juliespeaks

The unvoiced thoughts and ideas of a septegenarian.

NEW POST – WE WON

WE WON

Who are they, those people called Jews?

They’re the people who won. Despite exile, freedom wrestled away, their temples destroyed, their people tormented, their homeland ruled by Babylonians, Romans, Muslims, Crusaders, and six million of their people killed they survived and came home.

They rose above those who delight in their persecution. They stood, tall – pride in tact – heads held high and they won. They won a very small parcel of land, surrounded, outnumbered by enemies on every side: foes who adopted violence – the last refuge of the incompetent

They won thousands of the homeless and the persecuted; They stretched out hands of welcome; offered hope and a home. They won the right to assist others in need and offered assistance to those suffering from life-threatening diseases, natural disasters. They won the privilege of making advances in science and medicine, making the world a bit better for others. They won the right to be proud of being the only country in the Middle Eastwhich stands for peace and human rights. They won the honor to be called a light unto the nations.

Every day, in every place, they win the applause of their brothers and sisters and sometimes others as well. If you say “others have accomplished the same,” I’ll agree.

They’ve no monopoly on brilliance, inventions, compassion. That does not negate what they’ve won.

Julie Rose

Leave a comment »

NEW POST – DID YOU WIN?

DID YOU WIN?

Don’t we all dream of   winning the lottery?  I once asked somebody what he’d do with the money if he won it. His answer threw me off track. He said he’d use it to establish an animal sanctuary, a violin institute and a night club for stand up comedians.  Certainly I’m in favor of the protection of animals but I’d be more inclined to use the funds for the benefit of mankind rather than animals.  The night club tells me he wants some fun out of the money.  Isn’t it strange that his idea of fun is such a night club rather than a trip to some far off place? The violin institute is an admirable goal but I find the other two questionable.

He then asked me how I would spend it?  I didn’t have to think long before I answered. I’d probably establish one or more schools where every child would learn the three things I believe every kid is entitled to.  He’d become bi-lingual (maybe tri-lingual); he’d master some musical instrument; he’d become proficient at one sport.  That is in addition to the required curriculum.  Scholarships would be established for kids whose families couldn’t afford the tuition..  No school district I’ve ever heard of has those priorities.  Some parents make an attempt to fill in those gaps and as a result we have over-programmed, frustrated kids, who get a taste of a dozen sundaes and never get to eat a whole one.

I’d fund grants for artists and writers. We need such people. Their creativity and imagination are the foundation for any advances made in technology, medicine and education.  The robots our public school system turn out are incapable of making such advancements.

I’d hold back enough to fulfill some long-standing dreams – a Mediterranean cruise through theGreekIslands– some time inHawaii– a trip around Europe visiting the world’s great museums. I’d buy a condo inIsraelwhere I’d live when I wasn’t traveling.  The truth of the matter, however, is that physically I couldn’t handle traveling like that so it’s all wishful thinking.

And, P.S. – I’ve never bought a lottery ticket!

How would you spend your winnings?

Julie Rose

Leave a comment »

NEW POST – USIANS

USIANS

In the context of describing a school teacher, I once coined a new word. I thought it was pretty clever and patted myself on the back. She called her students alphamorinic.  Then along came a friend who suddenly popped up with ‘Usians.’  “Excuse me,” I said. “What are Usians?”  A log discussion ensued.

He was referring to the population of theU.S.as being one of consumers.  He called us selfish. One does not usually think of the U .S. as selfish. We do, after all, assist other countries, grant loans, subsidize them.  He said that despite the fact that we grow enough wheat to provide every person on the planet with several loaves of bread, the wheat doesn’t make it to areas suffering from famine.   That may be true but I don’t think it’s a matter of selfishness. Certainly politics, tribal warfare, governmental policies come into play. However, I had to agree we are Usians.  Much to the delight of manufacturers, We do buy too much; often too much of what we don’t need.

I often drive on an expressway with an exit leading to an upscale sopping mall. Invariably there is a back-up on the exit ramp of Ferraris, jaguars, etc. driven by women who will buy another pair of shoes to add to the 50 pairs they already own.  Nobody ever taught them that happiness is when what you have is all you need.

When I drive though certain neighborhoods during a holiday season I am astonished by the amount of money people spend to decorate their homes. Inflated giant sized ghosts and witches at Halloween; elaborate crèches and Santa with all twelve of his reindeer at Christmas and dozens of bunnies and eggs at Easter all point to an owner who is a Usian.  I find it pitiful that the dollars spent for that sort of thing could have been used to feed someone who is hungry or buy books for dozens of kids.  That, I think, is selfishness indeed.

I think the user mentality is related to the “I” generation – those who operate on the principle that everyone is entitled to everything by virtue of being alive. And so, the “I” generation is a generation of consumers who buy and buy some more.   Here’s an illustrative true story that exemplifies the mentality of the “I” generation.  One day I passed a magazine rack and the lead article in one publication was “PENIS SIZES OF THE STARS.”  I walked away snickering. Are we talking length or circumference? Who measured them and why?  And who the hell cares?

I’m happy to report that I am not a Usian.  I am frugal but not cheap.  Though there are things I would like to have, I don’t buy them.  I have given my china and silver to my children and there are times when I miss having them.  I used to take great delight in setting a beautiful table.  Now I am content with a minimum of dishes and, if necessary,  plastic silverware. Just this week I decided my fifteen year old winter jacket should be replaced. I did not run to a shopping mall and search for a new jacket among half a dozen stores where I would have found one for far more than the five dollars I spent at a resale shop. What I have is all I need.

Since being introduced to the concept of Usians I often wonder how much different society would be without them.

What do you think?

Julie Rose

Leave a comment »

NEW POST – SQUINTING

SQUINTING

I asked someone what he thought I meant by ‘squinting.’  He replied he thought squinting meant being able to look at something as a video rather than a photo.  I assumed that meant to look at things as unstatic, changeable, to see variations,  to see the shades of gray rather than  looking  at everything as  though it was black or white.   That’s close but it isn’t quite what I mean by the word.

Most of us do look at things as though they were black or white and fail to see the many shades of gray.  It’s either raining or it’s not. For people unable to squint it’s never misty. For them, a movie is either good or bad. They are unable to appreciate the director’s role, the vibrancy of the physical settings or a part of the dialogue that was exceptionally witty.  If they knew how to squint that wit might have led to an interesting conversation or a trip to the library for more of the same.

As I understand it, squinting encompasses the use of one’s imagination.  When I was a child, I’d lie on my back in the sand, surrounded by ducks parading on a small lake, weeping willows rustling on the shore, and  I’d gaze up at the sky. I saw a puppy in one cloud, a crown in another and a teapot in a third. That day dreaming taught me to look at things with a sort of mental squint. It was a building block called imagination, the foundation for whatever creativity I possess.

Imagination is the beginning of creation. We’d have no planes or computers without it. The problems of the world cannot be solved by skeptics or cynics. We need men have learned to squint – who can dream – men who understand that while knowledge is limited imagination encircles the world. A man without imagination is like an observatory without a telescope. He is a rowboat without an oar, a deck of cards without the aces. He has no wings.

You have not learned to squint if you look at the ocean and do not see the coral; if you see a pile of rocks and do not see a cathedral. There’s a little voice in our heads that says “Wouldn’t it be interesting if.” Trust it. There’s another voice that whispers “What if.” Trust that one too.

A child’s first reader ought to be Dr. Seuss for he had it right. “You’ll be surprised what there is to be found once you go beyond “Z” and start poking around”

A question.  Is the ability to squint confined to seeing or can it be applied to thinking as well?  What do you think?

Squint!

Julie Rose

Leave a comment »

NEW POST – TOLERATION

TOLERATION

I’m a pretty flexible person but, exclusive of such personality types as egotists and racists, there are a few things I cannot tolerate.  I cannot sit at a table with dirty dishes in front of me or those around me.  I am impelled to rise the moment the last fork is laid down and clear the table. I will not eat food that is not well prepared and served attractively. If it looks like yesterday’s oatmeal, out it goes.

I’ve been called a word snob and to some extent that is true. I can’t abide seeing or hearing the English language slaughtered. If you can’t spell sagacious, use wise instead. Don’t try to tell me that language changes and therefore it’s acceptable to write a sentence with no verb.  I agree it changes but awesome to me is not awesome to a teen ager these days. The meaning of that word and others have suffered generational surgery.

The one thing I abhor above all else is intrusive noise.  The advent of the Sony Walkman only means that more and more people listen less and less to themselves. The blare of the TV set or the car radio equates to people unable to communicate with each other. For the same reason, lawn mowers and leaf blowers are evil things. I once had a dryer that sang to me.  When the cycle was finished it played,  How Dry I Am.”  It would’t stop when I said ‘shut up’ so I kicked it.  The damn thing  kept  playing.

For many years I lived with someone who had the same aversion to noise to such an extent that we were forced to move three times because of small children running back and forth over our heads. One of those apartments was on a street frequently used by the fire department and at least five times a day the shrill sirens of fire trucks invaded our apartment. It drove us both crazy.

I understand hermits – people who choose to live isolated, quiet lives – who can read a book uninterrupted by NOISE.  I couldn’t cut myself off from all civilization but I’d relish an environment that allowed me to have an uninterrupted conversation with another or permit me to just think and reflect.

What bugs you?

Julie Rose

Leave a comment »

NEW POST – WRINKLES

WRINKLES

It was Mark Twain who said: “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter”  I like Mark Twain but he was wrong on this score. It does matter.

Maturing requires effort. By the time you have made yourself what you are you’d better be satisfied for you will have to live with this person the rest of your life. One of the good things about it is that whatever advice you offer comes from experience and is more thoughtful than what you might have said at 20 or 40. It seems to me the first 40 years give us the text: the next 30 furnish the commentary. I’ve adopted two mottos to guide me as the years quickly pass by. I never say ‘I don’t have time.” If I don’t take time to smell the lilacs their sweet aroma will vanish before I do. I never say ‘See  you later.’ Later may never come and a hug or a handshake is for today.

I have the aches and pains common to my age. I need help shoveling snow, am cautious about climbing on a stool. I live in fear of a day that might come when I should no longer drive.  I am not fearful of death though I hope it waits a few more years to claim me. I tell myself the gray of my hair is no indication of the age of my heart or my mind.  I can’t turn back the clock but I can rewind it and I try to remember that a mind lift beats a face lift. It’s all right with me if I shuffle slower as I grow older as long as I still have a full deck

Another way of looking at this is to ask myself if I’d like to be a child again.  Sometimes I would. If I was a child again I’d practice the piano as directed so my lessons weren’t terminated and not spend the rest of my life regretting it. Once again I’d experience the awe that arises from the sight of stars, rainbows and lightening, snowflakes and daisies

We’ll never be children again, We spend some time in our later years, urging our kids to practice their instruments, do their homework, offering them no end of options, treating our grandchildren to the circus, blowing them kisses with chocolate chip cookies

The aging process has us firmly in hand if we never get the urge to throw a snowball. Nobody relishes growing older but wrinkles don’t hurt. Our children and grandchildren don’t mind a few wrinkles either.

Julie Rose

Leave a comment »

NEW POST – HYPATIA

HYPATIA – A CHILDREN’S STORY

Since the beginning of time mankind has faced tragedies – famine, war, ghettos and more.  I have always felt the burning of  the Alexandria Library to be one of the greatest tragedies ever to befall mankind.

This story introduces children to Hypatia, the first notable woman in the field of mathematics, teacher of Plato, who also taught philosophy and astronomy. The Royal Library of Alexandria was a major center of scholarship from its construction in the third century BC  until the Roman conquest of Egypt in 30 BC when it was burned to the ground. It’s contents – works from scholars throughout the ancient world – were lost. It was like all the works of Shakespeare having been consigned to a fire, leaving only one of his plays.  Hypatia was attacked by a mob of Christians and slaughtered.  I like to think of her as the founder of the women’s movement.

This story is suitable for children about five to eleven and serves as a basis for discussion of Greek history for older kids.

 

HYPATIA, THE TEACHER

            “It’s not going to happen,” Hypatia said to the Old Witch. “Those two little girls are not going to be left to the teachers to squash their intellect and their curiosity. I’m not going to allow it!”

The Old Witch took three steps back and sat down on the edge of Hypatia’s bed. Underneath Hypatia’s words she sensed a feeling of boredom. It seemed to her that Hypatia wanted to feel useful.

“I see,” said the Old Witch. “Just what do you intend to do about it? I don’t think their parents would take kindly to removing them from school.”

“Oh, they don’t have to do that, Miss O.W.  They can just come here – come to my school – after their school or after dinner. I just need one or two hours a day with them. Do you remember Sally saying she liked a challenge and they both wanted to try to make that Spelling Bee?  Well – I’m going to challenge them all right!”

The Old Witch said, “Do you think they’d want to do that Hypatia?”

A big question mark came over Hypatia’s face. She crossed her fingers on both hands and said, “I surely hope so. First, I’m going to actually apply for the job. Will you please send a telepathic message to Sally asking her to bring Sara and come to see me tomorrow?”

“I’ll do that,” said the Old Witch. “We’ll talk more about this later.” Then she stood up and headed for the door but Hypatia called out after her, “Oh – one more thing Miss O.W. I’m going to need two desks or a long table, a couple of bookcases and a big blackboard.”

The Old Witch nodded her head and gave Hypatia a  thumbs up signal.

As soon as the Old Witch was gone, Hypatia pulled a chair up to her desk and began to plan. The first thing she did was to compose a resume that listed all of her experience and qualifications. When the girls came tomorrow, she wanted to impress them and apply for the job.  Here is what she wrote.

Name:                          Hypatia

Age:                             About 1660 years old

Place of Birth:              Alexandria,Greece

Position Applied For:    Tutor, Bee coach for Sally the Sagacious and Sara the Smart

Academic

Qualifications:               Teacher of mathematics, philosophy, astronomy.

Head of Platonist school atAlexandria,Greece

Author of many commentaries on mathematics, astronomy

Teacher of Plato

Knows 94 languages

Other Qualifications:     Excellent teacher: can teach anything

Loves words

Stimulates imagination

Patient, understanding

Capable of teaching anything

Loves children – especially little girls

Salary Desired: One box of chocolate covered cherries per month

Expected Outcome:      Two brilliant girls capable of winning any Spelling Bee,

Getting A’s in all classes, graduating at the top of their class from an Ivy League university or Oxford

Candidates for the Nobel Prize!

Proofreading what you write is very important so Hypatia read the resume over a couple of times, made a few minor changes, and printed three copies. Then she took inventory of her library. She had hundreds of books.  Most of them were pretty sophisticated and not suitable for an eleven year old but she could quickly glance through them, make a few notes and teach the basic concepts.

If the girls did come tomorrow, she wanted to have a lesson ready for them so she dug out the brochures from the spelling bee they had attended and spent a hour on her computer going through the words used in that contest. Then she made two lists of words: one not too difficult and the second a little harder. Each list had twenty-five words. The      easy list included gambit and substantial. Words like opulence, triadic and ponderous were on the more difficult list.

She thought some more and said to herself, “I’m going to the library tomorrow morning first thing. I want copies of COSMOS. That videos is good for stimulating imagination and Carl Sagan is a genius! We’ll have a few lessons about astronomy and the universe.”

It was onlyfour o’clockbut she wished it was the next day.

When she sat down at the dinner table, she waited for the Old Witch to tell her whether Sally had received the message and if they were coming.  She kept looking at the Old Witch and raising her eyebrows, twitching in her chair, and finally she couldn’t wait any longer. “Well, Miss O.W.” she said, “are they coming or not? I have to know right now!”

The Old Witch smiled and said, “My, you are anxious, aren’t you? Yes, Hypatia, they’ll come after school, about3:30or4:00.”

“Who’s coming,” asked Count Morbid the Chef as he placed his famous Shepherd’s Pie on the table.”

“Oh boy,” shouted Rumple. “One of my favorites!”

“You don’t get any unless you eat your salad first, Rumple,” said Count Morbid.

“Nuts! Okay, gimme some – just a little bit – one bite of lettuce, one slice of cucumber and one teeny, tiny tomato.”

Everybody at the table laughed as they watched Count Morbid dish up a full portion of salad and put it in front of Rumple. “Sorry, fella, you gotta eat the whole thing!” said the Count. Rumple wished there was a dog or a cat under the table he could sneak some of that green stuff to.

“Yeah, who’s coming?” echoed Mr. Clean.

“A couple of my favorite people,” said the Old Witch. “Sara and her friend Sally. Hypatia wants to talk to them about becoming their tutor – coaching them for a very important national spelling bee. That’s a great idea, don’t you all think?

“Three cheers for Hypatia,” called out Xerxes. “She can do it!”

The Shadow leaned forward, looked Hypatia straight in the eye, and said, “Is this going to be an open classroom? Can any of the rest of us join you and maybe learn something?”

Hypatia hadn’t thought about that so she didn’t answer for a minute. While she thought about it she heard several of the others echoing the Shadow’s question.

Finally she said, “I think that would be all right but only after I’ve had a couple of sessions alone with the girls first.  I have to see just how much they want to do this, what they want to learn and we need to establish some kind of schedule – a  routine – so everybody knows what to expect. I’ll let you all know when we’re ready.”

Dinner was soon over and after the table had been cleared the Old Witch blew her whistle. When everyone was paying attention she said, “I’ve been thinking about a strange thing that happened to me a long time ago. Would you like to hear the story?”

“YEAH, Let’s go,” shouted Rumple. “Me and the Count – sorry, the Count and I – will make popcorn!”

When they were all comfy-cozy in the living room, the Old Witch began the story.

“This happened about three hundred years ago,” she said. “There I was, just taking a walk through the woods on a beautiful fall afternoon and suddenly, with no warning, two knights in shining armor jumped out from behind an oak tree and grabbed me by the arms.  I was pretty scared. They didn’t look like they were playing a game. This was serious with a capital S.

“Let’s go,” one of them said and then he let out a very loud whistle and a beautiful black horse came trotting out from the forest.  “Hop on, Old Witch,” he demanded.

“Now wait a minute,” I said. “I’m not going anywhere until you  tell me what this is all about and where you think you’re taking me and why. Moreover, I’m scared to death of horses and I’m not getting on that thing! Definitely not going to do it.”  I stamped my foot a few times good and hard so he’d understand I meant it.

“The Queen demands your presence,” he said. “We’re going to her castle – in Scotland.”

I had never met a queen before so that sounded pretty interesting but I still wanted to know why. It’s always good to ask why, don’t you think?

“Yep, it is,” said Mr. Clean. “Like why can’t you people leave your muddy shoes outside the door – why can’t you hang up your wet towels?  The problem is even if I ask why, I don’t get a decent answer.”

Xerxes interrupted. “Sometimes, Mr. Clean, you do get good answers when you ask why and then you learn something.”

“All right,” said the Old Witch. “Let’s go on with my story.”  She looked around the room and saw about half of her friends beginning to nod and decided she’d finish the story another time. It was getting late and they all looked tired. “If Count Morbid isn’t too tired, maybe he’d make us all some hot chocolate before we say goodnight and I’ll finish the story another time,” she said. “Some of you are looking pretty weary and ready for bed.”

“Nuts,” said Rumple. “We haven’t even finished the popcorn yet.”

“That’s okay, Rumple,” Skinnieminnie said. “I am tired and we can take the popcorn out to the yard and feed the birds. That’ll be our good deed for the day.”

“Good idea, Skinnie,” said Miss O.W. Well, good night everyone. Have pleasant dreams.”

Julie Rose

 

Leave a comment »

NEW POST – CONFUSION

I’M CONFUSED

Our world is a place of confusion. I sometimes think it is like going to a carnival where choosing what I want to do among the varied choices offered for my entertainment give rise to feelings of anxiety and pressure.  Do I want a hot dog or a slurpee? Do I want to ride the bumper cars or the tilt-a-whirl?  Do I want to throw balls at bottles and maybe win a stuffed elephant? Will I spend my money to see a freak show?

I think the confusion increases as we grow older.  Little kids are not confused.  We grow up and reach a point where we must choose a college or a career and confusion sets in. Those of us who are not confused by the choice of a mate are the lucky ones.  Most of us would admit to being confused – for a time at least –  by that as well.

You would think that as we mature we become less confused. Maybe some people do – not me.  I wouldn’t say I became more confused about this world as I grew older. I became more aware of it’s complexities and challenges and that surely results in some confusion by way of trying to understand it all.

I have never truly understood mathematics – nor do I care to. Were I to try I know I’d be swamped by confusion.  I am confused by paintings of nothing but lines and angles. What is this artist trying to say I ask.  I am equally confused by poetry I don’t understand. My confusion isn’t a feeling of being lost at sea. It’s related to increasing curiosity, an insatiable need to discover the whys and wherefores – a need that will never be fully satisfied.

I well remember taking an immigrant Russian to a drug store. She walked down the cosmetic aisle and, confused by the array of choices, turned to me and said: “In all ofKievthere isn’t this much lipstick.”  Is it the variety and the number of choices we have that contribute to our confusion? You go to the supermarket: salad dressing is on your list. You come to the aisle housing salad dressings and are faced with choosing among a hundred or more kinds.  Does that confuse you?

Here’s something that has confused me nearly all my life.  When I learned that the world turns once every twenty four hours, I couldn’t understand why, if I went to sleep facing East, I didn’t wake up 12 hours later facing West.   I still don’t understand it.

What confuses you?

 

Julie Rose

Leave a comment »

NEW POST – A SPECIAL MOMENT

 

A SPECIAL MOMENT

            I once saw something in the paper that attracted my attention. A local Fine Arts Ensemble was opening the last of its five concert series to the public. I had never been to a chamber music concert and decided to take advantage of this opportunity. The concert was to be followed by a light buffet dinner.

When I discovered I had left the directions on my desk I scrambled around on the phone trying to locate someone – anyone – who might know where this affair was being held. Fortunately I managed to contact the violinist as she was walking out her door on the way to an early rehearsal.

I knew it was to be held in someone’s home in Lake Forest, an upper class suburb of Chicago, and anyone who could accommodate 50-100 people had to have a rather impressive house but I wasn’t prepared for what I found. On reaching the house at the end of a long, winding driveway, lined with lilac bushes in bloom, I found valet parking was available.  I happily turned over the keys to my car.

As I entered and glanced around, it looked to me as though it might be a David Adler home and the hostess later confirmed that, indeed, it was. The room in which the performance took place was a large, oak paneled library, overlooking acres of manicured lawn with ivy trailing down the French doors.  There was a small Chinese garden outside those doors overlooking a wooded ravine. Appropriately, the bookshelves on either side of the fireplace were filled with a book collector’s dream including the complete works of Shakespeare bound in leather the color of mustard. There was a subtle elegance about the crystal chandelier and the oils on the walls were reminiscent of Rembrandt. Taken together, the light oak walls, the sparkling lights and the darker oils gave the room a texture and a life of its own one rarely finds. The room encouraged a restful encouraged a feeling of contentment.

I have always thought of Haydn as rather ponderous but the Trio in C Major proved me wrong. Indeed, the first movement smacked of the childlike Mozart. Rachmaninoff’s Trio Elegiaque in D Minor, written, I was told, in tribute to Taichovsky, ranged from the same playfulness to an almost chilling funeral like dirge.

The concert was followed by an informal buffet dinner that could not have been duplicated in any restaurant for less than $75 a plate. When I inquired as to the caterer, I was told that several of the regular subscribers had each contributed something and only the deserts (plural – many plurals) had been purchased. Food is not really important to me but, as somewhat of a gourmet cook, I am compelled to sample. In this case, on a scale of one to ten, the sampling rated a 9 ½. The end result was that I left with a recipe for an outstanding chilled zucchini soup which I later made to acclaim.

It was an extraordinary experience and I’m pleased I went. I often have to force myself to do things like that alone. The opportunities are endless for that sort of thing. It turned out to be a perfect way to indulge my love of classical music and, at the same time, accommodate my hearing impairment. The smaller crowd, smaller room, lack of background noise, suits me perfectly. It was rather like having a long, intimate, conversation with one person in front of a glowing fireplace where I could hear every word and the phone never rang.

When I think about the significant experience I ask myself what I learned from it.  I learned to take responsibility for my own entertainment. I learned that I could, in fact, for a brief time, engage in small talk which I generally distain and avoid. I learned I could appreciate the elegance and beauty of the surroundings without jealousy rearing its ugly head.

Do you have a significant moment to share?

Julie Rose

Leave a comment »

NEW POST – AN OUTLANDISH WOMAN

AN OUTLANDISH WOMAN

I once entered a sort of contest – not a contest in the sense of winning  blue ribbon – it was more of a challenge. The challenge was to write a novel in thirty days. LEAH – NOW AND THEN is the result. Leah is every kid’s idea of the perfect grandmother. She is tuned to their interests, knows each kid’s personality as well as her own and takes each of them on a trip when they reach their teen age years. She’s feisty, independent, fun loving. Here is a brief outline of the novel which can be found at free-online-novels.com.

LEAH-A DIFFERENT SORT OF SYNOPSIS

Leah dies at 67. Her will is read and her daughter refuses to sell her mother’s house while her son insists they do so.  The children and grandchildren begin to share memories of their mother and grandmother. Each of these memories is a prelude to the following chapter in which the event occurred.

One grandchild recalls a trip toChinafor the Olympics and that flows into a time when Leah had a Chinese lover.  The heirs discover their mother was a gambler and in the next chapter the reader is taken to a Jai Alai game.  She took one grandson on a tour ofEuropeand inCopenhagenhired an older woman to spend the night with him. Another grandson is an aspiring oceanographer and in the next chapter the reader finds himself in the Galapogos Islands.

The “then” chapters include her relationship with a much younger Black man who is a professor at a local college. They share a love of antiques and cooking and collaborate on a cookbook, assisted by one of her granddaughters. Neither of them care what other people think of their relationship.

There is a wide variety of settings in this novel. In addition to the trips she took with her grandchildren there’s a vividly described antique mall, a game of bridge, kite flying off the bow of a sailboat, an antique auto show.

Rather than elaborate on the above, here is the epilogue and a list of the recipes included.

EPILOGUE

            Judith and Richard decided not to take the family toIsrael. Instead, together with Zachary and Susan, they took a two week Mediterranean cruise. Judith took half of the pots on her mother’s patio, determined to have a garden as pretty as Leah’s was.  Dinner company is served soup from an antique tureen the size of a football. She wears her mother’s diamond earrings every day.

Susan opted for a Chippendale table and an old Amish rocking chair. She is slowly refinishing them. She bought several blouses and sweaters against which Leah’s amber necklace looks magnificent.

Ben learned something about real estate management pretty quickly. He had to evict the first family to whom he rented Leah’s house. Thereafter, he was more careful about checking references. After a couple of years he owned five such houses.

Miriam rented a bedroom and the updated blue and yellow kitchen in Leah’s house. There she operates her own catering business and tries to find a little time each day to work on her third cookbook. Leah’s aprons hang on hooks by the door and a bookcase houses all of Leah’s cookbooks as well as half of her blue cobalt glass collection.

Rachel played Brahams’ Violin Concererto #3 on the stage of Orchestra Hall. Between rehearsals for her next performance, she teaches the violin to deprived children in inner-city schools. She wears one of Leah’s nightgowns every night.

Daniel became the Assistant Director of the Scripps Institute of Oceanography and still dreams of finding the lost continent of Atlantis. Offshore, he keeps a sailboat and often invites bridge playing colleagues aboard for a game.

Aaron sold the London Taxi to Michael and used the funds to buy a sailboat. He completed his education in European history, eventually landing a position as professor at an Ivy League school.

Two young women completed college on grants from the NAACP, funded by Leah. One went on to become a pediatric nurse and the other a teacher of African Studies.

The red Thunderbird won five out of six races with the bright yellow Corvette.

And Michael?  Michael still searches for Leah’s clone.

 

RECIPES

Asian Dums                                                      Osso Buco

Pike with Garlic Vinegar Sauce             Short Ribs

Spanakapita                                                     Sweet and Sour Meatballs

World’s Fair Chicken                                       Beef Stragonoff

Butternut Squash Soup                         Cardamom Rolls

French Apple Tart                                            Gorgonzola Pasta

Onion Tarts                                                      Oriental Salad

 

Julie Rose

Leave a comment »