Happy New Year, from the Jewish Atheist!

The Jewish Holidays… whenever the kinder (kids) ask about them, usually, historically, the answer is, “Some group of people hated us [Jews], so we ran, and through some miraculous, super-hero-like mumbo-jumbo maneuvers, we made it, we survived, and so, we ate!” Ess a bissel. Eat a little! Nu? Jewish history in a nutshell.

Please know if you are new to this site, or even if you are a regular I love you both I may throw in some beautiful, robust Yiddish language to better turn a phrase, and yes, I was raised Jewish, I do have serious doubts about all organized religion the man behind the curtain, and tend to live more on the side of humanism. But this is not the slippery slope we are headed down on this day. Don’t get me started…

L’Shana Tova. Rosh Hashana. Happy New Year! This, I can revel in! For Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, is a time of reflection usually with a nice brisket, some noodle kugel, and apples, all drenched in the sweetness of honey, creativity, thoughtfulness, and questioning about any and every thing around. Well, that is just another day around here. This is behavior (hopefully) we all do every day, as people on this planet. This process of inquiry and self-examination is what goes on in my head each night as I lay in bed, thinking over the day, and listening to the soft hum of the maideleh’s gay shluffen (sweet girls sleeping). 

No question, I’ve been reflective, and that reflection quite coincidentally has led up to this holiday, this New Year.  Tsuris (troubles)? We all have our fair share. Time? We are all racing against the clock of inevitability. Some days the tick-tock is louder than others. Some days, it is rather deafening.

Yiddish Proverb:

In a quarrel, leave the door open for reconciliation. Az da krigst zikh, krig zikh azoi du zolst zikh kennen iberbeten.

I am an adult most, well, a good majority of the time and I am in control of my thoughts, my behaviors, my actions. So, to continue in my daily efforts to lead a life of compassion, empathy, and mindfulness, and to raise good kinder who are always listening, always watching and learning, I made a very big move to change things. To heal.

Hi Mom and Dad,
It’s been a long time, and I want you both to know that I have been thinking about you and hope you are well. Today’s world is filled with so much chaos – thought perhaps we could all use a little peace. Peace is good.
xo
L
And I hit send. In a very short time after, I received this:
Dear Lisa,   We too have been thinking about you on a daily basis for a long time.  Mom got up this morning and told me she had a dream about you last night. She does not remember the dream-all she remembers is she hugged you.  Yes, it has been too long. Let’s not waste any more precious time. We love you.  Mom and Dad
The ganseh mishpocheh (the whole family) has grown. The gift of nachas (joy). ❤
Yiddish Proverb:
When things go right, you become rich. Ven es gait gleich, vert men reich.
A bie gezunt. As long as you’re healthy… And, go call your mother!

Love has to win, right?

Be Happy. Love Wins.

The other night, as a family, we watched, An American Girl Story – Melody, 1963: Love Has To Win. It’s a short movie about social injustice and racism during the Civil Rights Movement of the 60’s. Melody, age 10, just like my Big,  is a character in the line-up of American Girl dolls and the story of her experiences during this turbulent time in our American History is incredibly important and powerful. We all four, plus Gatsby, snuggled in on the sofa and dimmed the lights.

Melody is immediately likable. Smart, witty, creative, friendly and principled, she is a young African-American girl attending school in a sea of Caucasian students and staff. Her mom provides her with a strong faith for a brighter future. That passion effervesces in all Melody does. Her grandpa, he is a bit more cynical realistic? about this world.

At school, during the Pledge of Allegiance something I had to recite every morning in public school growing up, Melody stands atop her desk and cries out, “The Pledge of Allegiance is a lie. It’s a lie!” It may not be this line verbatim, but that is the gist. Melody clearly did not feel that she had the same liberties as her white classmates and she was not afraid to share that sentiment out loud.

Her heart, fragile and so compassionate…

While not showing actual violence, the movie did weave in some real-life, heinous acts of racism, moments in time that no one can be proud of… Police brutality, and the one that brought my Big to her knees, the brutal bombing of the church in Birmingham that killed four young black girls. We had to hit pause, up the lights and do our best to explain why such vile, repugnant behavior existed? Exists. My Big, her sobbing was real. She felt the pain and it cut through her big, beautiful, loving, compassionate heart like a knife through butter.

We let her cry it out as we talked about the way things were; the way things are now. The work that still needs to be done. The kinder (kids), they know from #MarchForEquality, #BlackLivesMatter, #WomensRights, #GunsDown, #MomsDemandAction, #NotOneMore… They have been read to and read about Dr. Martin Luther King. They are floored that anyone could be judged or mistreated for the color of their skin. My Little, she even asked if mrt was going to do anything fix racism. Oh, do not get me started on the man that uses the N-word and hangs with white supremacists.

Was it the very best movie ever? No. Yet all told, this movie served us quite well. It sparked a very provocative conversation about racism, skin color, slavery and a lot of the other things that are brought out by hate, misunderstanding, and bigotry in this world.

That 10-year-old Melody, she is a positive force and a role model for strong, mighty girls. Her rebel-girl spirit really got through to my 10-year-old maideleh (little sweet girl). This is why love has to win… it must. This momma is counting on it.

Yiddish Proverb:

For your children’s sake, you would tear the world apart. Fer kinder tsereist men a velt.

Have you talked about racism in your home with your kids? Maybe Melody needs to visit your place, too. Nu?

 

I used to sing in the shower. Now…

Ice cream at Bredenbeck’s, after the summer dance intensive recital

Today friends, let me paint you some pictures with my words. Imagine summer as kinderlech (children): bathing suits, swimming pools, hopping through creeks, jumping in puddles. Sleep-overs, scooter rides, hiking, and biking. Ice creamy treats, baking and make your own pizzas. Slides, swings, and sunshine (the scorn that is sunscreen). Dirt, mud, and coils of chlorine tangled pony-tails. Board games, LOL doll surprises, and dance routines. Hula hoops, watermelon, movie nights and popcorn all at the sofa, vey iz mir (woe is me). Being a kid in the summer is magical.

Now, let’s look at this very same season as Muters (Moms): The kinder, they are joyful and giddy from playtime with friends, family, each other. They get hungry, hangry and eat every edible morsel in the pantry and fridge didn’t I just food shop?. They are oysgematert (drop-dead tired) from days packed with fun and frolic and yes, some fighting and varfing (tantrums). Some nights, they even ask to go to bed! Pools, beaches, showers, hair… Towels, oy, they are everywhere. And, they have so many wardrobe changes each and every effing day daily, they would give Cher in concert a run for her money… The grob vesh (dirty laundry) piles high daily. This, not so magical.

Doesn’t everyone hula-hoop in this kind of outfit? Nu?

Enter the brand new, very expensive, broken, cockamamie (ridiculous) washing machine. Broken not once, not twice, but three times since its inaugural installation in January yes, of this same year, and yes, if you would like to, please see the irony of that other inaugural installation event. It broke again on the 3rd of this month. Today, if you’re counting and you better believe I am counting marks day 15. Customer service mishaps, lost parts orders, summer vacations, and dirty laundry from floor to ceiling.

Slumber with besties

Now, in the big scheme of things, nisht geferlich (not really so terrible, we are alive, poo-poo). Worse things can do and will happen. The Mrs., she has already taken some 80+ pounds of laundry to the laundromat I chose food shopping.

Why are you looking at me? I don’t even wear clothes.

So now, I offer you this picture: I am fully clothed, save for a belt and sneakers. I walk into our shower. There is a small lump of laundry littering the floor near the bench. I turn on cool water and grab the bar of Fels-Naptha Laundry Soap. I wash my jeans while wearing them. This is the emmes truth (I swear its true). I peel them off for some interior suds-ing, give a good rinse, then squeeze, spin cycle style. Next, my T-shirt. Suds on and scrub. Take it off, rinse, and scrunch. Undergarments follow – you get the idea. I am finally in my birthday suit (no need to picture that — this is not on of those stories). I tend to the lump of things already on the floor… then finally, I can clean me. Please know, this dramatically increases my hygienic routine. I used to sing in the shower, now I feel like Ma, from Little House on the Prairie. As I load the dryer with my freshly cleaned items, I give the evil eye to the washer. Feh! (expression of physical and emotional disgust).

Like Ma, in Little House on the Prairie, I enter my modern stream…

Allegedly, the fix-it-people are coming tomorrow – between 8:54 am and 11:54 am who gives times like these? — emmes truth. I think I will do another load in the morning, again… 

Yiddish Proverb:

If you have nothing to lose, you can try everything. Aoyb ir hot gornisht tsu farlirn ir kenen prubirn alts.

So, how’s by you?

Laundry, shmaundry… A bei gezunt (As long as you’re healthy).

 

The Big Dig

Detective Gatsby is on it, again. Readers of this space, you know very well, that something ‘a-fowl’ has been going on in our community. Long ago, the Great Gatsby uncovered many a capon caper, finding bones, breasts, thighs, and wings, scattered and strewn about on our daily constitutionals. Sometimes, with his mighty schnoz, he would locate bbq sauce or ketchup, even fries to accompany his hidden haul. If you are new here, please stay, have a little nosh (something to eat), enjoy yourself proceed with caution. The paltry poultry that has been uncovered is not for the faint of heart.

I know I smell chicken. I know it. It’s in the air. I will find you…

Courageous as all-get-out, secure in his forensic anthropology degree, and led by his hunger for justice and all things edible, even the most disgusting and vile things you can imagine while walking outdoors, G has been sinking his teeth happily habitually into brand new evidence. He now knows why all of the chicks want so desperately to cross the road nirvana and why the caged birds sing tweet.

As you can see, G has been participating in The Big Dig, only to uncover glass, bottle caps, material, empty bags of chips, plastic straws, and yes, chicken bones. Oy, my yard… don’t get me started…

Apparently, right in our own backyard, there has been a major unearthing of evidence. It is all beginning to make sense. The dirt is there yes, that is our mess of a yard from our four-legged boychick (little sweet boy). While uncovering the cadavers of said cockerels is his favorite pastime, G has realized the problem is bigger than (cooked) birds and their petty parts. While focussing primarily on pullet and cock-a-doodle-doo, even Gatsby realizes the real tsuris (trouble) in town is L-I-T-T-E-R.

Some findings… pretty disgusting of us

Philadelphia, in many ways, is and has been ‘Philth-adelphia’. Clean, they are not. Untidiness is all too often a way of life by too many who have seemingly bypassed trash cans mothers and Kindergarten lessons, leaving a trail of drek (trash, detritus), Hansel and Gretl style, in their wake. Litter begets litter. Trash begets trash. What kind of shlemiel (loser) has the chutzpah (balls, nerve) to leave their crap for others?

So my Mrs. and me, we have taken to grabbing an extra bag full of bits and scraps as we saunter about our shtetl (‘hood, village) walking our boychik. With Little and Big in tow, we are furthering the valuable lessons of rubbish removal and how we can be grateful for and feel good about a clean neighborhood. Further research us bloggers thrive on this stuff reveals a movement in Sweden where we may be headed should the midterms turn to sh*te called Plogging. This Nordic influence is as amazing as IKEA and is beginning to take the world by storm (btw: IKEA just opened in India this week), spreading to the UK, Germany, France, Thailand and hopefully here in the US too.

Plogging: Scandinavian word meaning to pick up litter while jogging in groups, making is socially fun and fantastically praise-worthy. This word comes from the fusion of the Swedish words “plocka” (picking [up]), and “jocka” (jogging). See, more than just Yiddish here!

So, for a while now, as we are out an about, walking the boychik, picking up his poop, we also shlep (drag, haul) and bag the drek of others, in hopes of beautifying the community and raising the bar on the ‘dump and run attitude (addy-tude in Philly slang)’ of our brethren. Thank you, Sweden!

Spent, after a full day of sleuthing, eating, pooping and plogging. Gei shluffin (go to sleep) Gatsby

Whose with me? Let’s go plogging! Alevei! It should only happen!

Yiddish Proverb:

In a good apple, you sometimes find a worm. In a shainem epel gefint men a mol a vorem.

 

My Pandora’s box

I was me, just me
feeling colors, touching dreams
seeking solace, warmth
imperfect, monstrous
not enough, absolutely
forever a stain
in stillness, silence
excruciatingly loud
and, I became whole
photographs pale, old
yesterdays and tomorrows
sadness mixed with joy
curiosity
fire, beauty mixed with evil?
the box, a siren
Pandora provokes
hornet’s nest, a quandary
dare I uncover?
peace, a gift, awaits
living fearlessly, present
genuine and strong
I am me, just me
feeling colors, touching dreams
seeking solace, warmth
Yiddish proverb:
The smoothest way is full of stones. Di smudast veg iz ful fun shteyner.
A bei gezunt. Go in good health!
 

The scorn that is sunscreen, and other stories

So serene… but if you look closely, to the right of the reflection in the water, you will see the baby gator. Momma gator is sure to be watching us all.

Sandy beaches, sunshine, and just a bissel (a little) rain each day. Turtles, alligators, dolphins, fish, frogs, deer, baby gators, seagulls, ibis, lizards, and sandpipers.  Spiders the size of my hand, definitely not for the weak hearted. Family, cousins, and even a baby! Five kinder (sweet children), four magnificent mommas, and ice cream beer, wine too! All, in our happy place, Bald Head Island, just off the coast of North Carolina. Together never felt so good!

Jewish Proverb:

“No matter what happens, travel gives you a story to tell.” Keyn enin vos khapanz, arumforn git ir a dertseylung.”

This is one, very big and scary gator

My Big, she talks about when she was in the ocean with baby C and his momma. The baby, he fell from the force of the wave riptide and was whisked up in the air, hanging by his hand his arm remarkably stayed in its socket lovingly held firmly in his mom’s grip. Baby C, clearly farshluggeneh (shaken, mixed up), then declared, “It is ag-gwa!”

Boorivkah: Yiddish for Blueberry!

My Little, she liked it when they all dressed up in the big blue bubbles and ran out on the golf course for pictures and videos. G, a kleineh kinder (small, little sweetie) clad in his blown-up blueberry, and almost lost inside its great girth big, he is not, literally rolled down the steps from the porch to the patio. He got up, blueberry suit as savior, fartootst (confused and bewildered), he looked at my Little and said, “That was so awesome!”

My Little…

We heard from the Tanta’s (aunts) that our Little, she shared bragged, well she boasted, hell, she was kvelling (bursting with pride) her talent of being able to burp on command. She proved it, right then and there, too. The boys all broke into bursts of giggling. Me, and my Mrs., we were just grateful that she didn’t share the curse word she knows that rhymes with ‘truck.’ Oy vey iz mir. (Woe is me.) Our miniature komish (comic) in the making. Big, she read books to them all and tended to all of us the kinder like the mommelah (little mother) she is. 

K, he can Hula-Hoop like a champ

K, nearly 7, doesn’t understand why, if we have Baldhead, and we all can be there together, why is he now waking up in California? And us in Philadelphia? Smart, he is!

G, as a young buck

G, he told us stories about each animal, fish, insect, bird or reptile we encountered. Between books, school and the Kratt brothers (from the Wild Kratts TV show), this boychik (little boy) absorbs it all!

baby C, no filter

Baby C, he exudes cuteness. My Mrs., she has plans to kidnap him. But please, do not tell his mommas.

Even s’mores were ready for our last night together, post blueberry run!

Now the Tanta’s, they are both shitterayn (able to cook delicious food without a recipe) no, I am not calling them bad things! I am complimenting them. Not a bad word at all! Each day, they would potchki (poke around) adding a little bit of this and a little bit of that in the kitchen. Gourmet snacks, meals, and picnics would appear before us, ready to be devoured. I did the laundry to make up for my lack of kitchen capabilities, however, please know that I am inspired!

Thankfully the Tanta’s had colored sunscreen for their faces…

Kvetching (Complaining): across the board. All five kinder had been varfing (throwing, as in throwing a tantrum) each and every time we slathered their skin with sunscreen.  Enter curse word that rhymes with ‘truck’ here, now, as often as you like. Honestly, the geshries (screams) and moans that would come from these kinder, one might have thought we were coating them with alligator food and letting them out to stroll by the lake, alone! It was a painstakingly tough production for us all and anyone in earshot. And don’t you know, their gentle, smooth skin, like a babies tuchas (tushy, bum, butt), has been saved, despite the struggles. 

Genug is genug! (Enough is enough!) You HAVE TO WEAR your sun shirt, your hat, your sunglasses, and we MUST re-apply sunscreen every 80 minutes!

“It’s time kids.” They got all broygis (pissed off, angry a real shit-fit).

We heard: “Putting sunscreen on is so boring. What if ___insert cousin name here_________ gets to the pool first? Why is it so thick we did apply it with a putty knife? You just put it on one minute ago! Yes, I did put it on my face already. You did that leg. The sun isn’t even out. Maybe we should only swim at night? Is there moonscreen too? Is it dry yet? Can I PLEASE go back in the pool now?” Imagine me explaining the depleted ozone layer,  our dangerous proximity to the sun and its harmful effects to our derma, the largest organ in our entire bodies. Scott Pruitt, climate change…Oh, I went off. Oy! 

Little and Big, my mighty girls!
My Big,… that is childhood

My Mrs., she loved the shoals and tide pools over by Cape Fear yes, like in the movies. The small, waveless swimming holes were so much fun. It was calm and soothing sitting and swimming in nature-made pools, free from the pull of the full moon, fish swimming around our ankles. We all walked on the beach and collected shells. Big, she made drippy sand castles. Little and K stood atop boogie boards. G, he did too — even though he is slight enough to walk on water. I was bound and determined to find a sand dollar in its entirety – Bubkas (no such luck). Next time…

We also took a nature walk. Get a load of the size of this fairy house! Whoa…

One of my most cherished times was biking with Big and K to the ice cream shop. The rain had stopped and we wanted to ride bikes. The others took the golf cart. We were rain free and riding through puddles on the way there. I led the way, K was to stay in the middle and on the right side of the path, Big, she rode caboose to help keep K in line. To K’s surprise, we beat the cart-full-o-family through Middle island and to the docks. To our surprise, he arrived in one piece. We all had the most delicious homemade ice cream beer when the clouds burst open. The amount of clean water pouring from the sky was stunning. The three of us rode back to the house, happily drenched in the deluge. We joked about needing soap and shampoo, and not needing any sunscreen. K, electrified by the sugar high, puddles and heavy rains, rode his bike as if he were drunk, swerving right and left. Just as our cart-full-o-family drove up, K pedaled himself straight into a tree on the side of the road. Remarkably, not a scratch on him. No head injury. No flesh wounds. (Knocking wood)

K and Big, beach bound
And we loved our pool time

And I think we all enjoyed the pure, carefree, childlike fun and love as the kinder played, frolicked, fought (well they are real kids you know), laughed, and made collective memories. This was priceless.

And the photos and videos we all took made Nonna (Italian for Bubbe, which is Yiddish for grandmother) so happy. This trip to BHI was palpably different for us all because of our very tangible lack of Nonna and PopPop (grandfather, Zaideh). PopPop has, well, he has a farshlepteh krenk (literally, a chronic illness) and was recently moved to a nursing home, a much safer place for him and our Nonna. His decline has been so fast, like a lightning strike or the blink of an eye. His placement made it too soon for Nonna to make the trip. Everyone understood and felt her spirit there with us every moment of our days. We will continue to fill her heart with stories of the nachas (joys) we all experienced. These kinder will help to heal her heart and she does not need to apply sunscreen to take them in and ours too. 

Waiting for the first ferry back to the mainland
Me and my Mrs., bashert (soul mate)

A bie gezunt. (As long as you are healthy.)

 

 

Global sigh of relief!

Little meditating…

Today, I am relieved, ecstatic, joyful, delighted, and kvelling to learn that all 12 boys and their soccer coach are rescued, safe and sound. The collective global sigh of relief is holding me up and getting me through the rough parts of our world. There really are heroes in the world. We need to celebrate them!

 

Big was dancing…
And oh, how they played…
Oh, how they play…

Hold your kinderlach (children) closer today, and every day.

 

Yiddish Proverb:

Troubles overcome are good to tell. Ibergekumene tsores iz gut tsu derseylin.