and travel to Israel.

In 1905 my grandmother’s family left Hungary and settled in the United States. Relatives that remained in Hungary emigrated to Palestine in the 1930s. Grandma Rose kept in contact with her Israeli relations, and in 1967 sent me to Israel to meet them. I began a six-week adventure with people I did not know in a country never visited whose residents spoke a language I did not understand. 

Hours after leaving New York I stepped onto the tarmac in Israel, dazed by the bright sun, the heat, and travel exhaustion. Uncle Alex met me at the airport. We stopped along the road at a falafel stand – my first taste of Mid-Eastern cuisine, warm chickpea falafel balls embedded in a pita with lettuce, tomato, onions and a spicy sauce that oozed everywhere. I was hooked. My journey ended on a Jerusalem street in front of a 1920s-era stone home reputed to lodge prisoners in the cellar during Israel’s War of Independence. I met Aunt Vera (Vera and Alex were brother and sister) and cousins Naomi and Ami, my guides during my visit. 

The three of us wandered alleys in the Old City packed with stalls selling souvenirs and religious items – Jewish, Christian and Muslim, and passed makeshift memorials to soldiers killed during the battle for the city a few weeks earlier. Occasionally shots rang out, startling me. Ami shrugged his shoulders, “happens all the time.” 

We visited the Bahai Temple in the north and viewed underwater life in the Red Sea from a glass bottom boat in the south. We splashed in the waters of the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. We fooled around on stage at the Caesarea amphitheater and climbed stone seats, imagining Roman actors performing before a raucous crowd. I got used to rough toilet paper and no TV.

I board another plane for home. A layover in Canada delayed the flight. Meanwhile my parents and boyfriend drove to Kennedy, unaware of the delay until they reached the airport. On a normal day they would have settled at a restaurant and dawdled over dinner.

Tuesday, August 29, 1967, was not an ordinary day.

That evening the final episode of the TV show The Fugitive aired at 10:00 PM Eastern time. It was a momentous event and my parents and boyfriend were determined not to miss it. If my plane landed on schedule we would have arrived home in time to watch the show.

That did not happen.

The three would-be viewers searched the airport for a TV, but their quest proved futile. They were not among the 78 million Americans who watched The Fugitive finale – 72% of American homes tuned in - the largest TV audience for a program up to that time.

I expected smiles and cries of joy when I disembarked. Instead three frustrated, despondent individuals grabbed me and my bags and dragged me out of the airport, fuming over their failure to witness The Judgment Part II,  “the day the running stopped.” 

I was responsible for the fact that they missed the greatest TV show ever. 

They never totally forgave me. 


Summer 2017. The President of the United States dominates the news, fake and not-so-fake. North Korea fires ballistic missiles. Terrorist attacks occur around the world. I return to Israel. I had not kept in contact with my Israeli cousins, and tried to reconnect with Ami and Naomi, but failed.

Sixteen family members traveled to Israel. We arrived at our hotel on a Friday, dropped our bags and went out to explore, eventually settling at an outdoor table at a cafe on Ben Yehuda Street, a major pedestrian mall. Suddenly we hear loud voices and shouting. Gazing up the street, a wall of women and a few men march towards us waving signs in Hebrew and English demanding women’s rights. 

We visited the Western Wall, the remains of the Second Temple destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD. Men and women, separated by a fence, daven (pray), and place pieces of paper with prayers on them in crevices in the wall. Groups of Orthodox men dance in a circle, welcoming Shabbat. The first time I visited the Wall, also on the Sabbath, Ami scolded me for carrying money on the holiday. 

Resting on my way to the top of Masada.
Our entourage trekked the narrow streets and alleys of Jerusalem, up and down steep hills. I don’t remember the terrain as an obstacle fifty years earlier. We waded through tunnels beneath the streets of Jerusalem that supplied water to allay the thirst of besieged residents over 2,500 years ago. We tubed down the shriveling Jordan River, a victim of climate change and poor water management. We plunged into the Dead Sea, floated on its salty waters, and covered ourselves with mud. The lake was not threatened by receding shorelines and sinkholes my first visit. I watched my grandkids run around the ruins of a Roman amphitheater and race up and down the age-old stone bleachers.

My family, way ahead of me
on the trail to Masada.
 I climbed Masada. Younger members of my party completed the hike in an hour. I finally arrived at the top in 1½ hours, but stopped along the way to take pictures (and catch my breath!). I proudly wear my “I Climbed Masada” T-shirt!

We viewed barbed wire fences separating Palestinian lands from Israeli settlements, walked through bunkers along the Gaza border, bounced across grassy Galilee hills in a jeep, and rode camels in the desert. 

We arrived in Tel Aviv the last day of Tel Aviv Gay Pride Week. From women’s rights to gay rights, from the ancient holy city of Jerusalem to the cosmopolitan metropolis of Tel Aviv, we traversed thousands of years across land that has been a crossroads of civilization since prehistoric times. 

Fifty years spanning two centuries bracket my trips. And my life. 

FYI, I have never seen the last episode of The Fugitive