Archive | January, 2015

Magic is Coming to Our Home!

30 Jan

Magic is coming to our home!

It has been almost six months since my loving female cat, Mystique “Misty” passed away. Although we have a large male cat to keep us company, the loss of Misty was devastating.

It took me a while to get over this loss, even though I have had my pets pass away before. Somehow the loss of Misty was difficult for both my husband and me, as well as for our adult children.

Our son already had his own cat, Jinx, when Misty passed away. But our daughter, who was the closest to Misty, could not get another cat even though she has not lived at home for years. Once Misty passed, my daughter and her significant other went to a animal shelter and found their Castiel. They rescued a kitten who was blind in one eye and needed a loving home, which they have provided.

For me, I could not find it in my heart to bring home another cat. I thought having one cat was enough.

But my cat was not happy. He has been so lonely since our Misty died. He follows me everywhere. He needs to be held constantly. He wants to groom me. Waking up in the middle of the night to a cat licking your eyelid is not good.

So about two weeks ago I started looking at the Wayside Waif website to see what cats were available. No cats made my heart leap. Until yesterday, There on the website was a unusually colored 6-month old kitten named, Magic!

Today I called the shelter to see if Magic was still there. (It is not open on Tuesday.) And Magic was there!!! So I went to meet her and see if we could get along. This little creature was so scared. She had only been in the shelter for a week, having come from another shelter.

I spent 45 minutes with her and decided, “Yes!” I needed to bring Magic home. I put her on hold. Sent photos of her to my son, daughter and husband. We all agreed.

It was perfect. My cat , who passed away, was Mistique, this kitten was Magic. My husband actually does magic. So for once, I am not even planning to change this kitten’s name. Like in the Xanadu Magic song:

“You have to believe we are magic

Nothin’ can stand in our way”

Yesterday my son went with me to the animal shelter, Wayside Waifs. We adopted Magic! We took her directly to our vet at Cherokee Animal Clinic. She is a perfectly healthy and happy kitten. She is friendly and good natured, if course she is with me. But he still wants her isolated from our other cat for 10 days.

And then we brought Magic back to our home!

 

Serendipity Wins In Finding a Family Connection!

27 Jan

Serendipity is when events happen by chance and cause success or benefit the person who the events occur around. Today, a few days after my birthday, my life was ruled by serendipity!

For about a year now I have belonged to a Facebook group entitled “Tracing the Tribe.” I joined it mainly to see if I could find anybody related to my maternal grandparents. And last summer I did make contact with a family member through this group.

Recently I began thinking about my paternal grandparents, and wondered if I could find anything out about them. A few days ago someone started a comment asking people to put up the names of the families they were searching for on to the site. I did not do this. But I was watching. They then put all the names into a spreadsheet.

GG Grandparents

So this morning, I checked. And there was a name I knew, Wolf or Wolff, or Wolfe. That was my great great grandparents last name. So I put up a post on the page addressed to the woman who had posted about the name Wolf. I just wrote, “ My gg grandparents were Victor and Esther Wolff. Does that match your search?” She was not related to me.

However, soon another man posted, EW. He had some interesting facts and names. Names that were familiar. We soon realized there was a connection. It was a distant one. But it seemed possible that his three times great grandfather was the brother of my two times great grandmother. If so, I would have much more information for my family tree.

And so we sent emails back and forth throughout the day. I sent him a photo of my great great grandparents. He sent me a photo of his great grandfather. And there were some similarities.

And through these emails and looking into my family information that I had gathered from my Grandma Esther in the 1970s, it was definite. We were related.

His three times great grandfather Israel Lew was the brother of my great great grandmother Esther Wolf.   And I now had the names of her parents, Jankiel and Mindel Lew/Lewin/Levin (who were cousins) from Ciechanowiec. I also now had the names of more of her siblings, including Israel Lew, there was Azriel Aharon Lew, Fedjda Perlowicz, Betzalel Lew, Abram Boruch Lew and three more!

WOW! I always knew that my Grandma Esther was named after her grandmother, but I now learned that my Great Aunt Minnie was named after her great grandmother Mindel. That was exciting.

Not only all this. But I found out that Victor’s Hebrew/Yiddish name was Awigdor/Avigdor, which I had not known before now. Although I knew he had to have a Hebrew name. And that Esther was also known as Etka, which was probably the European name.

EW also found the date that my great grandparents, Louis and Ray, married: January 28, 1894, almost exactly 121 years ago! What serendipity that I was finding this all out now. Right near their anniversary! I was a bit stunned. All by chance. By one little message on a Facebook group’s page!

There was so much information in the multiple emails my new relative sent me, I think I had an information melt down. As I read each email it made more and more sense, and I could see the lines making the connections.   It was like a mini revelation!

I cannot explain the glow and the excitement that went through me! One little posting and I learned so much!

I was so glad that I had sat with my grandmother 40 years ago to get this information so that I could now say with certainty, I can go back one more generation in my family’s lineage.

And perhaps more! My sister and I have been trying to find out where our great grandparents were buried. There in all the emails was information on Beth David Cemetary in Elmont, NY. If other relatives were buried there, I believe there is a good chance our great grandparents are also there.

Serendipity, Chance and little guts to put a post up on Facebook.   What a win!

 

 

Update.  Found out my great aunt and uncle are in Beth David Cemetery, but my great grandparents are in Washington Cemetary in Brooklyn.

Update 2:  Thanks to another distant ‘Lew’ relative, AB,  I have now seem my family tree of my great great grandmother Esther Lew Wolf and have seen my ancestor back to my seven times great grandparents…back to an ancestor born in 1720!  For a Jewish family that is quite amazing.  And I can do that in my maternal side as well!

The Turning 60 Blues! Or the Best and Brightest Blue Ever!

25 Jan

January 23 was not a date I was looking forward to reaching. I usually love to celebrate, and I love my birthday. But this year was different. This year I was turning 60. Somehow that age bothered me. I do not feel sixty. I do not act 60. To me being 60 meant I was not just an adult, I was old…a sage…a mentor, not a doer.

And I have been a doer my entire life. Was this going to change me?

I was having the turning 60 blues!

My angst really began to hit me in November. On the 23 of November I was getting ready to fly from India to Israel to visit my daughter. And it hit me that in two months I would be 60. What was I doing flying around the world by myself. I was almost old!! I had just spent 10 days in India with my husband. And now I was planning to spend another 8 days in Israel. Was I crazy?

No I was not. But I was really two months away from this terrible date.

When I got home to Kansas in early December, the dread continued. I started talking about my age at meetings. I was seeing things differently. At many meetings I was among the oldest women in the room, instead of one of the younger ones.

At one meeting of an executive committee I am on, I even said something about turning 60 and having a difficult time with it. The ladies were very nice. “You don’t look a day over 45!” One said politely. Another, who knows a bit better, said, “and you act like you are 12!” (Is that good? I wasn’t quite sure.) “A little older than 12!” I responded.

The president said, “Don’t worry, you are good at any age. “ And she is older than I am. So perhaps this would not be so bad.

A truly long-time good friend, one of best friends, asked if I was planning a party. Not really. I had thought about. But decided “No.” In January the weather is so iffy. No one would come. I was not in the mood. But she continued to bug me. She can be quite forceful at times.

When I told her I could not find a good place. She found a place. It was less than three weeks before my birthday. I went to the bakery/luncheonette and realized that it was a great place for a party.

But then I remember Miss Manners said that people should not throw a party for themselves. It was egotistical and unsightly, or some such words. And as for saying ‘no gifts,’ she considered that was rude as well.

Too bad! I decided to throw a party for myself, and say no gifts. But directed people who really wanted to do something to make a donation to a scholarship fund I had started in memory of my parents.

I started sending out email invitations, when my email was hacked. Which created an avalanche of aggravation. All my contacts were lost for two days till I learned how to recover. By then I had lost track of whom I had invited. So I had to send out groups of invites and individuals till I got everyone covered.

I sent out 50 invitations. The room only held 40. But 12 people lived out of town. So I was safe. To my delight two ‘out of towners’ were able to attend.  In all 36 people said they would come.  The only No’s came from people who would be out of town for the weekend.

The hearts I made for my friends.

The hearts I made for my friends.

I set myself some goals. I decided to make a crochet heart for every woman who came to my birthday tea. Each one of the people I invited had a place in my heart.   I decided we would all wear hats and just visit. No big plans. But I would introduce everyone from my different parts of life with a story.

And I had a moment of inspiration! I love the color blue. I love teal and turquoise, royal blue, navy blue. Any shade of blue makes me happy. So why was I thinking that turning 60 was giving me the blues in a bad way? Turning 60 should give me the blues in a good way.   Here I am! 60!

So I bought blue napkins and ribbons and decorations: None of this stupid over the hill stuff or tombstone stuff. I am bright and cheerful and happy to be alive.

IMG_4587

I decided that I would also have a cake for my family. I asked the woman at the bakery to make me a cake to share with my family that would have enough blue flowers so that everyone could have one with each piece. She made me the most extraordinary birthday cake covered with flowers and she made it look like a lovely spring hat. I love it!

I went back into celebration mode. I went out with my ‘mirthday’ (mirthday = middle of our birthdays) buddy. Her birthday is two days and one year before mine. We always celebrate with a lovely lunch and a shopping trip to Chico’s. The tradition continues.

I met another best friend and went to a local favorite, Andre’s. It was delicious and fun. She surprised with a lovely sculpture of a writer. It sits happily on my entrance desk.

And I went out with my husband and son for dinner and home for cake and gifts. As a family we accomplished a great success constructing the rebound trampoline I got for my birthday.

I might be 60. But last week I walked almost 70,000 steps.

I might be 60, but I still play a pretty sharp ‘Words with Friends.’

I might be 60, but I still work part time.

I might be 60, but I can still travel the world.

I remember when I was in my early 20s. I was visiting my aunt and grandma. My aunt said, “I went to bed a young woman and I woke up an old lady.” She handed me the newspaper. And there was a little article circled. It said, “Elderly man, 59, falls to his death.” My aunt had said she was 39 for years. So my response, “No Aunt Leona, what are you talking about ! You are only 39!” We all laughed. But that article has been haunting me.

Setting up for the tea party!

Setting up for the tea party!

The room for my party looked wonderful with all the brightly colored napkins and flowers and hearts displayed on the tables.  I even asked the bakery to make all the sugar cookies iced in teal!  I had only my favorite flavors for the desserts: lemon, raspberry and chocolate.  Everything looked and tasted wonderfully!

Lovely turquoise cookies and other goodies.

Lovely turquoise cookies and other goodies.

So today, to prove I am not elderly I have planned an exotic and eccentric tea party outfit to wear to my 60th birthday party. I am, of course, wearing blue: Blue dress, blue shoes, blue hat, and a lovely blue, turquoise and green sparkling and lightly beaded caftan-ish long jacket.

I am ready to meet my sixties without feeling blue…but being the best and brightest blue ever!

My Jawbone Up Is A Healthy Obsession, I Hope

22 Jan

On the news I recently heard that people whose spouses exercises are more likely to exercise. And even more important is to have an exercise partner. I am blessed, not only do I have a husband who loves to run and encourages me to exercise, I also have three walking partners, three devoted friends who exercise with me to keep ourselves healthy!

Friend one, Lynn, has been walking with me for 18 years. But not only walking, we meet occasionally with a personal trainer to work on upper body strength and balance. It has been a great plan. We work out Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. We have decided that we will continue walking until we are 92!  I hope we really make it.

Then there is Friend two, Roseann. We walk outside with her dog whenever the weather is nice, usually on Monday, Tuesday and Thursdays if possible. We have walked together for almost ten years or more. Friend three is, as she calls it, my Plan B. Marti walks with me when Lynn cannot. I text her at the last minute and she often comes with me.

I have many other walking buddies as well over the years and depending where we are.  Sue Ellen loves to walk the hills.  Vero is my great vacation walker.  Marcie walked with me when she lived here.  And of course my sister, daughter and sister in law have all spent many hours walking with me.

It has been great fun besides exercise, as we talk and walk. But my relaxed walking recently changed!

In October I was gifted a Jawbone Up from my husband. I got him one two years ago for his birthday, and he loved all the information he now had to help with his health. He knew how long he slept, how much exercise he did and with his My Fitness Pal, how many calories he was taking in.

I did not want one, as I had a bad history with pedometers. I think I broke or lost about ten over the years. I had switched to an app on my phone to register how many steps I took. But since I did not always carry my phone with me, it was never accurate. I had been using My Fitness Pal as well to keep track of my calories, but it did not interface with the step ap.

Finally, my husband said, “ Get a Jawbone Up. It is the best.”

But first we looked around. I checked out the Fit Bit, the Jawbone Up, and the Fitbit that clipped on instead of the wrist band. And finally I made my decision. A blue Jawbone Up. It is now my constant companion.

When I first started using it, I just wanted to walk between 4,000 and 6,000 steps each day. I had no idea how addictive walking and keeping track would become. I slowly worked myself up to the point where I work between 7000 and 10,000 steps a day. On the days I work and I know I will be sitting, I make an effort to walk around at home and use a treadmill to get some steps in.

The little messages reminding me how many steps I walked and how many more I need to make my average inspire to keep going.

But what really inspires me is my own obsessive needs. If I am at 7800 steps when I am ready to go to bed at night, I walk around my house to get 200 more steps! I hate being so close to another 1000. I just have to do it. It almost hurts to be so close.

I also love seeing how much I actually slept. And to be honest, since I started keeping track of my steps and my sleep, I am sleeping longer. I think the extra exercise is making my nights better as well!

I love my Jawbone so much that this holiday season I encouraged several people to get one. And three of them did. A small red, and two medium black Jawbones are now worn by people I know.

The small red one is worn by my neighbor and walking partner, Roseann. And If I thought I was obsessed, she is worse!

My Jawbone has to be plugged in to get my information, but hers is Bluetooth. And today when we were walking, she had her phone out and was checking her steps as we walked. I told her to STOP. We were walking. That was ridiculous.

She told me that her daughter informed her that she was obsessed about steps. I agreed to a point. I am obsessed, but she is crazed.

She has a rebounder in her basement. She informed me that using that gets her many steps. I use my treadmill, but perhaps something else would help as well. She has been averaging about 4000 more steps a day than I have been. But then I sit at an office when I work, and she moves.

However, with my birthday coming up, I decided that I needed a rebounder as well. These little trampolines help with balance and exercise, so I did not feel too bad about buying one for myself as one of my birthday gifts!

As for my other walking partner, Lynn, yesterday she informed me that she planned to get a Jawbone Up for herself as well! Another addict iniatiated!

As for me, yesterday was my all time high. I walked an astounding 7.1 miles, or 16,438 steps. I hope my Jawbone is happy now! Four times my original plan. I do hope this is truly a healthy obsession.

Is Lassana Bathily, The French Hero, a Lamed Vovnik?

16 Jan

Since I was a teen, I hoped that I could be a Lamed Vovnik, one of the 36 righteous or just people who keep balance to the world. Of course in Jewish mysticism, the 36 are men. But in my modern mind, I believe that a woman has just as much chance of being one of these 36 special people as any one else.

I first learned of the Lamed Vovnik legend when I read the Holocaust novel, The Last of the Just, by Andre Schwarz-Bart. This book had a tremendous impact on my life. As I read about these two just men and the trials they suffered, I felt a kinship. I felt a need to bring good into the world.

The important belief about the Lamed Vovnik is that these righteous people do not know they are part of this elite group. So I thought, “What if everyone acted as if they were one of the Lamed Vovnik? What if we all practice looking for the good? What if we all do good deeds?”

And that is how I live my life. I try to find something good in everything that happens. Every event is a learning experience. Every one I meet teaches me something.

I focus on the positive, just as I think a righteous person should. I focus on the spark of God that is inside each one of us. I try to do gemulat chasidem, good deeds. I try to work on tikun olam, repairing the world. Just as I think a Righteous Lamed Vovnik would work.

That there are 36 righteous people is important. Each Hebrew letter has a number attached to it. The letters for the number 18 are Het and Yod. These two letters together form the word, Chai, or Life. So many Jewish people present gifts to someone in multiples of 18. There are 36 righteous Lamed Vovnik, which is twice Chai, twice life.

As I watched the events unfolding in France; when I heard of the wonderful deeds of Lassana Bathily, the Muslim worker in the Kosher market, I thought “Could he be a Lamed Vovnik? Could he be bringing balance to the world?”

Think: upstairs in the grocery as Black Muslim man was shooting and killing Jews just because they were Jewish.   He killed four. But two stories below a Black Muslim man was saving Jewish people, hiding them in a freezer. Balance!

Upstairs and man was hiding from the police. Downstairs, a man made the decision to go to the police to tell them about the Jews hiding downstairs. Balance!

He left the building. It took time for the police to believe. And thanks be to God, they did.

With him was a key to the metal gate, as well as in his mind a key to the layout of the store.

Lassana Bathily brought balance, love and righteousness to a horrible situation.

To me he is a Lamed Vovnik, a righteous man. A guttah neshumah, a good soul. And a mensch, a man of high standing.

Baruch Dayan haEmet . May the names of those who perished always be for a blessing. But the name of Lassana Bathily is also a blessing because he provided safety for those who lived. The spark of God within him shines!

Working For My Dad’s Firm in NYC Lead to my Love of Lingerie

15 Jan

Growing up with a father in the textile industry in New York City had certain blessings. My Dad was involved in the women’s lingerie, undergarment and swim suit industry. And among his clients were some of the top names in lingerie at the time: Christian Dior, Maiden Form and many others. When Ginger Rogers started her own lingerie line, my Dad was one of her suppliers of fabrics. Gottex, the Israeli bathing suit company was his client in the late 1960s and 70s.

Dad was the ‘converter.’ He made sure that a printed fabric was made correctly. He had an artist on staff who did the colorizations if they were printing several different color combinations of the same print. He worked with textile factories in the Carolinas and Providence, Rhode Island. With his start in the embroidery manufacturer, he also knew so much about lace and embroidery.

He did very well, until the textile industry in the US started to fall under the burden of cheap imports from other countries.

But when I was in high school and college, Dad was in his most productive and expansive years. I worked in his office in the summer time. I got to know his staff and his customers, his sales men and his clients. At lunchtime I would go out and shop at B Altman’s, my favorite store. Dad would give me his credit card and I would chose items to be shipped to NJ to avoid sales tax on clothing. He paid me a small salary, but the benefits of his credit card are not to be denied.

However working with Dad brought about other benefits.   When I went away to college, his friends, who knew me, wanted to help.   One provided me with 144 pairs of panties. Do you know how popular you are when you have 144 pair of clean underwear?   I cannot tell you how many I gave away my freshman year of college.   And I will not say it was a daily event. But at least once a week, a dorm mate who heard about my stash would show up at my door, asking for a pair. You do not have to do laundry as long as you have clean underwear! I saved the day for many girls.

I carried the need for many pair of undies with me for my adult life. When my daughter went away to college, I did not send her with 144 pair of underwear, but I did send her with about 48. In my mind I had to make this same advantage for her that I had when I went to college.

My daughter and I have spent many hours at Victoria Secret searching for the perfect undergarments, lingerie and comfort clothes. Unfortunately, she never had the opportunities I had for free samples. When I started shopping with her, I realized even more emphatically what a benefit I had with my Dad’s career in with the fashion industry.

As for samples, I was the perfect Gottex sample swim suit size as well. I had multiple bathing suits that were designed and never made it to production. Then they became mine. I still remember a white bikini with hearts on it and a navy blue flowered print one-piece suit.

The bathing suit company was from Israel. Which leads up to my next underwear story. I spent my sophomore year of college in Israel. Before I went, I was once again the beneficiary of many undergarments. Did they really think I used up all those from freshman year? I guess so. Because I got lots more.

In any case, one of my father’s friend sent me four boxes of lingerie for his family and me to my dorm in Israel. When his Mom and sister came to pick up the boxes, we first opened them all, and they said, “Take what you need and what you want.” I did not want to take too much because I already had some I had brought along with me. But they were insistent.   Really, for me and for them, what was another 24 pair of panties and several nightgowns? Wow! I had the most beautiful underwear and lingerie in all of Har Hasofim, the Mount Scopus Campus of Hebrew University.

Mom's peach colored peignoir.

Mom’s peach colored peignoir.

Until my father retired, I never had to worry about buying any negligee, camisole, nightgowns underwear or slips, as well as swimsuits or swim wear cover-ups. I had the loveliest items. I was not the only one to benefit from this lingerie largesse, my Mom and sister also benefited. I still have a beautiful peach colored peignoir my Mom received as a gift from Deena of California. As my sister reminded me, we also were delighted every Hanukkah with gifts of lovely lingerie.

Bras were another story. But luckily a friend of mine’s parents own a lingerie shop, Sylvette’s, in North Bergen, where those could easily be obtained. I will admit, as a tween and teen, I was a little embarrassed to go there and see my friend’s father behind the counter. But he never made you feel uncomfortable. I think because he had the best sense of humor.

I still remember the first few times I went with my Mom. The first time I was o be fitted for a training bra. What is that all about? Can you train your chest? Not really. A few months later, we went back again for me to be fitted for a real bra. I think my friend’s Mom is the person who took me to the back room both times to measure me. Then she and my Mom had a long conversation on what would be best. There were drawers upon drawers of bras and lingerie. Eventually I got over my embarrassment and would go by myself. I loved going in there and looking at all the pretty items.

One of my honeymoon peignoirs.

One of my honeymoon peignoirs.

When I got married, the bounty from my father’s friends continued. I think I was the only bride with three peignoir sets to wear on her honeymoon. My mother and I looked them over to decide which ones I should take with me. Should I really take three? We were going on a cruise and that seemed a little too much.

I can see them in my mind. One was a creamy white satin with inlaid lace on the shoulders of the robe and the nightgown. It was designed for Saks Fifth Avenue. Another was beige chiffon. I was lost in the billowing skirt. The last was my favorite. A Christian Dior with a long cream color negligee with embroidery and a short jacket/robe.

I still have the two sets I actually took, including the Christian Dior one. They were too lovely for me to give away. I guess I am hoping to one day present them to my daughter. And after being married for almost 35 years, I am sentimental.

There are times when I can close my eyes and still see my father’s office. His artist, Christine, lives in California. I often think of her and our laughter at work. My father instilled in me a love of fine fabrics and color. The touch of cloth has meaning to me.

The ‘schmattah world,’ the ‘rag trade,’ the textile industry; the bustle and noise and mayhem of the textile industry was a vital part of my life. I am glad I spent time with my Dad at work in Manhattan. It was a wonderful time leading to a life- long love of lovely lingerie.

 

 

An earlier blog about my Dad’s embroidery shop in New Jersey:  https://zicharonot.wordpress.com/2014/02/26/a-hudson-county-embroidery-shop-started-my-dads-career/