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Jigsaw Puzzles and True Love

13 Jan

A jigsaw puzzle in progress can almost always be found in my family room.  My husband loves to work on them, especially after a long day of work. It is his way of unwinding and relaxing. Many evenings we sit in the family room, him finding the right piece for the right spot, while I am busy crocheting my next creation. It is peaceful and fun as we chat, or even sit comfortably in silence.

We have found that jigsaw puzzles are wonderful for opening a conversation. People who come to our house for the first time, will often sit at the table and start working on the puzzle. Then they start to talk.  It takes the stress out trying to make conversation for some. To be truthful I think jigsaw puzzles should be part of every host/hostess’ repertoire entertainment.

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Our son in law had two of his brothers working on a puzzle.

When our daughter got married, her future husband and two of his brothers stayed at our house for several days before the wedding (They are Canadian.). The jigsaw puzzle was a great success.  In fact, his brother, the best man, said during his toast that he was worried at first about staying in our house. “But once I got there, I saw a jug of real maple syrup in the refrigerator and a jigsaw puzzle on the table.  And I knew it would be just fine.”  And it was.

Almost everyone enjoys them. And even those who do not, will sit around and talk while others complete the puzzle. When we have a house filled with guests, we make sure one is always out. Whenever there is down time, someone can be found working on the puzzle.

My sister and her family are great puzzle workers.  We got our jigsaw puzzle love from my Dad.  We often had a jigsaw puzzle going on the table in the Catskills.  Great rainy day activity!  I also remember the one we could never finish!! It was so difficult!  But I digress.

Recently a friend came over with her 7-year-old granddaughter. She was amazed when she saw my husband working on his 1000-piece puzzle.  “I have never seen a puzzle with so many pieces before,” She stated. “How do you know where to begin.” My husband had a great time talking to her about puzzles! He welcomed her to come back any time to work on one. I do know that she was gifted a 300-piece puzzle for Christmas, which was put together by her family.

As my sign of love, I usually buy my husband jigsaw puzzles for his birthday, Fathers’ Day and as Hanukkah gifts.  I search them out. The best stores I have found for puzzles are Tuesday Morning and JoAnn’s Fabric. But I have found some on line and in specialty stores. I am always searching and keeping a stash hidden and ready for a celebration.

This year I went out of control in my puzzle buying.  My husband had surgery in July, and I thought jigsaw puzzles would be great entertainment during his time away from work. I knew he would be bored so I purchased 15 puzzles!  It did not work out as I thought, as he had a brace on his neck and could not look down.  The jigsaw puzzles stayed in their boxes for months. Finally, we could take them out and work on putting them together. The good thing about puzzles is that they do not go bad!

I do not always buy them.  I have found that jigsaw puzzle enthusiasts will trade puzzles when they are done.  Which we have done. I have met friends in parking lots and at home to exchange a bundle or trash bag filled with boxes of puzzles.  My husband always puts the puzzle pieces into a ziplock bag after completing one and then into the box. And we have found other true puzzle enthusiasts do the same.

I have a friend with a second- hand store.  She is great about giving us puzzles she thinks he will like so that he can put them together and see if any pieces are missing!  Then we return them with the answer to that important questions, “Are all the pieces there?”. I will admit that there was one puzzle my husband loved so much that was missing a piece. He spent days working to make a new piece for it.  I won’t go into detail, but I will say he did a wonderful job.

Friends and family members often purchase puzzles for him. They are the perfect gift. No matter how many we have, we always have room for more. I see the gift of a new puzzle as a sign of love.

We have another couple with whom we get together every so often. They also love to compete jigsaw puzzles. Twice now we have tried to finish a 500-piece puzzle in one evening.  Each of us takes a different part to work on.  It makes for an enjoyable evening for all of us.

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I think I will sit right here!

One major issue in working with the puzzles our tortoiseshell cat.  She seems to think the puzzles are there for her to enjoy.  We often see her trying to get into the box and run off with one of the pieces.   Her favorite place to sit is in the middle of a not yet completed puzzle… as we are working on it.  She believes we should be paying full attention to her and not the puzzle.  It is a dilemma because if we chase her off, she disrupts the puzzle.

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Current puzzle with the plastic cover!

We have been covering up the puzzles with old poster board when we weren’t working on them to protect them from our cat.  But now, we no longer have to do that!  Our son’s girlfriend gave us the best ever gift!  She purchased a sheet of clear plastic and four clear placemats for us to put over the puzzles when they are not being used.  It is great!   We can still see the puzzle, but our cat cannot mess it up when she sits on it.

Since I usually purchase the puzzles, I chose topics that I enjoy as well: Disney, cats, travels.  For my husband, I find space related puzzles, or Star Trek and Star Wars themes.  The one we are working on right now combines our loves; it is a jigsaw puzzle about knitting and crocheting. I realized my husband was at a disadvantage with this one, when I said, “That purple piece goes with the doily on top.”  And he said, “What doily?  Now I know he knows what a doily is, but these were very small and not what he was used to seeing.

We actually know someone who owns a jigsaw puzzle company.  I have been trying to arrange a visit to it for my husband for over a year now.  First, we were gone.  Then my husband needed surgery.  Then they were gone. I know it has to happen.  My husband is intrigued by the thought of seeing how the puzzles are made in person.  We did see an episode of “How It Is Made” that showed the process. But in person would be so much better.

My husband is extremely kind in his jigsaw puzzle work.  He knows that I am competitive and like to be the ‘winner.’   He always saves the last piece of every puzzle for me, and says, “Okay, here is the last piece, so you can complete the puzzle.”  In this way, I can say I finished every puzzle.  That my friends IS true love.

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The Purloined Blankets: A Winter’s Tale

30 Dec
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Blue purloined blanket and plaid purchased blanket.

With the bitter cold weather, I am thinking about my Dad and one of his lessons to me.

Always keep a blanket in the car during the winter months, especially when driving long distances.  His insistence about blankets used to drive me crazy.

My parents would come to Kansas to visit and not understand the Kansas winter mentality. Many people here do not wear winter coats most of the time.  Since we have a ‘drive up to where you are going attitude’ in the suburbs.  We really do not walk around that much.  We get into our cars and drive to where we are going, then run in.  So why wear a winter coat? A sweater is more than enough. I admit when I was younger, I would do the same thing.  But I always kept my children bundled up.

This attitude sometimes backfires on our children.  My god son went from the Kansas City area to Madison, Wisconsin, for college.  His mom suggested that he take long sleeve shirts and a winter coat up to college with him, his freshman year.  No, he did not want any of that.  Then came Thanksgiving break.  His main request was a hat with ear flaps.  He was so cold walking across campus.  Winter coat, gloves, scarf and long sleeve shirts returned with him to Madison.

My daughter went to college in New Jersey.  She also was impacted by winter in this unexpected manner. Walking across campuses really is different than Kansas ‘run in and run out.’  Her request that first winter was a coat that covered her tush. I quickly agreed to that request.

But back to my Dad.  When my family was young, we often drove to and from St. Louis in the winter months.  My husband’s family lived there. It made my parents nervous.  So they purchased a plaid blanket for my car in case the car broke down.  Having a blanket in the car was their idea of safety against the cold of winter.

He also purchased a car emergency kit for me that had a first kit, jumper cables and a flash light. Even though that kit is long gone, I have made sure we always had one in every car. That makes sense to me. So I never argued about that.

It was the blankets in the car that really drove him crazy. He wanted me to have a blanket for each person in the car. What would happen if we were stuck? We needed a way to keep warm. His passion became stronger after the time my husband, children and I got stuck in a snow storm on the way back from St. Louis.  But we spent the night in Columbia…at a hotel… I told him.   It did not matter.  He was now truly concerned. I  needed blankets,  now!

Dad did buy me another blanket.  But I have to admit, even though he was an honorable, kind and gentle man, my Dad had one flaw that I hesitate to tell you about. But I will.  He was a bit of a goniff, a thief!  He stole the blue blankets from airlines. Do you remember them?  We used to get one each time we flew…not any more.  But years ago, they always had a blanket and pillow on every seat. (His favorite airline blanket….Continental.  The airline no longer exists, except for the many blue blankets in my life.)

Dad would not use his.  He would bring in to my house still wrapped in its plastic bag. It made me crazy. When he flew to visit in the winter time, he often would come off the plane with a blanket. When he got to my house, he would pull it out of his carryon bag and quietly place it in my car.  I soon had a collection of blue blankets. During the winter, I kept a canvas bag filled with blankets in my car in case of emergency. Some purchased, some purloined.

We had disagreement after disagreement as the blue blankets continued to enter my home.  Finally my Mom had enough.  “Don’t tell him not to bring you the blankets.  The more you complain, the more he does it,” Mom demanded.  She was right, once I stopped yelling at him and arguing, he stopped taking the blankets off the planes.

Dad passed away in 2011.  I no longer worry about the blankets in the car.  Or so I thought.

My son’s girlfriend lives over an hour away. They drive back and forth every weekend. One coming here, or one going there.  It is so cold today and she has to drive home, so I asked, “Do you have a blanket in your car?” The answer, “NO.”

Oy,  I feel my Dad’s spirit rising up in me!

The plaid blanket my Dad purchased for me over 30 years ago is going into my son’s girlfriend’s car. My son will get the canvas bag filled with purloined blankets.  When it is this cold, you do need a blanket in your car for long distance travel!

As we enter the new year, I realized more and more that we do become our parents. My sister also has our Dad’s safety gene. She gave me a Vera Bradley blanket that folds into a pillow for Hanukkah. It is my new car blanket.

Wishing everyone a safe, warm, and happy memory filled year!

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/

Why I Marched

22 Jan
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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!!!

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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.