Friday, April 29, 2016

THE POWER of SMELL... My first memory...1936 (?)

I have tried very hard to recall my early days but I honestly don't know what I actually can remember as opposed to those things that were retold so many times in my family that they seem to be MY memories. I am not able to go back much further than when I was 6 or 7 years old. The years before that seem to be lost to me...except for this amazing experience.

I have heard that the primary sense is that of smell...and I can attest to that. When I was very young my family and I went to Brattleboro, Vt. to visit my mother's family. I know this is true because we have pictures to prove it and it is also recorded in my Aunt Emma's diaries. I must have been 3 or 4 at the time and I have no conscious memory of that visit.

HOWEVER...many years later I became aware of a very strange smell...it seemed to be a combination of three odors...the pungent smell of new sawn lumber, the slightly gamey smell of lamb being roasted in the oven and the almost sickly sweet smell of maple syrup bubbling on the stove. I was immediately transported to the kitchen of my grandparents in Brattleboro. The sensation was so strong that I felt like I could reach out and touch them...and I actually remembered being there. It was a swift but powerful memory and then it receded almost as quickly as it came..

The interesting thing is that Grandpa was a carpenter and had a shop and wood lathe in a large room off of the kitchen. They also had a "sugaring-off" business and would tap the maple trees and boil the sap into syrup on the wood stove in the kitchen.. The smell of lamb being roasted?? Perhaps that was the special meal being prepared for our visit.

Whatever it was, I have only smelled that combination two times in my 83 years and each time it has pulled me back to that warm and loving kitchen of my childhood.


Sunday, April 24, 2016

A compassionate man …


This is a picture of Judge Lou Olivera of the Cumberland County Veterans Treatment court in Fayetteville, NC. Ft. Bragg is in this district and it is also very close to where I live. It is seldom that I hear anything heartwarming about this area but this is the exception and I can't wait to relate it to you.

It happened last week when a veteran who had served three tours of duty in Afghanistan came before the judge for violating the terms of his probation. The man was shaking and appeared to the judge to be suffering from PTSD. He knew that he had to sentence him but, as he studied him he was reminded of a story that he had read. 

It was about a soldier with PTSD who had fallen into a deep hole. His family and a therapist had thrown a rope down to him but the vet was too upset to understand what to do. Finally a fellow veteran jumps into the hole with him. The suffering soldier asks, “why are you down here?” and the fellow vet replies “I am here to climb out with you.”

Judge Olivera decided to sentence the man to an overnight stay in the local jail, and then, to the surprise of everyone, he joined him there. They sat side by side on the cot in the cell and talked all night. After spending that time with the judge the suffering vet had this to say: “I cannot even put into words how I feel about him. I look at him as a father. I've seen a lot of things and this is by far the most compassionate thing I've ever seen anyone give to anybody. I will never let him down again.”









Tuesday, April 19, 2016

KIVA update...



As some of you know I’ve been enamored with KIVA for a long time. This is a world- wide organization that specializes in micro-financing.  These are loans that the big banks can't be bothered with but are life saving for the low income entreprenaurs that apply for them.  My small LOAN of $25, paired with other contributors who do the same, makes it possible to empower a person, or group of persons to start a small business. 

I highlighted the word LOAN because that is just what it is.  As the person pays back his or her loan I am repayed.  I then have a choice to take the money back or reloan it to someone else.  I am excited to say that I just got notice of another payment and when I put it back into Kiva it made 49 people that I have given loans to since 2009.  And the most amazing part is that it has cost me very little...just my initial 3 loans that I spaced over 3 months.  Since then I have simply given back to Kiva whenever my repayments reach over $25...and to date the actual money that it has generated is $1,250.

So far I have contributed to people in 41 different countries.  Today's choice is Jameela, from Pakistan.:   
A cross section of others include:  Anysakhon from Kyrgyzastan:
and Theodomir from Rwanda

Check it out.  Kiva has a first rate reputation and has helped to change lives world wide for many years.  It's an example of how a small investment can reap huge benefits. 

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Remembering Winter Sunsets and Louie ....

 
It had been a “so-so” January day and then…

…I looked out the window and saw this spectacular sight. I almost forgot where I was as I basked in the glow. My mind knew that it was one of the glorious winter sunsets that we enjoy in our part of the world…but my heart went elsewhere.

It brought to mind my dear friend Louie who passed away a few years back. He was a little guy in his mid 70’s and not in very good health but he loved going to AA meetings. We got to be friends and he would laugh about the fact that he had been the “town drunk” when I first moved to this little town in 1978.

I actually remember seeing him sitting on the steps of our Post Office. He would talk up a storm to anyone who gave him the chance. Then I didn’t see him anymore and I remember thinking that he’d probably moved away or become disabled.  Imagine my surprise when I walked into my first AA meeting in my home town in 1989. There sat Louie as sober as a judge but still talking up a storm. He and 4 other men had founded the meeting in 1983 and he had 24 years of sobriety when he died. This became my Home Group and I was the only female there for quite a few years. (Now we have a large group and there are more women than men!!)

But back to the lovely sunset and why it reminded me of Louie. As I said, he loved going to AA meetings and especially to one that was about 40 minutes from our town. It was held on Sunday night and I would pick Louie up at 6 in order to get there on time. In November and December, unless it was raining, we could always count on a memorable sunset and we got to look forward to them every week. And it never failed that Louie would sigh and say, “The Big Guy in the sky has his paint brush out again”.

Saturday, April 09, 2016

CENTRAL PARK, NEW YORK … 1958

... Continuing my NY memories...
Dick and I were married in Manhattan, NY on August 23rd, 1958. This picture was taken shortly thereafter in Central Park. We didn’t have the time nor money for a Honeymoon but the city of New York was our playground.  We loved Central Park. We would sit for hours overlooking the lake, reading, talking about the future and just plain people-watching. If we waited long enough the entire world would pass before us.

Planned concerts were staged weekly and we would enjoy big name bands and personalities for free ! I remember seeing Peter, Paul & Mary, The Mills Brothers and Johnny Mathis, to name just a few. And then there were all the musicians who just practiced for fun. We would often join in when they teamed up for an impromptu songfest.


The Children's Zoo was one of our favorite spots at Central Park and we would meet there often after our work was over for the day.  Watching the children at the Zoo was almost as much fun as watching the animals !

Monday, April 04, 2016

1959 … Not our finest hour


I always love to hear from my brother-in-law. His wife, my dear sister Peg, passed away a few years ago but he keeps in touch and, to my delight, he even reads my blog entries. In his latest email he made reference to one of the visits that he and Peg made to us when we were living in NY City.

As I recall Peg and I mentioned that we'd never been to a burlesque or stripper show and that's all it took to get us going. After all, we were in the Big Apple (sin city)! Dick, my husband suggested Greenwich Village and we headed out. Sure enough … there it was, a big sign flashing off and on and promising “Girls, Girls, Girls”. It looked a little seedy but this was the Village and the “no cover charge” clinched the deal. The fact that the place was almost empty should have warned us but we just figured it was too early for the hard-core New Yorkers.

Our table was front and center and shortly after we'd ordered a round of drinks the show began. Lights were lowered, canned music blared out of the speakers and our “girl” came on stage. She was holding an array of fans and as she danced she would coyly shed a piece of clothing and then one of her fans. She had a pretty fair body and her dancing was OK but we (probably out of nervousness) started to laugh and the more we tried to hold it in the worse it got. Then it was time for her finale …

With a flourish she dropped everything, including the fan covering her face. She looked like she'd been tripping the light fantastic for at least 40 years and, to our shame, we completely lost it. We got out of there as quick as possible with the waiter running after us demanding that we leave a tip. My husband said something to the effect that the show was too lousy to warrant a tip … but, looking back at it I can't help but feel bad at the way we acted. It's a perfect example of the arrogance of youth and was, indeed, not our finest hour !



Wednesday, March 30, 2016

My Intrepid Niece …

Some of you might remember my niece Wendy who visited me at Christmastime. She lives in NY City and is a free lance artist. She's not constrained by a standard job and can come and go at will. She's also a great devotee of train travel and proved it last week when she boarded an Amtrak headed West … a 72 hour trip that climaxed in Seattle, Washington !

At first gasp all I could think was ... THREE DAYS ...without the luxury of a sleeper! But Wendy loved every minute of it. She was able to sketch, read, write emails and just plain relax. Here are some of the details that she shared with me as the days wore on:

This is the detail of the ceiling of Union Station in Chicago. (This picture has many more details than the others because she was able to take advantage of the indoor lighting.)

This sunset is over the swollen Mississippi at La Crosse, Wisconsin.


Minot, North Dakota. As they say there: “Why not Minot?”

Foothills of the Rockies toward Glacier National Park. Unfortunately it was overcast, but still beautiful and they even saw 3 moose!
 
 
To quote Wendy: “It's so interesting to watch the parade of passengers: Wisconsin brought whole families of Amish and Mennonite. One Mennonite guy had a booming cell phone call behind me, talking in the strangest pigeon German/English. 
Minnesota brought all characters who could have come straight off a Prairie Home Companion set (I had a long chat with an antique dealer who specializes in historic bottles. He does the garage sale circuit, only on a bike! If he buys large items he goes back with his van, but he says the bike saves him time - sometimes he rides 30 miles in a day.) In North Dakota, it's Native Americans.”
 
I loved my vicarious journey with her. It was a reminder of the amazing likes and differences that make up our amazing United States. No wonder the politicians have a hard time appealing to all !