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In This Time of Asking Forgiveness, I Am Donating to Help Hurricane Survivors

28 Sep


We were in San Juan, Puerto Rico in June.  A lovely island for a day of sight seeing as we cruised the Caribbean.  We took a bus to the Fort in San Juan, and then a walking tour from the Fort back to the ship.   We passed beautiful flowering trees and plants, lush gardens, We toured the Fort that overlooks the ocean and once protected the island from invaders.  We looked down the coast to see the lovely beaches.


But Hurricane Maria has devasted the island.   So many millions without food, water, housing.  Searching for a way off the island, tourists who live elsewhere are stuck, stranded away from their home.  While those whose home is Puerto Rica are afraid of the future.  When where the power grid be repaired, when will the water and the food be available again. When will the roads be fixed.  When will medical care and schools be able to return to normal.


Puerto Rico is one of many islands that faced destruction in the way of Hurricane Irma and Maria, while Florida and Texas also suffered horrors during to hurricane season, Hurricane Harvey and Irma impacted these areas.  Connected to other states and cities,  Florida and Texas are fortunate in that help can come more quickly for these impacted areas, where as the islands of the Caribbean are isolated.

Cruise ships are cancelling vacation cruises in order to help evacuate the islands and bring supplies.  But in reality, there is no tourism or vacation in some sections of the Caribbean now as the destruction of the islands’ infrastructures make tourism impossible.

I cannot go there to help.  But I can donate. I can provide tzedakah to those in need. I chose the “oneamericanappeal.org” that was endorsed by and set up by our five former presidents: Bush, Bush, Carter, Clinton and Obama: Republicans and Democrats coming together to help our citizens in need.

I know that not everyone can help financially.  But those of us who can, must.   The island of Puerto Rico will never be the same.  But perhaps it can even be better as the power grid is rebuilt and the water supply fixed…as it will be updated and modernized. The Virgin Island of St. Thomas was also devastated.  These islands are our responsibility.  The citizens of these islands are citizens of the United States.

It has been a difficult time for many.  Fires in the west and northwest are causing destruction and health issues.  The many hurricanes have devasted areas with their high winds and flooding rains. I also sent sent a donation to help with these disasters as well through the Jewish Federation.

With this season of asking for forgiveness, the time between Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur, I think that doing good for others ,  tzedakah and gemilut Chasadim, shows my commitment to tikkun olam.  As I ask forgiveness for all that I might have done to hurt others during the year, I send donations to help those in need. 

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Learning About The Civil War While in Arkansas

5 Sep

When I woke up Sunday morning, I did not expect my day to end up focused on the Civil War. It was not even a topic that was remotely on my mind. I was in Arkansas visiting friends and we planned a trip over to Bentonville to see another friend who was busy with pet adoptions as they prepared their shelter to take in animals from Houston. 

But politics and the Civil War were waiting for us in Bentonville. 

We arrived in Bentonville exactly on time to walk to the town square and meet up for lunch at a local restaurant.  For those who have not been there, Bentonville is the site of the very first Walmart store.  There,  along the town square, is the Walmart Museum. A peaceful little park with a statue fills the town square.  I was surprised to see an abundance of American flags in the center of the square surrounding the statue. 

American flags surround the the statue in the town square.


My Eureka Springs friend said to my Bentonville friend upon greeting, “Well you have had some excitement here.”  My Bentonville friend, “Don’t even go there!” So of course I needed to know.  That lovely little statute I had seen several times was actually a monument to the Confederate soldiers who lost their lives in two battles near Bentonville, the most important was the Battle of Pea Ridge. 

I  never realized what the statue was before.  We had seen it and walked past it and never really looked at it. But over the last few weeeks, quiet Bentonville had been the scene of protests over this statute.  

We left town square for lunch and all conversation turned to the rescuing of dogs from Houston.  My Bentonville friend was involved with a shelter that was receiving dogs that afternoon that were being transported up from Texas.  The day before a truckload of pet supplies had headed south. My contribution had been cat litter. Our discussion of the Civil War ended as we discussed Houston.   

After lunch we left Bentonville and headed back to Eureka Springs on a different road. As we traveled, we planned the rest of the day. My husband was checking his phone to see what was around when he came upon the Pea Ridge National Park.  We had recently purchased our life time National Park passes and were excited to use them.  We were not sure what we would see.  But were delighted.  It is a gem!

Pea Ridge Battlefield.


Who know that one of the most important and vicious battles of the Civil War took place in Arkansas?  Not me!  The battle that changed the direction of the war was here!  16,000 Confederate soldiers  met 10,000 Union soldiers on Pea Ridge in March 1862.  At the end of the two-day battle almost 3500 soldiers were dead.  Many more were wounded. This battle changed the balance of power of the Civil War in Missouri.  It was here that the Union defeated the largest Confederate army ever brought together and due to that defeat were able to keep the Confederate soldiers out of Missouri and head south to split the Confederacy in half. This battle basically set the course for a Union win. 

Elk Horn Inn was a privately own home used as a field hospital.


Here at the battle site stands the recreated Elk Horn Inn, which served as a field hospital, where soldiers from both sides were treated and many died during the two day battle. (Right in front of this building runs the Mikitary Trail road. This road was also the path of Cherokee Nation on the Trail of Tears. Over 11,000 Cherokee passed this inn between 1837-39.)

  Although many soldiers were originally buried at this site, the graves of the soldiers were disinterred in the late 1880s and moved to two cemeteries: one for Union soldiers and one for Confederate soldiers, both in Fayetteville.  But in a field near the Inn are two monuments that were placed in a plea for unification. 

The large open field where the soldiers met is reminiscent of Gettysburg.  In watching the movie at the museum and walking through the museum displays, one can feel the sorrow that this battle caused. One sign commented that local farmers could not plant crops that year due to the destruction and the blood soaked lands. Agriculture was destroyed. 

We drove the circuit around the battlefield, stopping at several key sites. This was a battle for our nation’s soul. This was a battle that changed the course of the war. And so many lives were lost. We spoke to park rangers at the Inn who explained in more detail what had happened there.  

When we drive from my friend’s home in Eureka Springs to Bentonville, we pass a house where the owner flies the Confederate flag. That always angers us. Why fly this sign of hate?  Why not honor those who died by joining together to work in unity, and as is honored at the Pea Ridge site unification. 


In the car on the way back we discussed the Pea Ridge site. The impact of what we had seen. The next day, the local newspaper, “The Northwest Arkansas Democratic Register, had an article about discussions the Bentonville  community will have in a public forum. 

My personal opinion: The statue of the Confederate soldier should be moved. If it was a statue honoring both sides, I would feel differently. But it is not. I believe it could be moved to the Confederate Cemetary in Fayetteville. A plaque explaining its history should be placed by it. 

I am not for destroying monuments, I am for placing them in sites where their value as a lesson could be used. We should not be honoring those who battled to destroy the United States through treason and sedition.  But we also can never forget what happened here in the Civil War. Losing that memory will also remove our collective history. And we should never forget that in slavary human beings were once treated as cattle.  And that is wrong.  

The Way to My Husband’s Heart is Ice Cream

31 Aug

During a recent conversation with my daughter, I realized that even my children understand that their Dad loves ice cream more than any other food. She was discussing a man at work, who when offered ice cream, said something to the effect that he loved ice cream and if they wanted any, they should take it now because he would eat it all. And he did.

In telling me about it, she said, it made her laugh so much because he ate ice cream the way Daddy did. She was actually still laughing when she told me how he put the spoon in the ice cream and just dug in.

I knew exactly what she meant. My husband eats ice cream with gusto! He scoops his ice cream with a whole heart and a big spoon.   My husband does not savor his ice cream. He devours it!   He absolutely loves ice cream. He even rates his travels on how good the ice cream is. We have tasted ice cream across the USA and in countries far and wide.

Although he speaks a bit of Spanish and Mandarin, my husband’s word of choice in any language is Ice Cream. In Italy it is Gelato. When in Milan, my husband ate ice cream every single day from the ice cream parlor around the corner from our hotel. On our last day, he went back for a second treat before we left. I would say he loved that ice cream.

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The most delicious ice cream in Rome, Italy.

In Rome, a friend of his took us to the La Gelateria Frigidarium, a place he called the best ice cream ever. And he was so right. I loved it because they had sorbet. But this sorbet was so creamy, I was sure it had dairy in it. But it did not!!! Yum. My husband had three scoops there. I know if we had stayed longer in Rome, there would have been many trips to Frigidarium. As it is, we recommend it to anyone heading to Rome.

His least favorite ice cream was in Turkey. He said they put taffy in it, which destroy the value of true ice cream. He is an ice cream purest. But he still ate it. Ice cream addicts need their fix.

When we were in Israel in December, we took a private tour in Tel Aviv. My husband was interested, but not so much as we walked through an outdoor pedestrian shopping area. Shopping is not his favorite thing to do. As the guide and I were talking, I noticed my husband stopping. One word came from his lips, “Galida.” Ice cream; his one real word in Hebrew.

The tour came to a thirty-minute stop as we all had an ice cream treat. The guide said, “This is a great idea, especially when I have children on a tour. From now on, I am stopping here for a treat as we do the tours.” I am glad my husband’s ice cream fanaticism helped the tour guide with future successes.

Last week when we went to see the eclipse in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, he found Moo’s Gourmet Ice Cream in Jackson. I enjoyed the Huckleberry sorbet the one time I went.   I am not sure all the flavors he tried over his multiple trips to Moo’s.

In February of 2016, my husband, sister and I went to Universal Studios in Florida. We had two-day passes. On the first day, while my sister and I used a rest room on our way out of the park, my husband found an ice cream parlor. He loved the ice cream, so we had to have some as well. It was great for me, as they had sorbet. The next day, we had a planned stop for ice cream there as we left the park. My husband was so excited when he found out it was part of a national chain, with a store not too far from our home…about four miles. Stone Cold Creamery was his new favorite ice cream.

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Out of the hospital for about 20 minutes. The smile is for ice cream.

This past year he had to have some major surgery. On the day he was released from the hospital, I took him to Cold Stone Creamery for a treat. It might have been hard for some people to eat ice cream with a neck brace on, but not my husband.

I posted a picture of him, and a few days later, he received gift cards in the mail from some of his friends so he could get more ice cream. Two weeks later, when the neck brace came off, I took him back for more.

The way to my husband’s heart is ice cream. The way to cure pain of surgery is ice cream. The way to deal with stress is ice cream. The way to end a day is ice cream. I know my husband loves our children and me. I even joke with him by saying, “I love you more than ice cream.” But when it comes down to it, sometimes I am not quite sure if he has the same sentiment.

PS: my 96 year old grandfather died after eating ice cream. His last words were, “yum, delicious.”  I hope, way in the future,  my husband’s ending is as happy.  

The Grand Teton National Park Combines History And Nature

29 Aug

The Grand Tetons


As I ate lunch in the Jackson Lake Lodge in Grand Teton National Park and stared out the windows at the marshland and the mountains, I could not help but wonder ‘what if?’ 

What if John D. Rockefeller had not come to Jackson Hole? What if the beauty of these mountains and the need to preserve the land had not touched his heart? What if the strong opposition to the creation of another national park so close to Yellowstone has persevered?  What if there was not a wealthy Rockefeller who was willing to spend his own money to buy up thousand upon thousands of acres of land and then donate it to the National Parks?  

What if?

But he did come out to Wyoming and preserve the beauty of the Grand Teton National Park.  

Jenny Lake ( Photo by my husband.)


Who knew there were 12 glaciers high in there jagged mountains!  Not me!  And the stunning lakes, like Jenny Lake and Jackson Lake waiting to be explored. Even the Visitor Centers are lovely. Especially the Laurence Rockefeller Center with its meditation room which surrounds you in the calming sounds of the forests. A short walk to the waterfall at this  Center brings you past a stunning river scene. 

An abandoned barn in Mormons Row.


Then there are the historical buildings and sites within the park. A small Episcopal Chapel — The Chapel of the Transfiguration– with the most stunning view. Praying would be easy there as you look toward the mountains and see the glory of nature. The settlers houses from the late 1800s and early 1900s are somewhat preserved so you can see how the original settlers lived before modern conveniences. It must have been so cold!  We walked down park of Mormons’ Row. A settlement that is now mostly abandoned homes and barns where a Mormon Community once thrived. Now there is just one active homestead belonging to a family who runs a bed and breakfast. 

Seeing the site of the ferry that once took settlers across the river in safety and the home where the ferry owner lived and opened a small outpost, reminds you that the settlers did not have cars and bridges. 

I think it is best to go to Grand Teton Park before going to Yellowstone. This way you learn the history of the area and the ‘ normal’ natural beauty of the Jackson Hole area before going up the mountains to the weird and amazing beauty of Yellowstone.  Most important you learn of the people who persevered to settle in the stunning, but relentless mountains of Wyoming.  

Yellowstone Astonishes!

24 Aug

Are there even words to describe Yellowstone National Park?  I am not sure. The words I know seem simplistic and inadequate. 

Old Faithful


The sights to be seen at this gigantic nature preserve are unique.  The vistas are beyond breathtaking. The geysers, hot springs, mineral deposits, steam vents, boiling mud and crystal blue ponds so close together astounds the mind. The waterfalls throughout the park are majestic.  The hot water waterfall sprewing mineral rich waters seems unreal. While the lower falls coming from the Yellowstone River at the edge of the multicolored Grand Csnyon is stunning as the water’s spray glistens in the sunlight. 


As we waited for Old Faithful geyser to erupt, with thousands of others, we could feel the excitement build as tiny jets of swater realeased in the air. I could hear the rumble of the ground. A few minutes before the main eruption began I felt a slight tremble in the ground beneath me. Then behold a stream of atomized water flew in a tower above us!  We saw four other geysers erupt during our day at the park. 

Bison crossing a river.


Then there are the wildlife: bear (we saw the flash of one along the side of a road); bison (we saw three groups totaling over 100 bison, as well as many single bison relaxing in the park); elk (one hiding in the trees); deer (another watching us from the woods); pronghorn deer and a beaver happily swimming. 

Yellowstone River and falls in the Grand Canyon.


I think my favorite was the Lower waterfall on the Yellowstone River that leads into the Grand Canyon. What an impressive site! The colors of the canyons walls are so unusual. 

Now that I know the park is situated above a giant magma field and that a large section of the park is a gigantic caldera, I am even more intrigued by this treasure.  I can see why the first explorers were so insistent that it become a National Park. The first one so proclaimed. 

The Lobby of Old Faithful Lodge


The lodges and the hotels are also memorable.  Old Faithful Lodge with it’s wooden logs and 76 foot ceilings. The Lake Lodge in its bright yellow, recalling the opulent travel of the wealthy in the 19th century.  

We have so much more to see, but not enough time.  We have to come back!!!  Luckily we are now officially seniors and we were  able to purchase a lifetime pass for the parks for only $10.   They soon rise steeply in price. Getting them in Wyoming was an added bonus. 

When I return I plan to spend two nights in the park. There is so much we did not get to see. This taste of Yellowstone has me Yearning for more! To be honest, seeing Yellowstone ALMOST eclipsed the Eclipse! 

Yet Another Disney Adventure Begins

29 Jun

I have a secret, well not so secret vice, I love all things Disney. My kitchen includes Mickey/Minnie dishes and silverwear.  I have Disney tea towels and bath towels. I even have a Mickey toaster that burns the Mickey ears into my toast. 


I have been to Disneyland in California five times. The first was in 1980 when we still used coupons to get on the rides. And DisneyWorld. I think I have been here nine times. And to be honest, I have gone several times without any children.  I go for my own enjoyment.  

I am back in Orlando for another Disney holiday. My husband has a meeting and I came along for the adventure. While he is giving lectures, I will be at Magic Kingdom with my brother in law and his significant other. They have season passes.  Yes, my brother in law loves Disney even more than I do! He has even run in the Disney marathons. I think just to get the medals. 

In any case, two days in Orlando means a day at Epcot and a day in an enchanted world. And for those Universal addicts, I was there last year and I do love Harry Potter World and Susical Land. But really nothing compares with Disney. 

Since I live in the Kansas City area, I feel another point of affinity. Walt Disney actually started his career in KC, and there is an effort underway to restore his original studio. 

And yes I know that that Mr Disney was not always the nicest of people even though he gave us wonderful animated movies. But on the other hand he opened Disneyland the year I was born! I grew up watching the Wonderful World of Disney on television. Who can ever forget those shows? Not me. 

Some might say that Mr. Disney was a bit anti-Semitic. It could be true. But I am the proud owner a several Disney Hanukkah decorations, including a hanukkiah.  

My parents never took us there. But I have made up for this many times.  One of my favorite trips, besides the many times with different family members, was taking a childhood friend for her first Disney adventure over seven years ago. It is great going with someone who has never experienced it before. What a trip. 

I will say, the only time I would not return is on December 26.  I did that once in California.  My cousin and I took three children.  It was a bit of a nightmare!  So many people. So many long lines.  But I got the best hat ever, a wizard hat from the “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” that lights up. It was great for the kids to stay with us as it got dark out.  I still wear it for special occasions. 


I even purchased special Minnie ears for my daughter to wear at her bridal shower. I guess the purple ribbons and veil called out my name.  And my understanding daughter wore it! 

So here I am back in Orlando. I am so happy to be going to DisneyWorld tomorrow. Another adventure begins. 

A Wonderful Gift At Crystal Bridges

20 Jun

With so much focus on people acting in mean and nasty ways, I think it is important to focus on people who do unexpected nice actions.   My friend and I were the recipients of one such wonderful gift.

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Outside Chihuly Exhibit 

This past weekend I went to Bentonville, Arkansas, to see the Chihuly exhibit at the Crystal Bridges Museum.  I love Chihuly’s art and was looking forward to seeing both the inside and outside installations.   My friend was kind enough to buy our tickets in advance, so that we had no problems getting in and seeing this amazing sampling of his work. (See link below for more on Chihuly.)

While we were walking outside, I saw the Frank Lloyd Wright House that had recently been moved and renovated on the museum’s grounds. The Bachman Wilson House is a wonderful example of his style. We walked up to the house, even though there were no longer tickets available for the day, hoping to at least see the outside.

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Kiosk with info about the house… And the couple who gave us the tickets!!! How lucky that I had unknowingly taken their photo.

On the way to the house is a small kiosk with information about Wright and his more famous structures. We spoke to a couple who were also reading the information. And had a lovely conversation about Wright. Then we all walked up to the house.

When we got there, we asked the attendant if we could at least walk around the house even though we did not have tickets to enter. She said, “Of Course.” So we went on our way.

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Frank Lloyd Wright house.  No photos are allowed inside.

A few minutes later she called us back. The couple we had met, had been to the house when it first opened, and gave us their tickets!!! They wanted us to be able to see the inside as well. My friend started to cry, she was so happy.

At first, we declined, we did not want to disrupt their visit. But they insisted. I turned to the attendant and said, “That is so nice.” She agreed and said to them, “Why don’t you go into the house as well.” So they had the opportunity to see the house as well, but without the headsets to hear the history of the house. Those they insisted that we use.

Visiting Bentonville and the Crystal Bridges Museum is well worth the trip south.   But the added bonus is meeting such lovely people. Seeing this house from both the outside and the inside made such an impression.

We thanked them several times that day….as we crossed their path in the museum. It was such a wonderful gift!

 

https://zicharonot.wordpress.com/2016/06/10/chihuly-stunning/