Saturday, December 31, 2011

Dick Clark, 1957, and me

I graduated from Lower Merion High School in 1957. Every year, the guidance counselors arranged a career day during which people from various occupations would talk to groups of students.

One year, I signed up for the TV and radio seminar. The featured guest was Dick Clark. That was not as big a stretch as one might imagine. He worked at WCAU-TV which was, and still is, about 3 miles from the High School. He was personable and charming and talked about "batching it" for the week while his wife was away. He romanticized the TV and radio industry and I knew, right then, that a career in broadcasting was for me. Don't laugh. The inspiration that Dick Clark gave me led to my joining the WXPN radio staff at the University of Pennsylvania as an on air personality, for a while. I digress a little. My most favorite interview on WXPN was with Jimmy DePriest. And after that, my own attention to music went from interviewing and talking to playing and practicing the cello. I played in all the Penn musicals, the Penn orchestra, and I was the first "girl" to play in the Mask and Wig (the all male shows) orchestra. They were really desperate for a cellist.

Back to Dick Clark. We have watched the "Dick Clark Rockin' New Years Eve" TV show every year since its inception. But, midnight is on the late side for us. We usually are asleep by 10:00 for sure, and sometimes by 8:00. The phone is turned off in our bedroom and any calls after 8:00 go to the answering machine. So, we tape New Years Eve and watch the ball drop in New York's Time Square the next day, on January 1. The emotion of the moment is real. Some years, the feelings that are aroused are more alive than others, but I cry every time.

And, it will not be next year, until we hear Dick Clark count down to the new year.
I frequently remembeer the very young Dick Clark of 1957, and each year, I am grateful to Dick Clark and the welcoming of the new year with all the hopes and aspirations that come with the leaving of the old and the coming in of the new.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The week with two Saturdays

During one of our many trips to Hawaii, we were lucky enough to spend some time with Navy Chaplain Haman of the Aloha Jewish Chapel on Pearl Harbor. He enthralled us with his stories about his visits to Japan, Nagasaki to be exact (more of that to follow), and his duties on Pearl Harbor naval base and on the navy ships. But, the most interesting one was his story about the year with two Saturdays.

We are reminded of that story because the island nation of Samoa is moving to the other side of the International Dateline and is giving up December 30, this year.

Chaplain Haman's story - he was on a ship, in the Pacific, travelling from east to west, going to Japan from Hawaii. The International dateline is confusing to me, but, if you cross it from west to east, you repeat the day. He conducted Friday night services and Saturday morning services for the Jewish sailors on board. He was east of the International Dateline at the time. The next day, for him, was Sunday. His navy ship passed another navy ship, going from west to east. A message was sent to his ship, asking if a Jewish chaplain was aboard and if he could helicopter to their ship to conduct Saturday morning services. It was Sunday on his ship, but still Saturday on the ship that was west of the International Dateline. And he did it. Fhat was his week of two Saturdays.

This story came to mind because Guam is shifting its time position to the other side of the International Dateline, from the East of it to the West, and, in Guam, this year, there will be no December 30.

Chaplain Haman told us about his visit to a Jewish cemetery in Nagasaki that was almost at ground zero when the atomic bomb was dropped. The stones and markers were in relatively good shape and the most recent gravestone was chiseled, death in 1901.
But, Chaplain Haman noted that many of the grave sites had remembrance stones left by people who had visited. He looked around, and saw no one. And, no one he asked knew anything about the cemetery, the people who were buried there, or the visitors.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Weight Loss - a Boondoggle from the insurance companies

OK. So you want to lose weight. Along with almost everybody else in the country. So what do you do? First, you think about it. Second, you think some more. Third, you ask your friends and neighbors what worked for them. Then, you go to interview Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem, etc., etc., etc.

There are no shortcuts to weight loss. It's simple arithmetic. One pound equals 3500 calories. Every time you eat 3500 calories less than you expend, you lose a pound. In other words - eat less, exercise more. The mouth trumps exercise.

You've heard, or maybe even said, but I like cinnabuns so much. Or, I need ketchup on my french fries. Or, toast without butter? All of this reminds me of an Aunt Jenny story. Aunt Jenny, a very elderly relative who lived in Florida, used to stop the buses on the street by standing in front of the bus and waving her cane at the driver. She had the usual health complaints of the elderly and her doctors kept encouraging her to lose weight. "But doctor," she protested, "I don't eat very much. For breakfast today, I had a soft boiled egg, a piece of toast, a glass of juice, a cup of tea with a cinnamon bun. For lunch I had a salad with chicken, a cup of tea with a piece of pound cake. For dinner, I had a cup of soup, a piece of fish, some vegetables, and a cup of tea with a slice of pie."

"That sounds great, Aunt Jenny, but tell me, why did you have the cinnamon bun for breakfast, pound cake at lunch, and pie for dinner?"

"Oh doctor," she said, "who can drink dry tea?"

The dry tea syndrome is what is driving today's epidemic of obesity and overweight. If people stop eating when they are no longer hungry, weight will be lost. And, if it's difficult to tell when you are no longer hungry, just measure smaller portions and don't eat any more.

Eat when you're hungry - not by the clock. Don't eat when you're not hungry. And eat only foods that are nutritionally beneficial - lots of vegetables and fruits, whole wheat pasta, brown rice, 100% whole wheat bread (my recipe is included in my blogposts), no poultry skin, no fat, lots and lots and lots of water, as little sugar and salt as is possible, nothing artificial. Oatmeal and raisins for breakfast, low fat yogurt and fruit for lunch, skinless chicken and broccoli for dinner with whole wheat pasta.

And don't charge the insurance companies or medicare for this.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The dogs who rolled their eyes at me.

We travel to Wisconsin to see some of our grandchildren and their parents. It's an arduous trip - probably because of the terrible airplane connections and the uncertainty of Chicago weather where we have to change planes.

During one of our spring time trips, a tornado warning sounded. We followed the instructions, went to the basement, stood in the designated "safe" corner and waited for the all clear to sound. We watched the progression of the storm on the computer (electric lines are underground) and waited for the magical ten o'clock hour when, we were assured, the threat would be over.

Ten o'clock arrived and I headed for the door, to leave. Mabel, the beautiful blue tick hound, stood up, walked over to the exit door, stretched out on the ground, crossed one paw over the other in front of her face, and rolled her eyes at me, as if to say that there was no way that it was safe to leave and we all had to stay there. I don't think she was protecting us so much as she was protecting the three children.

Eventually, Mabel stood up, glared at me, and stood aside so that we could leave the basement. The next day, we read that 3 tornados touched down right around our location during the 15 minutes that Mabel guarded the door.

The other night, we were visiting our 4 grandchildren who live close by. I sat on the sofa, and their dog, Shayna, jumped up next to me and stretched. She inched her way closer to me and put her paws out in front of her. I took a finger, and gently stroked one of her paws. That was OK for a few minutes, then she stuck that paw under her leg and looked at me again. I stroked the other paw. Then she rolled her eyes at me, inched her body closer, and put her head on my lap. She was obviously saying, in dog language, that she wanted me to stroke her head. When I didn't move as quickly as she wanted, she rolled her eyes again, picked her head up, and put it down more firmly. I finally understood.

Second Careers, from the CHS 2011 Alumni Journal

This appeared in the fall 2011 Central High School Alumni Journal, written by Merrill Freedman, class of 208.

Does anyone recognize the name of our fellow alum,
Philip Francis Nowlan (111)? That should be easy
for sci-fi fans. But I digress. Perhaps I should start from
the beginning:

Edgar Davis’ (184) retirement from the Philadelphia Gas
Works in 1988 marked the beginning of a new adventure
that, with his wife, Selma, shows no sign of slowing
down. Edgar’s passion for photography, and Selma’s
for writing led them to becoming freelance journalists.
Years before the blogosphere gave space to aspiring writers
and journalists, Selma and Edgar were meeting with
and writing about some of the world’s most famous and
interesting people. Local newspapers were happy to pay
modest sums for their interviews.

My wife and I visited Selma and Edgar at their home on
a chilly Friday morning. The first thing we saw was the
floor covered with laminated newspapers bearing their
photographs and articles. From the Tuskegee Airmen
to former Secretary of State Alexander Haig, from actor
Robert Wagner to actresses Stephanie Powers and Janet
Leigh, the pair has interviewed a seemingly endless
number of famous people. We came wanting to know
stories about the people they interviewed, but found
that we were more interested in getting to know Selma
and Edgar themselves.

How does a retired couple, frankly journalistic amateurs,
get to meet and interview so many famous and influential
people? “We call and we ask,” Selma said, as though
the question was almost silly. Credentials? Gatekeepers?
“Never a problem.”

Not satisfied with that straightforward answer, I asked
who was the most difficult individual to get to interview.
“That would be Luther Smith.” Luther Smith? “One of
the Tuskegee Airmen. He lived not too far from our
home, so we called to arrange an interview. When he
answered his door, he didn’t want to let us in, but eventually
he softened, and we spent two hours in his living
room hearing many stories about the war.” The story of
the Tuskegee Airmen — the first and, initially, the only
African-American aviators in the racially segregated
U.S. Army Air Force — is among the most fascinating of
World War II.

The Davises’ stories went on and on. Finally, I asked
which of the interviews was the most interesting to
them. They both agreed that it was with Alexander Haig.
I wanted to know if he discussed his brief moments
when he put himself in charge of the nation — and they
said he had. Haig said, in a matter-of-fact tone, that
President Reagan had been shot. When he was asked
if anyone knew the condition of the president, no one
had any information. He was asked the whereabouts of
the vice president. He said that Vice President Bush was
in Texas, but it wasn’t clear if he had been advised of
the assasination attempt. Not having been asked about
the Speaker of the House — third in the line of succession
— Secretary of State Haig announced that he had
taken charge until the facts were determined. Many of
us remember those moments in 1981 vividly, but how
many of us got the story from the source?

I almost missed the reference to “Buck Rogers.” It seems
that the Davises had interviewed the elderly son of
Philip Nowlan, the creator of comic strip character Buck
Rogers. They mentioned that Philip Francis Nowlan
was a fellow Central alum. When I asked if they knew
his class, they did not, and the son they interviewed
was long since deceased. Thanks to our own archivist,
David Kahn, we found that Philip Nowlan was, indeed,
another Central alum of note. He was in the Chess Club
and a member of the 1905 championship football team,
and is ultimately credited with creating the story of
Buck Rogers.

From an historic Central perspective, that was the most
interesting discovery of the interview. What impressed
me most, however, was their walk-on appearance on
“Baywatch.” How did they manage to get on the show?
“We asked.”

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

David Hallberg

I could call myself a musician, but I am more than just that. I am a writer, I used to be a dancer, I am definitely a wife, mother, and grandmother, and I like to analyze - everything - words, pictures, actions, and the subtle tells that go with them.

I saw David Hallberg, for the first time, on the Cobert show. Hallberg is the young American ballet dancer, with the American Ballet Theater, who joined the Bolshoi Ballet to dance Sleeping Beauty. On the Cobert show, he seemed to defy gravity like no other dancer I ever saw. And all of his actions gave the illusion of effortlessness. Then, on the Sunday Morning show, excerpts of his dancing from Russia confirmed his gravity defying leaps and spins. His interview revealed that he sprained his ankle at the beginning of the show and, instead of running to a trainer and strapping on bandages and taking some kind of pain killers, he continued with his breath-taking performance. No one could imagine the pain he must have been in.

Compare this with the so-called macho athletes who play football, tennis, basketball, baseball, soccer, and so on. We saw Ben Rothlisberger quarterback his Pittsburgh Steeler football team last night. He limped onto the field, wore different shoes on both of his feet, and anyone who watched knew that he was mustering up his courage to play his best, even though he had a sprained ankle. This is an athlete? I have said, for years, that ballet dancers are stronger, more fit, more able than traditional athletes. Can you imagine what would happen if you took a football team and put those large men into a class of junior high girls who were working out at the barre? I am sure that they would have "jelly" legs and very achy muscles and probably never want to try for that Marvelous toned look and flexibility again.

As I said, I started, or I should say restarted, ballet lessons when I was 49. I used to take ballet and tap when I was a kid but many years intervened before I realized that I like the look of ballerinas. They walk with poise and good posture. So I took lessons for about 6 years (with a slight interruption for brain surgery) and I eventually wound up on point. Who would ever have thought it. And I still use the practical lessons I learned to keep my balance - keep muscles tight and stare at a nonmoving object.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Chanukah Memories

My most vivid memory of Chanukah happened about 35 years ago, on St. Patrick's Day. My youngest child was in Kindergarten. I met him after school and he danced around with excitement. His kindergarten teacher made a VERY big deal about each holiday. It started in September with Halloween and on the actual day, she dressed up as a cat. The students loved it. Then there was Thanksgiving and Christmas and Valentine's Day and finally St. Patrick's Day. There might have been a few in between, but I don't remember.

For St. Patrick's Day, she dressed all in green - from head to toe - and explained the legend of St. Patrick's leading the snakes out of Ireland. There might have been a few games played in the kindergarten room that were particularly Irish, but I don't remember that either. What I do remember was the delight that my child had when I met him after school.

"Mom," he shouted. "Mom, do you know what the leprechaun gives the good boys and girls on St. Patrick's Day?"

He waited patiently for me to say no and then he opened his hand and showed me the gold foil wrapped chocolate coins and said "Chanukah Gelt."

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

2011 Hawaii Five-0

CBS has ruined one of my all time favorite TV shows, the new Hawaii Five-0. The music is spectacular and perfect. The scenery is gorgeous, lush, and hard to spoil. The acting is adequate. But, the actual stories are unimaginative, don't take advantage of the settings, and really test one's ability to suspend disbelief.

The old show had outstanding guests: Helen Hayes, Theodore Bikel, David Wayne, Lyle Betcher, Tyne Daly, Lew Ayres, and so forth in addition to a stock company where the various actors played different parts in the series. I can't remember even one time when Jack Lord stripped to the waist to show off his muscles. He did go running on the beach but he wore a shirt over his shorts.

And the writers knew how to keep the viewers' attention with a beginning, middle, and end. Our favorite writer was Jerome Coopersmith. He attended University of Pennsylvania with Edgar. They were even in German class together. Jerome Coopersmith had Dr. Ventnor as one of his characters and he even named one of them after Edgar. In the story with Helen Hayes, her seat mate on the plane was "Mr. Miller, Edgar P."

I don't want to seem immodest, but the story lines in my four Hawaiian crime novels are better. And they would lend themselves beautifully and easily to a TV series.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Medicare and Me

Everyone who knows me knows that I'm old. I've been on Medicare since the first day I was eligible and have paid for Medigap since then. I also have saved every piece of paper that Medicare, the Medigap insurer, and the medical profession has sent. What a mess!! I have the papers filed by year and I tried to file them by doctor and/or hospital but that didn't work and I tried to file them according to the patient - me or Edgar - but that doesn't work because multiple medical people and multiple patients appear on the same papers. So much for background.

On Saturday, I received a statement from the billing service used by our doctors. It was wrong and I had the paperwork to prove it. Since they agree to take whatever Medicare pays, the charge was too high. Then, they deducted the medicare payment from the high charge, did not deduct the payment that was sent by the medigap insurance people, and billed us for the amount they said we owed. The medigap payment was considerably less than the amount they billed us.

I sat down this morning with three pieces of paper: the statement from the billing company, the statement from Medicare that outlined the approved cost and what they paid, and the statement from Medigap that outlined when they paid the difference. I called the billing company, waited on hold for about 3 minutes, gave the identification information to the polite but officious woman on the phone, and was told that the money from Medigap had not arrived when the statement to us was generated.

I was polite, and told her that the statement was wrong. She bristled. She said that they deducted the Medicare payment. I told her that the total amount was much more than Medicare approved. She tried to talk over me, but, channeling Judge Judy I told her that she could not talk over me but she had to listen to what I was saying. I asked her to please send a zero-balance statement. She launched into her prepared speech, to wait, then to call back, then, if the money was received, if I asked, the zero balance statement would be sent out. I told her that I was prepared to make copies of these 3 pieces of paper and send them to the Medicare Fraud division. She put me on hold. I waited patiently. Then she said that the correction was made on the statement concerning the approved Medicare amount and that as soon as the payment was received from Medigap, the statement would show a zero balance.

I thanked her and told her that I knew that the extra $50.00 was not going into her pocket, nor was it going into our doctor's pocket, but it was just sloppy bookkeeping. This could have cost us but, thanks to saving every piece of paper, it didn't.

In closing, I feel like I'm writing this over and over but I have to stress the importance of keeping records. They don't even have to be good records. Just keep all the papers in a carton that says - KEEP. DON'T THROW THIS AWAY. EVER.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Hawaii lost the Aloha Spirit

Starting in 1990, Edgar and I made 35 trips to Hawaii - most of them to Waikiki, one to Kauai, and two to the Big Island. Kauai was much too quiet for us. Although beautiful, I said many times, if you feel you're going to have a nervous breakdown and never want to see another person again, two weeks in Kauai and you're cured. The Big Island was interesting - with at least two different and distinct personalities - the volcano and the agricultural areas. Never had we seen any landscape that resembled the lava covered grounds connected with the volcano. We heard that the astronauts walked there in an attempt to train for walking on the moon and we can believe that. The newly hardened lava looks like it is sprinkled with diamond dust. The hot lava flows into the Pacific Ocean and that releases large plumes of steam. The National Park set up barricades to keep the tourists out of danger but, a foolhardy person ignored the purpose of the barriers, stepped over them, looked over the edge of the clif into the Pacific and the soft ground gave way under his feet and he became a sacrifice to the volcano.

The agricultural area, around Captain Cook, is high in the hills and coffee, bananas, chocolate, exotic fruits, and tropical flowers all grow with just a little help from the land owners. A serious drug epidemic has forced the large farmers to hire armed security guards to safeguard their crops.

Waikiki, on the island of Oahu, is the center of commerce, culture, and people. Edgar and I were so impressed with the people that, in spite of the l-o-n-g flight from Philadelphia, we continued to return even though Florida and Puerto Rico are much closer. And we returned regularly to enjoy the warmth, both from the sun and the people. But something changed and we have finally been able to identify what appears to us to be the catalyst of change. When Ben Cayetano was elected Governor, he invited everybody to come to his inauguration and we did. The ceremony was held at the Iolani Palace and we were later interviewed by CNN - we guessed that it was because we did not look Hawaiian. In the course of our many travel articles, we had several interactions with Governor Cayetano including photos, and long Q and A sessions. He even arranged for us to have a walk-through part on Baywatch Hawaii. Then the Republican Linda Lingle became Governor and, the office door closed to us. Whenever we requested an interview we were told that she was either tied up in meetings or "off island." And that lack of availability to tourists transferred to the rest of the people.

Before her inauguration, we, and other tourists, were treated as valued guests. Afterwards, we became coins in the state cash register. Amenities that had been a part of everyone's experience disappeared and "blue suede shoe" guys annoyed us to buy time shares on every corner. Instead of enjoying leisurely strolls up and down the beach and up and down the avenues, we had to predetermine a destination and not stop to enjoy the scenery or the flowers.

Mayor Jeremy Harris appreciated the value of tourists and beautified Kalakaua Avenue with fountains, statues, flowers, and public rest rooms. Most of the Hawaiians faulted him for "wasting" money on tourist sites and forgetting the needs of the locals who never appreciated that the tourists brought the money for the locals to have jobs.

We had been staying at the same place during our many trips, and enjoyed it. Then, the next generation of hotel owners took over and forgot how important the return guest was. They renovated or tore down the older hotels and built lavish, expensive, modern structures. They thought that the Aloha spirit that permeated Hawaii during their parents' and grandparents' times could be replaced with wall coverings, bedspreads, and curtains that looked like old Hawaii but could be bought in any store that imported goods from Asia. And this lack of enthusiasm for the life-blood of the State, tourists, permeated the help. The attitudes of the workers reminded us of the saying "it's not the job that I hate, it's the work." Simple tasks, like fixing a telephone connection, took more than a day; reparing a leaky faucet took more than a week; and being available to sign in the guests ranked way down on their list of priorities.

We are glad that we were able to enjoy the "real" Hawaii when we first started vacationing there and are happy that we took so many photos, met so many very interesting people, made friendships that continue to last across the miles, and continue to have pleasant memories of concerts, operas, ballets, theater, surfing, hulas, luaus, whales, spinning dolphins, and the Aloha spirit before it vanished.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

sports and everyday living

Who would have thought that Alan Iverson and Jim Mora would become relevant in our every day life? With Iverson's "practice!" and Mora's "playoffs!" we notice similarities with every day people and their reactions to events.

For instance, the mother of a friend of ours is receiving physical therapy. The therapist, paid for by medicare, comes to her house once a week. After the last session, she called him. "You left your things here. Don't you need them?" The therapist could not believe his ears. "I left them there for you to use. So you can improve your balance, not fall, and require my services less and less."

"Practice?" she said. "I don't practice anything." And her daughter confirmed that she never practiced anything - not the piano, not tennis, not golf, not how to learn new techniques on the computer, not anything. By the way, she is not at all related to Alan Iverson.

I have a neighbor who is elderly, opinionated, and not well. She takes taxis every where she has to go and does not believe that she needs to watch her diet (Type 2 Diabetes). When reminded that she can no longer eat ice cream, she claims "Ice Cream! I love ice cream. I used to eat a half a gallon at a time." And she quickly changed the subject to oatmeal and vegetables. Reminded us of Mora and playoffs.



Friday, November 18, 2011

"How to Succeed . . " 50 years later

On one of our first dates, Edgar and I attended the Philadelphia showing of "How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying." Since the show opened in New York in October 1961, we figure that we saw it in September 1961, a little more than 50 years ago. Robert Morse, Rudy Vallee, and Charles Nelson Reilly stole the show and our hearts. After the final curtain, we just sat there and clapped, and cheered, and I remember saying, "if we stay and clap and cheer some more, would they perform the show for us again."

Last night, believe it or not, we saw "How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying," at the cheerful, bright, new Lower Merion High School. Our beautiful 16 year old granddaughter, Kayla, was stage manager and, according to the teacher sponsor of Players, "she's the one who made the whole thing work." I seemed to have flashed back to 50 years ago and wanted to just sit there and see the whole show over again and Edgar and I enjoyed every part of last night's experience. The singing, the dancing, the acting, the stage sets, the lighting - you name it - were all professional. It's hard to imagine that teenagers, so often maligned, were so dedicated, and "together."

We know that the finished product required hours and hours and hours and hours of work, practice, study, and dedication in addition to attending regular high school classes. But it seemed effortless, a true mark of professionalism. And the audience showed its appreciation with a standing ovation after the last curtain.

One humorous note, the young people in attendance did not appreciate one of the jokes. The Secretary arrived at the desk of one of the bosses; said that he was to be assigned a Secretary, and that she was his "assignation." We laughed. A few of the older people did too. As far as we could tell, the students did not. Maybe they learned the meaning of that word today.



Thursday, November 17, 2011

Penn State's scandal

I was standing in line, at the bank, the other day and heard two men who were talking about a Deli that they used to frequent. One said that he no longer goes there - it's too dangerous - they sell all kinds of drugs there. The other one nodded in agreement. So, I butt in. "If you know about it, and the neighbors know about it, why is it still operating?" They seemed abashed by my questions and said, well, the police are probably on their payroll, the neighbors are afraid of getting involved and winding up dead, and it wouldn't do any good anyway, because the drugs would just move down the street.
Then the conversation turned to Penn State and I asked if either of them would have let the alleged sexual abuse continue if they were witnesses. They seemed a little disturbed by my question and answered that they wouldn't want to do anything that would wind them up in jail. "Even a shout?" I asked. "Well, maybe, but that probably would have been ineffective. The abuse in the coaching is systemic," they answered.
And the contributions by the Sandusky-led charity to political candidates and elected officials is obscene. Pennsylvania's Governor, Corbett, received a contribution to his campaign and then, after election, OK'd a 3 million dollar grant to that charity. The original judge who released Sandusky on a one hundred thousand dollar no money bail was the recipient of a sizeable contribution to her campaign. She did not recuse herself. Another judge has since been appointed and it is alleged that he has never had any dealings with the charity. I'm sure that such incestuous political/charity behavior is not unique to Pennsylvania. SOMETHING HAS TO BE DONE!!!
The list of honorary board of director members even includes George W. Bush. I hope he has removed himself as Cal Ripkin,Jr. and Andy Reid have done.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

American Airlines has ruined our winter

We made a final attempt, yesterday, early November, to book our Waikiki vacation for February with American Airlines vacations. It's not easy to do under the best of circumstances and I finally figured out how to search for the airline flights that I wanted from Philadelphia. First, we wanted only one stop between PHL and HNL. American Airlines charges at least $100.00 a person more for the one stop than for two stops - one in Dallas and one in Los Angeles on the way to Honolulu. Then we wanted a flight that landed earlier in the day (3:30 or so) rather than later (5:30 or so). Again, American Airlines wants another $100.00 a person for the extra two hours in Hawaii.
So, I used the up and down arrows on the web site, and the skip to the next page on the web site, and found the perfect round trip flights. I filled in all the blanks but, did not click the purchase the tickets because I wanted to use our Advantage miles to upgrade to first class on all four legs of the trip. We're old, crotchety, and need our conveniences.
The telephone number of American Airlines vacations was answered relatively promptly but, the operator could not help us with the upgrades and politely told us to call the Advantage number because she could not connect us. Did that. Again, after shouting "agent" into the phone, spoke to another lovely person who told us that the flights that we had selected did not have first class upgrades but, others (even more expensive) flights did. OK. We were trapped. I asked her to please stay on the line with me until I could make the selections and buy the vacation. She said that she couldn't. And hung up. And so did we.

roasted barbecue chicken

Remove all the skin from a whole chicken and separate away the wings. Either put them in a separate pot and make soup or roast them with the whole chicken for those who have a fondness for the wings.
Remove the inside package of chicken inners and neck and again, either throw them away or add the skinless neck to the pot of chicken soup. If your cholesterol can handle it, enjoy the separate prepared liver.
Wash the chicken thoroughly and put it in an oven proof pot with a cover.
For the barbecue sauce - pour in a large can of no salt added tomato puree, a small can of Polaner's all fruit peach jelly that you smear over the chicken, and then sprinkle 1/4 cup instant decaf coffee and 1/2 cup cocoa powder for baking. Add thyme or tarragon or rosemary to taste and some white pepper.
Cover the pot and roast at 350 about two hours or until the chicken is tender.
Serve over cooked brown rice and enjoy.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Cabbage Soup

Cabbage Soup
INGREDIENTS
28 ounce can tomato puree, no salt added
6 ounce can tomato paste, no salt added
10 ounce jar Polaner All Fruit Peach
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup Folgers instant decaf coffee
1 large sweet onion
1 compact medium head cabbage
1 cup uncooked raw brown rice
2 chicken leg quarters
2 quarts water

METHOD
Spray the bottom of a deep soup kettle with vegetable spray
Remove as much skin and fat from the chicken leg quarters as possible
Brown the chicken leg quarters on both sides
Add the water, bring to a boil, turn light down, let simmer for 4 hours
Strain the liquid and refrigerate over night

The next day, skim the fat from the broth.
Put broth, tomato sauce, tomato paste, peach all fruit, instant coffee, vinegar and rice into soup kettle
Slice the onion into thin discs - and put in pot
Slice the cabbage into thin pices (1/8 to 1/4 inch thick) - and put in pot

Bring the soup to a boil, turn light down, and let simmer for 3-4 hours until flavors are blended, rice is soft, and cabbage and onion are soft.

Serve with crusty whole wheat bread

horseraddish whole wheat bread

horseraddish whole wheat bread
INGREDIENTS
4 cups whole wheat flour
8 ounce can tomato sauce - no salt added
6 ounce jar white horseraddish
1-3/4 cups very warm water
2 tablespoons yeast

METHOD
Breadmaker - set the breadmaker on dough
Add ingredients as suggested by the manufacturer

By hand - Add 2 cups of flour to the warm water, one cup at a time, Add tomato sauce and horseraddish. Then add the yeast and the rest of the flour. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and knead in the rest of the flour. Add more flour if necessary.
Put in a bowl, sprayed with vegetable oil. Cover. Let rest until double in size.
Punch down.

Baking - the same for breadmaker or by hand

Put in bread pan, sprayed with vegetable oil.
Put in oven.
Let rest for 5 minutes
Turn oven to 350, let bread bake for 40 minutes.
Turn off oven and leave bread in the oven until you can handle the pan without potholders.
Remove. Let cool. Slice

cinnamon raisin whole wheat bread

cinnamon raisin whole wheat bread
INGREDIENTS
4 cups whole wheat flour
1-3/4 cups very warm water
1 cup raisins
8 dried apricots, cut into thirds
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1-1/2 teaspoons ginger
1 heaping tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons yeast

METHOD
breadmaker - set breadmaker to dough setting
add ingredients in order suggested by the manufacturer

by hand -
Put sugar, salt, raisins, apricots, cinnamon, ginger into bowl. Add water and applesauce. Add 2 cups of flour, one cup at a time. Stir. Add yeast. Stir. Add the rest of the flour. Turn out onto lightly floured surface and knead. Add more flour if necessary. Put into bowl, sprayed with nonstick vegetable spray. Cover. Let double in size. Punch down.

BAKING
Turn into bread pan that has been sprayed with nonstick vegetable spray
Put in oven.
Let rest 5 minutes.
Turn oven to 350 degrees.
Bake for 40 minutes.
Turn oven off.
Leave bread in oven until you can handle the bread pan without a potholder.
Let cool.
Slice.

chocolate oatmeal brownies

INGREDIENTS

2 cups raw oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup instant decaf coffee
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa for baking
1/2 to 1 cup raisins
8 dried apricots cut into thirds
1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon
1 heaping teaspoon ginger
10 ounce jar Polaner All Fruit Orange or Apricot
6-ounce container Dannon Coffee Yogurt
1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce

METHOD
Mix all the dry ingredients together first
Then add the yogurt, apple sauce, and All Fruit
Stir until all intredients are combined

BAKING
Spray a brownie pan with non-stick spray
Put dough into the pan
Put pan into oven
Turn oven on to 350 degrees
Bake for 37 minutes
Turn off the oven
Leave pan in the oven until cool enough to remove without a potholder
Turn pan over and remove the pan
Let brownies cool on a rack
Slice, store in the refrigerator

whole wheat french bread

whole wheat french bread
2 cups very warm water
4 to 5 cups 100% whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons yeast

If you use a breadmaker, use the "mix dough" setting.
If by hand, dissolve yeast in water, stir in sugar and salt, add flour, 1 cup at a time until well mixed - use your hands and knead until smooth and shiny.
Let rise until doubled in size.
Spray a loaf pan with vegetable spray.
Put dough into pan and put pan into cold oven.
Let rest for 5 minutes, then turn on oven to 350 and bake for about 35-40 minutes. Let cool in oven.
Turn out, slice, and enjoy

pumpkin, cheese, chocolate dessert

pumpkin, cheese, chocolate dessert
1 small can pumpkin
1-lb container low fat, no salt added cottage cheese
2 containers Dannon coffee yogurt
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup instant d-caf coffee
egg whites from 3 large eggs
1 whole large egg
heaping teaspoonful cinnamon
1/2 teaspoonful ginger

Mix it all together in a food processor.
Spray oven proof glass bowl with vegetable spray
Turn out into oven safe glass bowl
Bake at 350 for about an hour until the dessert no longer jiggles when you shake the bowl.
Let cool in the oven.
Store in the refrigerator, either in large bowl or individual containers.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Johnny Sample

During our career as journalists and photographers (a hobby that didn't cost us too much), we were fortunate to interview the great football player, Johnny Sample. We had been assigned to write a feature article about Emlin Tunnel, Radnor High School's claim to professional football history. After serving in WWII, Tunnel played for the New York Giants and the Green Bay Packers as a defensive player and a punt returner. He went with Lombardi to Green Bay after Lombardi left the Giants and played in the fabled 1960 championship game which the Philadelphia Eagles won. This was the only championship game that Lombardi ever lost.

We asked both former Eagle players, Tommy McDonald and Tom Brookshire about Tunnel and they both raved about his marvelous defensive skills. Johnny Sample played on that very same Green Bay Packers team and he told us great stories.

Sample met Tunnel at a Horn and Hardarts at 52nd and Market Streets and convinced Tunnel that a defensive player has a longer expected career than an offensive player. Tunnel listened to him and entered the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Unfortunately, Tunnel passed away at age 50 from a heart attack.

Sample also told us about his experiences with the Baltimore Colts under the ownership of Carol Rosenbloom. Before the joining of the NFL and the AFL, the Colts flew to Dallas to play and exhibition game. The team showed up at the hotel and the staff behind the desk stuttered and stumbled over words. Finally, the clerks said that some of the team could stay there, but, since no blacks were allowed, the rest of the team would have to find accommodations elsewhere and a seedy hotel, several blocks away, was suggested. The coach called Rosenbloom who told the team not to check in, return to the airport, and await his phone call.

Not more than a couple of hours later, Rosenbloom called the team and said that it was OK for the entire team to check into the hotel now. "How did you manage that? What did you say?" they asked him. His reply - "I bought the hotel, fired the staff, hired new people, and told them that my integrated team was coming."

Sample had a full career after he retired from football.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Sonny Jurgensen and Me

I commuted to Penn every day from September 1957 until I graduated in June 1961 and then got my MA in 1962. I parked in the lot at 33rd and Walnut. The Philadelphia Eagles practiced at Franklin Field and also parked in the same parking lot. I crossed paths with the football players only once.

The parking lot attendant, a Penn employee, was small, wiry, pleasant, and very protective of me - for some reason. One late afternoon, as I headed to my 1954 blue and white Oldsmobile, he hurried over to me. "The Eagles football players are leaving now. You be careful. Especially be careful of Sonny Jurgensen." I said sure, and didn't have any idea what he was talking about. I later learned that Sonny Jurgensen had a reputation as a womanizer. What did I know? I was a senior at Penn and had my head in the books, my research, and my plans for graduate school.

Then, the attendant who had decided that I needed protection, pointed out the tall red-headed man that was walking with a group of other great big men. "That's him," he said. And then, this little man strutted over to the group of great big professional football players, stood right in Jurgenson's space, pointed to me, and told him, in no uncertain terms, to leave me alone. I got in my car and went home but I did take a quick glance behind me and saw the tall redhead shaking his head in wonderment.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Church and State

A passage in the Haggadah, read during the Passover Seder, tells us to think of the Exodus from Egypt as if we ourselves were personally rescued from slavery. I feel as if I was personally saved from the Holocaust.

I hever had to wear any identifying mark - a yellow star of David, a large J, a number tattooed on my arm - never.

I hever had to raise my hand when asked by a person in authority "who is Jewish?" No matter what the motivation. A person in whom I have 100% confidence told me about a situation that I have been unable to confirm. I will reveal the matter, but eliminate all possible identifications. If it is true, it is horrifying. If it is not true, it could be and cries out for vigilance in all aspects of life. A teacher asked the students who are Jewish to raise their hands. They did. After all, a teacher is a person in authority. Then, the teacher seated them so that there would be a Jewish student and a non-Jewish student side by side. Separation of church and state? Hardly.

The people who wrote the Constitution of the United States appreciated the hardships endured by religious persecution and wanted to make our country a safe haven for all peace-loving people - with no hint of a divine right to rule.

If you pay attention to the TV evening news, you will notice that gratuitous references to religion are usually omitted. This was not always the case. One day, I heard "he is Jewish" or, "the son of Jewish parents" or, well known "Jewish family" and I wrote a letter - in the days before email - to the network headquarters. that accused them of being racist. That, unless the person's religion was a pertinent factor in the story, it should not be mentioned - or - mention the religion of everybody. Within days, religious affiliations, unless a contributing factor that moved the story along, were omitted.

Success came with sports radio talk shows too. When the football draft yielded players for the Eagles that did not meet the standards of the talk show hosts, they offered "the best Mormon available," instead of the traditional "best player available." (A reference to the religion of the Eagles' head coach Andy Reid.) This time I used email to accuse them of being racist and you seldom hear, religious talk references. Andy Reid's Mormonism has almost disappeared.

However, look at the slate of candidates that the Republicans are fielding. We all know that Mitt Romney is a Mormon (accused of being a cult by Perry's religious leader). But what are the religious affiliatiions of the other potential candidates and are their religious beliefs important to anyone but them? There is always hope that reasonable minds prevail. After all, JFK was not ruled by the Vatican. American voters had confidence in the separation of church and state.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Edgar, the Button Man, and the New York Post

A long, long time ago, just after Edgar graduated from college, 1949, he was walking along Arch Street in Philadelphia, looking in the windows while searching for a job. The shop owner came out of the store and asked Edgar if he wanted a job to sell buttons, trimmings, and zippers to Philadelphia manufacturers. At that time, Philadelphia was a major center of the garment industry.

And so, he started the job - going to a list of customers, took the orders, and returned to the shop. The owner filled the orders plus a little more. If the buyer wanted 12 dozen items, the owner would send 13 dozen. "They'll either pay for the 13dozen, return the extra dozen, or keep it and not pay." Much to Edgar's surprise, almost all of them paid.

This marketing strategy came home to us recently - more than 60 years later.

We had stumbled into an inexpensive subscription to the New York Post - $2.00 a week, 7 days, delivered to our door. Never mind their politics. The headline writers are creative and their sports coverage is extensive.

We charged the $100.00 on our credit card for one year - at the end of that year we renewed again for another hundred dollars. Toward the end of the second year, we received a fraud alert phone call from the credit card company for a questionable $250.00 charge.

"Do not pay it," we said. "This is an unauthorized charge." Not a problem the credit card company cancelled the charges, cancelled that card, and said they would send us a new credit card.

A complaint email to a contact at the New York Post resulted in a snide response - That is the charge. And that is what you owe.

We're not paying. We don't need the extra dozen buttons.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Sputnik

Remember the song, "Mama, don't let your kids grow up to be cowboys?" Well, I'm changing the words to: "Don't let your kids grow up to be ignoramuses."

I was listening to WIP, sports radio talk show this morning with Angelo Cataldi, Al Morganti, Ricky Botalico, and Rhea Hughes. A caller, a Phillies season ticket holder who is knowledgeable about the USA space program, mentioned Sputnik in the conversation. Not one of those four, highly paid, intelligent? show hosts knew what Sputnik was. One said, what a good name for a dog. Another one commented that Sputnik would be a good name for a potato dish.

The caller had to explain that October 4, 1957 was a turning point in space travel. That was the day that the Soviet Union (remember them?) launched the first man made satellite into space. This tremendous scientific breakthrough caught the United States by complete surprise. Our rocket scientists were working on a satellite that could circle the earth but they had not mastered the concept of multiple powerful rockets as launchers.

Our landing on the moon, and John F. Kennedy's interest and financial investment in NASA, gained impetus from the Sputnik launch. The USA took over the space race and "won" it with our landing on the moon.

The demonstrable lack of knowledge by people who rule the airwaves needs to be recognized as an indictment of our educational system. We cannot expect everyone to know everything. But we can expect everyone to know about the important events in the development of humanity, especially in breakthrough events of historic importance.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Jewish Vote

Anyone who thinks that there is a unified "Jewish Vote" has never attended a family dinner in a Jewish household. The far reaching disucssions, I mean arguments, range from "it's cold in here" "no it's not" to "the Phillies stink" "they're going to win the Series."
I'm reminded of the Alan Dershowitz story. A Jewish man was rescued from a deserted island after years of solitude. He had built two large structures. The rescuer asked about the buildings. The rescued man pointed to one and said "this is the synagogue that I attend." Then he pointed to the other equally large structure and said, "and that one, that one is the one I would never set foot in."
To get back to the so-called Jewish Vote. There are Republicans and Democrats, Conservatives and Liberals, Communists and Socialists, and Independents. To give examples from our family. Uncle George branded Medicare as socialized medicine and vowed that Medicare would ruin the country and bankrupt the doctors. Aunt Betty loved Medicare. She couldn't wait to be admitted to the hospital because she loved hospital food. She opted for hospitalization even when out-patient treatment was available and maybe even preferable.
Uncle Sol was the Republican committee man when he was drafted into the SeaBees - an overweight, out of shape, 37-year old lawyer. The democratically controlled draft board denied him an exemption and he was a staunch Republican then and forever. The rest of the family kept their political inclinations to themselves, except for one family that was branded as "pinkos" with no proof. We never were permitted to visit them. Perhaps out of fear of "contagion."
Back to the family dinner. There was always at least one person who just could not show up on time. To the sounds of "the dinenr is getting cold" that emanated from the kitchen, the debate raged. Should we wait or start? Usually, the starting won but, the meal never officially began until Uncle Joe showed up and knocked over his glass of red wine.
After dinner, or before, the arguments over what to watch on TV were decided by the woman of the house who said "enough" and pulled out the plug. Then the discussions became emotional, intellectual, and heated, but the participants never came to blows.
Uncle Rob voted for Henry Wallace and Wendel Wilkie. Everybody tried to avoid political talks with him because he was sure that the world would have been a better place if his candidates had won. The family attributed his political views to his sweet tooth. There were never too many desserts or too much candy around for Uncle Rob.
Nobody ever questioned the voting habits of other family members. Whoever volunteered his preferences usually faced ridicule or arguments - some even meaningful but the only unified vote in our Jewish family household was that we all loved each other and the country, no matter what lever we pulled on election day.

Friday, September 16, 2011

9/11 ten years later

I remember the day very well. I was babysitting for our 3 year old grandson. Our six year old granddaughter was at school. And our other five grandchildren had not been born. We were watching Sesame Street and Edgar was at the dentist.
I answered the phone, and my daughter asked if I had been able to contact her sister who lived in New York. "No. I haven't tried. But I don't expect any problems."
I could tell, over the phone, that she paled and then she said, "You don't know do you?" "Know what?" "Aren't you watching TV?" "Yes, Sesame Street." "Oh well, you better change the channel." And that is when I saw the unbelievable, the unimaginable, the unthinkable.
My grandson had turned his head away for a moment, and I was able to switch back to Sesame Street before he saw the devastation.
I called my daughter in New York and, thankfully, got right through to her. One of the New York newspapers called her to go to a nearby hospital and interview whoever she could and report back. The hospital was loaded with workers, gurneys, bandages, and blood. But there were no patients.
For weeks after 9/11, the photos of missing people, smiling faces, beautiful clothes, screamed out to her from fences, telephone poles, even fire hydrants. The "missing" posters eventually lost their ability to make her cry. But, even months later, when she was walking along a street and made eye contact with a total stranger, they would look at each other and both would burst into tears.
That trauma is over. And now she's wondering about the report that the Pentagon/CIA had been making arrangements to have two pilots fly suicide, kamikaze missions into Flight 93 - one into the tail and one into the cockpit. They had not figured out how the pilots could safely eject and accomplish their mission when they received word that the brave passengers on United Flight 93 had taken care of the plane.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

My mother's tea party - a rhyme

I had a little tea party,
this afternoon at three.
'Twas very small, three guests in all,
I, myself, and me.

I ate up the sandwiches
and drank up all the tea.
'Twas also I who ate the pie
and passed the cake to me.

My daughters seemed to enjoy it. My son listened attentively, and then returned to doing whatever he was doing at the time.

I'm reminded ot this rhyme because of the nonsense that is being uttered by today's Tea Party membeers. It sounds to me, like they want to return to the "good old days" of black smoke air pollution, poisoned water that results in river fish kill, gas guzzling 8-10 miles per gallon cars, and unregulated snake oil medicines that enriched the crooks who promoted them.

As for labor unions, child labor, health care, social security, and pensions - when my grandfather, my mother's father, was 14 years old, he fainted in the sweatshop factory where he worked. After he woke up, they fired him. No severance pay, no health benefits, and, like what happened to John Henry in the song, "John Henry was a steel driving man," his pay was docked for the time he lay unconscious on the floor.

When he returned home, his step-mother told him, "no pay, no stay," and she threw this 14 year old boy out of the house.

Fortunately, his resilience and brilliance led him to be a cabin boy on a ship. He worked there for several years, saved his money, went back to New York, where he met my grandmother.

In one of the many epidemics of the time, he succumbedc to typhoid fever. The tretment, without health care, consisted of relocation to the country. His family -wife and four children (including my mother) moved to Mountaindale where he recovered. Still no health insurance. Then, they moved to Ellenville where he opened an umbrella handle manufacturing company.

My grandfather, on my father's side, died from "acute indigestion" when my father was six years old. No medical insurance, no widow's benefits, no children's benefits - and my father had seven siblings.

Times were tough. My father was very, very smart. Every acadmic achievement prize that came with money, meant food for the family. Nine of them lived in a small row house in Philadelphia. My grandmother rented out rooms to strangers, hosted philanthropic get togethers, and always found a little extra to give to charity.

Are those the "good old days" that the Tea Party members yearn for? The days when the Robber Barons did whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted. The days when Union organizers were vilified.

I'm sure there were exceptions to the "public be damned" philosophy of those days. But these benign despots were few and far between. Milton Hershey kept his workers happy and satisfied, mostly, by building a community of houses with schools, hospitals, and a clean environment. As did John B. Stetson, of Philadelphia (near Front and Lehigh). It's still fun to go to Hershey, PA and inhale the intoxicating chocolate aroma. But, and there is a but, it was his town, his rules, his company, and a person worked there as long as the boss was happy. Eventually, the workers revolted and the happiness ended with a bitter strike.

Back to today's Tea Party. My interpretation of them is "I've got mine. It's just too bad if you want yours too, because, unless you curry favor with the right people, no matter what they ask, you are not going to get it."

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Hurricane Irene reminds me of 1944

I was five years old and we spent the summer, as usual, at the Atlantic City, New Jersey shore. This was the last year we could stay after Labor Day because I would start first grade the next year.
My father commuted. He came to the shore on Friday night, returned to Philadelphia on Monday morning, came back to the shore on Wednesday night, returned to Philadelphia on Thursday morning, and so forth. That way, my father did not see us just one day a week.
September 14, 1944 dawned with rain. The large floor model radio in the rented house did not work during the rain. The only sound was static. And, because it was raining, there was no newspaper delivered. The paper boy never left the newspaper in the rain.
In mid-morning, the phone rang. Aunt Naomi was calling from Philadelphia. Remember, this was 1944. Nobody made long distance calls unless it was an emergency. "Why are you still there?" she asked my mother. "A hurricane is coming and bearing down on Atlantic City." My mother said that she would investigate and call her back. Then, she called Aunt Rose. Aunt Rose and Uncle Sam lived in Atlantic City. "A hurricane? Don't be silly," said Aunt Rose. "They always talk
about hurricanes. It's just a Nor'easter. We get them every year at this time."
So, my mother called Aunt Naomi back, gave her the report from Aunt Rose, and then said that we would probably head back to Philadelphia and would call her when we got there.
We packed; called a taxi; went to the train station; bought tickets to Philadelphia; and waited in the beautiful, huge, mobbed train station. Finally, we boarded our homeward bound train and, after a brief wait at the station, started moving through the pouring rain. I was sitting next to the window, and the rain and wind were so strong that water was seeping into the train car. We had not gotten very far, to Pleasantville, I think, when the train stopped. And we waited, and waited, and then the train reversed, back to the station. The bridge had been washed out.
We all got off the train, and tried to find a seat in the crowded station. I remember sitting on the suitcase because there was no room on any of the benches for my mother and me. After a while, somebody (I don't remember who) got up and gave my mother a seat. Since this was 1944, the train station was filled with military. Some were there because of R and R from WWII, and some were there to keep order. I remember being very thirsty and being told not to drink from the water fountain.
Eventually, the rain and wind stopped. The streets were still flooded but we went outside to look. I don't remember ever seeing the sky so full of stars, before or since. I now know that because there was no electricity, there were no interfering lights but, as a kid, I couldn't take my eyes off the sky. My mother hailed a taxi but he said the water was over the hubcaps and he couldn't drive. The military was patrolling. I stopped one. "I'm hungry and thirsty," I said. My mother was embarrassed. The soldier directed us to a shelter where they served us cheese sandwiches and milk. Then the shelter people took us to an old wooden Y. There was still no power, so we were led to our room by a woman who took the candle away with her when she left. She told us that she was afraid of fire.
Meanwhile, we did not know that my father was frantic. Aunt Naomi told him that, the last she heard, we were on our way to Philadelphia. The phone lines to Atlantic City were down and my father could not get through to anybody. He called the Atlantic City police and they told him that no one matching our descriptions had turned up. The police also told him to stay home. That the roads were closed and he could not get to Atlantic City. He called the Three A's and received the same message. In the morning, he called the police again, frantic, and they told him to come on down and they would see that he got through - and my father believed them -
and they were true to their word. In fact, they even gave him a police escort through the "do not enter" barricades.
We went to Aunt Rose and Uncle Sam's place. I was standing outside and my father appeared around the corner, ran over to me, scooped me up and carried me in.
Later that day, we drove back to our rental. The only damage to the house was an outside light that had been twisted.
The 1944 hurricane had no name. Hurricanes were not named until 1950.

Davis family - no secrets

Edgar remembers one of the times he visited Aunt Lillian and Uncle Rob. Aunt Lillian's niece, Georgianne was waiting for her boyfriend to meet her there for a visit. Finally, David Garst arrived. It was pouring that day, and he jumped out of a taxi and ran to the house, carrying his boots. David was tall, good looking,
and athletic - the captain of the wrestling team at Southern Cal.
Uncle Rob engaged David in conversation and David said that his father was a farmer and was buying corn and selling wheat. At the time, they were both priced the same on the commodity market. A couple of weeks later, corn skyrocketed and wheat plummeted.
Edgar joined them for breakfast and couldn't believe his eyes. David drank two quarts of milk, ate a half a loaf of bread, and scooped up a four egg omelet. Uncle Rob had never seen anybody eat like that. Neither had Edgar.
Remember when Nikita Krushchev visited the US? He requested a visit to the Garst hybrid corn farm. Uncle Rob said that he thought the Garsts were just "farmers." He never dreamed that Garst was an internationally known producer of hybrid corn. Krushchev and his entourage stopped in Coon Rapids, Iowa after his visit to Hollywood and his attendance on the set of the movie Can-Can. Perhaps you remember his quote, "I think that humanity's face is prettier than its behind."
Krushchev requested that the Garsts visit the Soviet Union to talk about hybrid corn production. Georgianne and David served as the instructors. Georgianne spoke about how their every need was satisfied, even though the workers and helpers where they were staying knew no English. One morning, Georgianne said to David that the food is delicious and plentiful, but there is just not enough butter. From that point on, lots and lots of butter was served with every meal.
Georgianne's brother Mort was accepted at the University of Colorado. He left the Big Island of Hawaii, where his father, Archie Ornstein established his medical practice in the 1920's. Mort graduated from Punahou High School in 1951 and his father called in favors to get Mort a seat on the first flight out of Hawaii after the United Airlines settlement of the 2-week pilots' strike. The flight was doomed and Mort was on the plane that crashed into Crystal Mountain on June 30. There were no survivors.
As near as Edgar can determine, the family name, originally, was Davidovitch which was the name of Leon Trotsky. Since the Davis's came from the same general area as Trotsky, Stalin sent men to question the family. Stalin had been murdering all the Trotsky's. Edgar's grandfather, Moses, opened the door to his house in Philadelphia one day, and found two emissaries from Stalin, questioning the relationship to Trotsky. Moses who csme to the US in 1892 convinced the men that there was no relationship between him and his family and Trotsky.
Trotsky was murdered in Mexico; his son was murdered in France; fortunately, no Davis's were murdered.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Pearl Harbor - 12/7/1941

Edgar remembers the day clearly. He was at an engagement party on a bright and sunny day in Philadelphia. This was LONG before the days of texting, twitter, cell phones, and instant communications. The floor model radio interrupted its background music program to announce the unthinkable - America had been attacked by Japan.
The guests left in a hurry. Nobody knew what would happen next.
About two hours later, newsboys ran up and down the streets, shouting WAR, and selling the Philadelphia Record with its gigantic headline. In those days, Philadelphia had four fibrant daily newspapers.
During one of our many trips to Hawaii, we sought out people who lived in Hawaii during the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Russell Cades, a graduate of Philadelphia's Central High School, and the University of Pennsylvania undergrad and law schools, lived in Honolulu since the 1920's and headed the largest law firm in Honolulu, remembered that day clearly. "I stood outside my house on the hill and saw the bombs' falling and the return anti-aircraft fire."
Dr. Rodney West, who was born and raised in Hawaii helped shape the civilian emergency response team. He said that on December 7, early in the morning, he received a phone call from his father who lived on the Big Island. "This is not a test," his father said. Dr. West turned on his radio and heard the announcer say "this is the real McCoy." So, Dr. West phoned the others on his emergency response team and drove at top speed to the hospital on Ford Island. There was no connector bridge from the highway to the island so they all crouched low in a Boston Whaler while the attacking Japanese planes strafed the area. "I was hoping that they were all good shots and not aiming for us."
He and his fellow doctors treated the burn victims to the best of their abilities and were thankful that the bomb in the atrium was a dud and did not explode.
Dr. West and his fellow Hawaiians anticipated this attack and had organized all the groups they could - the Boy Scouts, the Red Cross, the Postal Employees, and other civilian groups. Each organization had a specific job to perform as soon as the attack began.
Russ, at the Ramsey Gallery, was taking a shower in his home on Maui. After the attack, word was sent out that all lights had to be extinguished during the night. He said that he waas just a kid and forgot about the "no lights" edict. He was still in the shower when a pounding at the frong door startled his mother. "You have a spy in your house," said the FBI agent, "who is signalling the enemy."
"My poor mother. It took her a second or two before she realized that I had turned on the light in the shower room."
"It's just my young son," she said, "taking a shower."
By that time, Russ had finished his shower, stepped out into the room with his angry mother and a stern faced FBI man. "I received quite a lecture," he said. "I've never felt quite the need for cleanliness since then. The FBI man told me that I was lucky I wasn't carted off to prison."
Another day, we spoke to a docent at the Iolani Palace. She remembered the zig-zag trenches that the soldiers dug outside her school. Every so often, "we had to practice running out of the school and hiding in the trenches."
But, that was nothing compared to the gas mask drills. "Each of us was issued a gas mask and we received minimal instruction on its use. Then, to be sure that we had mastered the complexities of gas mask use, the army put us in a room, told us to afix our gas masks, and turned on the tear gas. If we coughed, or choked, or cried we were pulled out and lectured that we had done it wrong and that if it was truly noxious gas, we would be dead." Then the military showed the students how to adjust the gas masks properly and "we passed the second test."
One day, while strolling along Kalakaua Avenue, we saw a throng of people with a couple of steam rollers. The street was covered with gold colored, jewel encrusted watches - all fakes - taken from the International Marketplace and all crushed under the watchful eyes of the police, fire department, ATF, FBI, INS, military, and us.
Helping to maintain order was a fire fighter. While talking, and asking questions, he told us that his Japanese father was an orderly at the hospital on Ford Island during the attack on Pearl Harbor. His father helped rescue many of the burn victinms from the water. When the sailors looked at him, some of them showed fear and questioned why a Japanese man was saving them when the Japanese planes atacked them. He also told us of a much older friend of his who had been hunting wild boar on the morning of Decmeber 7th. His friend saw the Japanese planes, heard the bombs, and aimed his rifle to the sky in a futile attempt to bring down the attack planes.
At the Makapu'u lighthouse, we met a couple from Indiana. His father had been stationed in Pearl Harbor, on board the Oklahoma. His father had been assigned a bunk on a low deck, but, just two days before, he was moved to the highest deck and thus survived the attack.
One more story. New planes arrived at Pearl Harbor and the navy pilots wanted to practice with them. So they flew all day Saturday and were then ordered to take the twin hulled P-38's back to base and stop practice. But, in good military tradition, the pilots ignored their orders and secreted the planes at a distant airfield. After the attack, the pilots took their planes to the air and startled the Japanese. The Japanese intentions, to destroy the oil reserves were thwarted by the sight of these three unexpected planes and - not knowing how many more, if any, were patrolling the skies, the Japanese decided to be satisfied with the destruction of the battleships and left.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Pro Bowl in Hawaii?

The NFL wants money to bring the Pro Bowl to Honolulu. Are you surprised? Governor Abercrombie is reluctant to spend tax dollars. Who can blame him when the needs for the money are great in so many other fields.

The hotel and related businesses are clamoring for the Pro Bowl, and its anticipated revenue of 30 million dollars or more. The hotel managers salivate at the thought of the happy, freely spending tourists who stay for Pro Bowl week.

And yet, Governor Abercrombie hesitates to invest the valuable, hard earned tax revenues. If those who want the Pro Bowl are as confident as they seem that lots and lots of money, in the form of visitor spending will arrive in Hawaii, then let them lend the money to the State so that Hawaii can pay the NFL and when the anticipated revenues flow into the state treasury, the lenders can be repaid. This requires trust that the State will repay the loans.

Hawaii Five-0 on the Beach

Our little grandchildren wanted to walk to the Hilton Hawaiian Villages to see the tropical penguins - again. So they walked along the beach from Embassy Suites, in front of Fort DeRussey, to the Hilton with their mother, saw the penguins, returned and announced, with great glee, "there's a person in a shark suit and a whole lot of camera equipment on the beach."

I investigated. "Is this Five-0?" I saked. "Yes." "Are the stars here?" "No." "Is the PR person here?" "I haven't seen her." "Who's the director?" I heard a name that I did not recognized. I knew for sure that he was not the director that we knew from our experience on Baywatch Hawaii.

And then, along came a tall, sun-bronzed, athletic man, who was holding a tray of cold fruit. "Have some fruit," he said. I took a slice of cold, juicy, and sweet pineapple. "Have some more." I took another slice.

Apparently, I didn't take enough to please him and he stuck a big black plum in my hand. The fruit was delicious. All I needed was a pie to feel like Little Jack Horner.

Then, not to be outdone, a different tall bronzed athletic looking man approached. He thrust a tray of cheese slices, sliced salami, and crackers under my face. I guess I looked pathetic, but I turned him down.

I pulled out my pocket Nikon 3100 camera and a third man stuck his head and equally shirtless body into the frame. So I have this photo with no names and no idea who they are. But, it sure was fun.

They finished shooting the scene with the shark and when that episode of Hawaii Five-0 appears - don't know its name - at least we'll be able to say that we were there.

We Climbed Diamondhead

Diamondhead, the iconic image, visible from all of Waikiki, rises straight up from the Pacific Ocean and provides a backdrop to swimming, surfing, and canoeing. Diamondhead presents a modest challenge to the couch potato tourist.

Oahu Nature Tours picked all 7 of us up and drove to the Diamondhead crater to start our trek. Claire passed out water bottles (2 to each of us), walking sticks to those who needed them. (I had my own cane, Edgar announced that he does not have any mountain goat gene and sat at the beginning of the trail and talked to everyone who sat down next to him until we returned), and a back pack if needed.

The day dawned warm and glorious but the 10 to 20 mile cooling trade winds kept both the temperature and humidity down. By the time we finished the climb, almost everyone had consumed both bottles of water.

The trail zig-zagged up the mountain with a hand rail always present on one side or the other. Between my cane and my wrist brace, I made the climb both up and down. I hope I served as an inspiration to the younger climbers. That would be everybody else. And various people stopped me to complain about their own troubles. A man has been doctoring for MS for 26 years and swears by his multi-vitamins. A woman with an inflamed rotator cuff couldn't lift her arm and asked me how she could prevent a frozen shoulder. I guess my silver hair led them to believe that I was knowledgeable in medical problems.

Parents with young children in their arms, ran up and down the trail. That seems like unnecessary bravado to me.

The climb through the lighted tunnel was the easy part of the hike, followed by the hard part of more than a hundred steps going straight up, a circular staircase, and the decapitation stone that required a knees first position on the way up ("watch your head" warning seemed unnecessary but present) and a sit on your rear for the way down.

The descent provided problems for me and I picked my way slowly and carefully -I inadvertently held up the parade of climbers who were in a hurry. A tall, strong looking man, took over and told me that he was walking in front and he would catch me if I slipped. He placed his foot at an angle and encouraged me to use his shoe as a safety block. I did and thanked the airline pilot from Delta for his help.

All of this writing about the hike doesn't come close to describing the spectacular views from the top. Practically the entire island of Oahu was visible - downtown Honolulu, built up Waikiki, and the multi-colored blue Pacific Ocean.

What a day!!!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Is it Peggy or a scam?

Discover Card hit a wonderful ad campaign with Peggy. It seems that companies who have to depend on patrons for customrs hire minimum wage people who cannot read.

I sent an email to Nissan, complaining about my service engine soon light and the advice I received from my dealer to "ignore" it. The Altima is a little over 2 years old, had a 3 year bumper to bumper warranty, and has less than 5,000 miles on it.

No one at Nissan USA replied to my email and after 3 days, I called. I got Tiffaney (note the spelling) on the phone. She was pleasant enough, asked for the VIN, found my email, gave me a case file number, and then added, "When was the diagnostic done?"

Since the point of my email was that the service manager recommended doing nothing and told me the Diagnostic would cost $94.00. To her question, I answered "never."

"Last week?" she asked. "No, Tiffaney, never." I almost called her Peggy.

And then, as if she couldn't read even one word, we slowly went through my email word for word and when frustration on my part reared its ugly head, I said I wanted to talk to a supervisor. "They will just say what I'm telling you," she said. After a couple of minutes, on hold, a supervisor listened patiently and told me what I wanted to hear - almost. A diagnostic that reveals a problem with a warranted part is free. Otherwise, fax them the info and they'll send me a check.

Then I emailed Ardmore Nissan with the service complaint and I received a reply email from another Peggy that he was delighted I'm interested in buying a new Nissan and he will contact me shortly.

I sent a reply email - all CAPS - shouting NO, NO, NO. Here's another person who cannot read. Finally I took my courage by the hand and brought my car to the agency.

"The light is still on?" I nodded. I asked Dave if he would tighten the gas cap. He inspected it, nodded that it had been put on OK and tight enough. He then suggested that I drive over 50 mph for a while. Did it. Light is still on. So, two days later (first available appointment) I took the car back to the agency, and waited for the results of the diagnostic.

And after 2 hours, the scam revealed itself with confirmation that there was never anything wrong with the gas tank cap and that it passed the pressure test correctly. But somehow, someway, the computer read there was a "vapor lock" or something like that. And, those things "usually" correct themselves, except when the customer can be scammed, like I was.

We paid the bill; faxed the required material to Nissan customer service; and I am not holding my breath while I wait for the promised reimbursement check.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Truck drivers wave at her

About 25 years ago, I accompanied a woman I knew on her weekly automobile rides to New York City. She had a heavy foot on the gas pedal, but kept her dyed blond head focused on the rear view and side view mirrors. I had my instructions too - "look out for the troopers, but don't be obvious."

We drove to New York during non-rush hour times but on the ride home, cars and trucks filled the highway. Her mouth moved nonstop - usually about nothing. Once in a while we talked about our children, and she talked about her husbands and how jealous everybody was of her.

At one point, she even included me in the jealous of her group, but soon realized how wrong she was. I think the psychological term is projection when one attributes to another the emotion that one is feeling. Anyway, there were many times that she asked me for advice. But she held onto the idea that her singing teacher, a notable in the world of voice coaches, was jealous of her - not so much her voice but her figure, her so-called brains, and her academic credentials. I held my tongue because, as my husband says, her degree was not a PhD but a PHONY.

One day, while driving back to Philly from New York, she hiked up her skirt, tugged down her shirt, moistened her lips, and honked as we approached the front doors of an 18-wheeler. The driver looked through his window at her, waved and beeped his horn.

"See," she said. "I told you. All the truck drivers wave to me."

"You honhked and waved first," I said, trying to inject a touch of reality into her strange world.

"Sure," she said. "but he didn't have to wave back. He could have ignored me," which is exactly what I was trying to do.

She repeated her honk and wave at two more trucks who replied with good manners and good humor. Don't know what they were thinking but I knew right then that if I got home in one piece, I would never go with her again.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tony Bennett

We have been fortunate enough to see Tony Bennett in concert on three different occasions at the Mann Music Center in Philadelphia. And each time, the octogenarian put on a spectacular show. He sang for 90 minutes with no intermission. He never sat down, he never leaned against the piano or on a bar stool. And his smoky, dusky voice remained true.

the first time, before the concert began, three people sat down next to me. Together, they must have weighed 1200 pounds. Edgar offered to change seats with me and the words were barely out of his mouth when I stood up and we switched seats. The man who had been next to me and was now next to Edgar asked, "did your wife move because I'm so fat?" Edgar nodded and said, "It's not your fault."

Then a normal sized couple came and sat down next to me. The concert began. Tony Bennett started crooning and the stranger next to me, not Edgar, started singing along. I poked him, put my pointer finger to my lips, and he stopped - temporarily. I had to poke him three more times before he finally understood to keep quiet.

During that concert, Tony Bennett forgot the words to one song that he was singing in Italian. He la-la-la'd it until he caught up to the words and then said, "what do you expect from an Italian boy who was born in New York?"

Our second time gave us another memorable experience. We were sitting about 12 rows from the stage. An elderly, infirm couple on our row enjoyed Tony Bennett's singing and crooning. They swayed with the music and their eyes danced with delight. They couldn't move their feet because she had a cane and a crutch and he had a cane. But then Tony Bennett sang "Come Fly With Me" and she miraculously leaped to her feet, nevermind her cane and crutch which she left on the floor at her seat. She threw her arms into the air, ran to the apron of the stage, and shouted, "take me with you Tony. I made meatballs for you."

Nobody batted an eye and Tony Bennett did not miss a beat. She struggled back to her seat, still without her cane and crutch and beamed for the rest of the concert.

We felt that we had witnessed a miracle. It was almost as if we were at Lourdes.

We had misgivings when the third concert started and Tony Bennett's daughter sang for the first 15 minutes or so. Although she was OK, she is not her father. And she was a surprise - not listed on the tickets or the programs.

Tony Bennett put on his usual great, though slightly shortened show. He sang "smile though your heart is breaking," and told the following story. Back in the day, he got a long distance call from Switzerland. This was a very unusual occurrence. When he answered the phone he found out that he was talking to the composer who told him that his interpretation was the best he ever heard. And the composer was Charlie Chaplin.

A year or so later, we bought a coffee table book of Tony Bennett's sketches and paintings. He caught, in a few well drawn lines, the movements and spirit of the people he sketched.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Service Engine Soon

I could never understand why drivers ignore the "service engine soon" light until Tuesday. We had been out driving on Monday - from here to there and to other places and when we finally got home, just before I turned the car off, the little yellow light came on. I ignored it and then on Tuesday morning, early, I turned on the car and the light appeared.

After turning off the car, I called the Nissan agency, identified myself and heard "Did you get gas recently?" I had. "Try tightening the gas cap." But if I tighten it too much, I can't open it. "Make usre it clickes." Done. "And don't worry. The light will stay on for a few more days." What if it's something else, I asked. "You don't have nough miles on the car to worry."

So now, I have joined the group of drivers who ignore the "service engine soon" light. Sometimes with great inconveniences.

A few years ago, we visited some friends in San Frnaciso. They grasciously took us to all the tourist attractions we wanted to see, drove us on twisty and turny Lombard Street, speeded up at the top of the hills to give us a zero gravity thrill as we bounced, and parked on the hill near the iconic Victorian houses. We took our photos, got back in the car, and nothing. Eventually, Three A's came, and the four of us sat with the driver in his tow truck.

"Didn't you see the warning light?" "Sure. It's been on for more than two weeks. I just continued to ignore it." The car was fixed and we all shared an interesting experience.

From time to time on TV shows someone says, "I just ignore it," referring to the service engine soon light. Now I know why. It's on the advice of the service managers.

Subtitles and visually impaired viewers

I never thought I would have to write this - it's a bad idea to take a visually handicapped person to see a movie with subtitles. And now we can laugh at the scene when a friend took her mother to see the movie about Edith Piaf.

The movie was almost entirely in French with English subtitles. Her mother who knows no French, caught some of the movie action, but none of the subtitles. And this was the scene as described to me.

"What are they doing now?" and in between reading the subtitles, there was a rapid description of the action on the scene.

"What? I can't hear you." Then was a disclaimer of talking as loud as possible but not wanting to disturb the other patrons.

"Why did they say that?" Then followed a brief summary of the actions up to that point.

"What's happening now?" And these events repeated and repeated throughout the length of the movie.

My friend still does not see the humor in this. But she does admit that attending the Edith Piaf movie was a better experience than the time she went with both her parents and she sat in the middle, between them.

The first complaint was that they were sitting too close to the screen and the faces were blurry. Of course, her mother chose the seats. And then her parents talked to each other, over her, the entire time. She says that she is still not sure what the movie was about because she kept shushing her parents. They were talking so loud that they disturbed the other movie goers whose complaints were ignored. She marvels that they were not thrown out.

The Weather

It's hot. Really hot. And Humid. The weather professionals call it a "heat dome." New words in the meteorological dictionary. They had to coin new summer words to go with the "wintry mix" that they used when snow mixed with sleet, freezing rain, and wind.

The TV meteorologists put on sad and concerned faces as they point to the record setting temperatures that they are predicting. And then they call in assistance from knowledgable people who share advice on how to stay cool. As if we idiots don't know to "stay hydrated" and keep out of the sun and seek air conditioned places to hang out and wear light colored and light weight clothes.

Staying hydrated is an interesting concept. It's not enough just to drink when you're thirsty. I remember listening to Pat Croce on the radio. He said that when you realize you are thirsty, you're 2 quarts low.

But, back to the weather. Meteorologists live for abnormal weather. If it's only going to be a little bit cold, they report it, but with no excitement in their voices and no anticipation of news. The same with rain, wind, snow, hurricanes, floods, tornados, etc.

Remember the scenes of the meteorologists who were standing in Minot, ND, watching the Suris River rise to devastating levels.

And remember the ice storms this past winter when cars and trucks skidded and slid all over Chicago. and the live, minute by minute coverage of the tornado that struck Birmingham, Alabama.

Wonderful, beautiful, placid, comfortable weather, enjoyed by all is just plain dull and boring to the meteorologists.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

2011 All Star Game

What's the matter with today's baseball players? The nerve of 16 of these talented, professional athletes not to show up at the All Star game. Are they so rich that they have forgotten why the All Star game is played? The revenues are supposed to go to the retirement fund of the old players. If there are no more old players who need the money, then the game should be abolished. It's certainly not a showcase for the best players in the leagues because the best players don't show up.

Reminds me of the football Pro Bowl games where the athletes had to be cajoled to attend. Except when the game was held in Honolulu. Then, the players and their families were delighted to participate. But even the Pro Bowl game is losing some of its luster when it is played before the Super Bowl. The logistics of those dates necessitates that none of the players on the Super Bowl teams participate.

Back to baseball - the advertisement that "this one counts" is losing its relevance, also. The only things that count, I hate to sound so jaded here, are the dollars and the more the elected and appointed athletes don't attend, the less money will be taken in. Is anyone going to care? The viewership for this year's All Star game was very, very low - either the lowest, or the next to the lowest of all time. An omen? Seems that the television viewers have voted with their remotes.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Be Healthy. Take responsibility.

I was inspired by an editorial in an in-house publication that talked about personal responsibility for health care.

Of course, the writer is correct. For years and years and years, doctors had a uniform answer for whatever was wrong: "stop smoking" and "lose weight."

That still holds. But, have you seen how people eat? Just look at the plates at breakfast at the Embassy Suites! at the Renaissance Inns. at any place that offers free food. The plates are loaded with everything that is offered and then cleaned. Nothing is left. I even saw a person load her plate with multiple pieces of french toast, slabs of bacon, stacks of pancakes, heaping portion of scrambled eggs, maple syrup, and butter. We could not watch this person eat, it was truly disgusting. And, to no one's surprise, this person had a massive heart attack and died a couple of days later, well before the 50th birthday.

And alcohol, drinking to excess, or even drinking at all, contributes to liver problems, driving deaths, lack of control at the buffet table, domestic abuse, etc.

And don't forget the sun. Don't you wonder how something that makes you look so good and feel so good can be so bad for you

And the artificial sweeteners keep being indicted as unhealthful - as leading to an increase in fat, insulin, headaches, desire for more sweets. But those facts don't register on the user.

The camapaign against smoking seems to have been successful - especially when smoking is prohibited in most places. It used to be that we couldn't even walk down the street, in Waikiki, or Philadelphia, without running into throngs of smokers. Thankfully, that seems to be a thing of the past.

Although exercise makes one feel good, no doubt about that, the mouth trumps exercise. Have you seen people who work out at the gym, for any length of time, and then reward themselves with an ice cream sundae? or a doughnut? Happens with regularity

My years of biomedical and environmental research (25 years, at least) convinced me that salt and fat are the two major "bad guys" in our diet. As I jokingly said to a woman, one day, upon her question of what I do to maintain my figure, "if it tastes good, spit it out." Seriously, eating to live is the appropriate philosophy - not living to eat.

Restaurants won't like me because eating out is seen as a celebration. Fine, as long as moderation, not excess, is the phrase.


Those who have asked me, and listened to my dietary advice, have profited by losing weight, inches, and anxiety - My diet rules are simple: no sugar, no salt, no fat, nothing white, no artificial anything, and lots and lots and lots of water. Bread, as long as it is made from 100% whole wheat flour, is great; as are 100% whole wheat pasta products, brown rice, oatmeal, and so forth. We eat mainly skinless poultry (I can't eat or be near anything that swims or keeps company with swimmers, like fish, seaweed, and all the derivative products.)

Despite everybody's good habits and good intentions, sometimes disease invades our bodies - The sooner the person is treated, the better the chances of survival. and as we age, the older we get, the more medical problems arise, and the more complicated and expensive the treatment.

Of course we agree with the writer that every person has to assume responsibility for his own health and act accordingly.


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

I was not invited to the wedding

Years and years and years ago, one of my female cousins got married. She wanted a wedding that was more than she and/or her parents could afford and my father and another of her uncles paid for it. I must have been 9 or 10 years old, not really sure of my age, but a wedding - a young girl's dream of watching. But wait. I was not invited. Even though my father helped pay for it (or paid for almost all of it) "we're not having children at this wedding." So I spent the day with one of my considerably older cousins who also was not invited to the wedding. But he was a male, quite a grown man, and did not have any romantic visions of weddings.

I never heard a description of the wedding, of the wedding dress, of who was there, of what was served, or what kind of flowers decked the venue - nothing. My parents protected me against anything that might hurt me or my feelings. And the excuse of no children may or may not have been true. I never heard if there were any young people there or not.

Contrast this slight with my son's wedding to his beautiful, darling, intelligent, talented, and understanding wife. My two young grandchildren were both part of the wedding party. They did not detract from the beauty of the bride, they added to the beauty of the ceremony. They scattered the flower petals with the perfection of children. They walked slowly, smiling at the spectators, and running to their parents when they finished their jobs. Wonderful!

And now, there is another wedding, fortunately not from our side of any family, and the edict was "no children" and again, the girls were disappointed at first and the boys couldn't care. The wedding couple and their parents don't have the slightest idea of the joy they are missing, nor do they know what dark karma forces they have unleashed in this pique of nastiness.

I don't wish anybody any harm or unhappiness. But I think that as the years go by, there will be many, many, many regrets.

Monday, July 4, 2011

If I wanted to be a doctor, I would have gone to Medical School

Just ask my children. They'll tell you the countless times I said that in response to minor, or sometimes major, medical problems. "I have a splinter." OK, that I could handle with tweezers or a sharp sewing needle that I sterilized by holding a match to the sharp end. Of course, that required putting the eye of the needle in a piece of cork so that my fingers wouldn't get burned. And then, washing the splinter's previous home with soap, bactine, alcohol, etc. As my children grew older, splinters became almost routine but, each time, I had to steady myself against fainting.

My father knew me very well. He would not let me take biology (you're too squeamish and the disections will probably upset you and your stomach) or chemistry (you're very sensitive to smells and you could easily wind up in the ER). I took physics, the one science that would not offend my sensitivities and delicate nature. And, indeed, I liked physics - the only science that is logical.

Going back to my maternal doctoring. I knew to put ice on mosquito bites, followed by benedril; I knew to wash scrapes and abrasions and cuts with hot soapy water to prevent infections. But when I was confronted with a gaping dime-sized hole in the skin under the chin of one of my children and I said, "let's go to the ER," I heard, "No, Mom. You have to fix it." So, I garnered my strength and pulled the skin together with a butterfly bandage. Don't know how I did that, but it was correct, and there is no scar. I guess it's true that mothers get adrenalin surges when their children are in trouble.

So this week, Edgar underwent Mohs surgery for a melanoma in situ on his nose. The surgeon removed a large-sized tumor. The cancer is gone. And then he did reconstructive surgery that involved a skin flap, taken from his forehead, twisted, and sewed to his nose so that the outside skin from the forehead remains on the outside of the nose. The procedure took 12 hours and we were both worn out when it was over. But then, the medical staff said that I would have to change the dressing every day for a week until the stitches were removed. Remember, these people all went to school for advanced training and they acted as if anyone could perform the dressing change.

Here come the instructions - use sterilized scissors: how do I do that? Swish them in alchol. Cover all the blue stitches with vaseline, which was supplied; with the long Q-tips, which were supplied; cover everything with Telfa, which was supplied. Then came the tricky part. I had to put a pressure bandage from the tip of the nose up to the forehead. "A what?" Just cut the Telfa and apply it with pressure and tape it on with pressure.

I asked for a tenplate for the pressure bandage which one of the nurses made for me. There were plenty of supplies, and after the first time, with help and support from my children, I gained confidence. Yesterday, I changed the bandage with a supportive onlooker and today I did it by myself.

I have to repeat. If I wanted to be a doctor, I would have gone to medical school. I still don't want to be a doctor. I don't want to be a nurse. And my greatest preference would be never to need one.