Thursday, December 13, 2018

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Thanksgiving Memories

When I was growing up, Thanksgiving was a big holiday. Even though our family of four was small, the table was set for grandparents, aunts, uncles and family friends. The days before Thanksgiving were a mad rush of preparation. There was cleaning and polishing and scrubbing. My sister and I were the dusters, silver polishers and vacuumers. The day before Thanksgiving we were the vegetable peelers and choppers.

The table was prepared with the good china. It was the set my mother brought back from Japan after the war. It was white with a silver rim and a bamboo leaf pattern. She also brought out the good silver. That silver was polished (by us) and ready to go. The silver box was scratched mahogany. Inside it was a lining of purple velvet and the cutlery was stacked in neat columns. The backing on the front lid was peeling away from the wood and every year I thought that we should glue it back and every year we didn’t. My grandmother’s crystal was also on the table; every year it held the olives and celery.

Thanksgiving morning started at dawn. My dad went onto the kitchen where he washed the bird in the kitchen sink. Why we never got sick from that I’ll never know. He stuffed it with an old family recipe and started it cooking. We woke up to the wonderful scent of roasting turkey.

When my sister and I were small we watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade and then the Natalie Wood movie, Miracle on 34th Street. As we got older we went to our high school rivalry Thanksgiving Day football game; always against Red Bank High School. In our 20’s a family of friends started a tradition of rolls and coffee at their house and then a trek to the football game. That tradition lasted for many years.

We were always back home by around 2:00 pm. The house was warm, many times a fire was going in the fireplace and the place smelled delicious. The family and friends, if not already there, started arriving and cocktails and snacks were passed around. There was a lot of smiling and laughing and kissing. No matter what age we were, it was warm and happy and secure. 

Fast forward. Life changes, family and friends have passed away. While those moments can never return, the Thanksgiving traditions flow through my blood.  

Tonight I polished a silver tray that I’ll never use. Habit I guess. I also set the table for our small family with the good stuff; my mother’s china and grandmother’s crystal celery dish. On Thursday when I’ll bow my head and thank God for the family and friends in our lives today, I will also remember the Thanksgivings of long ago. I truly miss those people and traditions. I hope that wherever they are, they will feel my prayer and my toast to their memory. I also hope that my own children will have memories of happy Thanksgivings from their own childhoods and that they too can create traditions that can be passed down.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Stop the Hatred

There was a horrendous hate crime committed this morning at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA and 11 people died. Several more were injured including the responding police officers. 

Already the threads of hate and sarcasm are lighting up social media sites including Facebook. 

I wonder how long people can go without shouting at one another about someone's race, religion, status as an American citizen, career choice, the President, political party and so much more. 

Out of respect for the dead and wounded, the families of the dead and wounded and for the people who have had to witness this carnage and hate, can't we stop for a while? The key word here is hate, why perpetuate it?

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Aunt Martha's Couch

Today a junk man hauled away Aunt Martha’s Couch. This old Victorian couch covered in green velvet with tarnished brass upholstery pins has been in our family since I was in the fifth grade. It leaned against the wall in the house I grew up in and after that house was sold, it came with me to my own home in Bound Brook, NJ where it leaned against another wall for over 25 years. Silly how an old couch can bring up all sorts of emotions.

Aunt Martha’s Couch belonged to my grandmother’s half-sister Martha McKenzie. It was in her parlor in New York. I remember sitting on it as a very little girl while having Borden’s French Vanilla ice cream. Elsie the Cow was on the carton and the ice cream had ice crystals in it. We ate it anyway because our mom told us to be polite.  When Aunt Martha died her couch came to live at our house in Elberon and her name lived on.

When I first saw the movie Old Yeller I crawled under Aunt Martha’s couch and hugged our dog Rebel as I cried my eyes out when the main character, Travis, shot Yeller because it was thought that he might have rabies. Six years later  every prom picture was taken in front of that couch and then ten years after that, my wedding picture spread featured Aunt Martha’s Couch and another dog, Lady. A few years later my baby shower was held in the living room of my parent’s house and Aunt Martha’s Couch was again there. I can still see my mother, sister and friends sitting on that green velvet lumpy couch.
After my parent’s sold our house, Aunt Martha’s Couch came to my own house. She stretched against the wall in the foyer looking all green and regal. I added pillows and she fit right into a busy household where book bags, backpacks and purses were thrown on her on a daily basis. She was a cozy spot for the cats to snooze and our sweet dog Sammy chose to die right there under her. Halloween pictures, first day of school and then prom pictures were posed in front of Aunt Martha; the tradition continued.

When we moved to a small house in Sea Bright Aunt Martha’s Couch couldn’t come. I tried to sell her to someone who would love her and take care or her as we had. No one came forward. I tried to give her away for free. Nothing. Today a guy with a junk hauling truck came to take her away. I couldn’t watch but I did think of her and all the memories stored in her musty greenness (Dad swore that she hid her money in that horsehair upholstery. I never found it). 

Aunt Martha’s Couch is just that; a couch. Still, she holds memories that include family and friends and like an old friend, we had to bid her a sweet good bye.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Nola from NOLA

“Dogs’ lives are short, too short, but you know that going in. You know the pain is coming, you’re going to lose a dog, and there’s going to be great anguish, so you live fully in the moment with her, never fail to share her joy or delight in her innocence, because you can’t support the illusion that a dog can be your lifelong companion. There’s such beauty in the hard honesty of that, in accepting and giving love while always aware that it comes with an unbearable price.” – Dean Koontz

Today we had to put our sweet dog, Nola to sleep. She was old and suffering and as hard as it was, it had to be done. We had the vet come to our house and even then, I questioned whether we were making the right decision.

Animals are lucky in that they don't understand that life is so fragile and finite. For humans we know that there is a beginning and an end and all the things that come in between those two points. All Nola knew were the things that came in between those two points; the love, the food, the treats, the toys, the smells, the walks, the hugs, the kisses and being part of a pack who adored and protected her.

 Nola came from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina of 2005 (hence the name). She traveled in an 18 wheeler with a whole lot of other dogs to our local Pet Smart. I happened to be buying dog food at the store the day that she and all her truck mates were on "display". I fell love with her when I saw her sweet face and funny looking body. When the volunteer asked me if I'd be so kind as to walk her, I was hooked. Nola was Basset, Corgi, Lab, Beagle and Dachshund.  She had recently had puppies and dearly missed her babies who were rescued from the hurricane and never seen again.

We brought her home and she fit right in with her doggie sister Rosie and cat sister, Kittie. She had heart worms, wasn't fixed, had thyroid problems and ultimately liver problems. She had arthritis and warts but we loved her with all of our hearts.


I would often look at various social media groups about missing Hurricane Katrina pets. I was afraid to say anything in case someone would stake claim to her and demand that she be returned. Looking back now I know that I'd never return her. We were smitten.

Nola thought I was her mom or maybe she thought that she was my mom. Whatever the case, she followed me around and even when resting would constantly lift her head to gaze over at me. I'd tell her that I was fine and she'd rest for 10 more minutes or so and then lift her head in my direction again.

                                    I'm ok Nola, or at least I'll be ok a little bit later.

You can go freely into the sweet night and run like a puppy again. We will always love you and think about the sweet, quirky pup that you were. You were loved fiercely and abundantly. 

And we will miss you forever.

Beach Buyouts Must be Stopped

In NJ, many private homeowners (many times disguised as a corporation) are buying up the few public access entrances to the beach. It needs ...