RSS

A Corsage of Kindness

A Corsage of Kindness

A few weeks ago my granddaughter, Emily, hit a milestone, thirteen.  She is a teenager.  It’s a time of life that brings the highest highs and the lowest lows.  There is very little we can do to buffer either of these points except pray.  We all had to go through them, boys and girls alike.  Fortunately for Emily, and her brothers and sister, they are blessed with a Mom and Dad who are aware of the politics of teens and preteens.  While that may help some, there are still many hills and valleys that kids must traverse to get to the other side of teen hood.  But I digress.

Emily’s birthday brought to mind myself at about that age, actually fourteen to be exact.  I came from East Harlem on Manhattan’s upper East side.  It was a poor neighborhood filled with tenements and immigrants.  Not a ghetto yet, but still what was considered a slum.  Growing up there you didn’t know what the neighborhood was classified.  People lived in their little apartments and scrubbed their linoleum floors, polished the windows clean, often at great peril, and took Saturday night baths.  Money was scarce and the was no time for frivolous clothes or time to give thought with the raising of children aside from feeding them and keeping them warm at night.

I went to Our Lady of Mount Carmel elementary school which instructed students  from first to eighth grade. The teachers were sisters of Charity, a tough bunch of women to be sure.  During eighth grade you were required to take exams and apply to at least four high schools.  You were accepted by ability not by your grades, which was a good thing for me because about that time I was caught up in the rougher side of city life, rock and roll, gangs and boys.  Needless to say my grades were awful.  I hadn’t picked up a book since the fifth grade and got by.

Surprise, surprise, when the acceptance or rejection letters filled the little brass mailbox I was accepted by all of the four schools I had applied to.  One was Immaculata located in downtown Manhattan.  For some unknown reason I decided to go there.  None of my friends would be there, but I liked the uniforms and was somewhat aware that it was prestigious as it only accepted 34 boys and 34 girls from all of the five boroughs.

I am not telling this tale to boast about my accomplishment.  It only took them two years to figure out I wasn’t going to put any effort in, but to bring to life how different the world was for kids living in Harlem, and those who came from downtown.  Also, how a complete act of selfless kindness still resonates with me over fifty years later.

In the fifties there was a custom that I knew nothing about until I attended Immaculata.  Young girls would celebrate each other’s birthdays by making or buying corsages for the honoree.  To the best of my recollection it was a corsage of ribbons, bows and bubblegum for thirteen, dog biscuits for fourteen, lifesavers for fifteen, and it culminated in, of course, sugar cubes for sweet sixteen.  No one that I knew followed this custom.  In Harlem you marked passage of teenage years with other events.

On the day of my fourteenth birthday I attended school expecting nothing.  By then I was aware of this custom having seen other girls with corsages, sometimes three and four, but I had not gotten very friendly with others who attended the school. I didn’t even think about it.  It was a complete shock when a cherry, cheeked, fair-haired, blonde, presented me with a beautiful, blue satin, beribboned, and dog biscuit corsage.  She pinned it on my blazer, kissed me on the cheek and wished me happy birthday.  It was astounding.

To this day I can picture that young girl.  I don’t remember her name.  We had never hung out and I don’t know how she knew it was my birthday.  Perhaps she did this for everyone, but that corsage of kindness was the sweetest thing.  I often think of her and always I wish that life was at least that sweet for my flaxen birthday angel.  You can be sure that when I was still welcomed at Immaculata I found out when it was her birthday and made her a life saver corsage.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 7, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

My Secret Passion

My Secret Passion

I believe it would very much surprise many of the people who know me to discover what my secret passion is. They could take guesses, but most times they would be wrong.  Even those friends who know me well.

Of course, there are many sides to my personality and over the years different aspects of who I am forges forward to dominate. When these distinct and different urges rumble, I give them the lead and allow them to show themselves to the world, be it painting, writing, fashion, music or whatever want rises forth for recognition.

When something is a secret passion it is usually not known by others, or acknowledged by even ourselves. Hence the word secret.  As a matter of fact, there are times when even we ourselves don’t know that it is a true passion until something triggers the awareness.  Today that happened to me.

I was speaking with my husband, Jim, about Thanksgiving.  My daughter and her husband generously invited us to her house for the day and the Thanksgiving day feast.  We accepted and look forward to the day with the family, however, something nagged at me.  It dawned on me, I would not be cooking a turkey, she would.  That takes something out of the holiday for me.  It leaves it almost two-dimensional.

Not that I love doing all the work it takes to putting together a holiday dinner.  Believe me over some 50 years I have cooked and orchestrated more than three hundred holiday meals for small or large crowds.  I know what it takes, and its exhausting to do it with a flair.  But I realized, and here is where I divulge the secret passion, I love cooking big.  Oh, not all the sides and salads, but a huge turkey, ham, pasta, gravy (sauce for American born), or anything that weighs a ton.

I love cooking a thirty pound ham or turkey that will feed a crowd, even when I need a strong person to help me pick it up.  My passion is that I loveeeee to cook big.  Put that fresh ham on a low heat and bake for six hours.  Baste that turkey every half hour all day and watch it go from a sickly white to a beautiful golden brown.

I am not going to try to psychoanalyze this passion.  I am just going to own it, enjoy it and find a reason to cook a humongous roast.

Buena Appetite!

 
5 Comments

Posted by on November 14, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , ,

Image

My Vampire Obsession

My Vampire Obsession

Since first viewing Dracula ala Bela Lugosi I have had a love affair with Vampires and the concept thereof.  I’ve read everything Anne Rice chronicled in addition to other noted writers.  I’ve watched almost every movie about the subject, although I must admit the twilight series did not fit into my vision.

True Blood, Vampire Diaries, and The Originals, reinforce my fantasies.  If you haven’t seen any of these I suggest you take a peek.  The Originals offers an authentic New Orleans flavor, one of my favorite cities after New York.

I am not enamoured with blood lust and the vicious attack of the jugular, but rather the thought of immortality, the end of aging, and the deterioration of our human bodies that comes with the process.  Wow, what I could do with a thirty-five year old body, and one hundred year old wisdom. Look out world, here I come. Think of the wealth that could be accumulated over centuries of existence, traveling the world, learning from every culture, knowing always when to make the right moves because you have learned the lessons of time.

Physical pain would be a non issue.  All senses would be enhanced.  Music could be enjoyed in a way that every musical strain would be heard purely, or as pure as your iPod will allow.  Colors seen without distortion, and flight, omg, imagine never to stand on another airport security line.  In a blink of an eye you would be from New York to Rome, and after shopping, another blink and back home again.

Of course, I am aware of the downside of Vampirism, outliving everyone you ever loved or ever knew.  That pain could never be erased.  However, since I believe in reincarnation, I will find them again over and over in their new lives.  The plus side is that since a Vampire never ages I could be there for my loved ones all through their mortal lives to help and love them at every turn.  Since mortal life is so fleeting it is reasonable to think that death is as well.

Yes, I have it all figured out except how to be turned into a Vampire.  When I learn that, I’ll blog it!

 

 
2 Comments

Posted by on September 5, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , ,

Peppers, Potato, and Eggs

Peppers, Potato, and Eggs

Memories are funny things. They are not always made up of ocean breezes or the strains of romantic music. They don’t necessarily bring visions of young love on a beautiful summer day.

Sometimes memories are made from the by gone vision of an eleven year old girl scurrying through tall, Black, White, and Hispanic, teenage boys as they flowed out of Benjamin Franklin High School.

The teens were racing across the street as to be first in line for a pepper and egg sandwich, or potato and egg sandwich, or perhaps a combo of same on a foot long loaf of Italian bread. A tiny corner restaurant with a window and counter facing the sidewalk was where these delights were sold from. I wove my way through them totally ignored, as it should be.

The smells and sounds of peppers frying bring me back to my childhood. Everyday I walked through this noisy crowd to get back to my elementary school after lunch. First to eighth grade, we all were dismissed for lunch, and expected to return on time for the afternoon classes. Didn’t matter that you lived in a sixth floor walk up. You needed to be back to line up in the street before the bell rang.

These old memories are always so pleasant to me. Not because of the pepper and eggs I made today for lunch, which were yummy, but for the true age of respect and innocence when a young girl could rush her way through a gang of teenage boys without fear. No guns, knives, or verbal assaults. Aw those were the days!

 

 
2 Comments

Posted by on July 5, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , ,

It’s A Party Line

It’s A Party Line

Quite some time ago I was a young child living with my parents in a four room apartment, on the sixth floor of a tenement in East Harlem. I was perhaps four or five years of age, but I remember clearly the excitement on the day we got our first telephone.,

For a short period of time we had what was called a party line, meaning two, three, or four families shared one line even though the phones were in different homes. I don’t know why the phone company offered this service. Perhaps they didn’t have the equipment to issue each home their own line, or it was a cheaper for the consumer. In any case it was a source of many hours of entertainment, and not a few arguments among strangers.

In today’s world where everyone, even children, has one, two, three or more phones, or other means of communication, it’s difficult to imagine people having a party line.

You didn’t need to watch soap operas in order to learn about the dramatics of others.  All you needed to do was lift that receiver very quietly and listen in.  On occasion you might even offer advice on a difficulty being discussed, if you didn’t mind getting found out that you were eavesdropping.  There was an art to listening in.  Depending on who was sharing your line they might be thankful or really, really mad for your joining in their conversation and tell you off in spades.

Sometimes people were not considerate and would not monitor the time they were using the phone.  They would visit and gossip with friends for long periods and tie up the line so that others who shared could not receive or make a call.  I am reminded of one time when my mother was good and fed up.  She blasted the people using the phone because she could not make a call for several hours.  Naturally, this is an emergency, was an excuse you could only use once or perhaps twice.  Remember, the other party could always pick up and listen in.

Shortly after this episode we got a single line.  My mother didn’t let any grass grow under her feet.  We got that  private line as soon as it was made available.  Now she was able to call Her girlfriend, Mary Amondo, and gossip to her heart’s content.  What luxury!

While in some ways I would like to revisit a simpler life, going back to the days of a party line is not one of them.

Happy Mother’s Day In Heaven, Mom.  Call me in my dreams.  Its a private line.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on May 1, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , ,

Easter Mystery

Easter Mystery

Why is it that I only permit myself the luxury of eating egg salad at Easter, or for a few days beyond Easter Sunday? I had it today and enjoyed it on a toasted roll.

Since I was about fifteen years old until present day I have performed the egg coloring ritual. That is every year except one when I decided it was silly since I had no children living at home. Truly, that year was a disaster. I felt incomplete, so much so that I never made that foolish mistake again. Not so easy to give up lifelong tradition. Besides no egg salad.

Sure, it doesn’t have to be Easter to make egg salad, but there is something special about that sandwich speckled with pretty pink, purple, teal, and emerald hues that enhances the culinary experience. Some may think the colors make it gross, but not so.  I love it!

There are a few rules that come along with my egg salad. You only eat it with close family. No unnecessary ingredients, ie celery, should not be added.The crunch could be mistaken for a shell, heaven forbid. If you are sitting across from someone, don’t look at their face while enjoying your fare. If they are not aware of the rules you are permitted to sit with your back to the table while indulging in your own sandwich. No drinking from an open glass while you have food in your mouth. And finally, never ever share a bite. I am certain that anyone who has been in the company of a sloppy egg salad eater will appreciate my rules.  Perhaps these rules should be in every egg carton from the month before the Holiday right up until the day.

I am pleased to have shared these words of wisdom with you all. Hope you have had a Happy Easter, Happy Passover, and your Spring is delicious.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 21, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , ,

Fifty-Nine – Plus


GE DIGITAL CAMERANot too long ago I was speaking with a friend about his job. Joey is a forty something guy who had recently finished school with the hope of entering a different field of employment. Like most newcomers the pay scale was at the low-end, but he was confident it would grow in a reasonable amount of time. He confided in me, until that time, in order to supplement his income, he had been doing online surveys and was receiving checks for his effort.

This information struck that busy bell in my head that was always ready to alert me to an opportunity for making a couple of bucks.

I could do this too! I have the tools and the time and no shortage of opinion about everything under the sun. As is my wont, I searched out the websites the very next day and began filling out applications. Sure enough the invitations for surveys began to flow.

But WAIT there’s more.

Before you can take each survey you must answer some questions about yourself, sex, homeowner or not, range of income, primary shopper, children in the home, AGE group, etc.

Of course I replied honestly to all the questions. What good is a survey if you’re not telling the truth? Shortly, a pattern emerged. Emails to me with the same prominent statement.
“Thank you, but you do not fit the control group’s profile.”

Well, I may not walk quite as fast as I use to, but my gray matter still fizzes, clicks and percolates at top speed. After three or four of these notices, I got the message.

Your opinion is irrelevant. You checked 59 +. No one cares what you think.

Wow, talk about being hit with a bucket of cold water. Discarded like a pair of paint stained cargo pants. Damn!!!

Sure, I was insulted, but it also didn’t make a whole lot of sense. 59 + still own homes, have more expendable income, shop like crazy, use detergent, shampoo, beauty products, renovate their homes, go out to dinner, buy cars, spray fabreeze, go grocery shopping.

We have pets, go on vacations, watch movies, change diapers, buy toys, drink booze, and know a hell more about medication than our younger counter parts. And we vote! I could on, but I won’t. You get the idea.

So when did I become irrelevant? I believe what I think matters. Perhaps
some power that be should rethink their Control Groups as it is just a blink of an eye before they are checking 59 +.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 11, 2014 in Uncategorized

 
 
Attila Ovari

Loving Life and Inspiring Others

Dear Ms. Sopia,

An advice and discussion page

The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally

Here and now, with all of it.

J T Weaver

And in the end the love you take, is equal to the love you make. -- The Beatles

stargazerlin

Fact and fiction from the head and heart.

BookPeople's Blog

Austin's largest independent bookstore since 1970 - 603 N. Lamar Blvd.

The Daily Post

The Art and Craft of Blogging

Treasures of Life

Musing about people, businesses and social media

Scattered Pictures

Random Memories and Stories; Past and Present

Arzooman Editorial Services

Editing, writing, marketing, Websites

thebottomsideup

Just another WordPress.com site

WordPress.com News

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.

%d bloggers like this: