Ghosts linger around my Passover table 


The Passover of 2016 was tinged with sadness because I couldn’t help thinking of my childhood.  My parents and grandparents faded from sight; one right after the other, mostly without warning.

Grandma was a small, stout lady, with a face that I can’t really ever forget because I look so much like her, especially in my 66th year. My grandfather, was short in stature, but high on everyone’s respect list. He had a head full of beautiful white hair.

I remember going along with my tall, handsome, adored daddy to pick them up at their apartment. My grandmother would have her coat on, and announce to my grandfather that “the machine is outside, and it was time to go.” Why she didn’t just refer to it as the car was a mystery to me. I do remember she wore red old-fashioned shoes, a longish skirt, and a long sleeve blouse. She always carried a  black purse that held Dentyne gum. She would offer this special treat randomly to all her grandchildren.

We’d arrive at my house where we ate the standard dinner we always ate at holidays, it didn’t really matter which one. Mom was in charge and she didn’t appreciate any help.

There was always chopped liver and matzah ball soup, my mother’s tie to her ethnic background. We’d all gathered around  the kitchen table, my grandparents sitting next to each other on one side, my mother, wearing her blue apron, always up during the meal serving us.  My father and

My dapper grandpa, Harry Zelivyansky

My dapper grandpa, Harry Zelivyansky

My Grandmother, Miriam Zelivyansky when she was young.

My Grandmother, Miriam Zelivyansky when she was young.

Marilyn, Mom, Dad and me .

Marilyn, Mom, Dad and me .

My sister Marilyn and I with my dad outside of Grandma and Grandpa's house,

My sister Marilyn and I with my dad outside of Grandma and Grandpa’s house,

L to R: Eileen, Dad holding me, and Marilyn.

L to R: Eileen, Dad holding me, and Marilyn.

two sisters and I would take our familiar seats. It was usually turkey, sometimes a roast, salad, sweet potatoes, and a vegetable.

The Seder I remember was not too formal. I do remember my grandfather singing some prayers. He had a beautiful voice that I can almost hear when I close my eyes and concentrate.

Little did I know that one day my grandparents and parents would be long gone, but their presence would always linger; they’re always around me, like a loving purple aura.

This year I particularly missed them all, but I’m grateful for the love that is still there.

 

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A lovely California wedding


 May 7 didn’t start out as a usual day. What was different? My husband and I were  going to spend the next few days celebrating our  son’s impending marriage.

When I got off the plane at The Bob Hope Airport in  Burbank, California, the weather wasn’t wedding friendly. It was a drab, cold day. Was this a joke? Isn’t it a rule that the sun is always supposed to shine in California?

So, after rolling our suitcases for at least a mile, (Okay a 1/8 of a mile that seemed like 5 miles), we  rented a car at the airport and headed to Hollywood. My son lives there, and booked us a room at a Best Western “Hollywood Hotel.”

Hundreds of movie stars were permanently residing at this hotel. Unfortunately, most  of them are no longer with us, but their likenesses and autographs were everywhere: the elevator, the bedroom, the hotel walls, and even the bathroom.  Marilyn Monroe, Cary Grant, Ava Gardner, Frank Sinatra, John Wayne are only a few of the featured principals. Millenials wouldn’t have a clue to some of their names. “Fame is fleeting.”

I encountered the other two wedding guests in the hotel lobby, my lovely daughters. ( My son-in-law and grandson could not attend). My mind’s eye flashed back to 1982. I saw myself and three little children going around the neighborhood block; my eldest daughter leading the way,  pedaling her shiny, blue, two-wheeler with training wheels, and her brother and sister in the double stroller. After a few seconds I catapulted back into the 21st century. In front of me I saw three responsible likeable adults.

The next day the family headed toward Santa Barbara, the wedding destination. I thought, how can this be bad when the place and I share the name, Barbara? The place is breathtaking. How can you go wrong with the Pacific Ocean, and mountains, and no honky-tonk; The shopping area is away from the beach and is very quaint.

My son’s  future wife is English and is a woman with good looks and spirit.  With her English accent, she sounds so “proper.”  Many things are “lovely.” During one of our conversations, we learned that people often wear hats to weddings in the UK.

The next day we got up, and went to the shopping district sans the bride and groom. One of my daughters saw a hat shop, and suggested we make it a “proper” English wedding. We happily tried on hats for an hour. I almost bought one of those english hats that they wore to Kate and Will’s wedding, but I figured the royals aren’t going to invite me, so  I settled on an American style  floppy white one.

Finally, the day of the wedding arrived. We arrived at the beach where the wedding was going to take place. It was an idyllic setting.The officiate, wearing an appropriate white blouse and black slacks arrived and told us where to stand.( Nobody minded the cute little dogs walking the beach with their owners.)

As if on cue, the sun decided to shine. It was like an old-fashioned film. (The era before they blew up buildings, people and chased each other in moving cars.)

The officiate earnestly performed the ceremony she’d written, based on the information the bride and groom gave her. She brought up William Shakespeare and his views on marriage. She also acknowledged our long 42-year old marriage. My daughter-in-law picked her parent’s wedding anniversary to marry. What a tribute!

Finally, they exchanged unique rings flown in from Hawaii. They were finally man and wife. The passionate kiss after the pronouncement made it official.

The small intimate wedding they planned together was lovely.

Becoming a granny


DSCN3763It finally happened. After waiting and worrying for months my grandson finally arrived on June 28. Reading my thoughts before his arrival was a bit funny. I wondered what he was going to look like, and if he would come out all right.

He came out just fine. It wasn’t the easiest birth for my daughter, but she made it through with flying colors. His physical looks aren’t much of a surprise because he is the spitting image of my daughter. Okay, he is a boy.  He has the same blue eyes she was born with, and the same cute face. His handsome dad is in there somewhere too.

I saw him right after his birth, and he was looking a little bewildered. I guess we all are when we come into the world for the first time. It was touching watching my daughter and son-in-law’s faces as they looked at their child that first day. Pure love, and in 7 weeks they’ve both turned into great parents.

Me, a grandma? My husband, a grandpa?

At first, I nervously held him. (After all, my youngest adult child is going to be 32 years old.) Now, I’m not afraid; it all came back. Especially that aroma when the child has done his business.

I couldn’t wait to cuddle that little baby and sing to him. He responds too. I love it when he falls asleep on my shoulder while I’m holding him. There’s nothing like it.

My husband is holding him the way he used to hold all three of our kids when they were little.  He sits him up in a funny way, and he talks to him. The child seems to be listening to him too.

My husband and I got into the same talking pattern, and saying the same silly things to the baby. For a moment, we could pretend we were young again, but only for a moment.

I am looking at this from a different perspective. I swear I don’t remember how much time my infants spent sleeping. I guess I was so busy that I didn’t notice how much time it took for them to grow and develop. It’s always a relief when they are sound asleep.

Right now, he’s at the stage where he’s fascinated with staring at light, and he is becoming  a little more engaged. He is even starting to smile.

He is different from my kids because he took his “binky.” That’s what they’re calling pacifiers these days.  My children just spit theirs out. I guess I didn’t have the patience for it. Besides in the olden days our kids slept with blankets. Now, they put them in some kind of swaddling thing.  They also put them on their backs. It’s a good thing because it cuts down on sudden infant death.

This child is very lucky. He’s wanted on both sides of his family. Everyone adores and loves him. That’s how it should be for every newborn. It seems unfair that everyone is not wanted and loved from the first second of life.

So, at seven weeks that’s where I’m at. There’s just something wonderful about a new innocent life. I feel very fortunate that I got to experience it again. I think I’m going to like this granny stuff.

A glimpse at the Harmony Project


I belong to a terrific group, The Harmony Project. We sing, share and serve. Here is a video showing us getting ready for a performance.

This group doesn’t just sit and complain about the way things are; they do things.

This season we’re  planting trees, building a playground, and painting murals. That’s just a few things we’re doing this month!

We are also giving a musical performance May 15 and May 16 at the Southern Theater. You can contact me, or call Capa for tickets.

If you know me, see if you can spot me. I’m in the second row wearing purple glasses and a purple shirt!

As you can see, many of us are from the baby boomer generation, but there are people of all ages, races, and different points of view!

It is very cool. I feel like the baby boomers in this group are still holding onto our ideals. This included, peace, love, happiness, and harmony!

A Baby Boomer’s humorous look at newer innovations: the modern baby ultrasounds


Head of a fetus, aged 29 weeks, in a "3D ...

Head of a fetus, aged 29 weeks, in a “3D ultrasound” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Someone I vaguely know, posted a picture of their baby’s ultrasound on Facebook. This isn’t the first time this has happened. The ones that really creep me out are the three-dimensional pictures.  I think it’s very Science Fiction like, and kind of odd. Should you be looking at the kid before it comes out of the womb?  It seems like you’re invading the embryo’s privacy in some way.

It was bad enough when your parents showed you naked on a blanket. Now, they can show you actually developing.
It’s mind boggling to know that we  all start out looking like something from another dimension.   It’s one thing to be pregnant and know there’s something going on. It’s another thing to actually watch it. This whole process reminds me of a “Twilight Zone” episode.  (For all you baby boomers out there!)

Along with showing the parent’s monthly ultrasounds, the doctors also draw comparisons between pieces of fruit. The little embryos are compared to naval oranges, avocados, bananas, and a variety of foods.

Maybe it helps the parents get used to the idea of having a baby, and it is a good conceptual tool. What do we usually do with pieces of fruit? We eat them. Now, that’s creepy.

Baby boomers did experience this a little bit

When I’d go to the doctor every month, he would put me on the scale and take my urine to check out if I had some kind of disorder or other. I still hear my doctor saying, “you’re not eating for three are you?”   They did do one ultrasound per pregnancy. Once in a while it revealed the sex. In my case, it never revealed anything to me except the fetus was developing normally.  That was a reassuring thing to know.  It seemed like Science Fiction to me, even back then.  (I recently found one of these pictures, but I couldn’t remember which kid it was.)

I didn’t know whether any of my kids was a boy or girl before they arrived.  The only tooI I had in those days was the Drano test which really didn’t work. You mixed Drano with urine and it either turned blue or brown. Blue was a boy, and brown was a girl. My husband and I tried it each time and it was highly inaccurate. But it did bubble, make a sizzling noise and stink to high heaven.  You had to make sure you weren’t near it when it bubbled.

What’s next?
Twenty-four hour surveillance of all the potential baby’s movements which you can play for all your friends and relatives, and a soundtrack to go along with it? Maybe a prenatal beauty contest awards ceremony?

I do think all of this is really cool, but I’m wondering how necessary it all is. How much does the extra technology cost? Am I being overly skeptical?

What do you think?

The Harmony Project Singing as One Voice


The Harmony Project.  We are singing Beth Neilson Chapman's "There is no darkness."  Photo by Paul Feeney

The Harmony Project. We are singing Beth Neilson Chapman’s
“There is no darkness.” Photo by Paul Feeney

I’ve been in choirs all my life. I remember how happy I was the first time I officially belonged to a choir. I was in the 5th grade at Rowland Elementary school. I even remember some of the songs we sang for our program.  Miss Titus, our devoted teacher, would probably be thrilled that I remember the words to “The Erie Canal.”

I’ve been in many choirs since then. Singing makes me feel good. I like the social aspects of it too. It’s just plain fun. The Harmony Project, one of the choirs I sing in,  is something special. It’s a philanthropic group that sings and shares. Good works have been done in Columbus, Ohio, under the banner of the “Harmony Project.” We raise money, and get to give concerts too.

Choir Directors always talk about “singing with one voice.”  That is a hard thing to achieve. Sometimes, you have some frustrated singers, with better than average voices, over-singing. At times, what you end up with is  different voices, not blending at all. Sometimes, it reminds me of a competition.  If you have a skillful musical director, they won’t allow this to happen.

Last night at the Harmony Project, everyone was singing enthusiastically while they followed Musical director,  David Brown. In the middle of it all, I said to myself. Wow, this is a once in a lifetime moment. Stay  in the present, listen, to your neighbor, blend in and forget yourself.

It was one of those magical moments. One I’ll always remember. We were all one voice.

Members of The Harmony Project singing with heart and soul!  From the Bill Pearsol album

Members of The Harmony Project singing with heart and soul! From the Bill Pearsol album

Ten things I’m Grateful for this Thanksgiving: 2012


1 .My best friend for over 40 years. I’m talking about my terrific husband. ( We don’t always agree on things, but that keeps life interesting.)
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2. My children, who I would choose as friends. I am proud of each one of them. My son-in-law is pretty cool too!

3.  Good health and being able to see and hear!  (My mother was blind at the end of her life, and I personally witnessed how difficult that was for her.

4. Still being able to travel and enjoying different American cities.

5. My happy childhood and married life.  I can look back on happy times when I  experience frustration. (Yes, I do get down sometimes. It’s in my DNA)

6.  Having activities I can feel passionate about.

An old favorite picture of mine. My mom, and my husband, me, and children.

7. Living in America– Still the greatest nation on earth!

8. Having experienced some great life-cycle events with my family.