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Monarch Butterflies Bring Joy

12 Sep

It has been a harsh end of summer. Hurricanes have devastated Houston, Texas,  and large swatches of Florida. Homes destroyed; trees down; major flooding; and entire communities destroyed in the Florida Keys and the Caribbean. 

 Major fires are burning throughout the northwest creating horrible smog throughout the region and destroying forests and homes. They could have used at least 12 inches of the 50 inches of rain that devastated Texas. 


It has been difficult to find a bright spot. But then I noticed an amazing sight. Instead of the two or three Monarch butterflies I have seen daily the past few years, this year I have seen a multitude of butterflies.

 Our home is an official butterfly garden. We do plant flowers and milkweed to attract the butterflies. And we do not spray any pesticides on our lawn or flowers.  (I wrote about saving the butterflies in an earlier post. See link below.) So we have been hoping we would eventually see an increase in butterflies. 


I was still amazed.  I have seen swarms of butterflies daily since Friday. And today the most I have seen in years, along with a multitude of bees. In fact, when I went to a garden center on Friday, I saw so many butterflies I could not even count them! 

I went on line to check on the Monarch migration for this year. Was it better than past years?  I found mixed results. One said there were 27 percent less Monarchs wintering in Mexico this past winter. But another said the migration this spring equaled last year or was better.  

No matter what the experts say, there a definitely more here than last year. Something that can bring a bit of Joy. 

PS: Since publishing this I have heard from many friends and neighbors stating they have also seen a tremendous increase in butterflies. This is wonderful as we are on the migration path!!
https://zicharonot.wordpress.com/2015/08/24/saving-the-monarch-butterflies/

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Why I Marched

22 Jan
my-coexists-sign

My personal rally sign.

Bring in the light.  Restore hope. Support those who are afraid. Make it known that we stand together.

I was not walking against Trump, rather I was marching for those who were feeling lost, frightened and scared since his election. I wanted them to see that we are not silent. That we stand together, and there is no return to the 1930s.

People are so down and pessimistic. While I am an optimist. I always try to find the happy, bright and light in each adventure that impacts me.

So on Saturday I saw the light. On this day when I had planned to go to synagogue and chant Kaddish on the yahrzeit of my mother, I took a different path.

My Mom was one of the kindest people. She taught fourth grade for 30 years.  And she opened her arms to all people. In her honor I marched with so many who were opening their hearts and arms.

My physical self marched in Kansas City, while my spirit marched with women and children and men throughout the world.

To all I say, ” Look at us. We are women! We stand together! We are not afraid! And we will be active in our pursuit of justice and equality for all.”

My Premonition Came True: It is a Royals – Mets World Series!

24 Oct

In August I had a premonition. I was visiting my sister in New Jersey. My sister is a rabid Mets fan. In fact, she and her children and some friends have held Mets season tickets for over 20 years.

I, on the other hand, although I love the Mets and also grew up in New Jersey, am now a citizen of the Kansas City metro area, and so am a Royals fan. Although I do not have season tickets, I do go at least once a year and watch games on television.

Baseball is actually my favorite team sport. Although people sometimes get hurt, usually it is unintentional …not counting that one nasty play that hurt the Mets player.   I like sitting and watching and cheering and eating peanuts and popcorn and fries and frozen lemonade.

We have a friend who has traveled to almost all the ballparks in the USA. He has stayed with us twice to go to Royals Stadium. First just to see it, then he came back to see our wonderful remodeled stadium.   Going to the game with him is always fun. He is a human computer of baseball facts.

But, I digress, back to the Worlds Series. My sister thought I was dreaming. But I felt secure in my vision. It would be a Royals/Mets World Series.   Slowly my vison came true. Both the Mets and the Royals won their division titles.  Step one accomplished.  People were not beginning to believe me.

There was a little drama in my life as the St. Louis Cardinals also won their division. My husband is from St. Louis. His family are ardent Cardinal fans. So while I was happy for them that they won the division, I knew they would not advance. My vision was set. The Mets and the Royals all the way.

Then the Cubs were in mix. I feel for the Cubs and for their fans. For over 100 years, they have not won a title. We have many family and friends who are also from Chicago and love their losing Cubs. Although I love them, I knew the Cubs would not win.  It would be Mets and Royals all the way!

I was sure.

As for the Toronto Blue Jays. well I like Canada. My daughter’s fiancé is Canadian. And I like the color blue. I did notice from the beginning that all four teams that advanced had blue in their team colors. So I knew it would be a blue series. Blue, my favorite color! But I knew it could not be the Blue Jays. I was sure.

I was so sure, I called my sister and said, “Send me a Mets shirt as soon as possible. I want to wear both shirts when I go to a World Series Game. Being the good sister that she is. She took my niece and purchased a Mets Division Winner t-shirt and sent it to me express mail.

Now I am set. I have my Mets shirt. I have my Royals gear.   For six games I will be rooting for both teams. I am pretty sure it will be a seven game series!

And I will go to at least one game. I have friends with season tickets. And one of my best friends in the world has promised to take me to a game. She and her husband will not let me down.

Game seven will be the difficult game. One of my t-shirts will have to come off. Mets? Royals? It is a difficult decision. But although the Mets have been a part of my life since I was a child, I made a commitment when I moved to Kansas. Go Royals!

Why I will Keep Ranting Against Gun Violence

13 Oct

Dr. Archer presents at the

Dr. Archer presents at the Heartland Coalition Against Gun Violence Community Forum.

As I stated in an earlier blog, the death of Susan Choucroun, a friend who I met through the National Council of Jewish Women, Greater Kansas City Section (NCJW), was my final straw in gun violence and needless deaths.

I made a promise to start advocating to work to stop gun violence. Yesterday, October 12, 2015, I continued that promised by going to the Heartland Coalition Against Gun Violence second community forum: “Gun Violence: A Public Health Issue.”

I belong to two organizations that helped to sponsor this event, NCJW and Grandparents Against Gun Violence. I felt that since Susan had been a member of NCJW, in fact had served with me on several committees, it was only right that I attend this event in my efforts.

Listening to Dr. Rex Archer, the Director of Health for Kansas City, Missouri, Health Department, strengthened my resolve.   He spoke of violence as a contagious disease that causes not only physical injury but moral injury as well. He stated that we had to stop it as we reverse an epidemic. And he stressed the new models of dealing with violence by creating new norms.

He stressed also that gun violence is usually not an action by people who are diagnosed with mental illness. Instead people who are mentally ill are the least likely to do violence to others. He called it a “side-tracking issue, because without a gun you cannot do mass murder. Guns are the issue.” He continued by saying that weapons manufacturers fund the NRA. The NRA is a front for the gun industry to lobby.

The audience was told that easy access to guns is the major issue, not mental health.

I listened to lectures by Kansas and Missouri state legislators: Barbara Bollier and Judy Morgan; by a Children’s Mercy Emergency Room physician who has seen children die as a result of gun violence; a psychiatrist; members of the Ad Hoc Group Against Crime (including Al Brooks), Aim4Peace and the Kansas City Missouri Police NoVa (No Violence Alliance).

All the speakers were excellent, explaining in detail what happens to those people touched by gun violence and those who suffer mental health issues. Sixty-one percent of all gun deaths are suicide; and gun suicides account for over 90 percent of people who commit suicide.

Lonnie and Sandy Phillips, parents of one of the 12 victims in the Colorado movie theater slaughter, was the most important presentation. I learned more about the PLCAA Law that was signed by George W. Bush on October 26, 2005, just ten years ago.   A Law that MUST be repealed!!!

The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act makes it impossible for any American citizen to sue a firearms manufacturer and dealer, or ammunitions manufacturer or dealer, for negligence when a crime has been committed. That’s right, they cannot be sued.

Sandy and Lonnie Phillips tried to sue the ammunitions dealer who sent the murderer of their daughter 4,000 ROUNDS, 4000!!! Of steel sided bullets; these same bullets that were shot six times into their daughter, Jessie. Killing her! They hit her legs, her abdomen, her clavicle and one to the head that blew off 4 inches of her face. Sorry. But is it true. When they tried to sue, not for money, but to get the dealer to have to do background checks, the case was dismissed because of the PLCAA Law and they are held liable to pay for the $200,000 in attorney fees for the ammunition dealer. This is insane!

I came home from the conference to see on the news that two Milwaukee police officers are suing a gun shop for negligence in selling the weapon as the man who shot them was only 18 at the time and not of legal age to buy a gun. This case is also pivots on the PLCAA Law. (Today, October 13,  the jury found the store liable and negligent! )

The other important information I learned is about the Kansas Law that will go into effect in July 2017 that allows guns on college campuses. Oh My God!!! Do you remember last year when Johnson County Community College was on lock down? My son was there. Locked in a room with his professor and other students. Hiding in a darkened room sitting quietly but texting. My son came home after that experience stressed and saddened.

I asked Barbara Bollier, a Kansas State Representative. What happens after the law goes into effect if the school security sees someone with a gun? Well there will be no lock down, and no effort to stop the person with the gun until the person fires the gun! That is right. It will be legal to carry that gun on Campus! Insanity!

But it is more than that. Dr. Archer told us that 40 percent of all guns sold are sold without a background check because they are sold through internet, gun shows or personal sales. FORTY PERCENT. The background check loophole must be changed!!!

IMG_6936

I learned that we must all take action. WE must repeal PLCAA. WE must repeal Kansas Law, The Personal and Family Protection Act!!! We must vote to get the background check loophole repealed!

Our Vote is our weapon against the public health issue of gun violence. We used our vote to stop smoking in public places. We used our vote to impact drunk driving.   Now we must use our voices and our vote to end gun violence.

Do not be silent!

As Lonnie Phillips said” “If you don’t vote, you are part of the problem.”

https://zicharonot.wordpress.com/2015/09/03/why-i-have-to-write-about-gun-control/

https://zicharonot.wordpress.com/2014/09/05/what-a-week-a-murder-and-a-campus-lock-down-impact-my-life/

Why I Have to Write About Gun Control

3 Sep

It has been a bizarre week in Kansas.   First has been the trial of the man who killed two people at the Jewish Community Campus and one at Village Shalom in April 2014. I know his name, but it is not worth saying. He wants the publicity. He is a sick demented man who was able to get guns and act out on his baseless hatred.

Second it is the anniversary of the killing of five innocent people in a quiet cul de sac. I knew one of them. I saw her brother and sister in law when they came to our synagogue to say Kaddish for her yahrzeit two weeks ago. Her death was shocking, happening just five months after the JCC shootings. I think the entire Kansas City metro was in shock after these two mass killing events.

Finally, it is something her nephew posted. Saying that his aunt was an activist. She was. And she would want us to do something about the gun problem in the United States. And I believe she would.

So I will say something.

I have used a M-16 during target practice. It is a gun meant to use to kill.   I have walked a path along the dorms at Mount Scopus at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, holding an Uzi. I was taught to hold it to my hip and spray in a half circle if I needed to shoot. In was 1974. The Yom Kippur War was still on everyone’s mind. And those of us who lived in the dorms had to do guard duty once a month. Usually I held the lantern. But we had to know how to use a gun, just in case the other person was injured or killed.

I know that guns can be used for protection. But I also know that guns can be used to kill. And I do not believe in senseless killing.

I do not think anyone in the 1700’s thought that one day there would be guns that could shot out multiple rounds of bullets in seconds. I do not think that they imagined a nation that exists now. When people do not have to have guns to provide food for their families or that militias no longer are needed. They wrote the Constitution in different times

I believe that people are misinterpreting the Second Amendment because they are unwilling to accept what is needed: stricter gun laws.   The Amendment states: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” The right to bear arms is tied to the need for a militia. We have no need for a militia now. There is no need for all these guns to be out in the public.

I am not against people owning guns for sport, although it is not a sport I am interested in. I do not think that all gun owners would kill innocent people. But we see time after time, guns getting into the wrong hands.

I am sick of the NRA’s intense lobbying of our legislative representatives. And how their gun money is swaying the votes to go against common sense. They do not want regulations; they do not want more background checks; they do not want licenses.

To drive a car in this country, you have to have a license and insurance. You have to pass a test to prove you know how to drive. You should have to take a test to prove you know how to use a gun before you are allowed buy one!!!

To move into an apartment for the first time, you have to have a background check. My son did: to rent an apartment, not even to buy a gun.

But to buy a gun in some states people can just go into a store or go online or go to a gun show and buy a weapon of death. It has become too easy to kill in the USA.

We have seen time after time innocent children and adults going to school, or going to the movies, or perhaps shopping at a mall, or to the gym, or in the case of Susan C. just standing in her driveway at the wrong moment.

When will it stop?

When will we say to the men and women who serve in our state and national legislatures that we will not vote for them if they take money from the gun lobbies?

That is what I plan to do.

I think that enough is enough. Every one of us must make a stand and no longer remain silent. The NRA and gun owners should not be running our Congress. WE, The PEOPLE should be running Congress.

Flying Is No Longer Fun!

3 Aug
The moon from our plane window.  It was supposed to be daylight when we arrived.

The moon from our plane window. It was supposed to be daylight when we arrived.

Six and one half hours. That is how long our flight was delayed.  We spent 8 1/2 hours at the airport in Kansas City in total. A very long day. I am so happy my son was with me.  His amusement and laughter made the day much more enjoyable.

It started as a simple 30-minute delay for an incoming plane. It quickly turned into a nightmare for those with connecting flights.

When the new crew entered the plane they noticed something was wrong,  the plane was extremely cold.  We did not know what was happening at the time. But I did noticed that the captain had come back up the jetway and got the woman agent who was working the desk (for what she thought would be a routine flight.) She went down the jetway with the pilot.

I turned to my son and said, “That does not look good at all.”

I have been flying a lot lately, and to me this indicated a major problem .  She came back out and immediately anounced a one-hour delay. It was a simple problem she told us, one that they would probably just look at and note. If only that was true! But it was not to be.

That one hour turned to two hours . We were told that maintenance was now looking at it and determined that they would need a part to fix a thermostat.

Those with connecting flights started to line up, making their connections would be difficult.  In the summer time, flights are often crowded, with every seat filled.  Plans to fly overseas were especially difficult.

My son was walking around the waiting area, while I read a book.  He came back to where I was sitting with our carry-on luggage.

“Mom, they are offloading luggage from the plane,” he said.  A very bad sign.  I have learned that if enough people are taken off the flight and put on another flight, the airline will cancel  the ‘problem’ flight.  I did not want to be waiting for hours for a cancelled flight.  I absolutely hate that.

I immediately got on the line. I wanted to reserve a seat in the later flight.  Which I did.  We were only 2 1/2 hours delayed at this point and the next flight was to leave in four hours, but you never know. I try to be flexible, but I also want to be prepared.

We started watching people be sent away.  I was calm.  One woman was very upset because she had special concert tickets. She was making phone calls, speaking to people and speaking to the agents.  I notice one of the two male agents who had replaced our original agent was leading her away from our gate.

The delays piled up.  The part was found, but now a team of mechanics were working on it. Instead of being an easy fix, now an entire unit had to be taken out of the plane to get the plane repaired.  It was apparent that things were not going well.

We were sent to another gate as a new plane was coming, being ferried in just for us.  Okay, maybe things would get better.  Maybe.

The line to transfer or find solutions was long, since the earliest we would leave was 4:30 pm.  Our scheduled flight now was leaving five  and half hours late. Some people went home or to a hotel. They had no chance to make any connections, so they were rescheduled for the next day.

We went to the new gate and waited.  The woman with the concert tickets was back! What happened? The flight on Delta was cancelled  so she came back to United to get on the original flight.  Needless to say she did not make the concert.

The plane came. You could feel the excitement from the crowd.  Although many had left our group,  others who were on a flight with a stop in Chicago had chosen to change to our flight to Newark.

We lined up ready to board.  The new agent asked if any of the first class flyers wanted their original lunch meals. One raised her hand.  The agent had to go to the other gate to get the food.  People moaned.

The crew got off the plane.  You could feel the anticipation as we waited for our crew to arrive.  And waited. And waited.

The agent came back on the speaker. “Ummm. Well, first I am really sorry, but the crew members were sent to the hotel and are not here.  We thought they were in the crew lounge at the airport.  But they have left.  We have to get them back.  So there will be another hour and half delay. The earliest you will leave is 5:45 pm.”

People audibly gasped! Tension filled the air. The comments and questions were flying around the waiting area: “Don’t they talk to each other?”  “How could that happen?”  “Will they really come back?”  “Is this flight actually going to go?”

My son burst out laughing. I got up to ask to transfer to the other plane. But the agent was not done.

“Also I have been told that we cannot serve the meals from first class as they have been on the plane for too long.  I am sorry.”  So first class passengers were getting no food.  Neither was my son or I or anyone else.   They had just joined us peons.  And there are not many food choices at the Kansas City airport.

My son and I  had already gone without a real lunch.  It was obvious that we were going without a real dinner.

I was first in line at the counter. “Can you just transfer us to the other flight, please.”  It was scheduled to leave one minute after the flight we were supposed to go on.  But I just was not sure we were actually going to go anywhere.

“I could” she said. “But it is scheduled to go on the original plane that you were supposed to go on, and it is still being fixed.  What do you want to do?”   I really had no choice, at least I knew this plane was in working order. I stayed with the original flight.

We all sat and waited and talked to the people around us.

When the crew arrived we all applauded.

When we boarded the plane, people were laughing.

When the plane took off we were amazed.  I actually heard a few people applaud.

The captaiin came on and apologized.

But we had been at the airport for 8 1/2 hours. The airline did not offer us food coupons. There were no snacks on the plane. Luckily I had purchased some snacks for us.

We arrived 6 1/2 hours late. Instead of 3 pm, we arrived at 9:30 pm. A wasted day. We missed dinner with my brother. We were tired and cranky and hungry.

At the luggage carousel, my son and I waited with others from our flight.  Making jokes about whether our luggage was actually put on the new plane, and what else could possibly go wrong.  However our luggage did arrive.  Our ride from the airport did show up within minutes of us leaving the terminal.

The passengers had bonded during our time together.  People who were strangers became temporary friends.  But it was now over, we were all returning to life outside of the world of the airport.

Earlier in the odyssey I told my son I was going to send an email to the airline when I got home. I was angry. But United emailed us first, apologizing to us and offering a link for a gift for each of us.   You know it is bad when that happens.  I have 90 days, so I have not checked the link yet.

Although nothing can give me back my day, which was spent watching the world from a terminal window, I do appreciate the apology.  But in reality flying is no longer any fun.

Stormy Weather Was My Sister’s Worst Nightmare

3 Jun

Ever since I moved to Kansas over 30 years ago I have been amazed by the storms! Where I grew up in the New Jersey/New York area, you never really saw a storm coming. Yes, the sky turned grey; yes it got windy; yes there was lightening and thunder. But you never actually saw an entire anvil thunderstorm cloud or could see the twirling clouds that at times become tornados.

Over the years I grew used to the sound of the sirens being tested the first Wednesday of every month at 11 am, unless there was bad weather. I learned that a bow hook on a radar echo was a very bad sight to see. The sight of pea size, dime size, nickel size, quarter size and baseball size hail taught us to stay indoors! Oh how I hate to be driving my car when hail starts falling!

I taught my children that when the sirens go off, they go to our basement shelter. No discussion, no arguments, just get the cats and go. And they never argued. Tornados are not something to argue about.

For three years my nephew, my sister’s son, lived in Kansas while he studied at the University of Kansas for his master’s degree. I was not sure how my sister would deal with the stormy weather. You see, my sister is petrified of storms.

It dates back to a storm in the Catskills when she was very young. She insists that I was not there when it happened. But since I remember it just as well, I think she is wrong. And I am 3 ½ years older. So I believe I was there,at least for one storm. The one I remember was frightening enough.

It was in our grandparents’ home in Kauneonga Lake, the big house, which was an all season house, not just a bungalow.   There was a storm going on outside. It might have been the hurricane that came up the coast in the early 1960s. In any case we were watching television and a bolt of lightening hit the house and shot from the television into the refrigerator. It went right past me in the family room. This is what I remember.

My sister has a slightly different memory. But since I am the one blogging, I will go with my memory.

However, being a good sister, I will give her side. She says she was in the kitchen and saw lightening hit the stove as it went past her. “It was right after the kitchen was remodeled, and the lightening broke the clock on the oven.  As you may recall it never worked again.”

“The thing that cemented my terror,” my sister said, “was the power went out (no surprise there) and Grandma took a candle and went all through the house looking for fires from the lightening.” She was “petrified being alone in the dark with just a candle and still seeing the afterimage of the lightening and smelling the burnt insulation from the stove.”

It was absolutely terrifying. To this day, I cannot watch television when there is lightening and thunder. I go around the house turning off computers and televisions. I have a wonderful weather radio I listen to during storms. And with modern technology, I now have a weather ap on my phone to let me know tornado and thunder storm warnings and watches, as well as the radar.

For my sister, who was about four, the memory was paralyzing.   She became absolutely terrified of storms. When thunder and lightening occurred she would cry and need to be held. And since I shared a room, I often shared my bed with her during a nighttime storm.

As we aged, I have to admit, I was not always pleasant about her fears. I remember one storm in particular. She was in middle school, and I was in high school. I woke up during one of the worst thunderstorms I ever heard in the Catskills.. But I kept quiet and did not move. I knew if I said anything, my sister would crawl into bed with me, and I was not in the mood. After a few minutes of listening to the storm, the door opened. My mother was standing there.

“Are you okay?” She asked my sister, who then began to cry. I spoke up. “I knew she would do that,” I whispered.

I got in so much trouble!!! My Mom started yelling at me. “You were awake and you did not help your sister!!!”

Next thing I knew my sister was in my twin bed with me, where she spent the rest of the night. I was doomed from that point on to always share my bed during a storm. I guess it was great practice for years later when I had children.

So flash forward 35 years, and my nephew is now in the land of thunderstorms and tornadoes. My sister was not totally happy about the choice of Kansas as a place to live; although she tried to stay calm about it. She said, “Once my children were born, I made a concerted effort not to show my fear to either of them, and they didn’t know until they were teenagers that I was afraid of storms.”

The only thing that helped my sister at all is that he lived in a basement apartment, so he basically lived in a storm shelter.

I am honestly glad that my sister has never been here for a severe thunderstorm when the rotation starts and we have had to seek shelter. The swirl of the winds, the roar of the thunder, the sudden flashes of lightening make storms furious and intense in Kansas.  Living in Kansas through spring and autumn storms has taught me to be wary and keep aware of changing weather.  I am not sure that my sister would do well living through her worst nightmare.