Finally getting around to writing some new posts and updates of what is happening in my life.  Its Memorial Day weekend, 2010 and I am quite busy with projects.

Getting ready for Shlomo to leave for CERN and Geneva on the 8th of June, I have started to pack up the kitchen and pantry as I will start demolition on the 9th.  Working on another three quilts and just finished cleaning out my closet and drawers, discarding some of the things I never use and never throw away (packrats of the universe unite!)

My friend Judy in New Orleans always asks me to write Hallmark verse for events that she gives a card for – this last week it was for a couple getting married – so I wrote this:

You’re getting married to one another
So be best friends as well as lovers
Be loyal, kind, respectful, sweet
Make sure you give each other treats

To little matters pay you heed
For when you do, you show that needs
Are heard and answered, feelings met
And you will find thats how you get

The things you want by giving freely
Of your heart, which matters, REALLY!
Communicate your needs and wants
Take walks and make some fav’rite haunts

Eat meals together, share your day
Take time to get a chance to play
Before your coffee, after work
Take 30 minutes – do not irk

The bedrooms sacred, make it so
Music yes, but TV no
When quarreling find another spot
So with those tensions its not fraught

Be to each other first and most
And then on Facebook you can post
I dreamed a dream that we made real
Our life together is ideal

Evidently it was well received – meaning I will be called upon again. She wanted to set me up with a service – I asked “How much does it pay?” and the conversation came to an end.

Sara finished up her first year in England with high marks, and is back for the summer. She looks absolutely terrific!

She is busy and happy and pursuing her passions.  I am very proud of her.

Daniel continues being extremely busy with his work and all his other activities.  He and Marlena have done a fair amount of traveling since they have been living in Evanston, and I am glad to see that he is busy with social activities as much as he is, as well as work and all the other pursuits.   He is coming to visit next weekend and I will take some new pictures to post.  We spent Mother’s Day together in Los Angeles and although I meant to take some pictures, it never happened.

Speaking of which, it was probably one of the nicest Mother’s Days I ever had.  I am so grateful to have been blessed with such wonderful children and friends.

Signing off for now…



Dear Family and Friends

A long time has passed since I wrote a letter, but the reprieve is up. It has been a time of reflection, of growth, of change and readjustment. In short – life as usual…

My eyesight, the most amazing adjustment of all, is still a daily miracle to me. I still hope I won’t wake up from this dream world where I can recognize people more than four feet away. I’m glad I never knew people could see like this, I would have missed it way too much. But now – it’s a whole new form of entertainment.

On the home front, Sara is fast approaching High School graduation. We have survived a rather intense case of senioritis and just need to figure out which school to choose. It looks as though UC Davis and UC Santa Cruz are the main contenders – and I guess we have till May to let them know. She has decided that she wants to stay not too far away, and I am pleased. She actually WANTS me to be close enough to come visit. Can’t fathom it, but I like it.

Daniel has managed to carve himself out a lifestyle that seems to suit him to a tee. He is living in an apartment and is keeping house in a rather admirable way. Laundry, shopping, cooking etc etc are all managed well. His fraternity elected him treasurer and he has been doing a fair amount of freelance web work to help support his various interests. Last quarter he completed his sophomore requirements and is now officially a junior – and holding his own. Even with a fair amount of distraction provided by a certain young lady….

Shlomo is having a better time at work this year, and some issues seem to have been resolved, leaving him less compromised. He hasn’t traveled as much this year, but has been busy with the stock market, and like every other guy, spends way too much time talking about stocks, checking stocks, giving stock tips… you know the routine..

Henry has decided to close up Melco, for a variety of reasons, all of which make sense and should improve things drastically for him. However, it has not been an easy decision nor is it simple to carry out. I have offered to lend a hand where possible. The job I was given – at least for now – is to clean up the ominous packrat backlog left by my father. What an enormous and challenging job. From incredulity to laughter to tears – I am sifting through the mountains of artifacts left. He was too busy living to bother. It’s a journey that takes me places I hadn’t prepared for. Hard sometimes.

Generally, this is always a difficult time of year for me anyway. Today my father would have been 85, but on his birthday I always recall the year my mother died. We drove out to Palm Springs to do some stupid errands and for lunch. It was a Friday. A week later, on the 9th, she died, and was buried on the 11th, which would have been their 35th anniversary. It is this time of year that is marked for me by lilacs, and when I returned home, I saw they are in full bloom.

So this time, being at Melco was especially hard. I grew up walking through that factory, and, like a factory should, it always hummed. When I worked there, my father wanted me to understand how people live, so I shouldered a rivet gun and did the assembly line for a time, though I also worked in the office. The summer I was 16, I worked in there to earn some money to take a much desired vacation to Mexico, and Betty and I paid for our own tickets and hotels when we took the bus from Tijuana to Mexico City (It was only 32 dollars, I think), though we flew home (That was closer to 200, but much quicker!). My father’s view of life was heavy on the manufacturing end, and as a child, wherever we went, we toured factories to see and understand how things are made. Definitely it made an impression on how I view life, I know that.

Walking through Melco, most of the machines are silent. Rigor mortis has started to set in, and it feels like a morgue. For my part, I try to bring some postive energy into the place, to dispel some of the horrid gloom that hangs in the air. Steve, the foreman, and I are always at it with playful banter – I have known him all my life. He started working at Melco in 1953, and my father always treated everyone like they were part of the family. So he teases me unmercifully, but I always get him back. Then we turn to work on Larry, and give him hell, too. The office girls, Jodi and Veronica, give me a hand whenever I need it, so when it gets too raggedy for me in the warehouse, I come spend a few in the office.

My father’s stage is being dismantled. The wall that is covered with the map of the world filled with pins will soon no longer show which continents he explored nor which cities he conquered.. So I take stock, toss, sort, ready items for sale on ebay, and, as I can, sort through letters and pictures. This week I found a treasure trove of letters to my father, from the most amazing assortment of people. Richard Nixon the president -elect, Goodwin Knight, governor, Sam Yorty, mayor, Conrad Hilton, Time magazine, Heads of commerce and various councilmen, senators, congressmen, etc. etc. etc. All shoved in together with brochures, junk mail, newsletters – everything must be gone through. Its an overwhelming task, and the dust is thick.

Sometimes, it’s the pictures, though that get me. I found one, taken in 1956, with my father front and center, next to his “Melco Man” logo and surrounded by the workers of his fledgling company. Steve (the foreman, remember?) is there, at the very left, looking really tough guy. Most of the people in that picture worked for my father till they retired, at least the guys. He never was afraid to get his hands dirty, and he knew how to work every machine and do every job, and could show anyone how exactly to make something work well. I loved watching him work, and spent many hours helping him weld and solder using acetylene tanks at home on weekends. He would think and draw and figure then take the wire, cut and bend it just right, and make it speak. Process excited him, and he wanted to try them all. When my mother was dying we worked together on stained glass, really the last big “project” we ever did together. I must have foiled fifteen million pieces for a tiffany lamp he wanted to put together. He got somebody else to cut out all the tiny pieces, and I worked and worked every night foiling them. He couldn’t sit still long enough to do much, but he sat with me at the table, and we spoke of the future as I pretended with him that my mother was in it. Today, the cups full of foiled pieces sit in my garage, waiting for the day I am able to see in it the lamp that needs to be put together, and not the attempt at gathering my fathers life together. Perhaps I should teach Daniel how you can take some flux and solder and bring all the colors together so that the light they shed is colored and complex. I could help, but cannot bear the thought of sitting all alone over those foiled shards.

Its hard enough to go through boxes. I haven’t even begun to dig deep. I found pictures from Henry and Wendy’s wedding, in June 1974. Shlomo had not yet returned from Israel so Joel was my date. I didn’t mind, as I loved going to parties with Joel. I never could remember anyone’s name, and in fact, was rather famous for it. It was humiliating, and made me feel foolish, but the fact remained. Joel, on the other hand, knew everyone, and could produce names like a diplomat’s aide. At parties, we would walk around together, and he would spot who was coming to say hello and prep me – telling me whom it was, and some details. When they got to me, they always had this little gleam in their eye as they said, “of course, you don’t remember me, but….” Power! Joel had made sure I DID know! I would say “oh, don’t be silly! Of COURSE I do, (name) – and how is (wives name) and the kids? Amazed, they would answer and back away, nothing left to say. I loved that part the best, and my parents of course were renowned party-givers – If you didn’t count the before or after, those were marvelous times. So many stupid little memories are springing up, unbidden. I remembered, for no good reason, the bartender at a party when I was ten or so – he was one of these totally infectious cases of a good attitude. During a pre-party break he taught me how to backshuffle cards – which for years I used to impress those who find such parlor tricks clever. Memories, see how they are? No warning, they just grab you by the throat.

So I enclose some pictures on my fathers birthday. Some happy memories which stir my soul a bit. I also send along part of a table picture ( Gerry – you just happened to make it into this one – look at all that HAIR! Ellen, can you believe it?), that reminded me also of just how very much I loved Joel. I don’t want to miss this opportunity to tell you all that you too constitute a big portion of my life, and so I take this opportunity to say, though we may not speak often or much, I love you.




Dear Family and Friends

It has been difficult for me to sit down and write about the second eye surgery. Overwhelmed and in a state of sensory overload, it has taken me longer than I expected to stop and gather my thoughts. Somehow major and minor events in my life have surfaced to be examined and re-examined in a different light. Significantly, the first corrective eye surgery I had, shortly before my sixth birthday, has played across my mind repeatedly, and it occurs to me that the psychological impact of these two events are somehow connected.

Prior to that surgery, my crossed eyes made it immediately obvious that I had a problem with my eyes. Although at the time they liked to wait until age ten to operate, the teasing had gotten so intense by the time I started first grade that my parents decided they were unwilling to wait any longer. My brothers helped to prepare me for the surgery, explaining how the way to reach the eyes was to remove the top of the head. I remember the dream I had during surgery, where my the top of my skull was sawed off and then the doctors went to work with wrenches and screwdrivers to tighten up the loose nuts and bolts. I was sent home completely bandaged and imagined myself blind. My memories are actually incredibly vivid, almost palpable, in some ways. And I reflected on the meaning that experience had in my life, as I learned and examined much in the week between the surgeries. Repeatedly I heard from friends how unaware of the extent of my vision impairment they had been. Although I often felt like Mr. Magoo, I guess they hadn’t noticed the incredible resemblance. In retrospect I have had a stunning realization, that it is just those types of impairments, the ones that others are not immediately aware of, that should be talked about and explained to those who care about us. It isn’t a problem for those who have obvious problems, as people readily adapt to that which they can see. I can understand now that I simply spent years feeling embarrassed for clumsy behavior unnecessarily. Easy to say, now that I can see. I never understood how different things look with depth perception. Even just in the house things look different. I like the fact that I can see things coming now, and they don’t just suddenly “pop” into my field of view.

With all of that time to reflect, the second surgery loomed ahead of me in a far different way than the first one did. I had spent a week covering one eye and then the other, switching my view from my left (-corrected) eye to my right, with my prescription contact lens in. It felt as though I was wearing a Vaseline smeared sunglass over my right eye, the difference in clarity and light was so intense. I understood, more and more, how unimaginable this transformation was to be. That light dawning in my pea brain left no room for sleep. I became so excited that it was impossible to rest or even sit still. The night before the surgery, although I had made great efforts to retire early and get as much rest as I could, I could barely sustain sleep for three hours. Too enormous and too exciting a future was in store, and I was really finally comprehending all that it entailed.

The second surgery was more difficult for me to sit still through, for that reason. I tried my best to give my assistance, as much as possible, to Dr. Salz, but I think that my excitement was just a bit distracting. The poor nurse thought I was in pain, and made efforts to calm me and hold my hand. I was just happy, and trying to concentrate at the same time. I was hoping like mad that the results would be as good in my right eye as they were in my left.

What can I say? The world has changed. The colors are so bright that I feel like I exited a world or two color process printing and entered a Maxfield Parrish gallery. The contrasts are stark and amazing. My brain is having quite a time just keeping up with all the thoughts that bounce around like so many ping pong balls in the lotto machine. I am spilling over with thought, and for the most part find it difficult to do much else. My time is spent taking in the sights, and trying to digest the entirety of the change I have undergone.

Evening events will no longer keep me home, as I can now read street signs EVEN AT NIGHT. Driving home from Berkeley, the skyline of Oakland was so beautiful. I could tell where in space the buildings were, and the approximate location of the airplane flying overhead in relationship to them. I sit in the car and drive, listening to music, unable to speak, looking, thinking…

Someone has unlocked the door and I am free now to go. In two or three weeks my eyes will have healed to the point that no one will even know that I am so bionic. Amazing world. Incredible vistas. Pinch me and make sure I’m not dreaming. Words don’t even come close.

I add these words, sent to me by a friend, penned by the poet and composer Rabindranath Tagore:

The sunlight opens for me the world’s gate, love’s light its treasure.

Wishing you great delight,



Dear Family and Friends,

Today is Thursday, two days since I had the lens in my left eye replaced – and five days until my right eye is fixed. The past two days have been a time of great emotion, incredible joy, catharsis, reflection and thanksgiving for me.

Prior to undergoing surgery, I had been given various scenarios, but what I really understood the best was that I would once again be able to pick up and read a book. That ability being of such importance to me, and its lack such a hole in my life, that I was eager to trade whatever was necessary to recover it. The correction being an actual internal measurement, and the ability prior to surgery to make only exterior refractive analyses, it is a bit of educated guesswork. But damn! They are incredible guessers – preliminary readings yesterday at noon revealed a measurement of -.5, which gives me 20/20 vision in my left eye, which no longer has hardly any astigmatism. And THAT was my bad eye, of late little more than a hazy window to the world outside.

The night before the surgery, I walked down the steps at my friend Betty’s house and never saw the last step. Fortunately, my laptop survived unscathed! My knees, which made solid contact with the concrete, got a little bumped, but no big deal. Certainly nothing I haven’t experienced hundreds and hundreds of times, as the lack of depth perception and poor night vision have me well accustomed to finding walls and other objects with body parts. One learns to compensate with humor for the embarrassment that accompanies that constant kind of behavior, especially in childhood. I had long since stopped even giving any thought to that type of occurrence. So I have done much reflection, as my life has been turned around.

I have thought about the childhood I spent peering out from behind pink or blue glittered frames that had invariably slid down until they were perched precariously on the tip of my nose. Annoyed by the constant battle which gravity always won, I was usually too engrossed in whatever I was doing to bother even trying to make them stay. That changed for me when I got contact lenses at 14, and again at 16 – the first time Stan did my eyes while he was going to USC. For the first time I felt comfortable enough to give honest answers, which I was aware seemed rather odd. For example, when asked to look at the dot, I asked (first time ever) which dot he meant. And when he asked, I told him how many it was that I saw. Thus I arrived at a new level of vision correction, although in the past few years, the level has sharply and steadily declined.

Today, my world is changed. I can see things I have never seen before. There is more light, more color, more texture and sharper focus than I have ever imagined when I look out of my left eye – unaided. The discomfort has been minimal, certainly not worth mentioning in contrast to the benefits. I will no longer have to work so hard to align images that want to splay out right and left, up and down.

I love the technological advances that are the earmark of our age, and adore the fact that everything keeps getting better, more powerful, smaller and more affordable. I have infinite admiration for the creative and highly educated minds that improve the quality of our lives and help to make dreams reality. What a wonderful time this is to be alive.




Dear Family and Friends

First report post-surgery. I got to the Dr.’s office at seven, and by eight or so I was in the surgical office, where they proceeded with all their magic. They removed my lens, inserted a bionic one, and did some laser correction on the astigatism of that eye. By nine o’clock I could see the Dr. through the little window in the protective shield I had taped over my eye. REALLY see him. Better through my left eye (my worse one) than through the right one WITH a contact lens in. In my entire life, I never was able to see more than fuzzy fuzzy stuff by opening my eye. Ever. Overcome, the floodgates could not withstand the emotional response. I am left speechless.

I leave further details to a time when thought catches up to this alteration of my being.




Dear Family and Friends

Well, here we are again – three days short of the last year of the millenium – three nines that will carry us to the big 00. I know that Nostradamus had much to say about numerology and the meaning of the upcoming shift that I am incapable of sharing with you. Us unenlightened folk will have to just wait and see what new and exciting events these times will bring us.

It has certainly been an exciting year, with many changes for this household. It seems as though everyone is adjusting well and getting settled in their new roles. Most significantly, Daniel left home and started his University career at UC San Diego in September. Although I agonized all summer over the changes that this would mean, it seems that all is well in Paradise. After his first few weeks at school, he decided to pledge a fraternity, Sig Ep, and since then we have hardly heard from him (except for requesting the occasional laundry instructions or injection of funds). He returned home at Thanksgiving for a few days, and we managed to spend one lovely afternoon together. To end the year he is home for two weeks, although with this much time and all his friends back home as well, it is more like old times than ever. I have even had the treat of all the kids sprawled over all the couches a few times this trip. Made me nostalgic for the old times, so I had to fix them all pancakes when they finally managed to stir themselves. But other than those few backsliding moments, I am not moping over the changes. I feel good that he is capable of moving forward in such an easy way, as it should be.

Sara, on the other hand, has blossomed in the few months she has had star billing. The removal of her noisy, attention grabbing older brother has allowed her to find her voice and quite a bit of self sufficiency and composure as well. She managed, in a fashion not quite comprehensible to me, to pass the driver’s test in October, without much benefit of driving experience. It seems that there was a real push to get the license as the laws governing young drivers were about to change and that would enforce a highly undesirable curfew on her, which provided enough incentive to make her succeed. Impressively, her driving skills are quite refined, and she has even semi mastered the art of manual shifting, thanks to my good friend Courtenay. For some reason she has sacrificed the clutch of her brand new beautiful Subaru Forester to share that knowledge with the Little Miss. Lucky girl.

On the social front, she has really gotten both hands into this BBG/BBYO stuff and is now co-president of the East Bay co-ed new/reforming chapter. In this capacity she has attended two weekend retreats at Camp Swig (how does one take 6 pairs of shoes for a two day sleepover?) from which she has returned happy, tired, and eventually cranky till the following Saturday when she manages to catch up on her rest. The nightowl gene, which I was sure that she had not inherited has somehow managed to rear its ugly head. Although I cannot begin to imagine the source of such a gene, holidays when the kids are here it seems the house only begins to rock after 11:30 pm. Last night she and her girlfriend took my car and were out till after one, at which time I told them I had to go to sleep, thank you very much. Although they re-entered the house, sleep was postponed for many hours more. They did manage to get up and eat breakfast by 3 pm this afternoon, however. I cannot help but smile – I know these are pleasant memories.

All of this reminds me of one of Shlomo’s early admonitions to me – “man is not a camel”. By this he meant to say that it was not possible for a person to sleep twelve hours straight and save up the rest (the source of the hump, so to speak) to cover the next three or four days, or vice versa. Finally, I have come to see the light. He is not a camel. However, by his definition, others might possibly be. I just wonder how you tell in advance who is the dromedary and who is the bactrium… NO FAIR CHEATING on this test!!!

Shlomo spent the summer abroad and it did give him a new perspective on many things. Since his return in mid-October he spent a week in the Bahamas and two weeks in Israel, visiting his father, who was ill. Sadly, his father passed away on Christmas Eve. I took him to the airport and he made it there in time for the funeral, and he will stay for the majority of the Shiva. Sara was quite shaken up at the news, and wanted to know if everyone died on Christmas. Since Christmas Day brought the 6th anniversary of my father’s death (hard to believe how much time has passed already), the question did have its basis in reality. I did think, however, that it was a good example of the way she puts information together and comes to her own conclusions.

This year was a year of much personal growth and understanding for me. I spent much time and energy on writing, which brought with it a wealth of encouragement. It prompted a long and analytical look at much of what I choose to ignore, for the most part. I also gained much insight and new perspectives in the months apart. . I also managed to get in lots of exercise and lose some excess baggage I have been carting around, although there is still a ways to go. Many things are difficult, but in the end, with enough desire, they ARE possible. Which brings me to the great possibility just looming on the near horizon:

I DO finally have a date for my eye surgery, although I am sure that you all are tired of hearing about the phantom event. The doctors new eye clinic, which was the only place he wanted to perform the surgery, got its final approval and FDA certificate of kashrut, or whatever it was they needed, starting at the beginning of December. So my new eyes will be installed on January 12 and 19th – a fitting start to a New Year!!! I am still as excited as ever, and as I look at the calendar, I can see that there are hardly two weeks till E-Day!!! I will surely write to tell you about it, post-surgery.

I have been fortunate to benefit from the love and attention squandered on me by a seeming legion of friends this year, and want to make sure to acknowledge my gratitude to all those who mean so very much to me. The world is a kinder place for their presence, and full of wonderful blessings.

My wish for you is that the coming year brings heaps and mounds of wonderful surprises – so many that you will barely have the time to sift through them all before the New Year sits squarely before us again. With all my heart.




Dear Family and Friends

Can’t hardly believe it, but two whole weeks have passed since we left #1 son in college. Seems much longer than that, actually, more like a few months. Two Saturdays ago the three of us got to campus, waited in lines, waited in other lines, waited in some more lines until finally Daniel had his keys, his books, his student card and various other necessities. Then we moved him into his dorm room, and chatted while I played Mom and made up his bed and put his clothes away. He set up his computer, we met his roomate and finally, before I lost it completely, we said goodbye and drove away. The time since then has been so filled with “stuff” that up until right this minute, I have hardly had space to sit back and realize how things have changed. After returning from San Diego Saturday night, the time ran until it was Tuesday morning and I took Shlomo to the San Francisco airport. From there I ran back to the East Bay and Oakland Airport, to pick up my friend Linda Mallah and her daughter, Danielle (age 10), for a nice visit. We had a ball, singing like crazies and actually had the best of intentions to make Halloween costumes for the girls as well. Danielle, aka Princess Lalapallooza, is set – you could put her on top of a cake, she looks so sweet. Sara couldn’t find anything that quite worked yet, and October has started to tick down. Yesterday she decided she is too old to trick or treat this year, although she and her girlfriends are planning a party. We will find something to make her into another entity for the occasion. I have heard Al Capone, Gangsters Moll, and a few others, but nothing has quite stuck as of yet. Never mind. Time still to think. When they left on Sunday morning, I was sorry to see them go, we had such a lovely time. But Sunday night they were replaced.

A very sweet Israeli girl, the daughter of one of Shlomo’s childhood classmates, called me on Saturday night. Although I don’t know her, and really barely know her parents, I remembered how very kind so very many people were to me when I was young and traveling and trying to save my pennies. So I said, “come on over – I can offer you a bed and a shower, but I really can’t do much more”. I was really charmed by her. She is 24, and while earning her keep through college saved enough money to manage herself a trip to the US for graduation. She is now halfway through a four month trip, backpacking and youth hosteling her way across the country. Alone. I have to admire her. I know what it takes to go traveling by yourself, I did Europe that way the summer I was 18, and it isn’t easy. But it is very rewarding, and you meet so many people that you would never meet were you traveling with someone else. So we talked, and I enjoyed her, and it seems she enjoyed staying here. In Israel, the biggest compliment anyone ever would give you is to say “you know, you’re NOTHING LIKE an American”. I thought about this, because in reflecting on her, my thoughts formed the words “you know, she is NOTHING LIKE an Israeli”. Hmmmm…. I enjoyed her immensely. She left Thursday morning, for regions south and to the west, as she has herself booked into Oahu and Maui, having already managed her big dream, Alaska. I wish her well.

And last night I had dinner for a cousin and a friend, and tonight a girlfriend came over for dessert and movies. So you see, I cannot feel that I am lonesome or that my life has changed. There is simply too much going on to give it a moments thought. In that manner I have managed to stay off the phone. I haven’t called Daniel (although he has called me). I have hardly even IM’ed him. He has been adjusting:to college life. The job he applied for was granted, and he is now working twelve hours a week. He has met many new friends, tried on various aspects of freedom, and, although I think he sounds awfully tired, he is doing his own thing in his own way. What can I say? I myself was best friends with all the night guards in every building on campus. Oh, those beautiful Colorado sunrises were the best. I guess I do understand.

Smoothing out the details, he is adjusting. He has pledged a frat, Sigma Phi Epsilon. Fraternities and sororities are the most foreign things I can even begin to think of, but it’s not my life. He will have to find his way and learn about himself. It is part of the process, and a most important part. I hope to find within me the ability to stand aside and let him find out who that is and what that means, without sticking my nose in too far, while not seeming too aloof. I know that I need to keep my eyes on the forest, and just not worry too much about the trees.

Sara now has her turn to be top banana. Shlomo will return home in ten days. The rhythms of my life need to adjust to this new tune. I think it is also catchy, and once I get the melody down, it will all be just fine.




Dear Family and Friends

Today Daniel and I drove his car, packed to bursting with all his worldly goods, down to San Diego. The past couple of days while he has been packing up, Sara has been doing her best to help. She has run upstairs, downstairs, outside, back and forth bringing him things and taking them away. She carried down most of his possessions, and packed up all his clothes, going over with him which clothes he should take, which he should leave, and what to wear when and with what. She has consulted over shoes, after shave, school supplies, and just about everything. At times he has lost patience and had harsh words for her, when her enthusiasm gets her going over the top, and she has collapsed in tears more than once in the past week. As she leaves to go to her room, he gives me the “what the heck did I do?” look, and I have tried to explain to him that he doesn’t understand how emotional a time this is for her.

He still can’t get it. So this morning the three of us hopped into the front seat, to take Sara to school before we got on the road. At school, she got out (Daniel, by the way, has been responsible for taking her to and from school most of the time for the past two years), and Daniel got out and as he gave her a hug goodbye, she couldn’t control herself and started to cry, hard. I went over to hold her and was caught in her mood, and started to cry, a little, as well. Daniel, my poor boy, stood there dumbfounded, not knowing what to do or what the hell was going on. I felt like I did the day Sara started kindergarten. I was sure that this was NOT going to happen. Hmmmm…. Not doing too well, but not too bad, either, considering, I guess.

Anyway, we started on the trip and the mood improved. Daniels car was so loaded that the hydraulic load adjusting mechanism in the car was taking as much as ten minutes to compensate for the lowriding Cadillac, and the shocks/struts are GONE in the car. We laughed and made merry for the eleven plus hours it took to make it to San Diego. I had printed out directions to the hotel, and the routing I had chosen continued down 5 to 56, where we crossed over to 15 and the hotel. Only ONE small problem. 56 is built on both ends, only they don’t connect. In the middle, for about fifteen miles, there is only a graded dirt road. I wasn’t exactly paying attention when the FREEWAY ENDS sign showed him the detour, and kept insisting that he made a mistake. Let me say that the dirt road, the potholes, the loaded car, the lack of shocks – it was ridiculous. I kept telling him slow down!”, “slow down!”, and although he was only going about 7 miles an hour, my butt was getting a beating, and the car was shaking like a paint mixer.

I started to laugh, and couldn’t stop. For the half hour or so we were bouncing along this road, the tears were streaming down my face, as he admonished me for not having good directions, for having chosen a hotel in the middle of nowhere(not really true) and various other ills, real or imagined.

I was turning blue from lack of breath. What will I do now to laugh so hard? Every time he threatens anything, I just reply, no problem, your Triton Plus Account (the UCSD campus m/c type bank acct that parents deposit funds into) will simply be closed. He gets frustrated and threatens something else, and I just say, no problem. The keyword now is “Triton Plus”. We parents need some kind of carrot to dangle. I guess we always can find one, too. God he makes me laugh.

After much bouncing and many miles we finally made it in, met up with Shlomo, and went out for dinner. Shlomo tried, in his inimitable way, to help Daniel after dinner by trying to pick up on a couple of young blondes. He approaches two good looking girls, maybe mid-20’s, and asks them “do you know where there is a disco for young boys around here?” The girls look at him like he’s lost his mind, replying “we’re not from around here!” and Daniel, as usual is walking away. But he has really grown, as he turns around, and gives a quick and loud retort, “Hey Dad, I didn’t know you were looking to find some young boys!” The girls cracked up, and so did he and then of course I did too, but quietly. We all had a good laugh. And I think we are all growing up as well. Anyway, in the am we are off to the dorms.

Goodnight, Happy New Year, and love to you all.



Dear Family and Friends

Well, here we are – 11:30 am on Sunday. I have slept a total of ten hours in the past three days. I am a little tired, but only on the very surface. The rest of me is considering inviting an additional twenty or so over tonite for dinner to work a little harder on all the leftovers. I have about twelve coming as it is, but after all – I still have extra tables and chairs outside that I could set up in a jiffy. Hmmmm… and the food is ready to serve, no trouble at all. Maybe I’ll make just a FEW calls a little later.

The jazz combo had such a great time playing here last night they asked if they could come over this morning and jam (and of course have leftovers) so they are downstairs playing. Daniel is enjoying himself joining in, so I am sitting in my office, listening to the wonderful sounds drifting up from the living room. Do you know how much I love to hear and feel the music under my feet (the floor vibrates when they play and the drummer is super – both pianos are going, and the bass player is rockin’)???. This is heaven!

I told them they could come and play as long as they promised to eat! I think we had enough food for 150 or so, although I did have a full complement of at least a hundred. So as promised, I will tell you how the party went – blow by bloody blow.

I think it was the most successful party I have ever thrown. The only sour note was that Shlomo wasn’t here to enjoy it. I know he would have enjoyed himself full throttle. Saturday was an easy day, as almost everything was done. I popped into Costco first thing to pick up yet another pork loin (I didn’t want to run out of food), the bread and a couple more “last minutes” before stopping at the airport to pick up my cousins and bring them over to the house.

By 4:30, everyone was ready, the food was ready, the yard was cleaned and all set up – our party theme was Mardi Gras – and the tables were decorated with beads, glitter, candles and chocolate doubloons. The guests began to arrive, and everyone migrated out to the yard, where we had been granted an absolutely perfect day. It was in the mid 70’s and picture perfect. By six a good portion of the guests had arrived, and so did the Mariachi’s. When they began to sing, revelers came to sit at the tables and listen. In the kitchen the food was ready and we put it out.

Our friends David and Sally Hardy made an exquisite and unbelievably delicious chocolate decadence tier cake – chocolate, chocolate, more chocolate, decorated with yellow roses. A keg of dos equis beer (which was the deciding factor in Daniel’s decision to invite his friends) was surrounded by the college-bound group, and they started in to fill their plates and eat. I went around and made sure everyone was wearing their Mardi Gras beads so they would be in party mode.

Guests continued to arrive to partake of the day, the music, the food and the company. The tarot card reader gave Sara her Birthday Reading. I realized that the sprinklers were about to start up on their automatic setting about four minutes before they actually did (Ohmigod!) and shut them off, thereby narrowly averting a rather party dampening experience. At 8 we sang Happy Birthday and cut the cake. Wow! Was that ever delicious. The Mariachis left and the Jazz band set up in the living room while the Tarot reader relocated to my office.

The later arrivals stayed in the yard, eating and talking, and the groups began to form. My office was filled with those awaiting their fortunes, the kids divided into groups, some in Sara’s room, some in Daniels room, some in the Dining Room, and another group up and down the stairs. The smaller kids were in the den playing Nintendo, the “can’t do nothing but yak” ers were at the kitchen table, the jazz devotees were in the living room and the “talk and listen group” were in the nook. Everyone was engaged and everyone looked happy. I walked around and was pleased and more pleased to see that no one was sitting alone or in a corner, and that every group was actively engaged with its other members.

It appears that Sara had a ball. The age range of the group was from 2 to about 80 – and everyone migrated into their appropriate group to partake of whatever it was that pleased them. Nobody even noticed the stupid sugar cubes, I think, but I know that even my mother was happy. The last guests drifted out by 1:30. The tables and chairs are folded up and ready for pickup tomorrow. The trash is bagged and stacked. The kitchen is clean and the dishes are washed and put away. The extra platters I borrowed are ready to be returned. The house is back in order. We met Vicki, Glenn, Ari and Jaimie for breakfast (where we finally located Daniel and his pal Dan) at 9:30 this morning, before they left to return to “The Valley”.

Now all that’s missing is to pick up Lucky – he is visiting at the puppy motel. I cannot end this letter without an enormous THANK YOU to Judy, my friend from New Orleans. Without her tireless assistance, I would never have been able to pull this one off. Not to mention the fact that the Mardi Gras theme, without the crawfish ettouffee and red beans and rice would not have had the same wonderful feel (not to mention the taste – YUM!). THANK YOU JUDY!!!!

To end with, a warning: there will soon be another driver on the road who is related to me. SO WATCH OUT!!!!, if you know what I mean.




Dear Family and Friends

Well, all the preparations are just about finished for the crazy party I have planned for tomorrow nite. I will write after the party to report on all the goings on and how it all turns out, but I have to sit down tonite and tell you a small tale. It has to do with my own Sweet 16 – planned by my mother and her best friend Ceil, so very many years ago.

At the time, I was rather…..lets say, into being more of a flower child than a debutante. My concept was to have a party in the park, have everyone bring their guitars, sing folk songs, and kind of kick back and zone out. My mother had a different idea so she had my cousin invite the entire Temple Teens group to a surprise party at my house (unfortunately, I was acquainted with only the most non-Temply Teens in the group – that was of no importance to her). So after a wonderful dinner out with my cousin, who took me for a “date” at a Chinese Restaurant, I returned home to a house full of people yelling “surprise!” It really was a surprise, as I didn’t know more than half of them. Only my mother was capable of such broad range surprises.

At any rate, when I entered the den, the ceiling was hung with ridiculous baggies full of sugar cubes and glitter, tied up with pink bows – the very thing to decorate. I figured either we were going to gain immunity against Polio, or have a Timothy Leary affair. My whole life I have never gotten over the ridiculous aspect of these sixteen bags of sixteen sugar cubes – how stupid can you get? I mean – come on!

So this morning, after the umpteenth trip to the store, the umpteenth trip to put away food in my friends refrigerator, and having everything pretty much tied down, Beverly, Ceils daughter calls me. She tells me how I must do the sugar cube thing. I loved Aunt Ceil – when Sara was born, she came and spent a week helping me, because my mother wasn’t alive, and she wanted to do that for her, and before she died I went down to LA to cook her Rosh HaShana dinner that she did every year for the extended family – about 50 people. I was happy to have the opportunity to give something back. It pleased her so to be able to have her dinner, even though she was too sick to do much except give instructions and taste to make sure I did it right. And Beverly told me that if I did the sugar cubes, it would be as if a little bit of her were right here helping us celebrate.

Well, I never DID think about it that way before. She was right. It was stupid, but perhaps because it was SO stupid I always thought about it and it really stuck with me. Maybe she’s right. Maybe it is good luck. It certainly can’t hurt. And what is tradition anyway? It’s whatever we decide makes us who we are and what we are – and whatever and whomever we embrace is part of what forms us. Family is about loving people – you can create the family you want by finding those people you want to be your family and treating them like it.

So here we are – I have prepared sixteen little baggies, each containing sixteen sugar cubes – sprinkled with heart glitter and tied with cascading curls of pink ribbons. I’ll hang them up tomorrow, because – in that way, I will bring back my mother and Ceil and they will be here, helping to celebrate yet another Sweet Sixteen – in their own inimitable way. I give up. Its bigger than I am, and I can’t fight it.

Mother, I hope you are happy. I thought maybe you were smoking something then. Maybe I have gone soft in the head – who knows? I know for certain that whatever spells I can cast to help push the winds of fortune in her direction are worth the effort. I know how quickly the days are speeding by. Monday she’ll be a high school junior. Last week I think I took her to her first day of kindergarten. These moments are the moorings that hold our life together – and I want her voyage to be jeweled with memories that will sparkle and keep her smiling as she wanders through. Glad to be grabbing onto the opportunity for a celebration.

I will write you a full report as soon as I’ve got it all cleaned up and put away. As for me, I’m all ready for the day to dawn – Cooking is cooked, supplies are at hand, plans are made, and bring on the day!