This is day 30, the last day of the blogging challenge. It has ruled my life for the past month, and I will feel lost without it. The challenge achieved its purpose: to bring back my love for writing. I haven’t written poetry or my book for the past year and needed an outlet to inspire me. Writing every day for thirty days has shown me that I can do it. And I will do it.
In my blog posts, I returned to events I remember most fondly.
Vacations with my daughters in Wildwood, New Jersey.
Vacation in Jamaica with my oldest daughter and son-in-law.
Vacation with my younger daughter and son-in-law in the Dominican Republic.
Visiting with family.
Happy days when Nounous was healthy.
People I loved and lost.
People I will never forget.
People I respect and have come to love, including the Rave Reviews Book Club members. They have become family to me, reading and responding to my long-winded posts.
Thank you, my new family, for participating in the RRBC Blogging Challenge, and a big thanks to Nonnie Jules for organizing this fantastic event.
Please wash away my sorrow and pain. Let it flow down the streets with the rain, Dissolved in torrents of despair and sadness, Joining others on their way past the madness.
The ocean may take it far away, To places we cannot even say, Where no one recognizes its sting Or knows the infliction it can bring.
Let the rain grow harder with its might, Becoming hail on this fateful night. I want to be free of all traces Of unwanted feelings and faces.
My body grows cold from the rain. I stand clean and free from the pain. Shivers create a path down my spine As I wait in the dark woods of pine. I hold my head high to the wet spray. It becomes a mist of blue and gray. The faucet has beenturned off for the night, Leaving me feeling clean and all right.
MURDERS AND LOVERS
I don’t need to fight the snowdrifts.
I’ll stay inside with the misfits.
The ones who prefer books
that grab you with their hooks.
The fire is getting low
as the strong winds begin to blow.
I snuggle farther beneath the covers
as I read about murders and lovers.
A rare commodity is solitude.
It can be easily misunderstood.
To be all alone with no one else around.
You can do this in the air or on the ground.
You can sail off in the blue sea,
Or hop on a plane without me.
We can all use some time alone
Without T.V. or telephone.
Time to think about your goal.
You will come back feeling whole.
A Darkness To My Soul
The black abyss grabs hold,
Taking me to its soul.
Reflections of hell and beyond,
Pushing me deep and far.
Away from the light of day,
I have no need to pray.
Take me to the bottom,
Where no human has tread.
Away from humanity and light,
I have made my dark bed.
CLOSER TO THE BLUE
Puffy clouds appear far and few
In the aqua sky, so brand new.
I sink deeper into the white sand,
My heart beats like a marching band.
If I close my eyes tight,
will I see paradise this night?
It takes me back to the time
When everything had been fine.
Fantasy, I beseech thee.
Return me so I can roam free.
Take me back to the shore.
Where I’d been happy before.
SING ME A SONG
Sing me a song.
Write a melody
Of times gone by
And moments lost in time.
Stroke the keys.
Massage the ivories.
Raise your voice high
So I can hear your words.
Words of hope and loss.
Sing them loud and clear.
Stories of faraway places
And times that are gone.
I close my eyes.
I can hear your words.
I see your fingersas they
Glide across the keys.
The words take flight.
They reverberate through time.
They leave your lips
And land on mine.
A sweet melody
To soothe my advancing years.
A pretty song
To fill my empty heart.
Look to the glowing skies,
Magic before my eyes.
Snow flutters to the ground
Without even a sound.
Masking the dirt with white,
So pretty and so bright.
I hope it can remain this way,
A blanket for one more day.
Thank you for joining me as I shared a sample of my poetry. I hope you enjoyed them as much as I enjoyed composing them.
I’m returning to my childhood and seeing what my tired brain can remember. It won’t give me the teachers’ names from grade school since I have always been lousy with names, but I remember the names of my classmates.
I spent kindergarten one block from my house at the local public school, which is now called P.S. 209 Margaret Mead School. I played paddle ball in the schoolyard when I was older, but the courts are gone, replaced by fake grass and running paths. My memories include the smell of Elmer’s Glue, construction paper, and the sound of kids’ voices echoing in the long hallways. Happy memories twirl around in my brain. I see flashes of my mother walking me to school, and it might have been possible that she saw enough at that age to accompany me.
For first grade, my parents sent me to Yeshiva of Brooklyn. A depressing school consisting of two houses linked by a courtyard on Ocean Parkway. We played on the strip of land between the busy street of cars and the sidewalk of houses.
Ocean Parkway was where I rode my bike when I was older. Getting back to first grade, I hated the school. They taught us English, Hebrew, and Yiddish. The teachers and students were much more religious than my family, and I felt like an outsider. I refused to learn Hebrew and Yiddish, and my parents and the school assumed I had a learning disability. It was a preview of how stubborn I can be if something goes against what I want or what is right. One teacher was so mean to me that I had nightmares of her wig getting caught on the hook above the blackboard, like a fish caught by a hook. My parents removed me from this hellhole, and I was sent to Yeshivah Ohel Moshe.
I found this picture on Google, and Ohel Moshe hasn’t changed.
I see a traffic light has been installed. A good idea since I had to run across the busy street to catch the public bus. Did I mention I had to take two buses each way for 6 days a week? We had Sunday school. I waited forever for the buses in the rain and snow, and the commute took over an hour. We had school buses through 4th grade and then public transportation. I was proud of my bus pass. Yes, I’m one of those parents who told their children about their long trek when they complained about walking a few blocks to school.
“Yeshiva Ohel Moshe is a Bensonhurst-based, Orthodox elementary school that was opened in 1927. Under the leadership of the late Rabbi Eliyahu Machlis, Yeshivah Ohel Moshe was known for its “Open Door” policy when accepting students and congregants alike.” Wikipedia
I guess its open-door policy allowed me to attend. As soon as I switched schools, I did well and was at the top of my class, where I competed with the cute boy I liked. Our classes were small; we had 12 gives and close to 20 boys. The size fluctuated each year. We gained students after a public school strike, and many kids stayed after the strike finished. The school was religious but more lenient than the other school.
There was little bullying, except for one boy who looked dirty all the time, so people called him Shmutz, which means dirt in Yiddish. I refused to bully anyone and stood up to anyone poking fun at someone. I refused to call him Shmutz, even to my friends, until he got angry one day when I tagged him out in punch ball, ramming me into the fence. My finger got big and swollen. When I found out it was broken, Shmutz got in trouble. He never apologized but gave me ‘dirty’ looks, deserving the nickname.
My high school years were spent at Yeshivah University H.S. for Girls. I didn’t want to attend a girls’ school, but Yeshiva of Flatbush was too expensive, even though I got in. I met the snobby girls who later moved to Long Island and didn’t bother to acknowledge me. Not all the girls thought the world revolved around them, and I made good friends.
Do I see any of these friends? No. It wasn’t easy going to Yeshivah with all the restrictions, and I was happy to graduate and begin my life. I attended Boston University for a year, then switched to New York University, where I graduated. Later, I received an M.B.A. in Finance from Baruch College. I didn’t enjoy learning until my college years. I’ve always loved reading, but college opened new doors for me.
New York University is a quaint college in a bustling city. I had to commute by train, but it was worth the trip.
Windsor Castle is an authentic castle snuggled next to a quaint village where you can stop for a drink and shop. Yay!
I loved the turrets. All the castle needed was a moat, but I didn’t see one. Wait. Is that a moat?
I loved the grounds. I was searching for any jousting, but there was only one tent.
I was excited to see the inside.
The rooms were as large and ornate as Buckingham Palace. The one that stuck in my memory was the enormous dining room. I couldn’t find my picture, so I found one online that shows the over-the-top furnishings.
Look at the colorful village nestled outside the castle walls, with seats. I could spend my day watching people instead of trudging through the old rooms.
A spot of tea for anyone? I had coffee since I’m too American.
Thank you for following along on my European vacation. I’ve visited one city in one country and hope to see many more.
A trip to England isn’t complete without a visit to Buckingham Palace. The train stop was on the opposite side of a vast park we had to cross to reach the palace. The path took us through a lot of greenery and many tourists taking pictures. Finally, we reached the palace gates.
The inside was magnificent, each room ornately furnished. The tour guide handed us headphones for the walking tour, and we put them on. Once we heard Prince Charles’ monotonous voice, I roamed the rooms with my daughter, leaving my husband and the headphones behind.
Most rooms were gloomy, and we were eager to see the grounds.
We followed the others from one overfurnished room to the next. Roped off and behind the glass were memorabilia of the monarchy.
Endless objects and clothing from the past. I’d never make a good historian.
Then we were allowed on the grounds the royal family used when they were in residence. The grass was roped off, and we were confined to the path; no wandering around for us.
Kensington Palace had better grounds to roam. However, I wasn’t impressed with the building’s small dark rooms. The Palace I liked the best was Windsor Castle, and we’ll visit it in my next article.
Kensington’s grounds were much more cheerful than the inside.
There was a maze outside, but we (or I) were too tired.
I’ve read travel brochures, but none tell you if a place is boring or worth the trouble. Since I’m adept at complaining wherever I go, I wonder if there’s a need for a ‘Is It Worth the Effort’ brochure? I would place Kensington Palace in the not worth it category.
Since I had so much fun at London Tower (do I detect a drop of sarcasm?), I thought I’d continue my London adventure. A trip to Harrods, London’s famous department store, is worthwhile. We took the Underground. If anyone mistakenly believes New York subways have the most aggressive people, I’m sorry to say London’s Underground passengers will push you over and stomp on you. With my swollen legs, I prayed each time to reach my destination in one piece. I did much better on the buses.
My daughter is the happiest while shopping.
We had a great day shopping.
Our next fun shopping trip was to Covent Garden.
I love quaint places and shopping. With two daughters, the highlight of our trips always centered around shopping. Life wasn’t complete until I bought a handbag on a trip, and I scored a Burberry bag in London.
We adored the crafts market and even found a kosher falafel place. Kosher food was harder to find in London than I expected. One neighborhood had a variety of places, but there were few kosher restaurants outside this area. To locate the kosher takeout in the food court of a department store, we asked many employees who had never heard of it. Finally, one store employee heard of the vendor and told us where to find it. We almost didn’t have food for the Sabbath.
We found the cutest pastry shop in Covent Garden, hidden behind a door, where everything was small, like in Alice in Wonderland.
I lost weight on this vacation with all the walking we were doing and the lack of kosher food. Now I know why some friends stick kosher salamis and peanut butter into their checked luggage. I didn’t want to walk around London smelling like salami and peanut butter. Next time, I will plan better for a vacation abroad. My husband suggested Venice, but after researching the food options, I knew I needed more time to prepare for that trip since even the milk and bread in Venice have lard and must be kosher. Packing a bag and going anywhere without worrying about food would be nice.
Today I’ll continue with my European vacation to London, England. Since we booked in a hurry, I realized afterward that we missed great sites in London and the surrounding suburbs. I hope there will be a next time.
I’ll begin with London Tower, which I found to be a creepy place.
I had an eerie feeling stepping inside, and it wasn’t because of the long lines.
We step inside; it’s dark and gloomy.
We are welcomed by statues wearing armor; even the horses have armor.
If I wanted to leave, would they come alive and stop me? I told myself it was my claustrophobia rearing its ugly head.
Did I hear a neigh from that horse? It was looking straight at me. I turn around and almost bump into this big guy.
Is that a face beneath the helmet?
The guide for London Tower (of hell, I added that) takes us to a staircase, which we climb, and then to a much narrower staircase. I have a bad feeling. We climb a bunch of steps, and I have trouble breathing. This isn’t Israel again. Once the tour guide tells us the passageway will get narrower, I respond I’m leaving. He gives me a strange look and says I must climb them to see the tower. I’m already pushing the annoyed tourists. I hear my husband grumbling behind me. My daughter doesn’t care since she also hates tight spaces.
Once we leave the hole in the wall passageway and reach the light, which is the semi-darkness of the main area, a special guide escorts us since we are not allowed to walk around by ourselves. We wait for the rest of our group and join them to see the monkey statues outside. I’m not a monkey fan, but I hate those monkeys. They remind me of the flying monkeys from the Wizard of Oz that still gives me nightmares.
Afterward, we were allowed to leave London Tower. I was never so happy to leave a tourist site, and this place is not on my recommended sites to see.
One of my favorite vacations was with my daughter, Ashley, and my husband in London, England. It was June years back, and my husband said let’s go to London in August. I feared it wasn’t enough time to make plans and book hotels and flights, but we had promised Ashley a European vacation instead of a Bat Mitzvah, and I wanted to take her before she graduated college, so I agreed. I yearned to see Paris, but my husband was leery because of the unfriendliness American tourists encountered there. Thinking back, I regret not visiting Paris since it was only a boat ride away.
This is our hotel according to their brochure: “Situated in the heart of London on the bank of the River Thames, Plaza on the River provides 90 generously sized suites with exquisite views of the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. A short walk from Vauxhall Station, our South Bank hotel puts guests within easy reach of the famous West End, the financial district, Westminster Abbey, the London Eye, Tate Britain, and other beloved attractions.”
In reality, to reach Westminster Abbey and the other sites, there is a long walk to a bridge and then more of a walk once you cross it. It would have been much easier if we had stayed on the other side. Since we didn’t book a tour, we spent time on buses and trains.
Ashley was with me, so it was worth the swollen legs and feet. Lymphedema and walking don’t go hand in hand.
To see London’s sights, we walked across this small bridge. We were on the same side as the London Eye but never made it there.
Ashley at Westminster Abbey on our walk. Behind her, there’s a statue of a man riding a horse.
Wherever we went, there were statues. Some elaborate and a few strange ones.
The statues served as great rest stops on our walking tours. The gold one was near Buckingham Palace.
I believe the goat statue stood in the quaint town near Windsor Castle.
We walked passed this statue on our walks across the bridge.
This statue gave me a good laugh since it stuck out like a sore thumb among London’s serious architecture and sculptures. I never learned the purpose of the blue rooster. Was it the year of the blue rooster somewhere?
The following two pictures are of sculptures at the London Tower. I’ll share photos of the London Tower in my next post. I found so many images of statues in my album that I wanted to share them separately.
Does London have a statue fetish? I only visited a few sites but found more statues than anything else. I’ll let you be the judge.
We’re back in Israel with me at 17 years old and the group Yavneh. We traveled north to the border, east to the Dead Sea, and west to Haifa. But the highlight of my trip was southward to the Sinai Desert, later given to Egypt in 1979 as part of the peace agreement. As you can see from the map, the Sinai Desert is larger than the State of Israel. I had no idea I would be traveling to the southern tip, Sharm El-Sheikh, of what would soon be lost from Israel forever.
Here we are on our way south through the desert. We slept beneath the stars at night. Did you know there are no bathrooms in the desert? If we were lucky, we stopped by outhouses with holes in the ground and plenty of flies.
We became close friends this summer and had a few reunions once we returned home. But we lived far apart, and our lives took us in different directions.
We climbed Masada and other mountains and walked at the edge of steep cliffs, but nothing compared to climbing down Mount Arabel. It loomed large ahead of us, and I knew I was in trouble.
Did I mention we climbed down steep rocks without ropes? I got the best pictures since I was always behind the others. I had pleaded to stay with the bus at the top, but no one listened.
And here is everyone waiting for me at the bottom. I made it! No one else was thrilled, but this adventure helped with my fear of heights. I only get dizzy where there’s no railing or hanging from a steep mountain without ropes.
Goodbye, Arabel. Now the Egyptians own you, so I won’t see you again.
I’ve reached Day 21 of the challenge and received a 20-day banner. This banner has the mighty responsibility of pushing me to finish the challenge.
Today, I will go back in my memories to the brief time that impacted my life the most by helping me grow into an adult away from my parents. In the summer of 1976, I traveled to Israel with a group called Yavneh. I subtracted and realized it was 47 years ago, and I was 17 years old.
This is our motley group. Our leader was the Israeli woman at the back standing beside the tall man, who might have been her husband. There goes my spotty memory again.
Here we are at the Kotel, or Western Wall. It was never crowded like the pictures I’ve seen in recent years. I returned to Israel with my parents the following year since my brother bought us a vacation, where we stayed in 5-star hotels, not youth hostels or sleeping on the sand like with Yavneh. I haven’t been back, but I hope to revisit Israel one day.
At the Kotel, the men and women pray separately, with a divider between them. There is a custom of placing your wish on a piece of paper and shoving it into the cracks between the rocks. I can tell you my wish since it didn’t come true. I had asked for my mother’s vision to return and my family’s health. Lately, there have been breakthroughs in Retinitis Pigmentosa but too late for my mother. The disease causes the retina to degenerate, and I heard of a man having a lens implanted to help him see.
I spent most of my life afraid I’d go blind. My brother didn’t, and I didn’t. My mother always told me it was a recessive disease, so I was hopeful. Then one day, when I asked about my relatives, my mother told me her parents shared relatives. I was confused and asked how that could be. That’s when she told me her parents were first cousins. A light bulb went off in my brain: that’s why my mother is blind. I’m not afraid anymore of becoming blind, but I still hate the dark.
I’m standing at Maarat Hamachpela with my friend from home.
I Googled to explain the holy site:
“The cave of Machpelah, in the West Bank city of Hebron, is the burial place of the Matriarchs and Patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, and Leah. According to Jewish mystical tradition, it’s also the entrance to the Garden of Eden where Adam and Eve are buried.”
I went to Yeshivah for 12 years but never heard of Adam and Eve buried there. It might be true since girls didn’t learn Gamarrah or the Torah through word of mouth when I attended school. I wanted to know what the boys were learning since I always wanted to do what I was told I couldn’t.
I was sitting here thinking Jacob had two wives, Rochel and Leah. Then I remembered Rochel was buried separately at Kever Rochel or the Tomb of Rachel.
“Located just outside of Bethlehem, along the road of the forefathers that connects Nablus and Hebron, Rachel’s tomb is where Jews and Muslims believe the foremother Rachel was buried. Rachel was the wife of Jacob and mother of Joseph and Benjamin, and the burial site is holy to Jews, Muslims, and Christians.” Google
I also stole this picture from Google. I don’t remember if we visited the Tomb; it could have been one of the places we couldn’t see because it was too dangerous, even though we had armed soldiers.
This is the cave where I learned I had claustrophobia. Dark and small places terrify me. I’ve walked out of 2 MRIs, 1 Catscan, and even a bone density test. I’ve never been able to jump into a swimming pool since I always need to feel the bottom with my feet. So, here we are, walking into the narrow opening of a cave. We go some way, and one of the soldiers announces we’ll have to stoop since the cave gets narrower. I start feeling dizzy and yell for everyone to back up. I hear a lot of grumbling behind me as people back out. Finally, I ran into the daylight. Everyone returns but me. I’m left outside with an old Arab man and his goat. Now that I think about it, how safe was I with no soldiers? Our two soldiers, with their rifles, returned to the cave.
Israel is a beautiful country, and Jerusalem holds a special place in my heart.
Tomorrow I’ll continue my journey through Israel, where I will face and conquer another fear.